If I give up on you, I give up on me. “Justin, please don’t leave!” Alex sobbed and clutched at her brother’s shirt. If she never got the chance to tell him everything, then she would go crazy. “I’ll never leave you, Alex,” said the older teen soothingly as he rubbed small circles on his little sister’s back. What was making her act like this? He had to figure it out, because he was the only one that could. And if Justin didn’t figure it out before he left for college, then it might hurt everyone. If we fight what’s true, will we ever be? It was three in the morning on Sunday. She had to be up for church in five hours, yet she was here. Her lack of sleep, combined with the pent-up frustration and general sadness had driven Alex to her older brother’s bedroom, desperate to reveal every secret that was tearing her apart. Yet, she didn’t. Even God himself and the faith I knew. “Alex! Get up and get ready for church!” “I’m not going to church. If God can’t make me normal, then why should I care about worshipping him?” Justin was confused. He walked down the hall to the girl’s room and pushed the door open. “What do you mean if He can’t make you normal?”, he asked, sitting on Alex’s bed. The girl in question looked up at him with liquid brown eyes. “He made me fall in love with someone forbidden. Is that normal to you?” Shouldn’t hold me back, shouldn’t keep me from you. She stared at her brother’s confused expression, waiting for his answer. “I think, sister dear, that it depends on who the person is and how you decide to handle the situation. As for the whole forbidden part, we’re wizards. Nothing is forbidden except dark magic, but that’s never stopped you.” Alex knew she was acting stupid. God wasn’t supposed to keep her away from the one she loved, when it was He who had caused it. But her own brother? Tease me, by holding out your hand. Justin stood up and offered an outstretched hand to his teary-eyed sister. “Let’s go downstairs and wait for the rest of the family, okay?” “I can’t go, Justin! They won’t accept me.” “Why not?” Alex shook her head. “Because I’m sick.” Seeing her frustration, the older Russo grabbed his sister’s hand. “You are not sick, but you are going to church.” As the boy walked out of Alex’s room, the words came to him, barely heard. “If you knew how sick I was, you wouldn’t accept me either.” Then leave me/or take me as I am. Sitting in the front pew, Alex barely listened to the sermon. But when the words “forbidden love” caught her attention, she focused quickly. “The worst type of forbidden love is the love between siblings. This love transcends the normal relationship of sibling bonds, and happens when a sibling falls in love with his or her brother or sister. It is not acceptable in society, and anyone who feels this way will not be let into God’s kingdom.” That did it. “What if it wasn’t their fault? Nobody can choose who they fall in love with! And if God doesn’t want to accept it, then maybe He should think before He plans our entire life!”, Alex screamed, turning to run out. She paused as she saw Justin, his eyes full of confusion, which then turned into realization. “Accept me or avoid me. Your choice, Justin.” With that, the raven-haired girl ran out to the sidewalk and headed for the sandwich shop, tears falling. And live our lives, stigmatized. Justin sat there, in shock. Now he knew why she didn’t want to come today. Alex had fallen for someone in the family, disgracing the Russo name in the process. That’s what his parents would say, at least. But who was it? She wouldn’t want to tell him, but he’d find out somehow. I can feel the blood, rushing through my veins. Locking the door behind her, Alex fell on her bed with a scream. The feeling of blood in her veins was at the front of her head, along with all the events of the day. When I hear your voice driving me insane. “Alex! Where are you?”, Justin yelled as he raced through the house. After his sister’s outburst, Justin knew that they needed to talk, for two reasons: One, to figure out which family member Alex needed to stay away from. Two, in order to help Alex through the confusion and isolation she was feeling. “Go away, Justin! I don’t want to talk about it!” She was upstairs, he thought to himself. “I’m not leaving until we talk through this.” Just the sound of his voice, so caring and willing to help, made Alex crazy. Hour after hour, day after day. As his footsteps approached the door, Alex appeared, tears staining her cheeks and leaving trails from her eyes. “Do you want the simple explanation, or the entire story?” “The entire story, of course!” The brown-eyed girl locked her stare with the boy in front of her. “You won’t judge me?” Justin snorted. “I’ve lived with you for sixteen years. There is nothing you can do to make me judge you.” Alex turned and walked into her room, leaving her brother to follow. Every lonely night that I sit and pray. They sat on the bed, each prepared to run for cover, but willing to work it out. “Justin,” Alex said quietly. “I fell in love with another Russo.” “I kind of figured that out, Lexi.” Alex smiled at the old nickname. “I’ve prayed to God that it would go away, that I’d be able to move on. But I can’t, because he doesn’t even know.” Tease me by holding out your hand. Justin looked down at his hands, not sure of how to respond. “Maybe you should tell him how you feel. It’s family, Alex. Families don’t keep secrets, or avoid each other.” Then leave me, or take me as I am. “I just don’t want the family to fall apart. Besides, he and I are complete opposites. He likes to study, and I’m failing every class. He’s good and kind, and I’m the bad girl that everyone avoids.” “Alex, if he’s truly family, then he will accept you for who you are.” And live our lives, stigmatized. “It’s unacceptable to love him, right?” Looking at his sister, the older Russo decided that he would keep this secret for her. “In society, yes it is. But then again, it’s not society’s decision on who you love. If you love him, tell him.” Justin knew that his sister didn’t want to be an outcast. She hated that feeling more than anything. We live our lives on different sides. How could she tell him? He was the straight-laced kid, who never got into trouble or caused anything bad to happen. She was the girl with the attitude, who didn’t care if she got in trouble or not. The girl willing to laugh in the face of detention and suspension. They were polar opposites. But we keep together, you and I. “Alex!” The coal-headed teen looked up, with eyes like pools of chocolate fudge. She’d been writing letters to him for weeks, praying he’d catch on. “What are you doing?” “You don’t know, do you?” Her brother just stared down, shock written everywhere. “How long, Lexi?” Alex shook her head. “About a month.” That did it. “A month? Why didn’t you, oh I don’t know, tell me?” Alex stood up and faced him. “Because you won’t accept me! We won’t be able to be together anyways, since it’s forbidden.” Just live our lives, stigmatized Justin understood her. She didn’t want him to go through the pain that he knew she’d take willingly. But she wouldn’t be alone in this. If his little sister was strong enough to tell him, he’d be strong enough to love her. Even if it made him an outcast. “Alex, I’m your brother. Anything bothering you bothers me too, right?” We’ll live our lives, we’ll take the punches every day. “Alex, are you okay?” “Fine, Dad. Just fine.” Jerry looked at his daughter. Something was definitely wrong with her. Then came Justin, playfully grabbing her wrist. But as his skin made contact with hers, they found themselves stuck together. Justin looked at his father, whose face was red with anger. We’ll live our lives. I know we’re gonna find a way. “What is this, Dad?”, Alex asked softly. But Jerry just stood there, glaring at his son. “It’s the wizard mate principle, Alex,” Justin answered. “According to the legends, for every wizard there is only one person they are destined to be with. It happens when both parties acknowledge that they are in love with the other.” “And you fell in love with your sister?” Alex stepped in front of her brother, mate, protector, shielding him from their father’s hate. “No! I fell in love with him first. So if anyone needs to be blamed, it’s me.” Justin glanced at her, his sister, mate, protector, amazed that she would take the fall for him. “It won’t work,” their father scoffed. “And even if it does, it’s sick. I won’t have this kind of depravity in my house!” “Then we’ll move out.” Alex turned to look at him, the oldest Russo staring down his father, a man he respected. “Where are you going to go? There’s not a family member in the world that would take the two of you. You’d have to sleep on the streets.” I believe in you/even if no one understands. The two siblings turned away and walked out of the room, leaving their father to think about this newest revelation. In the hallway, Alex turned to look at her brother, whose face was in his hands. “What are we going to do, Justin?” The raven-haired teen looked at his sister with shame in his eyes. “I don’t know, Lexi. But we can’t stay here. Not if we want to stay together anyway. They just won’t understand.” Alex placed her small hand in his, locking their fingers together. “Whatever your decision, I believe in you Justin.” I believe in you/and it won’t matter in the end. She believed in him? That was a first, she thought to herself. “Alex, we need a plan. Otherwise we’ll never make it on our own.” “Already got one, brother dearest,” she replied with a grin, waving her wand and producing both of their suitcases. “Where will we go? We need more than just clothes, Lexi.” If we’re stigmatized. “I have money, Justin. There’s five-hundred dollars in my bag, and three-hundred in my jewelry box. That’s eight-hundred dollars in cash we’ve got.” Justin suddenly turned and bolted into his room. “I just remembered the six-hundred I got from Grandma and Uncle Kelbo! That’s over a thousand dollars right there.” We live our lives on different sides/but we keep together you and I. They were actually running away tonight. It was so hard to sit at dinner and act like everything was normal. Justin felt nervous, as if they would get caught any moment. It didn’t matter that she was a rebel and he was straight-laced, or that she didn’t care about the world, while he wanted to help everyone. They were each other’s destiny, and that was all they needed. This plan would keep them together. Justin was sure of it. We live our lives on different sides. Finally her conniving mind was good for something, Alex mused. He was supposed to be the smart one, but she had come up with the plan. Maybe there was some truth to the old saying “opposites attract.” They needed to be opposite in order to survive together. We’re gonna live our lives. “Ready Justin?”, she whispered. “Born ready, Alex.” With that, she climbed out the window and landed in the soft grass, wet with the dew of night. We’re gonna live our lives/gonna live our lives. They disappeared into the blackness as he watched. Jerry knew it was wrong to act the way he had. But in the end, they had left together, to start their lives with each other. We’re gonna live our lives stigmatized. Justin held his sister close as the carpet flew through the New York night. They were together at last, he said to himself. And nobody could keep them apart anymore. “I love you, Alex. If we live through this, I’ll marry you someday,” he whispered into her hair. “We will live through this, Justin. I know we will.” And as they flew through the sky, both teens met with a kiss. They were free. They were together.

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