Down in the Russo's living room, things were beginning to calm down. Alex was no longer crying though her expression was still distraught. Theresa was hovering around her daughter, though she did pause every now and then to cast concerned looks in Harper's direction.
Just as Jerry was about to speak to his assembled family, a frantic knocking on the front door drew everyone's attention. Justin was the closest to the door so he answered it. It was his girlfriend, Juliet.
"Is everyone alright?" the blonde vampire asked as she rushed into the room. It only took her a second to discern that the mood was heavy. "You all know that Harper's a vampire, right?"
"Thanks to your mother," Alex spat out angrily.
"I'm not happy about it either," Juliet replied. "I got home and found a note from my parents. They've taken off. They explained what happened with Harper."
"They took off?" Justin asked. "Wait, you mean they left without you?"
When Juliet nodded, Theresa gasped. "Your parents abandoned you? And just left a note behind?"
"What can I say?" Juliet responded. "They're evil. They don't have a soul, like I do. Or like Harper does." She turned to the redhead. "I'm so glad you got to keep yours. How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," she answered. "That's what I keep trying to tell everyone. I'm okay with being a vampire. I wish it wasn't upsetting everybody. I want you all to be happy."
"It's just a lot to adjust to," Jerry said.
"I don't think it's so bad," Max spoke up. "Harper's just like Juliet now, and we all like her"
Normally, the youngest Russo child never had anything intelligent to add to a conversation...but this time his words proved very helpful.
"Max is right," Justin said. "If we're all fine with Juliet being a vampire--"
"A vampire with a soul," the blonde corrected.
"A vampire with a soul," Justin continued. "Then there's nothing wrong with Harper being the same." He moved over to the redhead and knelt down in front of her chair to better look into her eyes. "Are you sure you're happy like this?"
Harper was touched by the genuine caring and concern she could see in Justin's expression. "I really am. I think this could be the best thing that ever happened to me."
"How can you say that?" Alex asked.
Harper proceeded to explain herself. It wasn't easy, as the topic was deeply personal. But slowly she was able to tell the Russos about how she had little in her life apart from them. How they were more of a family to her than her own parents.
"And now that I'm not just plain-old Harper anymore, I thought maybe I could fit in better with you all," she concluded. "Because now I'm special. Like you guys."
Alex moved over to her friend and hugged her tightly. "You were always special."
As the two girls held each other, Justin motioned for his parents to come talk with him.
"I could do a spell to make Harper's parents forget about her," he said. "She'd be better off with us anyway."
From what Jerry and Theresa knew of Harper's parents, they couldn't disagree. "You do that," Jerry said. "But before Harper moves in with us, there's something your mother and I need to discuss."
Jerry took his wife into the other room while Justin rejoined Juliet, Harper, and his siblings.
Sometime later, Alex and Harper were asked to come and speak with Jerry and Theresa. Both the adults had concerned and serious expressions on their faces. First they asked Alex how she was coping with Harper's vampirism.
"I'm starting to deal with it," she answered. "I think it's going to be okay."
The two girls smiled at each other.
Theresa spoke up. "Harper means a lot to you, doesn't she Alex?"
"Well, duh," the girl replied. "She's my best friend."
"And Alex means a lot to you, right Harper?" Jerry asked.
"Yeah," the vampire answered. "Best friends forever."
"You know, that takes on a whole new meaning now that you're a vampire," Alex commented with a smirk. Harper laughed.
"We'd like to talk to you both about what happened earlier...with the thunder," Jerry said.
Alex frowned. "Look I'm sorry about the windows," she said. "But I was really upset."
"You were more than upset honey," Theresa said seriously. "I want you to listen to your father. He just explained it all to me, and it's important that you understand." She glanced over to Harper. "That you both understand."
"What happened upstairs wasn't due to any spells you cast," Jerry told Alex.
"What? But that wasn't natural thunder," Alex replied.
"No, the thunder was definitely caused by you," Jerry explained. "But it wasn't a spell. As a matter of fact, I bet you don't remember casting any spells at all."
Alex's brow furrowed. "No. I don't."
"That's because you didn't. You went..." Jerry paused and took a breath before speaking out the next words. "...Mage-Primal."
"What the heck is that?" Alex asked.
"I've taught you the importance of keeping your emotions in check when casting spells," Jerry said. "Strong emotions can cause a spell to go wrong. But Mage-Primal is an entirely different matter. That's when a wizard's emotions become so strong that they tap directly into the fundamental forces of magic itself. You have no idea how rare, or dangerous, it is for that to happen. When you achieved the Mage-Primal state...well, not to overstate it, but you could have vaporized most of New York."
Harper gasped, while Alex just let her jaw drop.
"You are totally kidding me," Alex finally said.
"I wish I were," her father responded. "If you'd known what you were doing, you could have done anything...made anything happen. Or worse, you could have done things without even realizing it. Only a handful of wizards in all history have ever gone Mage-Primal. And some of the greatest magic-users have tried for centuries to reach that state...and failed."
"Then how did I do it?"
"A wizard has to be in the most extreme emotional state imaginable," Jerry explained.
"Okay, I was super emotional," Alex said. "I was upset about Harper."
"Yes, and that's what we wanted to talk about," Theresa said. "Apparently, only certain kinds of emotions can let a wizard do this Mage-Primal thing. It would take an emotion stronger than friendship to trigger it."
"We think Harper should move in with us now that she's a vampire," Jerry continued. "But if she's going to be living here, we want to avoid any awkwardness. I think it would be best if everything was out in the open from the start."
Harper and Alex were both confused, though Harper was also very happy at the thought of living with the Russos.
"We think you two are in love," Jerry said.
The girls looked at him blankly.
"With each other," he went on.
Their blank stares continued.
"At the very least, we know that you're in love with Harper," he said to Alex. "You couldn't have gone Mage-Primal if you weren't."
Alex's expression stayed blank, but Harper slowly turned to look at her friend. The redhead had many thoughts racing through her mind.
"We want you to know that we're okay with it," Theresa said. "We only want you to be happy Alex. And we love Harper too. So you have our blessings."
Harper turned to the woman with a big smile on her face. "We do? Oh, you guys are so wonderful!"
This finally caused Alex to speak. "Hold it!" she yelled. "Harper and I are not in love!"
"You don't love her?" Jerry asked.
"No, I love her," Alex replied. "But not like you guys are saying. We're friends."
"Are you sure that's true honey?" Theresa asked.
Alex was about to answer when she glanced to Harper. The vampire had a questioning look on her face.
"Look, this is crazy," Alex said. "I have a boyfriend. And Harper's been after Justin for years." She turned to her friend. "You're not in love with me."
"I never thought I was," Harper said. "But when I became a vampire, my senses got all super-charged. And the first time I caught your scent...I was drawn to you way more than I've ever been drawn to anyone else. Way more than even Justin."
Alex's eyes widened. "That doesn't mean you love me. That just means...I...smell nice."
Harper was more confused than ever. She was all but convinced that she loved Alex now. The more she thought about it the more sense it made. But Alex said she didn't feel the same. Harper could have accepted that, she already knew what it was like to not have feelings returned. But then how could Alex have gone Mage-Primal?
"I don't want to be a problem," the redhead finally said. "If Alex isn't in love with me, it's okay. I'm not going to annoy her or anything like I used to do with Justin."
Alex felt some troubling feelings of guilt as she saw the hint of sadness on Harper's face. "Okay, this is crazy," she said. "Stop being sad, Harper. I'm not rejecting you. We're friends. I love you...as a friend."
"But just as a friend?" the vampire asked.
Harper got a bold look in her eye. Being a vampire had done wonders for her self-confidence. "Okay. Prove it."
"Prove it? How?" Alex was confused.
"I want to kiss you."
The young wizard's eyebrows shot upwards. But then she frowned. "Oh come on. That's your great idea? Like I'll kiss you and suddenly my heart will melt and I'll be unable to deny my true feelings? That is so lame."
"Then it shouldn't be a problem for you, should it?" Harper countered with a shrewd look in her eyes.
"Fine, you want to kiss me. Go ahead and--"
Alex never got the chance to finish her sentence, for Harper grabbed her and kissed her passionately. In truth, the redhead wasn't a very experienced kisser, but somehow she knew instinctively just what to do. Perhaps it was her vampiric nature, perhaps it was the power of true love...but whatever the reason, the kiss was breathtaking.
So breathtaking that Jerry and Theresa started to loudly clear their throats, trying to signal to Harper that she was going a bit too far for their comfort.
Finally Harper ended the kiss. Alex said nothing. The young wizard had a stunned expression on her face.
"Now," Harper said. "Tell me how you feel."
Alex blinked, shook her head as if trying to clear away cobwebs from her mind, and then looked Harper in the eyes.
"I am not..." Alex began speaking in a defiant tone, but then started laughing. "Who am I kidding? I'm totally in love with you."
Harper squealed with delight as she wrapped her arms around her best friend and true love.
And so, the Russo family soon had two vampires living with them, Harper and Juliet. Jerry and Theresa found themselves having to deal with the fact that the girlfriends of their two oldest children were living, and sleeping, under the same roof, but eventually they came up with rules that all parties could agree to.
When Justin went away to college, Juliet went with him. Meanwhile, Harper attended night school classes. She ended up getting her diploma a few months before Alex and the rest of their class graduated.
After thinking about it for a long time, Alex decided on her twentieth birthday to ask Harper to make her a vampire too. They sought the advice of Juliet to make sure that Alex would be able to keep her soul. In the course of their discussions, the point was raised that any wizards who were turned into vampires were technically dead, and therefore were not eligible for the competition that wizard siblings had to undergo to keep their powers. Thus, Alex got to keep her wizard powers forever once she was turned. Six months later, Justin asked Juliet to marry him, and to make him a vampire as well, which resulted in him keeping his powers also.
Amazingly, even though he ended up with no competition from his siblings, Max lost his wizard powers when he was twenty-two. The details of how that happened are long and complicated, involving a llama farm and several kinds of cheeses...but in the end things worked out and Max enjoyed a successful career as a pet therapist.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Many of them...forever.
author's note: And there it is. This story took some bizarre detours for me on the way to the end. It's was originally going to be a two-parter, and the intent was for Harper to become a vampire and to get together with Alex, eventually making her one as well. But the way Alex's reaction worked out in chapter two ended up making the story longer and adding more involvement from other characters, as well as me making up the whole 'Mage-Primal' thing. Anyway, I hope it didn't suck. Please review.