I was woken by my phone ringing, about a month into the summer holidays. Groggily, I reached out of my duvet and grabbed the ringing device, flipping it open and pressing it to my ear. "Hello?"
With a scream, I shot up and fell out of bed, landing on my backside. I should've known. Who else would ring me at this time?
"Raimundo, do you have any idea what time this is?" I demanded, climbing gingerly back into bed.
"Yeah. It's 3pm." He called back cheekily. I groaned. Of course.
"Maybe there, but here it's 3am! And you don't have to shout, you know."
"Oh, right, sorry." He answered sheepishly, his voice now a normal conversation level. "So…we just woke you up?"
"Yes. I just woke up to you screaming in my ear, and then I fell out of bed!" I hissed. I could hear sniggering coming from the other end of the line. "It's not funny! Is that you, Maria?"
"Yeah, I figured out the speakerphone – just like you said."
"Well, now that I'm up…" I grumbled and heard giggling on the other end. "Who's that?"
"That's Alejandro. He won't speak right now, but he wanted to say hello. It was all three of us screaming it that woke you up."
"Oh, that explains the volume. Hi Alejandro!"
"And now he's run off again." Raimundo commentated.
I giggled. "So how's your summer been so far?"
"Alright. Mostly been dodging pranks. The twins and this idiot here seem to have teamed up to expel their boredom and I'm there favourite victim."
"Aw, that's only 'cause you react so much." I quirked a smile. I hadn't realised just how much I missed this – the friendly banter.
"Well, if you- Oh, mum's calling, I gotta go. See you later, Kimiko!"
"Oi, Maria, how do you turn off this speaky-phone thing?"
"Speakerphone." We corrected in unison and I could hear a button being pressed.
"There. Now everything you say won't be broadcasted all over my house." He announced proudly.
I grinned. I had missed my friends dearly, though just how much I hadn't realised until that moment. I had gone from a place where I was surrounded by people my age who were friends – real genuine friends – and where I could freely use my powers, to a place where I had only papa for company, and most of the time he was too busy, and was also banned from using my magic for two months. I could use my element and martial arts but it just wasn't the same as sparring. I incorporated it into my dance workouts but the thrill of the challenge was missing.
"Honestly, Raimundo. What are you expecting me to say that I wouldn't want your family to hear? I've met all but two of your siblings and your parents, but from what they've told me about them, they sound really nice."
"So, would you like to meet them?"
"I…what I'm trying to say is; would you like to come and visit? You can meet my parents, though Juan and Carlos are still abroad."
"I'd love to!"
"Great! We'll take the soonest flight we can to pick you up. Dad's crazy about muggle things."
"Why don't I send over my jet? It could pick you up at the airport."
"You have your own private plane?"
"Yeah," I mumbled, uncomfortable with talking openly about the amount of money I had. "So, what do you say? I can send it over today."
"Sure, we'll be waiting."
We chatted for hours after that before finally hanging up around five and I figured, I might as well get up now that I was fully awake. I told papa, the pilot and then, while the pilot flew to Brazil, I packed.
I left my Hogwarts trunk packed with the freshly washed robes folded neatly amongst the schoolbooks. I wasn't sure how long I would be staying.
A grin slid its way onto my face as I felt the familiar presence coming through my doorway. I turned to see Maria gaping at my bedroom, a look of longing in her eyes. Raimundo let out a low whistle. "This…is your bedroom?" Maria chocked out.
"Yeah." I glanced round the large room, seeing it in a much different way than what Maria was at that moment. "Trust me, it's not as great as it seems." I shrugged in response to Maria's raised eyebrow. "It gets lonely. The house is pretty lonely, too. Such a huge home for just me and papa, and papa's at work most of the time so it's just me."
"Our house isn't a bit like that."
"Of course not, it's not anywhere near as big as this and there's ten of us!"
I grinned at the siblings' antics and moved to pick up my bag. "As bad as it sounds, it'll be good to get away from here. I know papa means well but he is so overprotective that I'm not allowed to leave the house – not that I always obey that particular rule – and then it's just me for the majority of the time. It'll be good to have a little freedom." They smiled sympathetically. Maria was a free spirit and Raimundo knew as well as I did that you just can't keep a Xiaolin Dragon locked up inside. We lived for adventure. "And guess what? He's got the most security on my room; not his work, his games, but me. He should know by now that I can take care of myself, but video games can't!"
I went to leave the room, bag slung over my shoulder, when Raimundo's voice called me back. "Um…aren't you forgetting something?" I turned to see him and Maria eyeing my Hogwarts trunk.
"I wasn't sure how long I would be staying, and I didn't want to be presumptuous." I replied sheepishly and headed to pick it up but Raimundo beat me to it, Maria lifting Sakura's cage.
I lifted the wicker basket by my bed and headed for the far corner. "Hanabi? Come on, girl." The little black cat with tabby paws and patches round her eyes leapt into my arms and I placed her in her basket. "It was a Christmas present from papa." I explained, noticing the Pedrosa siblings' faces. "He wasn't sure how to send her to Hogwarts, so he kept her to give to me over the summer."
"And you named her after the Star Hanabi?" Raimundo smirked.
"It's Japanese for firework." Maria giggled.
Upon arrival in Brazil, we took a taxi to within a short walking distance of the Pedrosa family house, the Burrow. When it first came into view over the hill, I stopped and stared. Sort of like Maria did when she saw my house. It was fairly large, not overly so like mine, but large enough to be a cosy home for a family of ten with occasional guests. "Wow." I breathed, almost as awe struck as when I had first seen Hogwarts. One thing I noticed that made me laugh, was that it seemed as though rooms were added as each new family member came along, each on top of the last until it looked similar to the leaning tower of Pisa, but as a house. It was as if it was being held up by magic; which, I reminded myself, it probably was.
"You like it?" Maria asked, and I could only nod mutely.
"Come on," Raimundo grinned excitedly, him and Maria taking a hand each and dragging me towards the house. "Mum and dad have been dying to meet you."
The interior was even more spectacular. All of the mundane household chores – knitting, washing the dishes, tidying up, were being done by themselves. Also, there was a large clock above the fireplace with ten hands, each one marked with the name and picture of one of the family members and the labels had various names, work, home, travelling and even mortal peril. The hands of Raimundo and Maria swung from 'travelling' to 'home', where all but three hands was resting, those of Antonio, who I assumed to be Raimundo's father, Carlos and Juan, which all pointed to 'work'.
"It's charmed." Raimundo spoke up, approaching me from behind. "Everytime someone new is added to the family, a new hand appears, and if a new label is needed, it appears." Okay, now that was pretty awesome. "Come on, mum's in here."
He led me into the kitchen where a tall, rather plump woman was standing over the oven, wearing a floral print apron. Her hair was just like Maria's; long, brunette and straight, and her eyes were hazel. The siblings obviously got their identical lime green eyes from their father.
She turned and saw the two of us standing there and her face lit up. "Oh! You must be Kimiko! I've heard a lot about you from Raimundo." She pulled me into a warm hug, and it felt strange. In as long as I could remember, I had never been hugged by a woman. Her eyes flickered over to Raimundo, glinting with amusement before she spoke again. "And Maria, of course. From everyone, now that I think about it. You've made quite the impression on this family!" I blushed deeper with each compliment. "Pedro tells me you have an admirable work ethic; the twins tell me that you have a sharp sense of humour to rival theirs; Raimundo tells me of your skills as a Xiaolin Dragon; Maria tells me of how good of a friend you are; and there's Al – he doesn't stop talking about you!"
"Looks like you've got competition, Raimundo!"
"Shut up." The twins had appeared in the kitchen and were smiling innocently at a now quite red Raimundo.
"Now, now, boys!" Mrs Pedrosa chided, but her eyes gave away her amusement. "Why don't you go and play quidditch in the clearing?" She had apparently said the magic words, for all three's faces lit up immediately. "Oh, but I need you to de-gnome the garden first." This had the opposite effect.
"Do we have to?" The twins whined in unison.
"Yes." Mrs Pedrosa said firmly and the boys trooped out the door. I made to follow them, but Mrs Pedrosa cut me off. "Oh, you needn't go dear."
"That's alright, Mrs Pedrosa, I'd like to. I've never seen a de-gnoming before."
"Call me Carla, dear."
I smiled, calling over my shoulder as I left, "Besides, it sounds like fun!" I chuckled as I heard her bewildered thoughts. No one would expect a girl like me to be excited for a chore such as de-gnoming.
It was just as much fun as I thought it would be. It involved picking up the little creatures, swinging them round so they got dizzy and throwing them as far as you can. It turned into a competition to see who could throw the furthest but the twins quickly gave up and began throwing them at each other instead, as with our heightened strength and our abilities, which we used to propel the gnomes further, gave us an obvious edge. It ended up in a tie as we each got an even amount further than the other and we ran out of gnomes.
We trooped back in to get our brooms and Mrs- Clara seemed quite shocked at how much I seemed to enjoy it and had somehow managed to make Raimundo enjoy it too. The game was two-on-two and ended up with me playing chaser with Ricardo as beater against Raimundo and Fernando, each in their house team positions. I was nervous since Raimundo had the obvious advantage, having played this position before, but I was fairly certain I could do it.
It turns out I was right. The 'art of deception' as Omi put it was not to be underestimated and won the game for my team. Halfway through, Maria and Alejandro came out to watch and ended up cheering for my team. "Betrayed by my own family!" Raimundo would exclaim dramatically, pretending to swoon, so I pushed him from his broomstick and, but he caught himself – or, rather, he made the wind catch him, just in time. I smirked at the playful glare he sent my way and the twins high-fived me.
After the match, the six of us returned to the house for dinner. As I sat at the table, I spotted the twins whispering to each other, glancing often at me and I began to feel nervous. Were they planning a prank on me? I noticed that Mr Pedrosa's hand had moved to the 'travelling' label and soon flickered to 'home'. At that moment a tall man entered the house and my hunch was correct, he did have the same lime green eyes as his children. He too was brunette and his hair was just like Raimundo's.
After getting his food from Carla, he sat down beside me, seemingly not noticing until a minute later, he turned to me with a confused expression on his face. "Who are you?"
The twins sniggered at his abrupt manner and Maria and Raimundo looked as if they were stuffing their mouths in order to stifle laughter. Alejandro looked confused, Pedro looked…well, like he normally does, and Carla looked as if she wanted to smack her husband upside the head.
"Oh, I'm Kimiko, sir. Kimiko Tohomiko." I offered him my hand to shake and he did, a gleeful look lighting his face.
"Oh, call me Antonio." He waved off before he seemed to fully process what I had said. "Good Lord, are you really?" I quirked a smile; it reminded me of when the twins found out. "You must know all about muggles," began excitedly, I could hear Raimundo openly laughing inside of his head. "Tell me, what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?" He took a bite of whatever was on his fork and continued to stare intently at me, awaiting an answer.
"Oh…um…" I fished for an answer. Rubber ducks didn't exactly have a purpose, did they? They were sort of just…there… "Er… they…uh….well, they sort of…"
And so began my month at the burrow.