libri: magnus bane

Le nuove storie sono in alto.

Storia appartenente alla serie City of Hidden Houses, scritta in coppia con Tabata.
Genere: Drammatico, Introspettivo.
Pairing: Jace/Sebastian, Sebastian/Clary.
Rating: PG-13.
AVVERTIMENTI: Slash, What If?, Angst, (somewhat) Incest, Death, Fluff, Hurt/Comfort, Spoiler.
- After killing the Seelie Queen in retaliation for his sister's death, Sebastian flees the court and hides in Brocelind Forest for two days and one night, after which he decides he can't stay there at risk to be found by Nephilim or Downworlders hunting for him, or freeze to death. He runs then to the only person in Alicante he knows enough to ask for help. And that person happens to be Magnus Bane.
Note: Insomma, io e la Tab abbiamo deciso di mettere da parte gli imbarazzi e trasformare questa cosa che stiamo facendo in una Cosa ufficiale, il che vuol dire che una serie (dal titolo bellissimo) è stata creata, una lunga storia è stata plottata e potrebbe perfino essere portata a termine, prima o poi. Lo so, è una roba inedita. Ma clpf.
Incapace di smettere di amare Sebastian come se fosse una cosa normale, continuo a parlare delle sue simpatiche avventure nel post-Heavenly Fire 'verse, ed in questa storia, per la precisione, lo mando da Magnus perché questa cosa era stata accennata nella prima storia della serie e mi sembrava una cosa carina approfondirla. Anche perché Magnus è bellissimo.
Inoltre, questa storia è stata scritta per i Pirati di FDP, su prompt Quando la città dorme.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

It doesn’t take much skill to find him, Sebastian only needs to follow the track of loud music and laughter, together with the magic lights shining and crackling overhead like fireworks in messy explosions that light up the streets, forcing him to move hugging the walls and hide in every dark corner he’s lucky enough to find as he makes way towards Magnus’ house.

He didn’t mind the prison, truly, he didn’t. It was part of the deal. A very specific deal he had made with Jace on the day of his cleanse – his rebirth, as Clarissa liked to call it. Not that Sebastian felt anything close to having been reborn, of course. He did feel different – not quite enough, though. However, his sister seemed to be so sure about it he never tried to convince her otherwise on the rare occasions he had had to see her through the years.

Too few, all considered. Especially looking back now.

He didn’t mind the prison, anyway, he didn’t mind the loneliness. The only people he’d have liked to see while in his captivity, after all, were his brother and sister, and he knew they wouldn’t have come. He didn’t miss anybody else, so being alone wasn’t that painful. And being held captive – that wasn’t that bad either. He didn’t miss wandering outside, he didn’t miss Idris and he sure as hell didn’t miss the mundane world. He was alright in his cell, it was comfortable enough. Clarissa had seen to it.

Oh, she had been sweet, probably not even wanting to. She just had it in her, Sebastian supposed, the Angel blood running through her veins making her good just as much as the demon blood had made him bad all his life. Such a powerful thing, the blood. Unseen and unconscious, and still ruling your life from the inside.

Clarissa had insisted about making his cell comfortable. “He isn’t the same as before,” she had told the Council. “He’s a different person.” He wasn’t sure about that. He was grateful to her for saying it, nonetheless.

His beautiful Clarissa. His precious, beautiful sister. And she was gone. She was no more.

But not now. No, not now, he doesn’t have to think about it now, he tells himself when he feels the familiar cloud of void swelling into his chest. He must not think about Clary now. He must not think about the Seelie Queen and her blood still staining his hands, his face, his clothes. He must keep himself focused. The dark street. The noisy exploding magical lights up in the air. Magnus’ house a few feet away from himself. With it, salvation, he hopes. Because it’s true, he didn’t mind the prison – but he’d rather die than go back to it now. The closed space, the thick walls, the heavy bars, that doesn’t feel right anymore. There’s a restlessness inside him, it wasn’t there before, but it is now.

His beautiful Clarissa. His precious, beautiful sister, gone, no more.

And Jace. All on his own.

And the son.

No, prison isn’t the place for him, not anymore. He’s gotta see to it that he never goes back there. Magnus will help. He’ll help, one way or another.

No security at the party, he realizes as he slips past the gates of the mansion, painted in black and with a neon pink book drawn upon it. “Sober,” he can’t help but comment under his breath as he hides in the darkness again, coasting the wall to reach the door at the end of the driveway. No security here either, he notices. He’s pretty sure he should think about this, about what this means. He has no idea what happened in the world as he hid in the forest for the past two days. Anything could have happened. He should probably be worried about it – or at the very least start considering the option of asking Magnus about it, when he finally sees him, so to decide what to do next.

Because right now he honestly has no idea. He could die in five minutes. He could be captured again and brought back to prison. He could be torn apart limb from limb by an angry mob of Downworlders the moment he steps into this house.

Oh, but he wants to see his brother, before he dies. He needs to— Not now, possibly not even in a few weeks or months (perhaps years? That might be a more accurate projection, he doesn’t feel ready right now, though he misses him so much), but he cannot die before that happens. So he’s going to survive tonight. He’s going to cling to whatever’s been left inside of him after fire burnt everything away, and he’s going to make it to see the dawn of tomorrow, and the day after that.

He approaches the door holding his breath. There’s light of many colors coming out from inside, and laughter, and jokes, and a multitude of accents crowding his ears, confusing him. He never liked people much. There are clearly too many of them into this house.

Which is why he’s almost grateful when Magnus shows up on the doorstep, basically covering the whole entrance with his body, making it impossible for him to advance any further.

For more than a few seconds, all Sebastian can actually see is sparkly purple and canary yellow. He can’t make sense of the colors together, so he looks up and focuses on Magnus’ face, which is even more confusing. He’s entirely covered in make-up. Yellow make-up, of course. Looking at him is like stubbornly keeping one’s eyes open to see the world while spinning on the spot. He’s confusing, and kind of nauseating, in a way. There’s too much of him, and underlined by his loud appearance so many times it’s like being shoved food down one’s throat with a stomach already full.

“I wasn’t mistaken,” the warlock says, staring at him, “It really was you.”

“You knew?” Sebastian asks, frowning in disappointment, “How?”

“I saw you,” Magnus answers easily, “What do you think the fireworks were for?”

Sebastian’s scowl deepens. “You were searching for me.”

“I was keeping an eye out for something,” he simply answers, “And now I know it was you. As you can probably see, anyway, I’m busy. So why are you here? What do you want?”

Sebastian looks down, clutching his fists down his sides. He’s cold, he’s hungry, he’s covered in stinky, dried up blood and he doesn’t want to go back to prison. “I need help,” he says.

Magnus laughs, so loudly Sebastian rushes to look up, to see if anybody noticed. Nobody seems to. “You need help from me,” he says, “Isn’t that something. And why should I help you, Jonathan, or Sebastian, or whatever name you go by these days?”

“Don’t,” Sebastian shakes his head, suddenly agitated by the mention of his names, “Don’t do this, not now. Help me. Because I’m asking.”

“I don’t think that’s enough of a reason, kid. Try harder.”

“If you don’t help me,” Sebastian growls lowly, trying to get closer as threateningly as his weak condition lets him, “I will kill you.”

“You can try,” Magnus answers with a faint laughter.

This isn’t going to work, he thinks, not now, not with the way he looks, lost and confused as he is. He feels just like he felt three years before, when Clary and Jace tied him up and told him he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison if he wanted to have any life at all. It was easier to surrender back then, and it’s easier to do the same now too.

“I killed a hundred fairies,” he says, “To avenge my sister. And I’m sick and tired and I’m in pain. And I’m grieving, and I don’t know what to do. And I miss my brother, and I can’t see him. And I’m scared,” he shivers, saying the words, unable to look at Magnus’ face as he does, “I’m scared they will catch me, and I don’t want to go back to prison. I don’t. So help me, please. Because I need it.”

Magnus doesn’t answer right away, and Sebastian doesn’t look at him. For more than a few moments, there’s nothing but electric silence between them, and the buzzing coming from inside the house is nothing but a distant echo.

Then, slowly, Magnus starts to talk. “Given the history we have, you and I, I should slam this door right on your pretty face and warn you never to come around me ever again, lest I leave your corpse in such state not even the very few remaining members of your dysfunctional and frankly quite annoying family would be able to recognize you after I was done,” he says, voice cold and hard as marble. But then he softens up, in a mischievous smile Sebastian doesn’t even want to begin to question. “But I know what you did. I knew it before you told me. And I think that buys you a couple minutes of my precious time.”

Sebastian finally looks up at him, at a loss of words, possibly for the first time in his life. He nods and tries to move forward, but he ends up bumping against Magnus’ firm body, still planted in front of the entrance. That shirt is very purple, and very glittery, and those trousers are very, very yellow, and he feels like throwing up.

“Not so fast,” Magnus says, pushing him back towards the safe darkness of the bushes, “I’ve got to clear the house first. That is, obviously, unless you want to be eaten alive as a greeting from my people. Is this death wish thing running in your family?”

“No,” he answers, looking down again. He longs to be inside, because it’s too cold out here. But he doesn’t want to die, not yet. And he’s never been stupid, he knows better than to risk his life when he’s clearly at a disadvantage. So he complies. “I’ll wait out here.”

Luckily, he doesn’t need to wait much. Magnus instantly puts an end to all festivities, turning the lights off, making the banquet vanish into nothingness and politely inviting all guests to get the fuck out of his house in an instant if they don’t want to see what the High Warlock of Brooklyn is capable of.

From his spot in the darkness, Sebastian watches everybody leave from the front door, and then waits for Magnus to come out and call him, something he decides to do only when the street is silent, as the rest of Alicante.

It’s warm inside. There’s a fireplace, and fire crackling pleasantly into it. Sebastian instantly rushes to it, kneeling on the floor and reaching out for it, showing his hands to the fire as he waits for the cold to naturally slide out from inside him.

“Where have you been?” Magnus asks, looking right at him, standing a few steps away.

“Brocelind Forest,” he answers, “I hid.”

“Smart move,” Magnus nods, shoving his hands in his pockets, “They’re searching for you.”

“They want to bring me back,” Sebastian says, feeling his stomach tighten up in a knot at the thought.

“Can you blame them?” Magnus asks, raising an eyebrow.

“I blame nobody,” Sebastian answers, shaking his head, “I just don’t want to go back.”

Magnus sighs deeply, closing his eyes for a moment. It feels good not to be looked at by those shiny cat-like eyes, but it doesn’t last long. “You need a warm bath,” he says in the end, “If you’ve been hiding out there for two entire days and one night as you say, it’s not just blood we need to wash off you right now. Come.”

“Just a few minutes,” Sebastian insists, getting closer to the fire, “Just a few minutes, it feels like my fingers are going to fall off.”

“Which is why you must come,” Magnus walks up to him and grabs him by the back of his shirt, pulling him up effortlessly. Oh, he wouldn’t have been able to do this up to three years ago. But Sebastian’s thinner, now, and weaker, and he can’t fight him, only whine.

“I asked but for a few minutes,” he whimpers, still trying to reach out for the fire despite being carried away with his feet barely brushing the ground.

“And I don’t think you need any of them,” Magnus insists, bringing him to the bathroom.

It’s a clean, big room, all covered in peach pink tiles and porcelain fixtures in the same color. The bathtub in the middle of the room fills with hot water with a click of Magnus’ fingers, and the warmth coming up in thick steam from the water surface is so inviting Sebastian has to swallow hard and dig his nails into his own palms to restrain himself from diving into it head first.

“Come on,” Magnus sighs patiently, as if having to deal with a child, “Undress. You need a bath. Be quick about it. I don’t want to have to dispose of your corpse. Corpses stink.”

“Thank you,” Sebastian says absent-mindedly as he unbuttons his worn out, bloodstained shirt and slips out of it, completely oblivious to the glance Magnus casts him upon hearing the words. Drawn to the water, he takes off his other clothes and enters the bathtub, sitting on the bottom with his head tilted back against the edge. He exhales deeply and opens his eyes to look at Magnus as he grabs a colorful bottle of soap and proceeds to pour half of its content into the water. To that, he frowns. “I don’t need that much.”

“I will be the judge of that,” Magnus says, pouring soap until he’s satisfied with the amount of bubbles covering the surface of the water, wrapping Sebastian’s body in a warm, cleansing embrace. It’s pleasant enough to convince him it’s better to shut up and let the warlock decide what’s best, at least for now. “It’s very unsettling,” Magnus says after a while, “How much you look like your father.”

Sebastian opens his eyes again, studying him. “You’re not the first to tell me.”

“But I’m probably the only one who knows what he’s talking about,” Magnus goes on, sitting on the edge of the tub and looking down at him. “I met him when he was around the age you are now. You could pass for the same person.”

Sebastian blinks a couple of times, intrigued. “How was he?”

“How has he always been?” Magnus chuckles, “An asshole.”

Sebastian frowns, disappointed, and looks away, distractedly playing with the bubbles floating on the surface of the water. “How did you meet?”

“It’s not important,” Magnus just shakes his head, “I can tell you what happened when we met, though.”

Sebastian’s curiosity is awakened again, and he leans in, looking at Magnus with hungry eyes. “What?”

“We tried to kill each other,” Magnus laughs lightheartedly, “I bashed his head in, he tried to find out what colors my entrails were painted with, I disagreed with his plan and notified him by spitting on his face. As a result of that, he beat the shit out of me. And that was pretty much it.”

Sebastian goes back to sit with his back against the edge of the bathtub. He’s mildly disappointed, but not really. He should probably have expected something like that. He doesn’t even know what he’d have rather heard. He knew his father. Expectations never really were fulfilled in any good way, when he could see otherwise.

“Your eyes, though,” Magnus goes on. Sebastian looks up at him again, and finds him smiling a weird smile that makes him uncomfortable. “They’re different than Valentine’s, or at least they are now. I don’t think you need to know anything more about your father, pretty eyed one. I think you’ve had your fill of him for the time being.”

It’s very simply put, but mostly right, Sebastian realizes as he relaxes underwater.

Magnus stands up and wipes his wet hands against those outrageously yellow pants. “I’ll be waiting for you in the sitting room,” he says, “Join me, when you’re done.”

He loses track of time as the water gives their natural warmth back to his limbs, his skin turning pink as the blood and the dirt get washed away. His eyes closed, he rests, he dozes off to sleep. As he sleeps, he dreams, despite being aware of his surroundings, being aware of being in Magnus Bane’s bathroom, running for his life, having killed the Seelie Queen. He dreams of Jace, and he dreams of Clarissa. He dreams of his nephew whose face he hasn’t seen yet. They’re all together, smiling and radiating happiness, and he’s not with them. He’s far away, looking at them from a distance, but it’s alright. And then it’s not anymore. Then it’s all bloody and dark, and little Thomas isn’t there, and Jace is alone, and Sebastian tells him to come, come, little brother, come to me, but Jace cannot hear his voice, Jace doesn’t see him. Sebastian opens his eyes feeling restless and confused, the water’s going cold, he’s hungry and he doesn’t want to be here anymore.

He walks out of the tub and wraps himself up into a soft, white bathrobe, walking barefoot back to the sitting room. Magnus is sitting on the couch, cross-legged and seemingly lost in his thoughts. There’s food on the table, a lot of it. Meat, mostly. Hunger awakens in Sebastian’s stomach and he sits on the chair, grabbing fork and knife and starting to eat. “I wanna know about Jace,” he says with his mouth full.

“What do you want to know about him?” Magnus asks, unfazed by his voracity.

“Everything,” he answers, finishing his steak and attacking the bread as if it was a living thing and he the predator who’s supposed to devour it. “Where is he? How is he? Is he with somebody, is somebody taking care of him?”

Magnus gives in to a short chuckle, turning to look at him. “Do you want to go and see him? Is that why you’re asking?”

“No,” he shakes his head, swallowing a glassful of water, “I won’t see him so soon. I just want to know.”

Magnus sighs, standing up from the couch and reaching him at the table. “Your brother is broken, Sebastian,” he says, “He’s holding himself together out of habit and inability to accept what really happened. That’s how Jace is. Does it make you feel better to know it?”

“No,” he puts down the glass, refills it, drinks again, “It makes me angry. I don’t understand.”

“Believe me, you’re not alone in this,” Magnus sighs again and sits at the table, right in front of him. “Now, tell me. What is it you want to do?”

Enough with the meat, he wants fruit, now. Apples, pears, oranges. There’s all he could possibly ask for. Not a day in his life he’s ever had all he could possibly ask for. And he wants everything. He systematically starts peeling one fruit for each kind, and then cutting them into pieces, mixing them up on his plate. He eats them together, confusing the taste. It feels heavenly.

“I want to hide,” he answers honestly, “At least for now. I believe you can help me with that.”

“I can help everybody with almost everything,” Magnus answers with a light shrug, “But this isn’t the answer I was searching for. Understand my position. I’m not at liberty to do whatever I want, for a variety of reasons I’m sure I don’t need to explain.”

Sebastian looks up at him, stares right into those golden cat eyes. “You are at liberty to do whatever you want, High Warlock of Brooklyn. The question is whether you want to help me or not. And whether you want to pass through all the consequences of helping me or not.”

The warlock looks back at him, his expression still, unreadable. He stands up, looking away. “I need to think about it,” he says, “It’s not an easy choice to make.”

“There’s no such thing as an easy choice,” Sebastian sighs, standing up too. He looks at the dirty dishes scattered on the table, the ones he used to eat. It’s unsettling to look at them. For some reason they make him think of a battlefield. Of leaving a battlefield covered in lifeless bodies. He silently starts to collect them. He piles them up in an orderly fashion, larger plates at the bottom, smaller ones at the top, then the cutlery. He brings them to the kitchen, puts them down at the bottom of the spotless sink. Then he rolls the sleeves of the bathrobe up to his elbows and starts washing them, one after the other.

“You are aware of the fact that I could make those dirty dishes disappear in the blink of an eye, aren’t you?” Magnus asks. His voice seems genuinely surprised, and when Sebastian turns to look at him he finds out his expression mirrors that feeling.

He shrugs. “It didn’t feel right to leave them on the table.”

For a second, the warlock looks at him silently, his eyes wide open, his lips parted in disbelief. He seems shocked, now, more than merely surprised. And when he speaks, his voice is uncertain. “What happened to you?” he asks in a faint breath, “What have you changed into?”

No more dishes to wash, Sebastian stops the water and stands there. He doesn’t want to turn and look at Magnus again. This is awkward. He doesn’t feel alright. Too much has happened in the last few days. He lost Clary, he lost his place in the world, painful and constricting as it was, and if he’s honest with himself he doesn’t even know if he’s really going to ever see Jace again, let alone meeting his nephew for the first time. What has he changed into? He has no idea. He’s an aching, desperate bundle of needs he himself can’t even start to translate into words. He wants his brother. He wants his father. He wants to be a child running through an enormous, empty mansion. He wants to be little Jonathan spying on the other Jonathan, envying and hating him from a distance. He wants his sister back. He wants peace of mind, more than anything else in the world right now he wants peace of mind, and he’s stricken by knowing he will never, never get there. There, to the moment in life when everything’s clear, and everything’s right. He lost that chance long ago. He lost that chance before he was born.

“When I was a child,” he starts weakly, looking at a single drop of water leaking again and again from the tap as it launches itself into the void, slamming into the steely, silvery perfection of the bottom of the sink, “I asked my father, father, is my mother ever coming back? He said no, Jonathan, she isn’t ever coming back. Is she dead?, I asked. Dead means never coming back. No, she isn’t dead, he said. Then why did she go away?, I asked again. And he told me why. Ah, father always answered my questions in the cruelest possible way. It was his revenge, I believe, for coming up to be even more perfect that he thought I’d be, which made me disgusting to his eyes. He said, because of you, Jonathan. Because there’s something wrong with you.” He smiles sadly, a distant smile he didn’t even know he could have in himself. “Back then, I was very young. I understood nothing. I believed father could do anything, and so I asked – can you fix me?, and he told me no, Jonathan, nothing could ever make her love you. Only I love you, he told me, only I can love a monster.” He doesn’t need to turn around to see how tense Magnus is now. Tension is all there is in that room. It makes the air itself thick and unbreathable. “You ask me what have I changed into,” he goes on, “But I don’t know. All my life I’ve been the monster my father taught me to be. Because I wanted his love. And he could love the monster in me. So, a monster is what I’ve always been. What I’ve always known.” He swallows, closing his eyes for a second, passing a hand over his face, “I don’t have it in me anymore,” he says weakly, “The monster that made me what I was, it’s not there anymore. I don’t know what’s in there, what took its place. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps I’m empty. But then why?” his voice breaks, and he’s got no control over it, not any more than he had when he heard of Clary’s death and that fire started burning inside of him, the fire that told him to go, move, kill, for her, in her name, “If I’m empty, why do I feel like this? Can you help me with that, Magnus Bane?” he whimpers, tears rolling down his cheeks, “Can you?”

It feels good enough to cry. He cried already, when he heard about Clary, but it wasn’t just sadness, back then, it was anger, it was pain and frustration, and all those feelings, instead of being let out with his tears, seemed to pool in, making his chest swell and hurt in a confused congestion he couldn’t find a way to dissipate.

This is different. All is coming out. All of it. With every tear he feels lighter. Every whimper fills the silence Magnus respectfully protects, keeping himself at a distance, and when the echo of his last moan disappears Sebastian opens his eyes and they’re dry again, and he doesn’t feel like crying anymore, and there’s no pain, no anger, just some vague confusion and curiosity about what comes next.

“I might have an idea,” Magnus says, “Something helpful.”

Sebastian finally turns to look at him, unraveling the sleeves of the bathrobe and instinctively holding himself into an hug as he starts feeling cold again, now that the effect of warm water is almost entirely gone. “What is it?”

“Actually,” Magnus smirks, tilting his head to the side, “All this talking about that sad excuse of a father you were so unlucky to be damned with gave me the idea. You used to have a place, am I right? A place that used to be his. A flat that was able to travel through dimensions.”

Sebastian’s eyes get darker as memories distract him. “I used to, yes,” he says, “Clary destroyed it.”

“I know,” Magnus nods, “But what if I told you I could get you a new one?”

Sebastian instantly turns to look at him, his eyes, so shockingly green, wide in excitement. “Are you serious? You could do that?”

“My dear, you better learn that there’s nothing – and I mean nothing – I cannot do. You merely need to tell me how would you like for it to be decorated, and leave the rest to me.”

He gives in to a surprised half smile, leaning back against the sink, his legs growing weaker all of a sudden. “I might leave that to you too, I guess,” he says.

“Think carefully about it, though,” Magnus laughs, amused, “Look around. Do you really want me to decorate your new house according to my taste?”

Sebastian casts a worried look around – the tropical plants scattered here and there, the colorful, thick carpets covering every inch of the floor, the weird paintings hanging down the walls – and he clears his throat. “Let’s go with something simple, perhaps in white and gray,” he tries.

“What?” Magnus makes a disappointed face, hands on his hips, “So boring,” but then he sighs, resigned, “Fine, though. White and gray it’ll be. Now,” he adds, offering him a vague smile, “I think you went through enough for today, pretty eyed one. I can’t imagine how it is to sleep in the forest, but I tend to believe it isn’t comfortable at all. Which means you need to sleep, if I ever want to get rid of you tomorrow first thing in the morning.”

He’s a little offended by the clear mocking, but he has to admit the warlock’s right. He couldn’t sleep at all, in the forest, not as scared as he was that somebody could find him and capture him, Nephilim or Downworlder. He’s tired and sleepy, and he longs for a real bed.

So, when Magnus leads him to the bedroom – his own, Sebastian believes, at least judging by how loud and outrageously colorful every piece of furniture is – he doesn’t resist. He spends a few seconds wondering how is he ever going to sleep in this bed completely lined in the flashiest shade of green he has ever seen, but he forgets all about it when his head touches the pillow and his entire body gives in to sleep.

As he dozes off, he catches a glimpse of Magnus’ shadow bending over the nightstand, opening a drawer and retrieving from it a small book with a white cover and a title written on the front in big golden letters. Ah, the Book of the White, he thinks absent-mindedly. There’s a vague smile curling his lips upwards when he finally falls asleep.


He wakes up to the strong scent of coffee and an English breakfast waiting for him at the table in the living room. Magnus is nowhere to be found and Sebastian’s tempted to explore the house to see if there’s something interesting he can find and possibly try to smuggle out there, just for the sake of it, but then he realizes it’s impossible the warlock could have left the house or any of its important treasures unprotected while leaving him alone in there, and he’s too hungry to resist that delicious smell anyway, so he puts on the clean clothes Magnus left for him at the foot of the bed – too tight, both the trousers and the blouse, but at least they’re the right color – and quickly sits down at the table to enjoy the meal.

There Magnus finds him twenty minutes after, when he comes back from whatever errand he run while outside. “Ah!” he says, clearly satisfied with how he looks like, “I got your size right.”

“Not really,” Sebastian complains, “It’s too tight.”

“That was meant to be,” Magnus smirks. Sebastian throws him a grape in response, but the warlock just laughs, amused, avoiding it with a swift movement to the right. “So, are you finished? I’ve got something to show you,” he says then, one hand on his hip while the other wraps a purple scarf around his neck, left bare by his t-shirt.

Sebastian tenses all over, smiling in excitement. “Is it ready?” he asks, jumping up, eager to leave.

“Yes,” Magnus laughs, “And oh, dear, you are hilarious, right now. You don’t seem a day older than five. Let’s get you ready for a stroll, baby boy, shall we?”

He could get angry, really. He could be offended to death by the way Magnus handles him, as if he was a child, but the truth is, it’s quite pleasant. He’s never been handled like a child, not even when he was a child. He’d like to think better of himself, he’d like to think he’s not the kind who needs a new childhood just because he didn’t get to have one when he should have, but apparently that’s exactly what he needs right now. This, together with his brother. Maybe, he thinks, maybe they can try be children together, this time, since they couldn’t back then.

But it’s too early to think about that. He’s got to start from scratches, and right now this means letting Magnus put a ridiculous hat on his head, sunglasses and the loudest zebra striped scarf around his neck to make him pass for anybody else but him.

It’s a miracle that they don’t draw any more attention than they draw already – Sebastian complains about it; “Boy, give me a break, I’m doing the best I can,” Magnus replies, “Besides, nobody’s going to think it’s you if I parade you like that. No sane person would walk around Alicante with Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern wrapped up in a scarf like that”. The fact that everybody knows Magnus isn’t a sane person is apparently irrelevant – but in the end they manage to get to the house safely.

It looks like just another house, from the outside, one of Alicante’s typical, small, honey-colored stone houses, with its pretty red roof on top. There’s a red door on the front, and Magnus pushes Sebastian towards it with a smile. “Come on,” he says, “You know how to open it.”

He does. It’s written inside him, or so does it feel. The door responds to him and his blood just like his father’s did. He walks inside, followed by Magnus, who shows him the place listing all its perks as if he had to sell it to him. It’s funny enough, and the place does look beautiful. All painted in white, with low, elegant furniture of the same color, gray carpets covering the floors, weird but interesting paintings on the walls and finely decorated ceilings Sebastian instantly falls in love with.

It’s a different house than his father’s. It’s smaller, and missing some things. But it’s his own. It’s already growing on him.

“That’s more or less all there is to see,” Magnus wraps up his professional presentation, standing by the door, “Well, at least inside,” he smirks, opening it. Outside, Venice. Sebastian recognizes it instantly. The bluest sky, the smell of water, the gorgeous, huge square. They were in Alicante less than five minutes ago. This will never stop being amazing. “Do you want to go take a walk among people who are not out for your scalp?”

“Yes,” Sebastian answers instantly, heading out. He stops on the threshold, though, turning to look at Magnus. “You mustn’t tell anybody,” he says, “Not even that annoying husband of yours.”

“Ah!” Magnus brings a hand to his own heart, “You knew about the wedding? News travel to the most unexpected places. You’ll have to forgive us for not sending an official invitation, we were worried an angry mob could’ve ruined our special day,” he says with a grin.

Sebastian looks at him, unimpressed. “You know,” he says, “Despite your evident abilities and qualities, you really are quite an idiot.”

Far from offended by the remark, Magnus laughs out loud, throwing his head back. “I take great pride in it,” he says. But he stops laughing soon, and though he’s still smiling there’s an air of sadness and uncertainty about him. “What about your brother?” he asks softly, “Do I tell him?”

Sebastian tenses again, looking down. “No,” he hastens to say, “Not yet. I’ll find him.”

Magnus’ smile softens up. “That is, if he doesn’t find you first,” he says, “You should’ve seen him, when they told him you were missing.”

His words stir something in Sebastian. He closes his hands in fists and swallows hard. He does want to see Jace, he really does. It’s just too early. He needs some more time on his own. Just some more time to get used to himself.

“Let’s not worry about it now,” Magnus interrupts his thoughts, hooking their arms together and boldly walking out of the house, “Come, I know a place where they sell the best gelato in town. You need to try it.”

Sebastian’s not sure trying gelato is exactly what he needs right now. It definitely is what he wants, though. It’s more than enough, for the time being.