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Jaxon Sinclair

Beware a kiss, he told her. Kisses are powerful things.

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Jaxon Sinclair

The book lay on his bed, open so that the red leather exterior was hidden in the charcoal swells of the duvet, exposing only empty parchment to the room.  On first inspection, it looked much like any other book that lined the shelves of Jack's bedroom.  There were histories and fictions, biographies and autobiographies, books of maps, collections of star charts, and one shelf of fairy tales both magical and mundane alike.  They were all in various states of age—not in the sense of how many years they had spent, the edges of their pages turning yellow, on the various shelves of his home.  Some of them were, in fact, quite old, but what was most important was that they were read.  Their covers were worn around the edges, the pages were bent in some places—dog-eared, occasionally (never by him, of course) or stained with the sticky fingers of a child with an overactive imagination.

 

This book looked no different than them.  It was innocuous.  Unimpressive.  Not at all memorable and yet, it was the book that he stared at now, eyes narrowed behind his glasses and brow furrowed while he chewed on the pad of his thumb.  His other hand was on his hip, fingers drumming nervously into the bone that he felt beneath his Magpies t-shirt.  

 

He thought a lot of things.  Primarily, he thought that this was a bad idea.  A monumentally bad idea, in fact, to communicate with Adrina Althaus-Valerio over the summer when they had left things on less-than-solid terms the year before, thanks in large part to @Pandora Midnight and her fanciful ideas about fairy stories. 

 

It had planted a thought in his head, however and, like anything planted, that thought had taken root and grown.  He'd tried to ignore the book at first.  He would write something in it when he was damn well ready to do so, thank you, and not before that, but it had sat on the shelf with all of his other books and, to anyone else, it looked like the other books.  To Jack, however, it was obscene in its ability to stick out—like it had infiltrated a perfect pattern and broken up the equilibrium with its taunting.  

 

So he'd thrown it on the bed that morning, paced for an hour, put it in the desk.  Then he'd sat on the edge of the bed thinking about how it was in the desk and, for that reason, the desk might as well have been infested by ghouls, shaking and rattling and moaning because he couldn't stop opening the drawer to stare at it.

 

So he'd thrown it on the bed.  Again.

 

Jack made a noise, disgusted, and moved to the other side of the room where he set about to tearing into the shelf of old fairy stories that had once belonged to his parents.  Those books were old.  Some of them had the names of his grandparents written on the inside covers.  The rest of the afternoon was spent there, fingers stained with old ink, carpet imprints on his knees, until he found something—anything to write.

 

Addy—

I know we talked, but...are we okay?

—Jack


You're entirely bonkers, but I'll tell you a secret, all the best people are. —Lewis Carroll

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Adrina Althaus-Valerio

Adrina had been more than just a little confused when Jack had made a point to catch her on the train ride back to London and hand off the pale pink book.  The final week or so of school had been different then all the weeks before, and she was shocked that he had sought her out at all. Not unhappy, just surprised.

 

He’d only taken a few quiet moments to explain what it was for, nervously, before he left her there in the compartment where he’d found her with her roommates and gone back to wherever he had been.  Addy had retaken her seat and immediately traced her fingers over the unicorn sticker Jack had adorned on the front cover before she opened it up and looked to see if he had already left her a message inside.

 

He hadn’t.

 

And that fact remained true nearly a week later when she’d checked again - actually, she’d been checking every day with high hopes for a living - but still nothing appeared.  Eventually, she’d resigned to leaving it splayed open across her own desk in hopes that when and if something ever did appear on the page she would notice right away. Perhaps she could have been the one to write first, but what would she even say?

 

The truth was that while Jack had been shuffling his copy of the twin tomes from shelf to shelf and from desk to bedspread, being haunted by what he should write to express his feelings, Adrina felt she’d already been quite clear on the matter.  Or at least more clear then Jack had managed to be. She had been outside with Ryszard for most of the afternoon and almost, almost didn’t notice the change to the page when she first returned to her room. But, Jack’s handwriting caught her eye and her stomach flipped.  

 

The note with his question was expected, but the second bit caused her to slide slowly into her desk chair and tap her fingertips on the words.  What did it mean? Was she supposed to answer it somehow because she wasn’t even sure where it had come from. It did manage to make her smile at the page before she picked up a pen to reply.  

 

Jack,

 

I was waiting for you to write.  We’re fine, I hope?  I want to be.  But, if I’m bonkers… what does that make you? ^_^ 

 

~Addy

 

——Who is Lewis? 

 

 

 

Edited by Adrina Althaus-Valerio

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Jaxon Sinclair

After writing in the book, he'd been very tempted to find the closest fireplace, douse it with gasoline, and light it on fire.  The way he saw it, if it burned before she read it, his message wouldn't be in her book (this was probably categorically untrue, but he wanted to believe it and, perhaps, that was most important.)  

 

He hadn't.  Of course, he hadn't, because he'd already made Adrina cry and he thought that if she answered him and he never answered her back because he'd torched his message book, she would likely cry again.  There would, perhaps, be more talking to Pandora and the two of them would come to the conclusion that he was not, in fact, some bizarre iteration of Prince Charming in Addy's real life fairy tale, but the villain that locked in her a tower that was, of course, guarded by the fiercest dragon.

 

Later in life, he might look back on these moments and wish everything had remained so simple...that life could keep mimicking a fairy story, that talking to someone he found interesting and amazing could always be as easy as quoting books he'd read or books he'd found, and that she could keep believing he had some greater role to play in her own narrative.

 

But it wasn't later.  It was now, and now it felt suffocating.  Every word could be wrong, every dream could be just as easily crushed, and what if they weren't okay?  What if his words in the library (poorly thought out and ill-delivered) had caused some permanent stain on their relationship like ink spilled over clean parchment?

 

She did write back though and when he saw the words the next time he checked the book, he realized quite suddenly that he never should have expected Addy to hold a grudge.  Grudges tended to make people unhappy and Addy was consistently, constantly, overwhelmingly cheerful—vivid with it, in fact, so that it radiated off of her in a corona and spread to everyone around.  Even brooding, terminally unsocial Jack.

 

He set quill to page, another book tucked under his arm, when he answered.

 

Addy—

Hope I didn't keep you waiting too long.  I want to be, too.

 

It makes me crazy, but you already knew that.  Only a crazy person would dice double the potions ingredients just to see you happy.

—Jack

 

Faint hearts never won fair lady —J.M. Barrie

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Adrina Althaus-Valerio

An odd sort of nervous sensation overtook her after she had finished writing her note and Addy watched the page.  She flipped forward once to see if anything was on the next page, and flipped back and put her chin in her palm and her elbow on the desk top, just waiting.  Would there be some kind of sound to let her know when he'd written back?  Would the page glow or flicker; it was magic after all. 

 

But minutes passed with her watching (although it felt so much longer then it was) and nothing came, and when her brother bounced into her doorframe telling her that dinner was ready she practically slammed the book shut, unwilling to let him know anything at all about it - what it was, what it did and above all else who it was from - before she waved him off and told him she'd be down in a minute.  

 

Then, the pink book had promptly been shoved under one of her pillows like some kind of secret diary, absolutely needing to be hidden, and she'd rushed out of her room trying her hardest not to seem suspicious.  But a good liar, she was not.  Thankfully, the only person who seemed to notice anything was Ryszard, who sent her repeated looks across the table and even went so far as to flick a piece of bread in her direction when he thought Samuel wasn't looking.  

 

Samuel was, and it earned him  a look of his own.  The argument that followed stirred up such a fuss that the thoughts of any reply from Jack in the book were pushed from her head in favor of trying to carefully navigate keeping her brother (and herself) out of trouble.  

 

It wasn't until several hours later, well past the middle of the night when she had already gone to sleep and was awoken by the sound  of the book falling off of her bed and hitting the floor, did she remember that she'd been waiting.  Sitting up and leaning over,  the light beside her bed was turned on and she had plucked the book off the floor faster then she could have recited the names of her Uncles dinosaurs.  Dark eyes crinkled at the corners when she smiled and read over what was written back underneath her own note.  Another quote of some kind, and it mentioned hearts... her own rushed a beat faster and she didn't care anymore where Jack was getting them or why.     

 

This time, she didn't bother with any formal introduction as she flipped over to the next page and started to reply.  Suddenly, she was as wide awake as the moon in the sky.    

 

Chopping up animal bits doesn't make me happy at all.  Why can't we just use the ones already chopped?  The professors are just being unreasonable.  We aren't in cooking class.  What do you think they would teach in a magical cooking class anyway?  Maybe the house elves should run one.  

---Addy

 

 

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Jaxon Sinclair

That afternoon, shortly after the second message was printed into the parchment, carried to Addy's book on whatever thin fabric of magic comprised it, Adam punched Jack in the face.

 

It wasn't surprising.  In fact, it was more surprising that it had taken him until four in the afternoon to finally gather up whatever pieces of courage a nine-year-old could have and just do it.  Jack couldn't even remember, by that point, why Adam was so frustrated with him (or if he even was, because it wasn't totally out of the question for Adam to do things like this because he felt like it.)  What mattered most was that his glasses broke and he'd stumbled backward, suddenly robbed of his vision, and clutching what was surely going to bruise into a black eye.

 

If his vision hadn't been so poor and he hadn't been trapped in that foggy, blurry world that existed when those thick lenses weren't on  his face, he would have launched himself at Adam right there in the dining room.  Furniture would have been broken (again) and Maggie would have eventually detached herself from her boyfriend to come separate them (again) and then she would fail (again).  

 

None of that had happened, however, because only reached, blind and livid, for the spot where he thought Adam might be and he'd instead grabbed a chair.  It was ten minutes before Atwell found him, scooped up his glasses, and walked him (hands on his shoulders like he was steering a car) back up the stairs to where his wand was so that he could fix the aforementioned glasses.

 

It was at this point that Jack had an idea and, five minutes later and after a quick hop from his bedroom back to the office, message book in hand, he was explaining that he wanted the book charmed to make noise when one of the pages changed.

 

"Are you writing literature quotes to a girl?" Atwell had asked, eyebrow raised in skeptic curiosity as he opened the book and Jack, who had clearly not thought much on this entire exchange, turned as brightly red as a phone booth.  Before he could answer, the freshly charmed book was handed back to him with a clap on the shoulder.  "Good man, Jack."

 

And that was that.

 

But it wasn't, really, because he spent the rest of the afternoon waiting for the sound that never came and, after some time, he fell asleep on top of the little leather book and awakened later, in the deadest, darkest hours of the night, to the noise of clear little bells.

 

He fell out of bed first, tangled in blankets and still in his clothes.  It took him another five minutes to find his glasses in the aforementioned blankets, shove them onto his face, and search frantically for the book.  It was promptly carried to his desk where his quill and ink sat ready for another response.  Right beside a clock.

 

Addy—

It is two in the morning!  And we are in magical cooking class.  That's what potions is.  A regular cooking class would teach us how to make regular things with a wand.

—Jack

As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen!

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Adrina Althaus-Valerio

Sitting there and waiting, again,  after she had written for a response and wondering what would happen when one did come, Addy sat cross-legged on her bed and still half tangled in her sheets.  Her eyes roamed over the space underneath her own words.  Unlike Jack, she couldn't - or wouldn't - go to her parents for help in charming the book.  If it didn't make a sound there was nothing she was willing to do.  Her uncle, would have perhaps been more understanding, but her father probably wouldn't have even heard her knocking at his office door and her mother would have told her there were more important things she could be spending her time on.  

 

More important things that staying up at 2:07 in the morning and waiting for words to magically reply to her on an enchanted page.  

 

Scooting backwards and leaning against the headboard, she tapped Finley's tail and the small triceratops gave a silent yawn before nearly toppling over a ridge in the blankets and finding his balance.  Teal blue and pink polka dots marched towards the girl and chomped lightly on the edge of her t-shirt.  "Do you think he's even awake?" She whispered to the dinosaur, obviously no answer returned aside from a tug again on her shirt.  He was none to fond of being woken in the middle of the night, it appeared.  

 

And then a faint scratching sound, so quiet she almost didn't hear it, found it's way into her ear and she looked into her lap at the page just in time to see her name rise in print in front of her.  "I guess so." She whispered again, completely unaware that her own note had been the cause of Jack's sudden sleeplessness.  

 

 Jack,  

Actually, now it's 2:17am and why are you still awake?  You should be sleeping.  

 

I would like to learn how to make a Finley a tiny unicorn costume, although I don't think he'd like it very much.  He just tried to bite me for waking him up.  

 

I would also like to know where you are finding these quotes from, I think.  Maybe?  Though you forgot to say where that last one came from, unless that is just from you.  If it is...  

 

She paused in her writing and it was then that she realized maybe, she should have thought about what she was writing before she actually wrote it because she was fairly sure that once it was there, it was not going to come back.  No matter what she did, and despite what it felt like this wasn't actually her own diary.  Jack was there on the other end and able to read every word of it.  For a moment, she chewed on her bottom lip and looked down on her bed at Finley who was trying to burrow underneath her sheet to hide from the light.  Pressing her pen back to the page, she finished off her sentence and then closed the book tightly and jammed it back under her pillow.  Hopefully, she hadn't said too much.  it was a bad habit that she just couldn't break.  

 

... I like our adventures too.  

--Addy

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Jaxon Sinclair

Jack went back to sleep.

 

He stuffed the book into the bottom of his dresser, regretting that he hadn't asked his father to charm it to make noise except at night.  It wasn't that he didn't want to hear from Addy.  More that he'd run out of things to tack onto the end of his messages and if he started pulling the bookshelves apart at two in the morning, Maggie, who shared a wall with him, would hear on the other side and come ask (exactly), "Why are you like this?!"  She'd have probably thrown a pillow at him, too, or sent Sparkles the charmed unicorn plushie into the room.  

 

Sparkles hadn't aged well.  The doll didn't often 'remember' where furniture and walls were anymore and, more frequently than not, he could be found repeatedly headbutting something he'd been sat in front of.  It wouldn't have been the first time that what he was sat in front of was Jack's bed and he wasn't keen on plucking Sparkles up and dragging him across the hall to bother Adam instead.

 

That would have earned him another punch in the face.

 

So he waited until morning...until books could be stacked and lists compiled.  He checked the book after breakfast and felt his face flush from his collar to his ears and that, Jack thought, was quite absurd, because he was alone and so there was no reason for bashfulness.  Still, he couldn't deny the heat that radiated off of his cheeks or the wide grin that he hid behind knuckles pressed to his mouth.

 

She liked their adventures.

 

Addy

I think Finley would eat a tiny unicorn costume, but I'm sure I have a book on sewing somewhere if you really want it.  I imagine you'll have to do it the muggle way.  Either that, or wait until we're seventeen.  What do you think we'll be doing when we're seventeen?

 

The quote is from A.A. Milne, but I wouldn't have written it if I didn't agree, and I find them in books.  Fairy tales, mostly, because they remind me of you.

 

—Jack

Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?

That was Carroll again

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Adrina Althaus-Valerio

The next morning had come with a very loud and abrupt pounding on her bedroom door.  

 

They were leaving in five minutes, was all she'd heard as she shot up in bed, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.  Ryszard's voice had been the one shouting from the other side of the door and when it first started to shove open a few seconds later, Adrina was quick to fling a stuffed owl plushie right at his face.  

 

She didn't have time to check for any response, so it was just as well that there wouldn't have been one anyway.  But, by the time they had gotten home later that afternoon she was itching to get back to her room and see if there was anything waiting for her.  She hadn't been able to get the thought out of her head all morning.  

 

She bounced onto her bed and dug deep under her pillow for the book, she didn't even remember to close her door.  That was her first mistake.  Her second mistake came when Ryszard stood in her doorframe and asked what she was so bothered with and her first instinct became to shove the book underneath her like it was some treasure that would burn if he even laid eyes on it.  Of course her brother would never let that slide.  

 

And so it came to be, through a series of very, very, unfortunate events that Jaxon would get no response that afternoon.  She had the starts of one already written in her head, the silly idea that Finley could actually eat anything, for starters, at the top of her list of things to correct him on.  Finley couldn't digest anything.  Nor could she ever imagine what she would be doing at seventeen other then probably still arguing with Ry over the idea that him being two minutes older didn't mean anything.  

 

Regardless, sorting out her secret keeping took precedence over getting to tell Jack that she'd prefer one of their kitchen hot chocolate trips over tea, or maybe even a taste of coffee (not that she of all people needed caffeine) because her uncle has such a vast collection of mugs.

 

Yes, all of that would have to wait.   

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Jaxon Sinclair

Jack checked the notebook a dozen times throughout the day.  Occasionally, he considered carrying it around the house with him but the implications of Adam or Maggie finding it and reading what was in it were worse than having to run back upstairs every few minutes to check it.  His siblings would never let him live it down if they found out he was writing silly fairy story notes to a girl in his year.  Maggie, in particular, would make things especially miserable, if only because he couldn't escape her at school.  He still had another year without Adam.

 

He checked after breakfast and found nothing but blank pages.  He checked again twice more before lunch (once after he'd gotten into a fight with one of the boys visiting for the summer and the black eye that Adam had given him was further compounded by the circling bruise from Jack's penchant for fisticuffs.)  Then again after his mother was done dabbing bruise remover paste onto his cheekbone and his eyelid, fixing his glasses, and replacing them on his face.

 

He checked after lunch, three times before dinner, and twice after dinner, too, before he opted to simply write another note.

He spent ages going through books, looking for exactly the write quote to follow up with what he'd already sent her, and he found nothing.  He found plenty of things to use later, of course, but later wasn't now and so none of them did him any good in particular.  In the end, he ended up laying in bed, replaying their last conversation in the library and how he'd nearly made her cry and it had all been so terribly awkward.

 

Have you been thinking about kissing?  I have.

 

-Jack

Edited by Jaxon Sinclair

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Adrina Althaus-Valerio

It wasn’t that she hadn’t wanted to write back to Jack.  Honestly, Adrina hadn’t wanted to keep him waiting because if he was waiting to hear from her then that meant he wasn’t writing to her and she really, really looked forward to the little notes and quotes but after Ryszard had found out about the book she had become worried.

 

Scared that he was going to tell their parents, and afraid that they would take it away and she didn’t want anything more inside of it if and when they did.  

 

Not to mention her brother had made it a point from that night on to try and eat up as much of her time as he possibly could, wanting to race their brooms or go swimming or some other random idea that popped into his head.  It might have made sense to her if she had tried to understand it. They had largely been inseparable until they had been split apart, unwillingly, upon their arrival at Hogwarts. But right now, she was just frustrated with never having the chance to get a moment to herself.

 

So when she had finally had enough she had begged and pleaded for the chance to invite over her friends and hope maybe that Panda and Avery could give her some advice.  That was when she’d been able to notice the newest of the notes; one that had burnt her whole face in a flush right their inside her tent with the two girls giggling right beside her and her eyes with shock.  How could she answer that now. With her friends sitting there beside her?

 

Yes, she had thought about it.  She had all but told him as much before and Pandora was to blame for that.  The thought had crossed her mind whenever she saw a scene in a movie, or on a television show or even sometimes if she saw people kissing in public.  It must have been something worth doing if people liked doing it so much. But in the end the two other girls had been very little help at all in the advice department.  Pandora could only advise more of following the same path that had gotten Addy here in the first place and following the footsteps of some princess in a fairytale had only really served to give Jack this idea for the book in the first place.  It made her stomach all fluttery and her heart race any time she wondered if there was something new but as for what she was supposed to do when the notes stopped coming or, Merlin forbid, the summer finally ended and she actually had to see him again she didn’t have a clue.

 

And Avery had only wondered why he was even thinking about kissing in the first place.  Addy had let Panda explain that one, she’d done so well with it the first time.

 

And then, later on when they had both finally gone to sleep she flipped down the small flap that served as a window in the tent and let some moonlight shine in so that she could finally write back one simple word to answer Jack.  It was the truth, and every little thing that had been written before that hardly seemed to matter now that this topic had been brought up again.


 

Yes.

-Addy

 

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