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Midnight Harping

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 "I-I thought, you were in bed!" Harper stammered, staring at her best friend in wide eyed shock.

Alex fumbled for a Justin's t-shirt, hastily pulling it over her head and standing up like that would make it better.  She wasn't sure how things would ever be "better" again.

"What is this? Are you guys? I mean-why are you in here?  And naked-omigod, I'm naked- omigod.  We're naked.  Why are we all almost naked in Justin's room?!" Harper panicked, voice quickly escalating to a frantic shout.

Alex hadn't seen her this worked up in a while.  There was a vein throbbing in her temple and her eyes had a wild look to them.  Like the animals that Max scared the crap out of in an effort to try and befriend them.

"Shhhh," Justin shushed, throwing a worried glance towards his door.

"Harper," Alex began.

"No, I don't understand.  You're brother and sister!  I mean, that's what's going on here right?  This isn't some freak coincidence?  No, of course it isn't.  You guys have been acting so weird.  Oh my god, how long has this been going on?  Does anybody else know?  Is this why you broke up with Juliet?  Do your parents know?  Is this a wizard thing?  This is- I mean, you're related!! I thought you two hated each other most of the time!  You're always talking about how much of a loser he is!  And he's always complaining about all your schemes!" Harper babbled, breath quickening dangerously.

If it were any other time Alex would find Harper's monologue almost comical- she practically delighted in Harper's fits and how hilarious they were-but it wasn't.  This was bad.  Very, very bad.  She couldn't figure out how to talk her way out of this or manipulate Harper into believing things weren't as they seemed.  And the worst part was that for once, she couldn't imagine that her big brother would be able to fix this for her; for them.  He was at a loss just as much as she was.  What were they supposed to say?  How were they going to be able to explain the depth of love that defied blood relation to Harper? 

Harper who was still naked and staring at them in utter disbelief.  She was fisting her hands in her sleeping shirt and practically trembling as she freaked out.

"Maybe we should all get dressed and talk about this," Justin suggested calmly, warily eyeing both her and Harper.

Alex wasn't sure what he expected that to do except help the burning red of his cheeks to fade.  God he was such a dork.

"Talk about this?  What is there to talk about?  Y'know besides the fact that my best friend and her big brother have totally been making out and doing other unmentionables with each other for god knows how long?  I know you've never believed in following the rules Alex but I never thought- I mean Justin?!  How did this even happen?" Harper demanded, roughly tugging on her shirt.

Alex could see some of the tension in Justin's body leak out once her body was covered.  She fought off the urge to coo at how cute it was that he was uncomfortable seeing another girl naked.  Stay focused, Alex.

She approached her best friend slowly, taking halting steps towards her, waiting for Harper to bolt at any second like a frightened fawn.  She held fast, resolutely, as Alex rounded the bed to perch on the corner, back to Justin.

Harper waited, breathing heavily through her nose like an angry bull, watching her with suspicion.  This wasn't the time to lie.  She had to come clean.  So she told the truth.  Told her closest friend everything that she had ever felt about Justin, how it all started, and the feelings they had both struggled with.  She poured herself out until there was nothing left and her throat was hoarse from speaking.

Slowly Harper calmed, stifling yawns behind her hand though she listened with rapture.  Justin pitched in his own thoughts occasionally, and it was the only time Harper's gaze ever wavered from Alex's.  By the time she'd finished explaining Harper was breathing normally and her hands hung limply at her sides, face utterly blank.

 

It seemed like hours had passed since Alex had begun.  Harper was silent and Justin's anxiety was increasing rapidly.  The way she reacted could make or break them.  She could go running to their parents at any moment and there was nothing they could do to stop her.  Even if their parents dismissed it as some crazy idea that Harper had dreamed about-she did have some weird dreams-it would be a flimsy defense against the bombardment of seemingly harmless moments that would be dredged up and connected in their parents' minds.

"This is insane," She finally stated.

They both waited, unsure of how to reply.  Justin could see the gears turning in Harper's head.  Saw the way her thoughts rolled around, fishtailing this way and that just as violently as a ship in a storm.

"You won't tell anyone will you?" Alex asked uncertainly, fidgeting nervously with a loose thread on his comforter.

He really wished she'd stop.  Mindlessly he reached out to stay her hand, trapping her fingers with his.

Harper's eyes fixed on the gesture, on the way the corner of Alex's mouth immediately twitched upwards, and she sighed.

"I-I don't know.  I need to think.  We should all go to bed."

They nodded, heads bobbing ridiculously.  Maybe Alex could get through to her.

He felt her hand slip from his, depriving him of it's warmth and comfort as she followed Harper from the room, a sorrowful glance thrown over her shoulder.

 

"What's it like?" Harper inquired quietly, lying stiffly beside Alex.

"What do you mean?" Alex whispered back, staring up at the ceiling.

"I mean, Justin.  Doesn't it feel wrong?  Like, I get why you would love him.  I've had a crush on him as long as I can remember but he's your brother, Alex," she explained.

"No.  It's more like I felt like I was supposed to feel wrong because he was my brother.  Loving him never felt wrong.  Just thinking about how it was supposed to be wrong made me ashamed of it," she told her tonelessly.

"Still, it's kind of gross.  No offense, but like, yuck."  Harper's disgusted snort made Alex giggle.

"No, I get it.  I could never think of Max that way.  I don't know why Justin is different.  He just is."

"Maybe you guys aren't related?" Harper suggested hopefully.

"Pfft.  And my parents just happened to adopt someone who looks exactly like them and is also a wizard?" Alex scoffed, shifting in an attempt to get more comfortable.

"Good point," was the sleepy answer.

Alex listened to Harper drift off, the sound of her soft snores filling the room in a familiar fashion.  What would happen tomorrow?