Warning : child abuse
No one’s POV
Xavier flopped face first into the fresh coat of snow.
Erin laughed as her best friend started making a snow angel in that position.
Per custom, whenever the snow was deep enough, the two went out to the park they’d met at when they were kids to simply play around, enjoying the snow. Even if they’d made new friends, this was still an activity they did just the two of them.
“That’s not how you make a snowman.” Erin said as she let herself fall backwards into the snow.
There was a muffled response from Xavier.
The last few weeks had been…in one word: peaceful. Oliver, Edmund, Teo, Xavier, Erin and Xenia had only gotten closer as a group. No one else had discovered about Edmund and Xavier, and since Edmund managed to keep his grade up, he was always free to hang out on Saturdays. On top of that, Erin had actually begun to tolerate Oliver’s presence. Yes, tolerate.
“Oh they’ve finally taken the step by the way.” Erin called out. “It was Xenia in the end. She got tired of waiting for Teo to ask.”
Erin hadn’t gotten herself a drink during those few weeks. She didn’t think she’d actually become dependent on it, but she kept yearning for a little bit of alcohol to forget everything every time she was at home. Her parents were having some financial problems, so the yelling and the fighting had gotten worse. For now it was just between them, so it wasn’t so bad.
Xavier pushed himself up.
“Okay, so not the best idea.” He said, spitting out some snow and wiping his face.
“Yeah, you think?”
“Teo and Xenia?”
Xavier sat in the snow, and simply enjoyed the cold soft air.
Erin lost herself in her thoughts as the snowflakes fell gently around her.
She had a bad feeling. Actually, she’d been having this bad feeling a lot lately. Everything seemed too good to be true. Everyone was just too happy. Something was bound to happen. Ed’s dad was going to find out about Xavier and Edmund. Or Teo and Xenia are going to get into a big fight and break up. Or Erin’s parents are going to explode when she’s around.
Something’s going to happen. Be it a meteorite or her flunking her grade, she had no doubt that something was going to cut the happiness away.
“I’m going to have to go soon.” Xavier announced after a few minutes.
Erin sat up abruptly. “What? Why?”
“I’m meeting up with Ed-”
“Oh no!” Erin exclaimed. “You see him every Saturday! Can you not for like once?”
“And I see you every Sunday. Geez Erin, you know he can only hang out on Saturdays. Plus I want him to meet my mom. Or more I want my mom to meet him. Or well you know both.” Xavier said, looking a little nervous.
Erin sighed loudly before getting to her feet.
“Whatever.” She grumbled.
“Aw don’t be like that Erin!” Xavier said.
“I’m not! See, I’m smiling!” Erin said, showing off her teeth.
“That looks fake as sh*t.”
“Shut up.” Erin said, throwing a snowball at him.
Xavier jumped to his feet, grabbing a fist full of snow as he did so.
He tackled a screaming Erin and shoved the snow into her hair.
“Ahh stop it!” She insisted, trying to push him away, but his hold was too tight.
Instead she grabbed some snow and tried to throw it in Xavier’s face. It failed miserably.
Nonetheless Xavier let her go, backing up and holding his face like she’d just punched him. “Ah the snow, it burns!” He exclaimed, flailing around.
“That’s not funny.” Erin said, despite the huge smile plastered on her face.
“Ahem, well anyway.” Xavier recomposed himself, brushing off tiny snowflakes. “I still have to go.”
“Well go on then, we mustn’t keep your future husband waiting.” Erin said.
“Oh haha, so funny.” Xavier sneered, and Erin stuck her tongue out. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Xavier said with a quick wave.
Erin watched as her best friend ran off.
That sinking feeling came again. She really, really hoped nothing bad happened at all. Yes, she was daring to hope for this continued peacefulness.
“Ah you know on second thought…” Edmund said, turning to leave. He’d been pretty surprised when Xavier had asked if he could show him off to his mom. He wasn’t too fond of the idea, but he hadn’t be able to refuse his boyfriend at the time.
Now though, his nervousness was getting the better of him. He wasn’t too keen on the idea that more people would know about them. The more there are, the more chance his dad would find out. And of course he had no idea how Xavier’s mom would react…even if Xavier had assured him everything would be fine.
“Oh no you don’t! I’m nervous enough as it is.” Xavier said, holding onto Edmund so he didn’t run off.
“You? Nervous? I’m the one who should be nervous, why are you nervous?” Edmund said.
“Well then if you’re nervous as well, we better not do this.” Edmund said, trying to escape from Xavier’s grasp, but Xavier held on.
“No you don’t! It’s too late to back out now! I already told her I have a boyfriend. Of course I didn’t tell her she was going to meet him today, but…”
Xavier’s voice trailed off as the front door to his house opened and his mom stepped out.
There was a moment of silence as everyone froze surprised to see the other party. Eventually Xavier snapped out of it and let go of Edmund.
“Mom!” Xavier exclaimed, mimicking Tina’s face.
“Xavier…?” Her eyes drifted to the oddly familiar red head beside her son.
“I was just heading out for groceries.” Xavier’s mom explained. “Who’s that?”
Xavier gulped down his nervousness. He really didn’t even know why he was nervous, he just was.
“He’s the boyfriend I talked to you about.” Xavier replied and a confused smile appeared on Tina’s face. She looked past Xavier at Edmund, trying to figure why she found the boy familiar.
“Well let’s meet him.” Tina said. That’s when Xavier realized Edmund had stepped to the side, a good few feet away from them. He reached back, grabbed his boyfriend’s hand and brought him forwards.
“Mom, this is Edmund.” Xavier stated, holding Edmund’s arm like a trophy.
“Nice to meet you Edmund.” Tina said, still observing the red haired teen.
“The honor’s mine Mrs.Jales.” Edmund replied with a steady and polite voice, despite his slightly nervous appearance. And then it finally clicked in Tina’s head why this boy seemed so familiar.
Ah yes, she remembered that hair now, that polite voice and especially those eyes. She even remembered the teen’s last name. Edmund Pallen. Son of Leopold Pallen, a stuck up business man who’d bought one of the more expensive houses a good few years ago, and a man whose face appeared constantly in the newspaper.
Normally Tina Jales wouldn’t put this much attention in a famous CEO, but a few years back her son had come to her and told her he was being bullied. And one of the boys bullying him was named Edmund.
Though the boy’s parents had been alerted, the boy had never been disciplined. Fearing that the boys would continue to bully Xavier, Tina had gone to meet Leopold in person and to make sure he understood the gravity of the situation.
It was a little boy who had answered the door. He was polite, had fantastic manners, and a charming smile that managed to ease some of Tina’s frustrations. Tina had had a hard time imagining this was the same boy who was bullying her son at school. Nevertheless, she’d confronted Leopold anyway and with a clever manipulation of words he’d sent her on her way. Tina had left that house feeling accomplished yet having done nothing of what she’d set out to do.
Xavier never said he was being bullied again, so Tina had reluctantly let the matter slide.
How weirdly the events must’ve unfolded if Xavier was dating his former bully.
Even with her initial skepticism, a few minutes of talking with Edmund made it clear to Tina that he was as enamored with Xavier as her son was with him. For now, that was good enough for her.
“I still have to do the groceries.” Tina reminded, wishing Charlie had been here to do a proper examination of Edmund. She couldn’t see past his good manners. Tina waved the two boys goodbye and climbed into her car.
Once the car was out the driveway, Xavier and Edmund slipped inside the now empty house.
It’s only after they had both shed themselves of their winter coats that Edmund exhaled.
“That was more stressful than I thought it would be.” He said glumly.
“What are you talking about? That went great!” Xavier, who was in happy mood that his mother had accepted Edmund, exclaimed.
“Didn’t you see the way she was looking at me? It’s like she was just waiting for me to do something bad!”
Xavier reached over and hugged his boyfriend from behind.
“Nah she wasn’t, and either way that’s impossible for you.”
Edmund forced a short laugh.
“Right now, nothing you could do could be considered as bad.” Xavier murmured, enjoying the feel of wrapping his arms around Edmund.
“Which one’s your room?” Edmund eventually asked after taking a long look around the house.
“That one, why?” Xavier replied with a frown.
“Eh no reason.” Edmund shrugged, gently pulling away from Xavier’s grasp.
Not even a second later, Edmund had reached for the door and opened it.
“Hey! Woah! Where are you going?” Xavier exclaimed as the door to his room was swung wide open.
“I’m going in your room obviously.” Edmund stated.
“Well- no!” Xavier rushed after Edmund like he was hiding something important, though it was quite the contrary. His room held no secrets of any sort…apart maybe from the old unused wand his parents had gotten for him before they ‘realized he wasn’t a witch’. That object, however, was hidden under his bed and Edmund wasn’t very likely to go about searching every nook and cranny, or at least Xavier didn’t think so.
Yeah, he hadn’t told Edmund he was a witch yet. The opportunity never seemed to come up…but if Edmund asked him, Xavier wouldn’t lie.
“Huh. Pretty normal.” Edmund commented after taking a quick look around.
“What? You expected something else?” Xavier asked, leaning on the doorway.
“Well yeah…a messier room maybe. This place looks way too clean and boring. I was at least expecting to find some deep dark secret of yours!” Edmund said, gesturing wildly with his arms.
“So what? You think I’m too boring? Searching for something interesting?” Xavier asked with a slight smirk.
“No. On the contrary, you’re so perfect it feels a little too good to be true.” Edmund replied with a cheesy grin.
“Well I’m not! I’m claustrophobic you know.” Xavier blurted out. Edmund complimented him a lot more than Xavier felt he deserved sometimes.
Edmund’s response wasn’t what he’d expected at all.
“Aha! I knew it!” Edmund exclaimed.
“Well okay, I didn’t know if it was that or being scared of the dark, but I knew you were scared of something.” Edmund said. “Ever since I found you in that closet, I’ve been wondering…”
“See? I’m not as perfect as you say I am.” Xavier said.
“Xav, being claustrophobic isn’t a bad thing.” Edmund said.
“I’m adopted.” Xavier reminded Edmund.
“And? Doesn’t make you any less perfect.” Edmund smirked. Well that’s debatable, Xavier thought.
He sighed and rolled his eyes.
“Stop it. I’m nothing compared to-”
“Geez, when are you going to get it? You’re not winning this argument.” Edmund said with a devious smile.
Xavier let out a sigh of defeat.
“Hmm…now you’ve seen my room. Am I ever going to see-”
But Edmund cut off Xavier’s sentence with a kiss, and the question wasn’t important enough for Xavier remember it.
Oli: but I forgot to write the exam date down 😦
Erin: you shouldve been listening!
I angrily typed, slamming my phone down on the table and going back to reading my book.
After flipping through what seemed like one hundred pages, I’d finally found another recipe that looked doable. Not like the ones asking for toad skin, vampire fangs, and rat toes. I didn’t really have easy access to those types of ingredients.
This one wasn’t a sleeping potion either! It looked a lot more interesting…My phone pinged.
Oli: I was to busy lookin at u
I glared at the text. Him and his dumb comments! I turned the sound off and slipped my phone into my pocket.
Okay, where was I? Ah yes, a blinding potion. Don’t know who’d even want this…but I’m going to try and make it just for the fun of it!
Now let’s see…I need expired milk, five flies-
My phone vibrated.
Oli: whats the date??
Geez, he wasn’t going to stop till he got an answer.
Erin: you can ask the teacher tomorrow
I checked to make sure I’d gathered all the ingredients. I’d spent the last week trying to gather all these.
Alright! Everything’s set!
Let’s make this potion and hope nothing explodes!
…but I doubt mixing milk and flies and salt and all these other harmless things is going to make stuff explode.
For this to work I had to be careful and get the timing right. If I didn’t, the blinding potion would just become this putrid smelling goo. And though that is pretty harmless, I don’t want my parents to start pounding on my door asking what the hell I was smoking.
My phone vibrated again as I dropped the dead flies in the pot. I ignored it for real this time. I’d answer later. Right now I had to focus on making this.
I was mixing happily, a minute away from adding my last ingredient and finishing the potion, when someone knocked once, loudly, on my door.
I froze in surprise as my dad’s powerful voice easily reached me through the door. “Your mom is making supper. Get your ass out here.”
He sounded pretty tired from his day at work, which was a very good thing! When dad’s tired, he usually doesn’t drink and goes straight to bed. Yeah, that’s kind of mean wishing my dad was exhausted from his day at work, but…come on.
“I’ll be right there!” I called out and I heard my dad walk away.
My phone buzzed again, but I paid no heed to it as I poured my last ingredient in. A feeling of pride surged up. I’d actually made a blinding potion!
But then I looked at the recipe, at the last instruction.
Mix constantly for five minutes
Five minutes? Five minutes!? Oh no…no, it’s just five minutes. I can make it in time, hell I bet I could do this in four! I immediately set about mixing, hoping I could finish it before my parents realized I hadn’t arrived yet.
“Erin! Your ass is not on the chair!” My dad’s booming voice made me jump.
Oh sh*t, it hasn’t even been a minute!
“I’m almost done! Just have to finish this last question on my homework!” Come on, come on! Why weren’t you smart enough to wait till after supper Erin?
“Your homework can wait!” My dad yelled back at me and I knew every time he yelled back at me, I was getting myself deeper and deeper into trouble. But I didn’t want them to find out about my alchemy station and take it away…something that was definitely going to happen if I let this thing stink up the place. But would not mixing it really cause it to fail and stink?
…eh I can’t really take the risk with these weird recipes.
“Nearly there!” I replied, hoping that if I mixed faster I could save up some time.
“Erin!” I heard my dad yell. The sound of his chair scraping on the floor as he got up froze my veins. Fear rose up in my chest and I dropped everything and quickly headed out of my room before my dad could yell my name a second time. Or even worse: decide to come to my room.
I closed my bedroom door behind me and turned to face my parents.
My dad was standing up looking irritated and tired and still in his work clothes. My mom looked positively pissed to the point where she probably wanted to strangle me.
My dad let out a very loud sigh and rubbed his temples.
“I shouldn’t have to yell like this when I get home.” Dad grumbled and mom crossed her arms at me.
“What took you so long?” She demanded.
I wrung my hands nervously. “I was just doing homework…”
“And that couldn’t wait?” Mom asked in a harsh tone.
“She used to be a lot more disciplined.” Dad said with a groan. “I’m too tired to take care of this.”
Mom’s scowl only worsened as dad headed towards my parent’s room. He used my shoulder as support as he walked by me, nearly making me stumble forwards.
As the master bedroom’s door closed shut, I took a tentative step towards my mom’s glaring.
But my mom cut me off sharply with a single word. “Erin.”
I bent my head down and wanted nothing more than to escape back to my room.
“You know how exhausted your father is when he comes back from work.” Mom said in the same low voice.
“Yes.” I murmured.
“Don’t interrupt me!” Mom snapped and I flinched, sealing my mouth shut.
“He’s working hard so both of us can eat and sleep! So the least we can do is make his return home as relaxing and stress free as possible, no?” Mom asked.
I resorted to nodding.
“THEN WHY ARE YOU BEING A LITTLE BRAT!?” Mom yelled, stepping forwards to make sure the words hit my face as harshly as possible. “If your father calls you come immediately! There is absolutely NOTHING more important!”
“Mom I-” I started to say in the hopes of calming her anger, but she wasn’t feeling in a very relaxed mood tonight.
The moment the first word had left my mouth, my mom’s hand had reached up and slapped me harshly across my face.
“Don’t interrupt me!” She hissed as the blood rushed to my face. Against my wishes, tears were beginning to well up in my eyes.
“I’m sorry.” I muttered, cupping my cheek.
Mom gripped my shoulders, her long nails digging into my back, and shoved me at the wall behind me.
My head hit the wall and my vision went black for a microsecond before I slid down to the floor. The tears were now officially falling down my cheeks. I had no control over them.
“You better be sorry! Make sure this doesn’t happen again you whiny brat!” Mom yelled.
I didn’t respond or even look at her for fear I’d provoke another unwanted reaction. But apparently my mom took my lack of reacting badly.
Mom grabbed the lamp on the table and threw it at me. I barely had the time to bring up my arm to protect myself. It hit my forearm and fell to the floor with a heavy clunk.
“You’re just like your brother! A whiny brat who can’t stop crying over every little thing!” Mom spat and those words hit me harsher than anything else she had said before. I hated when she brought him up.
Finally feeling satisfied, my mom walked past me, probably to go comfort my father and tell him I wouldn’t be so irresponsible again. She left me on the floor, as the unbearable feeling of sadness, of loss, of sorrow, of helplessness washed over me all over again.
My phone buzzed.
I couldn’t stay in the house any longer. The air felt heavy and oppressing so I climbed to my feet, knowing my mom couldn’t care less if I was gone for a few minutes at this point, and rushed out the house.
I didn’t bother to grab a coat, and the harsh winter cold hit me once my feet sunk into the snow. But I didn’t want to go back in, not even for a coat. The memories of that day were already crashing down on me as it was. I didn’t want to be in the same room where it had happened.
My phone buzzed again.
Oli: I cant wait till tomorrow! I need to kno now!
Oli: hheeellllooo? don’t ignore me 😦
Oli: ok so mayb I can wait…
Oli: I know I might seem annoyin but im not trying to be I just want to get to kno u better so plz dont ignore me! being yelled at is more fun
I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know why I even let it happen. But a small, very minute, smile formed itself when I read his last text.
Geez, Oliver is such a weirdo.
I sniffled as my last tears froze on my face and I was suddenly filled with this need…
A need that made me scroll through my contacts on my phone, click on a name I never clicked, and bring the phone to my ear as the ringing started.
But after one ring, I hung up. I’d tried calling Oliver.
I slipped my phone into my pocket and wiped my eyes. Calling Oliver won’t do anything, I don’t even know why I felt like it. No I need to…I need to go visit my brother. My lucky little brother.
It wasn’t that far, so I set off walking, the cold snow touching my ankles. The sharp cold seemed like a just punishment for my actions today.
I should be back inside, working on the potion to make sure it really doesn’t start stinking. But I couldn’t at this point…not until I’d seen my brother.
During my small walk, my phone buzzed again.
Oli: Are u ok?
I replied, realizing it might have been weird that I’d just tried to call him.
A few seconds later, I got another text.
Oli: where are u?
It was a, yes weird, but simple question. Seemingly harmless, but in this situation there was an emotional weight. As if Oliver had somehow figured out, with my one word answer, that I wasn’t doing so well, that I was reliving a painful event. My honesty was just as mysterious to me.
Erin: the cemetery
“Hey baby brother,” I murmured, once I’d arrived at my destination. I couldn’t get any other words out, I was too scared I’d start crying.
My little brother was only two when he died. He died in the kitchen, before my eyes, by mother’s hand. He’d cried a little too much, a little too loudly, when mom was a little too drunk. One minute he was in her arms and the next he was on the floor and the house was filled with a sickening silence.
And she never gave a damn.
I sank to my knees, unable to bear the oppressing weight on my shoulders any longer.
He’d only been two! He was only a little kid…and I’d adored him more than anything else in the world. I wish I’d been older then, so that I could’ve stopped him from being taken from me.
I felt the tears well up in my eyes again. Xavier didn’t know. He thought I was a single child just like him. And I would probably never tell him. I don’t want him to know all the horrible things in my life.
The sound of crunching snow reached my ears.
I didn’t need to look up to know who it was that had joined me at my brother’s grave. After sending him that text it should’ve been obvious to me that he would do something like this.
He didn’t say a thing though. He wasn’t his usual nervous yet goofy self. He was simply crouching, looking at me, waiting for me to tell him to screw off. I opened my mouth and only managed to mutter two words before I felt my voice crack.
I felt a pair of arms suddenly surround me, blocking out the cold and bringing with it a comfort I hadn’t known I needed.
I broke down into sobs, the tears falling down my cheeks again as I shamefully let myself be comforted by the small simple act.