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~Every Story Has A Beginning~

Chapter Text

~The first time I saw you, I thought: “Look at that boy, I’m going to love him forever.”~


Sunday, August 12th, 2007.

Alec hated being called a kid. He was six. He wasn’t a little kid anymore, he didn’t need to be watched over constantly.

“How about you go play?”

Alec glanced up at his babysitter, Sasha. He wasn’t sure why his father hired her, she was younger than any other babysitter he’d had before and not as attentive.

His father seemed to have taken a liking to her for some reason though.

“I want to read.” He shook the book he was holding slightly. Sasha gave him a blank look, popping her bubblegum.

“Go play, your father told me not to let you just sit here.” She said while grabbing his book and sliding it into her bag.

“Fine.” He huffed, jumping up from the bench and looking around. He didn’t like any of the kids here, he knew most of them from his school and he wasn’t impressed with the way they acted. Alec noticed a boy he hadn’t seen before sitting by the slide, looking around nervously like he didn’t want any of the other kids getting close to him. Alec didn’t recognize him though and his mother always taught him to be polite and meet new people.

“I’ll be over there.” He said stubbornly, walking over to the boy.

“Hi!”

He felt bad at how much the other boy jumped, his hands tightening in the wood chips that he was sitting in. He glanced behind him like he was making sure Alec was talking to him and not someone else.   

“M-me?”

Alec could hear the struggle with the word, but he smiled and nodded.

“Yeah,” He held out his hand. “Hi, I’m Alec.”

The boy looked surprised, but a happy smile crossed his face.

“I’m Magnus.”

“Is it okay if I sit down with you?” Magnus nodded, moving over slightly excitedly.  

“I-I just moved here,” Magnus said, pronouncing his words slowly.

“From where?” Alec leaned against the slide.

Magnus paused. “My town? I-I don’t know how to say it.” Alec looked confused. “I’m not sure if it’s...said the same in English.” Magnus said quietly, looking down and fiddling with his fingers.

Alec let out an excited noise, causing him to look up.

“You speak another language?”

Magnus nodded.

“That’s so cool! Can you say something?”

Magnus hummed, curling his arms around his body.

“My name is Magnus and I’m six.”

Alec’s eyes went wide with a smile.

“That’s so...wow. I love it.” Magnus giggled happily.

“Really?”

Alec nodded.

“It’s amazing.”

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Alec looked up from his spot next to Magnus as Sasha walked up to them, her phone held in her hand.

“Alexander, your parents called. Their meeting is over.”

“Alec.” Alec looked up at her with a frown. “Everyone calls me Alec.”

Sasha rolled her eyes, spitting her gum out on the ground.

Alec, we have to go. Wrap,” She gave a strange look to Magnus. “Whatever this is up quickly.”

Alec saw Magnus pull back, his arms tightening around his small waist.

“I’ll meet you over there.” Sasha opened her mouth to protest, but he cut her off. “I wanna say goodbye to my friend.”

Sasha huffed, shaking her head and turning on her phone as she walked away.

Alec looked over at Magnus, who was staring dejectedly towards her.

“I’m sorry about her.” Alec said quietly and Magnus just shook his head.

“It’s alright.” Magnus looked over at him and gave him a small smile.

Alec knew somehow that arguing with him over the fact that it wasn’t okay wouldn’t do anything, so he just stood up, offering his hand to the other boy and helped him up.

“I hope we see each other again,”

Magnus nodded.

Alec waved at him as he walked towards Sasha, grinning happily.

“I had a lot of fun with you today!”

Magnus’ eyes lit up and he grinned back.

“Me too.”

Sasha gave him a blank look as he approached and he returned the look.

“Why were you so mean to him?” Alec asked a few minutes later as they walked towards the office where his parents worked. Sasha sighed.

“You shouldn’t talk to people like that.”

Alec gave her a what-the-heck look.

“They’re not clean.”

“He looked clean to me.” Alec shrugged, not understanding the meaning behind her words.

Sasha shook her head with a scowl.

“You’ll understand when you’re older.”

Alec frowned, looking over towards the other side of the street, thinking to himself that he never wanted to understand what she meant.

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To say the least his mother wasn’t delighted about his new friend when Sasha told her, but she seemed more upset with Sasha than him.  

His mother was holding onto his hand as they walked out to their car, his father walking in front of them.

Alec wanted to ask his mother if they were fighting again, they used to fight a lot around the time his little sister, Isabelle, was born, but they had stopped.

Recently they seemed to be distant from each other again.

Alec frowned as he looked up at his mother, squeezing her hand comfortingly and she looked down at him with a soft smile.

He was probably overreacting.

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Alec’s mother had told him that his sister was sick last night and that he wasn’t supposed to go into her room, but he was worried.  Alec pushed open the door to his sister’s room, peeking in and waving at her.

Isabelle beamed at him with a small wave.

“He’o,” Her voice sounded higher than normal.

Alec closed the door behind him and climbed onto the bed in front of her.

“How’re you feeling?” He asked, feeling her forehead with the back of his hand. She shrugged, handing Alec an almost empty bowl of soup with shaking hands.

“‘M done.”

Alec took the bowl from her and put it on her nightstand.

“I haven’t been ab’e to s'weep,” She muttered, curling up against her pillow. “And my head hurts.”

Alec frowned.

“Didn’t the nanny give you the medicine mom normally gives us?”

“The one 'hat makes me s'weepy?” Alec nodded and she shook her head.

“The nanny just made me soup.”

Alec huffed slightly, brushing her hair back.

“I’ll be right back.” He said, jumping off the bed and running out of the room. He went into the bathroom and climbed onto the counter, looking around the cabinet. Once he found the dark blue cold medicine, he jumped down and went back to his sister’s room.

Alec knew his mother would be distracted with her new case and his father had left a few minutes after they got back, but he knew how much of the stuff you were supposed to take.

He poured the thick liquid into the small cup, Isabelle watching him with a pout. 

“I don’t wa'na take it. It’s gross.”

Alec looked up at her while holding out the cup. “You’ll feel better though,”

She frowned. “Promise, big b'wrother?”

“Promise.”

She sat up slightly, downing the medicine with a grimace.

"Tell me 'bout your day?"

Alec nodded, climbing up next to her and rubbing her forehead.

“Well, I went to the park with Sasha,” Isabelle whispered a soft “ew” and he chuckled. “And I made a friend.”

“Ooo.”

“His name is Magnus.”

She smiled. “'Hat's a funny name.”

“He’s cool though, he’s not from here.”

“I wa'na meet him.” She said.

Alec continued telling her about his day, talking quieter and quieter as he felt her falling asleep. He got up, pulling the blanket over her and making sure she was covered.

“Goodnight, Izzy.” He said quietly, kissing her forehead. Alec grabbed the bowl from the table, turning the light off and left the room.

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Wednesday, August 15th, 2007.

Alec was looking forward to going to the park again, he wanted to see Magnus. 

He wasn’t quite sure what it was about the other boy that made him like him so much, but he really enjoyed his company. Alec just knew there was something special about him.  

He didn’t want to lose that.

He could also tell Sasha wasn’t looking forward to it from her facial expression. Alec still didn’t understand what she meant the other day, but she was wrong.

Magnus was clean, maybe she meant since they sat been sitting on the ground.

Alec nodded slightly to himself, feeling proud for realizing what was actually the problem.

The bench was warm thankfully, the sun shining down on him while he waited. He hoped Magnus would show up, he wanted to tell him about Isabelle.

Alec really hoped they would be able to meet one day.

He sat there until Sasha said it was time to go, and he sighed.

“Relax, you’ll find other friends.” Sasha said, tapping away on her phone.

Alec frowned.

“I don’t want other friends, I wanna see Magnus.”

She shook her head, turning around and started walking away, obviously expecting the boy to follow. Alec crossed his arms and stood up, sending one last sad look towards the playground before following her.

Chapter Text

~Shine the light on whatever’s worse~


Sunday, August 12th, 2007.

Magnus looked up at his mama with a happy look, holding onto her hand as they walked to the bus stop that was near the park.

“Mama? Do you think we could go back tomorrow?”

His mama frowned towards the sky, not looking down at him.

“You just want to see that boy again, hm?” She hummed.

“He was nice, mama.”

She shook her head.

“Don’t trust people, not here.” She stopped, kneeling down in front of him. “These people here are not our friends. You’re the only one who you can trust.”

“B-but what about you?” Magnus asked quietly.

“No, just yourself. I won’t be here forever to protect you.” She brushed his hair back with a sigh, kissing his forehead before standing up.

She didn’t say anything until they got to the worn down and dirty bus stop.

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Magnus didn’t like the bus, it was normally cold and loud and you had to sit really close to people you didn’t know.

His mama just pulled him against her side with a clamped fist, giving wary looks towards all the other people. Magnus could feel his mother getting stiffer  and stiffer as they got closer to their stop and he tried not to worry, but it didn’t work.

She pulled him off the bus, handing a pass to the driver as she went. Magnus tried to say something to her, but she hushed him quickly.

He followed behind her, his head cast downward with a frown.

The gravel turned to dirt as they walked up the driveway.

His mama let go of his hand to open the door, the hinges made a loud, squeaking sound that hurt his ears.

Magnus hated the way the warmth, however small it was, would fade from his mama’s brown eyes whenever they walked in. He hated the thick air that smelled like those burning sticks his papa smoked a lot.  

Magnus looked around, the happy mood from his hype about meeting the boy at the park quickly disappeared at the sight of empty beer bottles on the kitchen counter.

“Go to your room,”

He looked up with a frown.

“Ma-”

“Magnus, go.” She pushed his shoulder towards the hallway.

He didn’t say anything, just sent a worried look towards the living room as he passed.

“Fenna!”

He heard the shout before he made it halfway, rushing to his room as quickly as his small legs would let him.  The sound of a slap hit his ears and he flinched, curling his knees up to his chest.

He could hear his papa spitting out words he didn’t understand with a slur.

Magnus hated it when his father drank.

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Magnus’ door opened up a few hours later, letting a small stream of light peek in from the hallway. He pulled his blanket away from his head and looked up at his mama with red eyes.

“Mama?”

Fenna sighed, walking over and sitting on the edge of the twin sized bed.

“It’s alright, sayang.” She whispered.

He couldn’t take his eyes off the forming bruise on her cheek, the slightly darker skin stuck out on her normally evenly colored skin. His lip trembled.

“Are you okay, mama?”

She nodded, firmly taking his hand between hers.“Of course.” She gestured for him to lay back and she pulled the blanket over him again. “This is normal, sayang. Don’t blame your papa.”

Magnus frowned, but nodded anyway.

“He has a hard time expressing his love sometimes, a lot of people do.”

“It seems like he always has a hard time.” Magnus said with a pout, scrunching his eyebrows up. She smacked his hand with a tsk tsk.

“Your father is a good man, Magnus. He’s all you have other than me. Do not forget that.”

Fenna patted his cheek with calloused fingers that felt rough against his skin, but he soaked up any of the comfort he could.

“Goodnight.” She whispered, kissing his forehead.

“Night…”

Magnus whispered a soft “I love you”, but only after she was gone and the light in the hallway disappeared. His mama had always had a problem saying it, something about not needing to say it if you showed it.

He still wished she would say it sometimes.

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Monday, August 13th, 2007.

Magnus woke up the next morning with a headache and the familiar sound of dishes being moved around in the kitchen. He huffed to himself slightly, trying to get up the nerve to get up, the sound of his papa’s voice scared him.

He didn’t like being around him. The way he showed “love” wasn’t very nice.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love his papa, he did...but over the past few years he'd gotten mean.

Magnus chewed his lip and got up, swinging his legs over the side of his bed and wincing at the cold floor. He peeked out of his door and paddled down the hallway, his mama’s voice getting closer and closer.

Fenna was standing by the stove, her hips swinging in a lazy way as she hummed along with the radio.

His papa was leaning back in a chair, muttering under his breath as he read the paper. He looked up at Magnus’ with narrowed eyes.

Papa,” He said quietly with a small bow of his head before grabbing the bottom of his mama’s shirt. “Mama.”

Fenna looked down at him with a smile.

“Good morning, sayang. Did you sleep well?” She asked as she dried her hands, grabbing a premade plate from the fridge and giving it to him.

Mm, my head hurts though.” Magnus said as he sat down at the table in the chair farthest from his papa. He watched her with a small, but wary smile. His mama didn’t last long when she was like this, she got upset easily.

Fenna stepped over to him with a soft noise, resting the back of her hand on his forehead. “Do you feel sick?”

He shook his head, taking a bite of his breakfast.

His papa snorted loudly, placing his coffee mug on the table loudly. Fenna flinched.

“Stop babying him, Fen. He’s gonna grow up into a fuckin’ fag at this rate.” Magnus didn’t know what that word meant, but his papa said it a lot; mainly directed towards him. He wasn’t sure what he had done to make his papa dislike him so much.

Fenna looked over at her husband with a frown

“He’s a child, Caim. I’m allowed to take care of my child.” Fenna argued, placing her palms on the table and leaning forward towards him slightly. Caim glared darkly at her.

He jumped up before she could react, slapping her across the face with the back of his hand. “Lonthe.” He spat.

Magnus flinched when his mama hit the floor and he ducked under the table, covering his mouth as he watched his papa’s boots storm out of the kitchen. Fenna pushed herself up with a huff, wiping the blood away from her nose.

Mama,” Magnus moved closer to her, reaching out his small hand out to her, but she pulled away.

Leave.”

Ma-”

Now.” She glared at him, grabbing the plates from the table and throwing them into the sink as he crawled out from under the table.

Magnus’ eyes were watering and he closed his door as quietly as he could, sliding down to the floor. He buried his face in his knees and sobbed.

He hated it when his mama got like this, sometimes she was amazing and caring, but there were times when it was like she was a different person. A completely different person.

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His mama came into his room a few hours later with a small bag of peanuts, she leaned against the wall by the door and stared at him sadly from where he was sitting on his bed.

Here.” She said softly, handing him the bag.

Magnus grabbed it with a small smile towards her.

“Your papa just left for a while, so stay in here when he gets back. Color or something.” She said.

“But what if I get hungry?”

She paused in the doorway, turning and looking at him.

“You won’t starve, all you will do is piss him off. Stay in here.”

He flinched when the door closed, biting his lip to stop himself from crying again.

His papa says crying is for “fags”, whatever that means.

Magnus climbed off his bed and grabbed the small box of crayons and paper from his backpack. He curled into the corner of the floor and started coloring.

The shouts and screams started a little while later and he felt sick. The sound of his mama crying made him want to cry, but he wasn’t going to.

Magnus shook his head, throwing the piece of paper off to the side and grabbing a blank one. He stared down at the white paper, glass shattered and his heart sped up before he grabbed a worn down black crayon.

He wrote “my new frend” on the top with a smiley face. Magnus tried to remember every detail he could about the other boy, drawing them all with shaking hands until the light outside faded, the noise coming from the living room stopped and was replaced by the sounds that normally came after.

He didn’t understand why his mama stayed with his papa, but she always seemed okay afterwards. After the bruises fade, they’re happy together for a little while.

At least Magnus thought they sounded like it from what he could hear from the living room.

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Tuesday, August 14th, 2007.

Magnus woke up the next morning curled into the corner of his room. He decided to put his crayons away before he left, hiding the drawing of his friend under his mattress.

Papa would get upset if he saw it.

Magnus walked out of his room a few minutes later, checking the hallway and looking around at the damage that had appeared since last night. He grabbed an apple from the fridge before padding into the living room, peeking in to see if his mama was there.

Fenna was sitting on the couch, leaning back with a neutral expression. The side of her face was swollen and her lip was split, but she also had strange shaped bruises on her neck. It made his stomach feel uneasy.

“Mama?”

She let out a small sound before opening her eyes and looking at him.

“Hello, sayang. Did you sleep okay?” Magnus nodded, climbing onto the couch next to her.

“I made lots of pictures.” He paused, pouting. “Are you alright, mama?”

She smiled and nodded.

“Of course,” She patted his cheek. “You’ll understand when you’re older. This is just the way some people show love, relax.” She said softly, kissing his forehead.

“But it’s mean…”

Fenna let out a sigh, rolling her eyes.

“You know, my mother said the same thing, but she was wrong. They’re all wrong. Your papa loves us very, very much. This,” She pointed to the bruise on her cheek. “Just proves that, madu.” She shooed him with her fingers. “Go play, I’m going to take a nap.”

Magnus watched her watch away to her room, a frown on his face.

He didn’t think his mama would lie, but it didn't seem normal.

It didn't seem like love.

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Thursday, August 30th, 2007.

It took another two weeks before the bruises on his mama’s face faded enough she could cover them with makeup. Of course, it didn’t help that his papa  wasn’t shy about backhanding her if she spoke out of turn, according to him at least.

Magnus was excited however, he was almost bouncing towards the park with his mama by his side.

“I hope Alec’s there. I wanna see him again.” Fenna gave him a nervous smile, a hint of sadness and fear in her eyes, but he didn’t notice in his excitement.

Magnus squealed when he saw the other boy, jumping next to his mother.

Alec looked up at the noise, his face splitting with a smile. He jumped up and ran over to them as fast as his small legs would carry him.

“Hey!” He skidded to a halt in front of them.

“Hi!” Magnus leaned forward some towards Alec, his eyes lighting up.

Fenna relaxed slightly when Alec stepped forward and hugged him, squeezing his body happily.

“I wasn’t sure when I was going to see you ‘gain.” Alec said.

Magnus shook his head with a small shrug.

Mama, can I go play?” Magnus asked her hopefully.

“Yes, just stay where I can see you.” Fenna nodded.

He turned back to Alec and nodded. The two ran off towards the slide again.

Fenna frowned as she sat down. On one hand she was happy for Magnus, he didn’t have a lot of friends back home, or any. The other children didn’t like him much.

But these people weren’t trustworthy. They were higher class, she could tell that his new friend was just from the condition of his clothes. The way he walked and talked.

She didn’t trust him.

Fenna was worried enough about him getting hurt at home, Caim didn’t like him much and she tried to keep them apart as much as she could, but he always seemed to show up.

She loves her son, she does. He just doesn’t make very good decisions sometimes.

Moving to New York was supposed to be a fresh start, according to Caim, but it would all be ruined if someone misheard something from Magnus. Caim wasn’t abusive, he wasn’t like those other people in the news. He just struggled with showing love.

Magnus didn’t understand that yet.

She knew she just needed to make sure Magnus didn’t do anything that would seriously upset his father, he would be okay then.

But as she watched the other boy run around with Magnus, who was wearing a smile that looked like pure sugar on his face, she knew, deep down, that she wouldn’t be able to protect him from the path he seemed to be going down.

 

Chapter Text

~But Compared To Your Eyes, Nothing Shines Quite As Bright.~


 Thursday, August 30th, 2007. 

Magnus sat on the ground with Alec, a happy aura around both of them. Toy cars surrounding them as they made a race track in the dirt. Alec had begun digging it before Magnus got there, but they decided it should be longer.

He brushed dirt off the wheels of a light blue mustang, lining the cars up while listening to Alec talk about his little sister.

"And she's feeling better now, but mom won't let her come to the park yet." Alec pulled up more dirt with his fingers, trying to smooth out the edges.

"How come?"

Alec shrugged, rubbing his hands off on his jeans despite knowing that his mother would have a fit over the mess.

"Dunno, she's been all," He wiggled his fingers with a scrunched face. "recently."

Magnus giggled, rubbing his nose with his fingers and getting dirt on his face. Alec laughed.

"These cars are super cool." Magnus said a few minutes later after they got them all set up, running his small finger across the shiny paint.

Alec nodded.

"My dad bought 'em for me." Alec smiled.

Magnus stared at the one he was about to put down, flicking the wheel.

"Does he...do that a lot?"

"Do what?" Alec asked with a puzzled look.

"Buy toys."

"Ooo," Alec looked up, and then after a second, nodded. "When he's in a good mood. Or like on hol'e'days." Alec over sounded the word on purpose, looking over at his friend with a happy look. "Does your dad buy you stuff?"

Magnus paused, tilting his head as he thought. He shook his head.

"My papa doesn't like buying stuff...for me at least, he shows love differently than most parents." Magnus nodded to himself, picking at the cars until they were straight in a line.

"What kinda love?"

"I dunno," Magnus looked up at him and met his eyes. "Love?"

Alec seemed content with the answer.

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The mist started almost an hour later, making the dirt they'd been playing with turn into a soggy mud quickly.

"Sorry your cars got all dirty." Magnus said quietly, knowing if it was his cars, his papa would be angry. He hoped Alec's parents weren't going to be upset.

"It's okay!" Alec grinned cheekily at him, causing him to grin back.

Magnus could see his mother standing up and knew it was almost time for him to leave, which made him a little sad. He didn't want to leave yet.

"We'll see each other again soon." Alec said with confidence. "I'm starting school in like a week, but I'll be here a lot still."

"You're going to school?" Magnus leaned forward with a look of excitement.

"Yeah! Aren't you?"

He shook his head.

"Not yet, I don't think...My mama doesn't think I'm ready 'cause I'm still learning how to speak."

Alec frowned. "You seem to speak okay to me." He said with a small shrug and Magnus smiled. "Do you have any toys?"

Magnus shook his head. "I got coloring stuff, I like coloring."

"Do you want some of my cars? You can take any of them you want! That way," Alec said, grabbing a small plastic bag from his backpack. "Even when we don't see each other, you can still play!" Alec handed the bag to him.

"Really? Any I want?" He asked slowly, almost like he was expecting Alec to laugh and take them all.

"Of course, you're my friend."

Magnus let out an happy noise, despite all the rain coming down around them, he was grinning.

After picking out a few cars, and checking one last time that Alec really meant it and wasn't just trying to be nice, he put them in his pocket.

"I like being friends with you, you're nice. And cool." Alec put his backpack on with a nod, missing the look Magnus gave him.

"I like bein' friends with you too."

Alec grinned with a small laugh, reaching forward and hugging him around the shoulders, nuzzling his jacket.

"I hope we see each other soon!"

"Yeah! Bye!"

Fenna was waiting for him as he walked away with a skip in his step and her frown deepened.

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His mama didn't say much on the way back from the park, but he was too excited about his new toys to notice. Not even the rain that was pelting against his window could dampen his mood.

Magnus was staring out the glass, the darkness of the night only being lit up by lightning that would hit every few minutes. He didn't like thunder a lot, it was loud and scary, but lightning was pretty.

It would always light up his room.

"Vroooom," He ran one of the cars across the window seal. "Vroom." Magnus giggled as the lightning reflected onto the blue metal.

"Vooooom."

"Magnus, what are you still doing up?"

He looked behind him and pouted, knowing that he was going to have to go to bed.

"I couldn' sleep so I played with my cars." He nodded.

"Yeah, the cars." She whispered with a frown, watching him as he climbed into his bed.

"My friend gave them to me, he's super cool."

"Hmm." Fenna brushed the hair back and kissed his forehead. "Remember, sayang, the only person you can really trust is yourself. Don't trust that boy too much, he's not going to stick around forever."

Magnus frowned.

"But he's my friend...?"

She shook her head lightly.

"Friends are temporary, getting attached will only hurt you down the line."

His shoulders sagged. "But sleep now, you're still growing and need all the rest you can get."

"Okay...Goodnight, mama."

"Goodnight." She whispered, turning off the hallway light as she closed his door.

He turned over in his bed, staring out the window and clutching the small car in his hand.

"I love you..."

~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~

Friday, August 31st, 2007.

He liked the rain, he really did, Magnus just didn't like walking in it. It was cold, wet and soaked through his clothes, but his mama insisted that he went to the store with her.

"I'm cold." He whispered up to her.

"Hush, madu." Fenna patted his shoulder and he glanced around the crowded bus. Everyone looked miserable, cold and wet.

He wanted to go home.

"Magnus, how about this. If you're good in the store, I'll see about buying you a chocolate." Fenna said quietly to him as the bus approached their stop.

Magnus let out a small gasp.

His mama never bought chocolate, let alone for him!

He followed after her excitedly as they crossed the parking lot, his mama holding onto his hand.

"Your papa wants steak for dinner, so remember that we need A1 sauce for me?"

" A1 ." Magnus muttered the word to himself as a reminder, hyping himself up. He loved helping his mama shop, even if it was raining outside.

Fenna smiled slightly down at him, grabbing a cart.

"I wanna push it!" Magnus bounced up and down next to her, grinning.

"You're not tall enough to reach it, but how about we do it together?"

Magnus nodded, grabbing onto his mama's wrists and holding on like he was steering the cart, making small "vroom" noises whenever they turned.

"They have a lot of meat here." He whispered to her, peering over the side of a display case.

"Of course they do, they want to make lots of money." She said, picking up and looking at the different packages of meat. She choose one with two pieces of steak, one only slightly larger than the other.

Magnus frowned as he watched her put it in the cart.

"But there's three of us?" He held up three fingers with a small grin.

Fenna chuckled, ruffling his hair.

"We're going to split one, you wouldn't be able to finish a whole one all by yourself." Fenna explained, walking the cart into another aisle.

" Oh ," Magnus glanced around at all the food, chewing on his nail nervously.

"Can we get that?" He asked, pointing at a box of mac and cheese.

Fenna glanced behind her shoulder and nodded. Magnus grinned and walked over to the section, grabbing one of the boxes and putting it carefully into the cart.

"Madu, there's A1 sauce at the end of the aisle, will you go grab one?"

Magnus nodded, looking around for a second until he spotted the dark bottles, skipping through the small crowd of people. He grabbed one of the bottles and turned around quickly, not noticing the man in front of him and colliding with his legs.

"S-sorry!" Magnus said, rubbing his hip with a frown. The taller man stared down at him for a second, but didn't respond as Fenna ran over to him, kneeling down and helping him up, asking if he was okay.

"I'm okay, mama. I wasn't watching where I was going." He said quietly, taking the bottle from her and holding it close to his chest.

"Ya realize y'er in America right? We speak En-g-lish here." The man sounded out the word almost tauntingly, staring at them with a look Magnus didn't understand.

His mama narrowed her eyes at the other man, grabbing Magnus' arm and pulling him back to their cart with a huff.

"Mama? What did that man mean?"

She shook her head, taking the bottle from him roughly and putting it in the cart.

"Nothing, just watch where you are going." She said with a sigh.

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Magnus walked quietly next to his mama, holding onto her sleeve as the rain poured down around them. He hadn't tried to talk much in the store, his mama seemed to be in a bad mood now. He didn't like it when she got upset, it made him feel bad.

He didn't mean to run into that man, he was just excited.

Fenna moved them into the corner of the bus stop, huddling her jacket around her hands. Magnus watched the two people on the other side of the stop who were curled on the ground, their clothes were dirty and they had stuffed backpacks on.

This was weird weather to be hiking in, or at least Magnus thought so, but the woman looked hungry and sad.

Chocolate always made him feel better when he was sad.

Magnus reached into one of the smaller bags his mama was holding and pulled out his chocolate bar, jumping off the bench and walking over to the couple.

He could hear the start of a protest from his mama, but he was distracted.

"Hi!" He said, waving at the woman, who gave him a slightly startled look before waving back.

"Hello,"

"You look sad a-and whenever I feel sad, ch-chocolate makes me feel better, so maybe it'll make you feel better too!" He said excitedly, holding out the bar to her, beaming.

The woman smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling.

"Are you sure?"

He nodded quickly, his smile growing when she took the bar from him, patting his hand thankfully.

"Thank you, sweetheart. That's very kind of you." She said softly, leaning back against the man next to her.

"Madu, the bus. " Magnus glanced behind his shoulder at his mama, who was standing up with the bags as the bus pulled up.

"Well, bye bye!" He waved again, climbing onto the bus behind his mama.

He sat down in the chair next to hers, bouncing slightly in his seat.

"She was nice." Magnus said quietly.

"You shouldn't talk to strangers, not all of them are nice."

Magnus frowned, looking up at his mama. She looked upset again.

He didn't want to make her upset and he felt bad.

Magnus tucked his arms around his waist.

"I just wanted to help, she looked sad."

"Yes, well now you've wasted my money and your chocolate on a woman you don't even know." Fenna said softly, brushing his damp hair back off his forehead.

Magnus' lip trembled, but he looked down so she wouldn't see.

"'M sorry..."

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Magnus curled into the corner of the couch, listening to his mama put away the groceries. His papa was sitting in his arm chair, a beer resting on his stomach as he watched the TV.

"Did you find a book?" Fenna asked as she walked in, sitting down next to him. He nodded, holding up a dark green one.

"I wanna read out loud," Magnus smiled at her, wiggling his toes.

"Okay, I figure we can practice that." Fenna lifted her arm and let him curl against her side. "Are we starting from where we left off?"

" Mhm ," He flipped through the pages, multiple short stories passing by until he found the short one he had left off at.

"This one seems a little easy."

He shrugged.

" I wanna go in order though," Magnus giggled.

"She wanted to make...a gar-den grow." He said slowly in English, his legs swinging back and forth off the side of the couch.

"She wanted to make a b...book, brook ba-bble." He scrunched his eyebrows up and frowned at the word. " I don't like that word."

Fenna chuckled.

"She wanted to make a waterfall fall..."

" Jeez, Fen, what's that shit gonna teach him? " Caim asked, turning the TV down and looking over at them.

"How to speak like the other children here, I don't want him being left out." Caim waved her off with a snort.

"He's gonna be left out 'cause'a the color of his skin, not 'cause he can't say "brook" correctly. It's been over a year since you started this little "project" and the boy hasn't improved at all."

Magnus frowned, putting the book down on his lap and looking down at the floor sadly.

"I've been practicing a lot though, I...I thought I was getting better...?"

Fenna looked at him sadly while her husband let out a loud laugh.

"The only thing you've gotta better at is saying more words, but you can't pronounce them worth shit."

" Well ..." Magnus crossed his arms with a pout. " My friend thinks I speak okay, and he speaks English."

Caim paused, his eyes narrowing towards Fenna.

"What friend?"

"The one from the park."

"When the fuck did you take him out?" Caim snapped at her and she flinched.

"He's a child, he needs to be around kids his own age."

"Jesus, Fen." Caim stood up, towering over the two. "You never fucking talk to me about this,"

"It was just one time, Caim, please."

Caim shook his head, turning and walking out of the room, slamming their bedroom door shut.

"I thought he knew..."

"Just go to your room."

Magnus looked over at his mother. " Mama ..."

She shook her head, mimicking her husband.

"I need to talk to your papa now." She ruffled his hair slightly before leaving as well, leaving him feeling worse than before.

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A few hours passed before he left his room, holding a messy drawing he made for his mama, hoping it might make her feel better. His papa and mama were curled together on the couch, giggling together like teenagers.

" Mama ?"

Fenna looked over at him, her eyes were red and glazy, but she smiled brightly at him and he bounced on his heels, his eyes lighting up.

"Oh, madu." She sat up a little, holding her arms out and he rushed forward, climbing onto her lap. "You're so precious to us." She squeezed him, holding him close to her body as Caim wrapped his arms around the two.

"I made you a picture." He whispered, handing her the paper.

" Ooo ," She let out an awe noise. " It's beautiful," She kissed his forehead.

Caim reached over and ruffled his hair with a lazy smile, his eyes were also really glassy and red.

Magnus thought maybe his parents had a talk and they cried. That's why their eyes were red.

He hugged his parents tightly, feeling bad that he had upset them both.

He was laid out on their laps, looking tiredly up at the ceiling as he drifted in and out of sleep, watching his parents talk in hushed voices above him.

It was moments like this that he really thought his parents might actually be in love, that their family was happy and healthy.

But he knew deep down it wasn't going to last, whether it took a day, a month or even a year, it wasn't going to last.

~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~

" Mama ?" Magnus peeked his head into the kitchen, watching his mama hum and dance around on unsteady feet as she cooked.

"Hmm?"

"Was papa right? I-I mean...has my English gotten any better?" He said nervously, shifting on his with a frown.

"Oh, madu." She turned around and knelt in front of him, nuzzling her nose against his forehead. "Your papa was just trying to help, in his own way. He has trouble with words sometimes and expressing how he feels."

" Oh ." Magnus smiled at her, wrapping his small arms around her neck. She hugged him back tightly.

"Now go, mama's gotta finish dinner." She said softly, winking at him with a smile.

Magnus giggled, biting his lip before rushing out of the room with a skip in his step.

He knew his papa didn't mean it, his papa just loved him in his own way.

---------------------------Alec--------------------------

Friday, August 31st, 2007.

Alec could already tell he didn't like this school, just from his spot in the car.

"They all look peppy," Isabelle whispered to him, her dark brown eyes flickering around as she watched kids walk in and out of the school.

Alec nodded with a frown.

"Why would ya wanna go 'ere? It look icky." She stuck her tongue out.

Maryse looked back at them from the front seat with a stern look.

"This happens to be one of the best schools in the state, Isabelle. You'll be going here in a few years too."

Isabelle scrunched her nose, waving her Barbie in front of her. "Ew."

Alec laughed.

"Come on, we have to get you registered." Robert said, turning the car off and getting out, the rest of them following him.

"I don't get why I have t' be here." Isabelle grabbed onto her brother's sleeve as they walked up the steps to the door, her other hand holding her favorite pink Barbie.

"Emotional support." Alec whispered when their parents went up to the office. She giggled, looking around at the shiny walls.

"It hurts my eyes, it's so," She waved her Barbie again. "Nnnnn."

Alec gave her a look that was a mix of confusion and amusement.

"Yeah,"

Isabelle grabbed his arm and tugged him over to the chairs that were lining the wall, climbing on one.

"Play patty cake with me." She put her doll down and held up her hands, a goofy grin on her face because she knew he wasn't going to say no.

Their parents talked to the office people and filled out forms while they played.

"I don' wanna go here," Isabelle said a few minutes later, giving an attempted dark look towards a group of boys who were watching them. She stuck her tongue out at them and they looked away with a look of disdain.

"Izzy,"

"Nah-uh," She shook her head. "I'm gon' be a princess and live in a pretty castle, you're gonna live with me 'cause princesses need knights. So you will be my knight." She nodded, propping her small feet up on his legs and pulling her Barbie up, moving her back and forth with her arms.

"What about a king? Is it just gonna be us?" Alec asked, playing along with her dream.

"Ew, boys are gross. I'm gon' have another princess," Isabelle giggled. "'Cause we can play dolls toge'der and do girly things." She paused, giggling harder. "You're gonna be stuck living with girls."

Alec smiled, playing with the velcro strap on her light blue light up shoes.

"But don't worry, I shall find you a prince so you have someone to p'ay with." She poked his arm with the head of her Barbie. "Or ano'der knight," She shrugged.

"Kids, it's time to go." Maryse said walking over to them.

"Is he all set to come ta hell?" Isabelle asked, giving the school a small glare and her mother tsked at her.

"Your brother needs to go to school, and this is the best one."

"But who's gonna play with me?!" She demanded, her lip trembling as she clutched onto her brother's arm. "I am not gon' leave him, I'll follow him to h'll." Isabelle nodded as she got into the car. "So den if I wanna play, he's there."

"I don't think that's how it works, Izzy." She pouted at her brother, crossing her arms and slouching down in her seat.

She leaned over to her brother a few minutes later, watching her parents with watchful eyes.

"Don't worry, I am gon' save you. You will live in my castle and then you won't have to go and we can play all day long." She said in a high pitched tone, letting out a small squealed noise when she lifted her doll up.

Alec smiled at his sister, watching her make the shiny Barbie dance across both their legs to the beat of imaginary music.

"Mom, where are we going?"

"Your father and I decided that since this is such a big day, we're going out to eat."

"Yay!" Isabelle threw her hands up, her doll slipping through and hitting the roof of the car loudly. "Hehehe." She giggled, trying to reach down and grab her from the floor, but her arms weren't long enough.

"Awec," She whined, her lip pouting out as she slammed her back into the car seat. "I can't reach it."

Alec grabbed the doll for her, handing it over with a huffed laugh at the grabby hands she was making.

"She's not bringing the doll into the restaurant." Alec looked up at his dad, who was talking to his mom.

"Robert..."

"It's a classy place and I won't have one of my children carrying around a plastic doll everywhere."

Alec frowned, looking over at his little sister, who was playing happily. He knew that she would start crying if their dad took away the doll, she was overly attached to it.

"Izzy," He whispered. "Gimme Jen, you're not allowed to take her inside, but I'll hide her in my coat."

Isabelle let out a small "ooo" and looked up at their parents, handing her doll over to her brother after she was sure they weren't watching.

"You gotta promise to keep 'er safe." She stared firmly at him and, after he nodded, she grinned. "Yay," She clapped, bouncing on the chair as they pulled into the parking lot.

It took longer than normal to get seated at a table, but it was worth it.

"I want a case'dea." Isabelle said after the waitress handed her the menu. She didn't open it or anything, just placed it on the table and sipped at her water.

"A quesadilla?"

She nodded.

"I want what Awec is getting."

Maryse raised an eyebrow, but just glanced over at her son, who nodded.

"I guess you're both getting quesadillas."

It didn't take long for their parents to decide on what they wanted and then they ordered, the waitress bringing them tea and small, fancy cups with drawings on the sides.

Isabelle was happy she got to sit with her brother, that meant she got to play with her Barbie under the table without her parents seeing.

"So, Alec, how are those cars I got you? We've never gotten that brand before."

Alec paused, looking slowly up at his dad.

"They're good, I really like them."

Robert nodded.

"Did any of them break?"

Alec shook his head with a frown.

"Hm, because I thought there was ten in the set I got you, but there's only five in your room."

Alec blinked, feeling his sister tap his leg with her doll.

"Oh, I gave half of them to my new friend." He said as their food arrived, giving a small shrug.

"You gave your toys away?"

He nodded, taking a bit of his food.

"Mhm. He said he doesn't have toys so I wanted to share."

Robert sighed, running his hand down his face.

"You realize how expensive those cars are, right? Your "friend" could have easily been lying just to get them."

Alec shook his head with a sigh. "Magnus wouldn't do that, he's cool."

"He's super cool and he speaks ano'der lan'ga'age!" Isabelle piped up, placing her hands on the table and lifting herself up onto her knees with a grin.

Robert paused, glancing over at his wife with a furrowed brow.

"This is that kid Sasha told us about? The, what, asian one?"

Alec shrugged.

"He's my friend."

"Robert, we're eating, can we do this later?" Maryse asked sternly, looking around the room as if someone might hear.

"Our son is becoming friends with a gook and you want to do this later?" Robert snapped.

Isabelle leaned towards her brother, not taking her eyes off their parents. "What's a gook?"

"I dunno," He said quietly, feeling more insulted that they didn't approve of his friend than that they were treating him like he wasn't there. "But I doubt it's anything good..."

Isabelle frowned, curled up against her brother as their parents argued quietly.

Chapter Text

~Have faith in your dreams and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through~


Friday, August 31st, 2007. 

Alec slouched in his seat more, listening to his parents argue in the front seat. His eyes were watering, he hated it when his parents fought, let alone when it was over something he had done.

Isabelle had been clutching his sleeve since they left the restaurant, her dark brown eyes were glazed over with tears. Her body was shaking with sobs that she was trying to keep in.

It was most likely the only reason why he wasn't crying.

He had to be strong for her.

"I'm s-sowwy-" She glanced over at him, tears dripping off her lashes. "I think I made it w'ose..."

Alec shook his head, grabbing her hand and squeezing it.

"You didn't do anything wrong, Iz." He said softly, giving her a reassuring smile. "Dad's just in a bad mood."

She frowned, looking up at their parents as their voices got louder and louder.

"Hey," Alec wiggled her hand to get her attention. "It's gonna be okay."

"P'womise?"

"Promise."

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They arrived home a while later, their parents getting out of the car the moment they were parked, their voices raising and lowering as they argued.

Isabelle frowned, looking over at her big brother.

"Hewp," She said after a moment of trying to undo the seatbelt. Alec reached over and undid the buckle.

"Thank you!" Isabelle grinned at him, climbing out of the seat and jumping out of the car. Alec followed her, slamming the door behind him.

Isabelle was bouncing on her heels, grabbing onto his sleeve and attempting to pull him towards the house.

"Do you wan'a pway dolls with me?" She looked up at him hopefully.

"Yeah!"

"Eh!" She squealed.

They ran up to her room, pulling out a large chest of toys from her closet.

"Can you g'wab the house?"

Alec nodded, pulling out the large, plastic dollhouse from the corner of the closet.

She hummed to herself as she opened the doors and put the dolls where they were supposed to go.

"I 'weally wa'na get tha car that goes with it." Isabelle said, handing him the sparkly purple doll that he always used whenever they played.

"Maybe you'll get it for Christmas." Alec grinned at her.

She giggled, scrunching up her nose while she pulled out the collection of dresses she had gotten over the past few years.

"They gonna go on vacation," Isabelle pulled out the plastic pool.

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It was almost 7 at night by the time Maryse came upstairs, her hair pulled into a perfectly flat ponytail that matched the shiny heels that tapped against the wooden floor.

"Kids?" Maryse peeked her head into the room, a soft sigh escaping her at the sight of the two curled against the end of the bed frame. Isabelle was leaning into her brother's side while they played with two dolls. They were talking quietly.

Isabelle looked up and grinned.

"Hyia, mommy!" She waved tiredly at her. Alec glanced up at her with a smile.

"There's dinner downstairs, if you're hungry." Maryse said, kneeling down in front of the two and brushing her daughter's hair back.

Alec nodded, tapping his fingers against Isabelle's arm.

"Mommy?"

Maryse raised a perfectly drawn eyebrow at her.

"Is daddy mad at us?"

She frowned.

"No. He's not."

Maryse gave a small glance over at Alec and he looked down. Isabelle missed the look as she grinned happily and bounced on her knees.

"Yay!" She tugged at Alec's arm. "Come on! Let's go eat, 'm hung'y."

Alec smiled back at her, laughing as she pulled him up.

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Isabelle giggled to herself as she leaned back in her chair, playing with the small chicken nugget.

"Rawr," She growled, hitting her brother's plate with the nugget, staring up at him with a bright smile that lit up her eyes.

Alec giggled back at her, ignoring the disapproving look from his mother as they continued to play with their dino shaped nuggets.

"Awec! Can we watch a movie?"

Alec swallowed the bite he'd taken.

"What movie?"

"Hmmm," Isabelle pursed her lips and pulled her knees up to her chest, resting the nugget on her leg. "Cind'a'ella!" She announced after a moment, nibbling on her food.

Alec grinned, glancing over at his parents, but they were deep in conversation that he didn't particularly want to interrupt.

"How 'bout we watch it up in my room? We can make a fort and everything!"

Isabelle squealed, leaning forward excitedly.

"Weally?"

He nodded and she giggled, clapping her hands.

"Yay!" She jumped out of her seat, announcing loudly that she was full as she rushed out of the room to grab her bedding.

Robert frowned and looked over at Alec, who was watching his sister's disappearing form with a happy look.

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Alec pulled the blankets and pillows off his bed as Isabelle threw hers onto the floor, moving the pillows so they were lined up neatly and laying a blanket over them.

"Grab that chair."

Isabelle turned around, looking over at his desk and let out a small noise as she rushed over, grabbing hold of the back of the chair and pulling it awkwardly across the floor.

"'Ere." She grinned.

Alec threw one of the blankets over the chair, tucking it over the end of the bed frame and thumb tacking the remaining side to his wall.

"There!"

"Yay!" Isabelle grabbed the movie from the shelf, one of the many DVDs that were hers that had ended up staying in his room. She took a minute to put it into the DVD player, but afterwards she turned off the lights and curled up next to her brother.

Alec wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling the extra blanket over them and hit play on the remote.

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It wasn't long before Isabelle had fallen asleep, the music he'd heard over 50 times playing in the background. She always fell asleep whenever they watched Cinderella.

Alec moved over so she was laying down, unbraiding her hair and taking off her shoes and socks. She wiggled her toes and curled against the pillow she had latched onto.

He brushed back her hair with a smile.

"Night, Iz." He whispered, kissing her forehead gently before turning off the TV and laying down next to her. He grabbed one of the blankets they hadn't used and pulled it over his body.

Chapter Text

~He's going to break you, but you'll always forgive you~


 Saturday, September 1st, 2007. 

Magnus giggled to himself, running a toy car over the uneven grass. His knees were stained with dirt and grass.

His mama and papa were sitting on the porch, sitting close together. Their bodies almost looked like one from how close they were. His mama was grinning, pressing small kisses across his papa’s face.

Caim chuckled and held her waist tighter, nudging her face up and kissing along her neck.

“Vroom,”

Magnus turned back to his car, trying to make the wheels go as fast as he could. There was a small, tickling feeling on his shin and he looked down. A shiny black beetle was crawling against his bare skin and he giggled, picking it up carefully and holding it up in front of his face.

It’s tiny legs wiggled in the air.

Magnus jumped up, cradling it in his hand as he ran over to the porch.

Madu, what are you doing?” Fenna looked up at him, giving him a dazed smile.

I got a cwitter and I wanna make a home for it.”

She nodded with a hum, brushing her hand through her husband’s hair.

After a few minutes he found a plastic container, placing the bug inside before returning to his spot outside.

He dug up some dirt, placing it across the bottom of the exhibit. Then he gripped some of the grass and pulled, wiggling it around until the grass came up quickly and he fell back onto his back.

“Eep!”

Magnus giggled, rolling over and gently picking the beetle up, spreading the grass out on top of the dirt before returning the beetle to the container. Magnus laid down on his stomach, resting his chin on his hands, a loving look on his face as he watched it walk around.

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It made him sad to let his new friend go, but Mr. Wigs probably had a family to go back to and Magnus didn’t want to keep him from them.  

He was curled up on the couch with his papa, the TV playing in the background while his mama cooked dinner.

Caim propped his feet up against the coffee table, avoiding the pipe that was sitting there. He glanced over at his son, giving him a crooked smile. He reached over and ruffled his hair.

He giggled, covering his mouth with a grin.

Papa?”

“Yeah, boy?”

“What’s tha’ stuff?” Magnus pointed to the table where a small container of, what to Magnus, looked like oregano. He didn’t understand why his papa would like smoking spices, maybe it’s like mints or gum, to make your breath smell better.

Caim raised an eyebrow, glancing down at what he was pointing out.

What, this?” He picked it up and shook it a little.

Magnus nodded and Caim gave a thoughtful noise.

Is it that leafy spice that mama uses when she makes ‘getti?”

Caim shrugged.

Something like that.”

Magnus leaned closer to his papa until they were shoulder to shoulder with each other, looking into the container after his papa popped it open.

What does it do? Is it like a mint?”

Caim laughed loudly, rolling his eyes.

Nah, it...relaxes you.”

Magnus frowned.

Oh.” He paused, scrunching his nose up. “It smells funny.”

Caim shrugged, taking one of the pieces out and putting it into the pipe that was on the table. Magnus watched with mild fascination as his papa lit the small, green...leaf? And sucked the smoke through the pipe. He took his finger off the small hole in the side and pulled it away from his mouth, holding it for a second before blowing out the smoke.

Magnus didn’t think it looked easier than just chewing a piece of gum, not that his mama ever let him do that.

She would always sigh, shake her head with a small “it makes you look like a damned cow.”

He didn’t think it looked very fun either.

After a second, Caim glanced over at him with a smirk when he caught him staring, offering the still smoking pipe to his son. Magnus shook his head.

No t’ank you. I brushed my teeth a little bit ago.” He smiled up at him, showing off his pearly white teeth.

Caim rolled his eyes, letting out a small, almost annoyed huff.

C’mon, don’t be such a little fag about it.”

Magnus’ stomach twisted at the word. He didn’t like that word. Papa would always say it when he was upset with him and he didn’t want his papa to be upset with him! Despite how much Magnus tries not to be around him when he’s drinking, he loves being around him otherwise.

I-I don’t know how.” Magnus protested gently, leaning back from him some.

Caim let out a cold laugh, handing the glass to his son, who grabbed onto it with shaking hands.

He didn’t want to do this, but he didn’t want to upset his papa…

Just hold it up to your mouth, suck in after I light it and then take your finger off the hole.”  

Magnus’ heart was beating painfully against his chest as he held it reluctantly up to his lips.

He didn’t want to make his papa mad at him, he wanted to make him proud.

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He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it.

Magnus pulled the pipe away from his mouth quickly, his throat burned as he tried to cough, but Caim reached over and covered his mouth.

Hold it, jeez.” Caim snapped, taking the pipe from him and putting it on the coffee table.

He stared up at his papa with watering eyes, his lungs burning and he tried not to cry. Caim removed his hand after a few seconds and he doubled over onto the floor, coughing loudly.

Caim let out a loud laugh, taking a drink from his soda.

What did you do?” Fenna asked, rushing in and kneeling down next to Magnus.

Relax, Fen. He’s not a fag, he can take it.” Caim looked down and met his sons’ eyes, giving him a proud smile.

Magnus kept coughing, but he smiled happily up at his papa.

He’d made his papa proud!

Fenna frowned between the two, brushing Magnus’ hair back.

Madu, are you alright?”   Magnus glanced at his papa, who raised his eyebrow and leaned back.

Yea, I’m okay, mama.” His throat hurt, but he rubbed his eyes and tried not to cry from the pain.

Fenna looked worried, giving Caim a disapproving look.

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A few minutes later, Magnus was curled up under his blankets. His head felt heavy and it felt like it took all his energy just to blink. There was a spot on the wall that he couldn’t seem to look away from.

Magnus?”

“M-mama?” He whispered quietly and his mama came around his bed and knelt down in front of his bed.

How are you feeling, madu?”

He sniffled and shrugged. His throat burned.

I don’t know...my head feels real heavy and I just…” Magnus paused, looking back at the wall and, after a moment, he giggled. “There’s a bird.” He whispered.

Fenna frowned, glancing behind her shoulder and she sighed.

Sleep. You’ll feel better when you wake up.”

“Do you see the bird, mama?” Magnus looked up at her with a bright smile, giggling.

She shook her head. “ Just sleep, sayang.” She whispered.

Magnus didn’t say anything for a few minutes.

Mama...I feel sick…” He whispered, his breathing speeding up a little. “Please make it stop…”

Fenna sighed, shaking her head and standing up.

Just rest. That’s all that will deal with it.”

Magnus watched with watering red eyes as his mama stepped out of his room, turning his light off.

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Magnus opened his eyes a few hours later, rubbing his eyes with a yawn. The sky was still dark and moonlight poured in through his window.

His mouth was dry and Magnus scrunched his nose, pulling the covers off and stumbling out of his bed.

The floor was cold against his feet and he shivered, wrapping his arms around himself as he padded across the hardwood floor. He walked into the kitchen, standing up on his tippy toes and grabbing a mug from the drain board. He filled it with water, sipping with his eyes closed until it was all gone.

The hell are you doing up?”

Caim leaned against the wall, raising an eyebrow at him. Magnus held up his cup.

I was thirsty.” Magnus smiled cheekily.

Hm,” He noticed his papa’s eyes were glassy as they glanced up and down his body and he tilted his head.

Caim stumbled a bit when he stepped forward towards Magnus, reaching out and running a rough hand through his hair.

Are you okay?”

Caim hummed, gripping his face and turning it from side to side inspectingly.

Ya know, you look a lot like your mama.”

Magnus giggled.

“Mama says that a lot.” He said proudly, grinning up at his papa.

His papa stared down at him for a few moments, rubbing himself through the pair of boxers he was wearing.

Magnus scrunched his eyebrows together, he could smell the alcohol on his breath.

Caim let out a small huff, patting his cheek hard enough to turn his head to the side.

Get to bed now, I don’t need your ma bitchin’ at me for letting you stay up.”

Magnus nodded, stepping around his papa without taking his eyes off him.

Night.” He whispered and Caim gave a grunt in response.

Chapter Text

~Your little hands wrapped around my finger, and it's so quiet in the world tonight
Your little eyelids flutter cause you're dreaming, so I tuck you in and turn on your favorite nightlight~


 

Friday, August 31st, 2007.

Isabelle pushed her brother’s door open.

“Awec?” She whispered, standing on her tippy toes and peering over the pile of pillows. “Awec,” Isabelle reached over and poked his cheek with her nail. “Wake up, pwease wake up.” Isabelle climbed up, shaking his body in an attempt to wake him.

Isabelle waited a second before pulling her legs closer to her body. She leaned down and rested her head against his chest.

“Awec, I know you’re breathing so you can wake up now.” She said.

Alec was starting school on Monday and, while it wasn’t a lot of time, Isabelle had plans for the whole weekend!  She planned to spend all the time she could with her big brother before he left her.

“Pwease, I wanna make pancakes.”

“Shhhhh.” Alec reached up blindly, covering her mouth. “The sun isn’t up yet, Iz.”

“Bu-”

“So I’m not up yet.”

Isabelle frowned, worrying on her lower lip.

“If you’re gonna stay, can you at least sleep instead of staring at me?” He looked up, blinking tiredly at her. “I can’t sleep if you’re doing that.”

“But I wanna make pancakes…”

“We’ll make pancakes when we get up, okay?”

Isabelle looked like she was considering it, nodding slowly before laying down, staring at him.

Alec laughed slightly.

“Goodnight, Iz.”

“G’night…”

Isabelle turned onto her back and stared up at the ceiling, trying to count sheep in her head.

Unfortunately the sheep kept changing colors and she became more focused on that.

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Alec woke up a few hours later, the sun was shining brightly outside.

The clock ticked on his bedside table and he glanced over, rubbing his eyes tiredly.

7:54

He climbed out from under his covers carefully, looking over at his little sister, who was curled against the pillow she had stolen from him in the night. Her small thumb lodged in her mouth in a habit she’d been trying to break.

Alec reached over and brushed a few stray hairs out of her mouth before climbing off the bed. He turned off the Ariel night light that Isabelle had given him for his 5th birthday. It was worn down, and extremely girly, but the look of happiness on her face when he opened the poorly wrapped present made him love it.

After the door closed quietly behind him, he went into the bathroom. A shiver ran up his arms and he scrunched his nose.

There was a blue step stool under the sink and he pulled it out, climbing on top. He brushed his teeth and washed his face.

He went downstairs a few minutes later, peaking into the kitchen to see his mom sitting at the table.

“Good morning, sweetie.”

“G’morning.”

Maryse gave him a soft smile against her coffee cup. He could see the steam rising into the air.

Alec stepped forward and leaned his head against his mom’s thigh, smiling tiredly up at her. He always thought she looked beautiful when she smiled, she used to smile a lot when he was younger.

“Did you sleep well?”

He nodded, leaning into the fingers she was brushing against his cheek.

“Izzy woke up again,”

Maryse frowned, letting out a small sigh.

“Is she in your room?”

He nodded again.

“She didn’t seem to have any nightmares, she just wanted to make food.”

“Well, that’s good.”

Alec didn’t say anything for a few seconds before asking if he could have some of her coffee.

She said yes.

He wiggled his toes in the air after climbing into one of the chairs, blowing on the coffee and taking a small sip.

“Thank you, mom.”

“Of course, sweetie.” She whispered, taking back the cup.

Alec watched her for a few minutes, picking at a loose string on his pants.

“Are you okay?”

Maryse looked up at him, running her fingers through his hair.

“It’s  nothing for you to worry about, Alec.”

Alec was leaning up on the tables on his elbows, chewing on his nail. Maryse let out a small sigh, giving him a smile.

“It’s just adult things,” She finished her coffee before standing up, kissing his forehead.

Alec nodded at the answer, watching his mom leave the room.

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Alec jumped up onto his bed a few minutes later, pulling the pillow from under Isabelle’s head.

“Wake up!”

Isabelle’s bright eyes flickered open and she wiggled her fingers at him, poking her tongue out a bit.

“G’morning, Awec!” She said, covering up a yawn.

“Do you wanna make pancakes? Mom’s awake.”

Isabelle let out an excited gasp, throwing the blanket off.

“Yeah! Just let me b’ush my teeth.” Isabelle crawled out of the bed, running into the bathroom and slamming the door.

Alec made the bed, knowing he’d get a tip on his allowance. He went downstairs, grabbing the basic items he’s seen his mom use. A frying pan, milk and a yellow box of pancake mix.

“I’ll get eggs!” Isabelle bounced in next to him.

“Did you check to see how many we’ll need?”

Isabelle paused, her hand on the refrigerator handle.

“Oh, no. I’ll do that!” She skidded across the floor in her socks. “Thwee, I need thwee eggs.”

Alec watched her slid across the floor happily, pouring a cup of the pancake mix into a bowl. He let Isabelle crack the eggs, making sure no pieces of shell fell in.

“I’ll pour the milk!”

She couldn’t hold the carton very steadily, but she tried her best.

While he put the frying pan on the stove, Isabelle mixed the batter. She scooped out a messy cup and poured it into the pan.

“How long do you t’ink it’ll take?” She whispered, leaning closer to the hot pan.

Alec shrugged, hovering his finger over the metal.

“It’s pretty hot though.”

“We should flip it.”

“It’ll deform.”

“We should flip it now!” Isabelle repeated a second later, clapping her hands together excitedly.

Alec laughed.

“I think we need a,” Alec moved his hand in a vague motion. “T-the flipping thing.”

“They’re a’w dirty.”

Alec frowned, grabbing a fork out of the drawer.

“We’ll use this.”

“Okay!”

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They burnt most of the pancakes, some of them falling apart or stuck on the bottom of the pan. Isabelle was looking down at the pan from the stool with a pout.

“I t’ink we needed butta.”

Alec nodded, placing the lopsided stack of pancakes on the table.

“Kids?” Maryse leaned her hip against the doorway, smiling fondly at her children.

Her long brown hair was braided messily over her shoulder and she hadn’t put her makeup on yet.

She was practically glowing.

Isabelle thought her mommy looked like an angel.

“We made you bekfast, mommy!” Isabelle skipped over to her, wrapping her arms around her hips.

“Aw, thank you.” She stroked her son’s cheek gently before sitting down at the table. “It smells delicious.”  

Isabelle smiled up at her, handing her a fork eagerly.

“Come on, eat with me.” Maryse gestured for them to sit.

“Is daddy here?” Isabelle asked a second later, hopefulness shining in her dark brown eyes.

Maryse paused, a fork full of syrup drenched cake hovering in the air.

“No, he had to meet a client early.”

Isabelle pouted. “But we made food…”

Alec patted her head comfortingly.

“Oh, sweetie...I’m sure your father would love all this.” Maryse said softly, rubbing her cheek. “Now, let’s eat.”

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Maryse smiled the whole time through breakfast, despite the majority of her pancakes having burnt patches along the sides.

“Do you wike them?” Isabelle asked, syrup dripping down her chin and staining her nose.

Maryse nodded, using her napkin to clean off her daughter’s chin.

Isabelle giggled, wiggling her toes underneath her chair happily.

“They’re good?” She looked over at Alec with a huge smile, clapping her hands happily when he said yeah.

“I’m gonna be a cook when I’m older! And I’ll make you lots of food!”

Alec grinned at his sister.

“You’re gonna be the best cook ever!”

Isabelle giggled, taking a large bite from her last pancake.

“So, what’re your plans for today?” Maryse asked, pushing her plate away and resting her chin against the back of her fingers.

Isabelle mimicked her mother’s stance, placing her elbows on the table.

“I made a ‘wist of things I wanna do this weekend.” Isabelle said, pulling out a crumpled piece of paper with messy writing. She handed it proudly to her mom, poking her tongue between her teeth.

“A movie and coloring?”

Isabelle nodded.

“Yea! It’ll be fun!”

Alec looked over at his mom.

“Is Sasha gonna watch us today?”

Maryse nodded, gathering up all the plates and putting them in the sink.

“She should be here in about 20 minutes.”

She missed the annoyed looked her children shared.

“How about if you kids do the dishes before I get home, I’ll give you 5 dollars to spend at the cafe.”

“A whole 5 dollars?” Isabelle gasped, her mouth going into an o shape.

Maryse nodded, kissing the top of her head.

“I’m going to get ready for work, clean up the table?” She asked while leaving, giving them a thanking smile.

 The two got to work, wiping down the counters and putting all the dishes they used for breakfast into the sink.

Maryse came back down, putting her pearl earrings in while answering the door.

“Sasha,”  She said in greeting, stepping aside to let the younger woman in.

“Mrs. Lightwood.”

“The children are in the kitchen, they want to watch a movie afterwards. I also told them that if they did the dishes before I get home, they’ll get money.” Maryse said sternly, grabbing one of her black throw overs. “Keep an eye on them.”

Sasha nodded, digging a piece of watermelon gum out of her purse.

“Got it.”

Maryse sighed through her nose, turning and going into the kitchen.

“I’m leaving now, I’ll see you in a few hours?” She hugged them tightly, ruffling Alec’s hair and kissing Isabelle’s forehead.

“Okie, mommy! I love you!”

“I love you!”

Maryse giggled.

“I love you both as well, so so much.”

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Sasha was sitting in the armchair while Alec and Isabelle picked out a movie , ignoring the for the most part unless they started being noisy.

“We could watch Cind’a’ella!”

“Didn’t we just watch that one?”

“Just watch the second one.” Sasha said, giving them a small glance. “It’s at the top of the shelf.”

Isabelle gasped, stepping back and gazing up.

“Can we watch that one?!”

Alec nodded, reaching up to grab it. He handed it to her.

“Go put it in the player.”

“Okay!” Isabelle skipped over to the DVD player, putting the tape in.

“What’s the back say?” She asked after she climbed onto the couch with him.

“Jacques and Gus tell the story of how Cinderella becomes a princess but loses touch with herself.”

“Oooo,” Isabelle curled into a ball next to him, laying her head against her lap.

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“We’re gonna live in a castle wike that.” Isabelle whispered excitedly. “Me, my princess and your prince.”

“Prince?”

She nodded, not taking her eyes off the screen.

“I told you, I don’t want you to be ‘wonely.”

“Oh.”

Neither of them saw the judgemental look Sasha gave them.

“Oh no, princesses aren’t suppose to cook!” She whispered, covering her mouth.

Alec looked worriedly down at her and rested a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s okay, you’ll be a new brand of princess!”

Isabelle frowned.

“A weird one though…”

“No! A better one. One that doesn’t need a man ‘cause you can cook for yourself!”

“Oh,” Isabelle gasped. “Yeah! And I’ll banned prunes!”

They both giggled, watching as the characters danced along to the music.

“The blonde is pretty.” Isabelle whispered a few seconds later. “I wanna marry her!” She squealed quietly, pulling on his sleeve. “She’s gonna be my princess.”

Alec chuckled.

“They kiss a lot.” She scrunched her nose. “Icky.”

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“I want a kitty.” Isabelle said while the credits rolled across the screen.

“Don’t know why you’d want one, they’re a nightmare to take care of.”

Isabelle glanced up at Sasha and frowned, sticking her tongue out at her.

“I want a kitty!” She said again, but louder. Stomping her feet against the couch.

Sasha rolled her eyes, but looked back down to her phone.

“Ask your father then.”

“I will!”

Isabelle huffed and turned to Alec.

“Can we watched Thum’alina?”

Alec looked back at the clock and nodded.

“Sure.”

“And ‘den we can watch A’waddin.” She grinned, leaning over so she was staring up at Alec. “You wike A’waddin.” She teased, poking his cheek with a giggle.

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Isabelle hoped that her parents would get home soon, she wasn’t a huge fan of Sasha. She knew that her brother shared her dislike, which made her feel better as she sat on the farthest edge of the couch, poking her brother’s leg with her big toe.

~”Prince Ali,

Yes, it is he,

But not as you know him.

Read my lips and come to grips

With reality

Yes, meet a blast from your past

Whose lies were too good to last

Say hello to your precious Prince Ali!”~

Isabelle hummed along to the song, wiggling her toes.

“Jasmine is so pretty. “She whisper with a giggle. “I wanna be her for Ha’oween.” Alec grinned down at her.

“That would be so cool!”

Isabelle nodded ecstatically.

“What’d you wanna be for Ha’oween?”

Alec shrugged.

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“Oh, I’ll help you!”

Alec laughed a little, turning his attention back to the screen.

“Maybe mom will take us shopping for costumes soon.”

“Yeah! I hope so, I ‘weally wanna get a beautiful costume.”

“We’ll ask when she gets home?”

Isabelle nodded against the arm of the couch.

A few minutes later the front door opened, the strong voice of their dad approaching the living room.

Robert paused in the doorway, giving the kids a glance and a nod before stepping towards Sasha. He said something that Alec couldn’t quite her, but he wasn’t listening very hard since Isabelle and him were more focused on the sound of their mom coming into the house.

The familiar sound of plastic bags rubbing together and landing on the floor in the hallway.

“Mommy!” Isabelle jumped off the couch.

They loved it when their mom would come home with stuff, even more when they didn’t know she was going to.

Alec jumped up as his sister dragged him into the hallway, running into Maryse’s arms.

“Hello, sweetie.” Maryse said, hugging her tightly and kissing the top of her head.

“Do you wike my hair?” Isabelle asked when her feet hit the ground, flipping the briad over her shoulder with a pose. “Awec did it while we were watching A’waddin.” She giggled with a smile.

“Oh, it looks marvelous.” Maryse praised, giving Alec a loving look.

Isabelle nodded her head quickly, looking over at the bags.

“What’d ya get, mommy?” She asked as she got on the ground, ruffling through the multiple bags.

Maryse chuckled.

“Food, mostly.”

Alec grinned as he helped Maryse carry the bags into the kitchen, Isabelle trailed behind them.

“Thank you two, for doing the dishes.” Maryse said, putting the bags onto the counter.

“We’re gonna get money, right?”

Maryse nodded.

“Yes, I’ll keep it in my purse for safe keeping though.”

Maryse handed different items that belonged in the fridge to Alec, who put them in the places they were suppose to go.

“What do you kids want for dinner?”

“Spe’getti!”

Isabelle skipped over to the drawers in the corner of the room, pulling out a box of the noodles.

“P’wease, p’wease!” She begged, giving her mom puppy dog eyes.

Maryse hummed lightly before nodding.

“Go clean up the living room and I’ll start dinner, alright?”

The two kids rushed into the living room, excited for dinner. Spaghetti was their favorite dinner.

Robert was sitting in his armchair, a thick file of papers spread out across his lap.

“Hi daddy!” Isabelle popped up next to his chair, giving him a toothy grin. “We’re gonna have spe’getti.”

Robert glanced at her, pushing his glasses back up on his nose.

“That’s nice, sweetheart.” He said shortly, patting her head.

She tilted her head and looked back at her brother, who was picking up stray piece of popcorn off the floor. He shrugged.

She took the bowl from him after he was done, taking it into the kitchen.

“You wook pretty, mommy.” She whispered, nuzzling her face against Maryse’s stomach.

Maryse let out a soft laugh, smiling down at her. She patted her hair before going back to stirring the noodles and Isabelle returned to the living room.

She threw herself onto the couch with Alec, lying awkwardly across his lap.

“I want a pony,” Isabelle whispered. “Do you t’ink we can get a pony?”

Alec flopped her braid around.

“Probably; ask dad.”

“Daddy!” She said loudly, pouting when Robert didn’t look up. “Daddy,” Isabelle said excitedly, jumping up and running over to his chair, shoving the papers that he was holding out of the way.

Robert sighed, lifting his arms so he could see her.

“What?”

“Can I get a pony? I want a pony.”

Robert put the papers down and rubbed his temples.

“I highly doubt a pony is in the plans for the future.”

She paused, frowning.

“But I want one.”

“It’s impractical; we live in the city. This is no place for a horse.”

“We’ll move to the forest then!” Isabelle giggled with a nod. “Yep, yep, yep. And then I can have a pony. I’ll name her Snuffle.”

Alec watched her with a smile, ignoring the dismissive tone of his dad’s voice, as she bounced over to him.

“You’ll go live in the forest with me, ‘wright, Awec?”

“Of course! Who else would protect you from the monsters?”

She giggled happily.

“Da big ones? With fangs, sssssss .” She used her fingers to make claws by her mouth, hissing through her teeth.

Alec jumped onto the floor and they hissed like snakes at each other.

“Oo, do you think there’s snakes? I wike snakes. Ssssssss .” She giggled, covering her mouth.

Robert rolled his eyes, gathering his papers up.

“Alexander, shouldn’t you be preparing for school instead of playing make believe.”

Alec paused, looking up at his father.

“But I’ve still got another few days…”

“Well, I’m sure your teachers would appreciate it if you were ahead. We do have a reputation to uphold.”

Robert didn’t say anything else before leaving, closing the door to his office with a click.

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“Kids! Dinner’s ready.”

Isabelle grinned and grabbed her brother’s arm, pulling him off the floor.

“C’mon!” She squealed.

The two ran into the kitchen excitedly, climbing into chairs. Maryse placed two plates of spaghetti in front of them, sprinkling mozzarella on top.

“Enjoy.” She smiled, petting Isabelle's hair.

“Mommy?” Isabelle asked with a mouth full of noodles. “Is daddy gonna eat?”

Maryse paused, glancing towards the direction the office was in.

“I'll go see if he's hungry, okay?”

Isabelle nodded.

“Awec,” Isabelle rubbed her mouth with her sleeve, smearing some of the sauce on her mouth and staining the fabric. “Do you t’ink we cou’d go to the park tomo’ow?” She grinned at him, swinging her legs.

Alec nodded, returning her grin.

“Yeah! Mom doesn't work tomorrow, she could take us!”

“And then I cou’d meet your friend.”

Maryse was quite when she returned to the kitchen, giving her children a small smile as she sat at the head of the table.

“Where’s daddy?” Isabelle asked, holding her spaghetti covered fork in the air.

“Your father will be out in a little while, he’s finishing up paperwork.” Maryse said, stirring her food. “Let’s just enjoy dinner.” She gave them a tight smile, placing her napkin in her lap.

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Robert joined them a few minutes later, kissing Isabelle’s head affectionately.

“It smells good, honey.”

Maryse gave him a small kiss on the cheek before he sat down.

“I’ll get your plate.”

Robert nodded, looking over at his children.

“So, what’d you kids do today?”

Isabelle bounced on her knees.

“We watched movies and colored! And Awec braided my hair!” Isabelle lifted her hair up to show off the braid, grinning largely at her father.

Robert smiled at her, touching the braid gently.

“It looks really good.” He said, but he didn’t so much as glance at Alec when he said it.

Isabelle nodded, scrunching her nose towards her brother with a smile.

“Are you gonna finish that?” She pointed to his garlic bread and he sighed. “P’wease…I wike ‘ghetti with garlic bread…” She pouted.

Alec pouted back to her, but handed her his bread anyway.

“T’ank you, big brother.” She said in a loud whisper.

Maryse watched the exchange with a smile, sitting next to her husband.

“Mommy, can you take me and Awec to the park tomorrow? I wanna meet ‘is friend and ‘way in the sun.” Isabelle rested her chin on her hand. “I wanna show off my new dress!”

Maryse paused, swallowing her food.

“We’ll see, okay? If it’s sunny tomorrow then probably.”

“Yay!” She turned back to her brother with a little wave. “It’ be fun! And we can p’way on the big uh…” She made a gesture with her small hands.

Alec nodded in understanding and she relaxed.

“Yea, it’ll be fun.” She whispered to herself.

They ate in silence for a few minutes, a tension between their parents that neither noticed.

“Daddy? I want a kitty.” Isabelle pushed her plate away, scrunching her nose.

Robert paused, taking a sip from his wine glass.
“Cats are…”

“Cool!”

Robert nodded, scratching his beard.

“I mean, I figure we could get one. However,” He wiped his chin with his napkin, looking over at Alec. “That might be a problem for your little “friend.”

Alec frowned and tilted his head.
“What do you mean?”
He sipped at his wine.

“Pets aren’t pets to those sort of people, they’re food.”

“No, peop’e don’t eat pets, that’s silly, daddy.”

Alec crossed his arms and frowned.

“He wouldn’t do that.” Alec said, bringing the attention back to him. “I don’t get why you’re so against him. He’s cool.”

Robert shook his head.

“I don’t need to know people like that to know they’re…”He paused at the hard look Maryse sent towards him. “Trustworthy.”

Alec clenched his jaw and shoved his plate away, jumping up and storming off.

Robert started to stand with the full intent to go after him, but Maryse cupped his hand.

“Give him time, Rob.”

Isabelle watched her parents with a shaking lip, looking down at the table when her dad glanced at her before he yanked his hand away from her mom and stormed out to his office.

“Sorry, sweetheart.” Maryse said softly with a sigh.

Isabelle gave her a smile.

“It’s ok, mommy.” Isabelle grabbed her plate and got up awkwardly. “I will he’wp with dishes.” She stood on her tiptoes and slid her plate up onto  the counter.

“Thank you,” Maryse whispered, kissing her forehead. “Go grab the stepstool from the bathroom, you can dry.”

“Okie!”

Isabelle stumbled off excitedly, skipping up the stairs.

She stuttered to a stop in front of her brother’s room, the sound of shaky crying caught her attention and she rested her forehead on the door.

“I wove you, big brother.” She said.

The crying halted in a small laugh.

“I love you too.” She rested her hand on the door.

“I bet your friend is really cool, daddy’s just g’wumpy.”

Alec opened the door quickly and hugged his sister.

“Thanks, Iz.”

She smiled cheekily up at her brother.

“I’m gonna help mommy with the dishes.”

Alec laughed a little, smiling back at her.

“Have fun with that.”

“Yea!” She gave him a little wave as she skipped into the bathroom, grabbing the stool from under the sink.

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Alec tugged out the strings out of his blanket, glaring at the dark purple pillow.

Knock knock knock

“Come in.”

Maryse peaked her head in, giving him a soft smile.

“Hey, sweetie.”

“Hi…” He said quietly, turning towards her as she sat down on the edge of his bed.

“How are you doing?” Maryse brushed his hair off his forehead.

Alec hummed, shrugging and she sighed.

“You know you were out of line, storming off like that.”

“He was insulting my friend! I’m not going to be sorry for getting upset.” He snapped, crossing his arms.

“Your  father wants to ground you.” Maryse said a few seconds later, rubbing her temples.

Alec sighed, curling up closer to himself.

“I don’t get why I’m in trouble…” Alec glanced up at her. “He was being a meanie.”

“I understand that…” She said. “That’s why I talked him out of it, you’re starting school in a few days and I don’t want you to be locked in the house tomorrow.”

Alec gave her a thankful smile.

“So,” Maryse straightened up, grabbing his hands. “Someone’s birthday is coming up.” She wiggled her eyebrows at him.

“Moooooom,” Alec threw himself backwards on the bed.

“Oh come on, you have to want something.”

Alec shook his head.

“I just wanna have a normal, small birthday.”

“What about friends?”

Alec shook his head.

“I don’t like the kids my age. I only like Izzy and Magnus.” He said.

Maryse frowned, chewing on her lip.

“And one of those people can’t be here because dad is a meanie.” Alec closed his eyes. “Can we talk about this tomorrow? We’ve still got a time.”

Maryse rubbing her hands against her pants and nodded.

“Of course, we don’t need to decide anything right now.” Maryse said, kissing his forehead. “Goodnight, honey.”

“Goodnight, mom. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~I~

Saturday, September 1st, 2007.

Alec poured cereal into his favorite bowl, listening to the sound of his little sister’s voice. She was telling Maryse about a strange dream she had during the night.

“And ‘den,” Isabelle said through a mouthful of frosted flakes. “He came down and BOOM! He was a frog.” She finished in a “suspenseful” whisper.

Maryse giggled, chewing on a piece of bacon.

“And ‘den everything tu’ned into fluffy white clouds.” Isabelle announced excitedly.

Alec sat down across from her with a smile.

“We’re gonna go to the park, wight?”

Maryse nodded.

“Yes, it seems like it.” She glanced out the window while sipping her coffee.

“Is daddy gonna come?”

“No, he’s got work to do.”

Isabelle pouted, but didn’t press it.

Alec ate his cereal slowly, humming to himself until his mom told Isabelle to go get ready to go to the park.

Since he was already dressed and ready, he just finished his breakfast and waited in the living room, watching the reruns of Avatar: The Last Airbender that were playing on the TV.

“Are you ‘weady?” Isabelle asked excitedly, bouncing on her toes next to the couch.

“Yeah!”

“Okay, buckle up!” Maryse said loudly and they ran outside to the car, climbing into the back seats in a hurry.

“I really hope he’s there.” Alec said as their mom started the car.

Isabelle nodded.

“Me too! I wanna meet him!”

“Oh, by the way Alec, your father wants you to start reading one of your class books when we get back, he put them in your room.”

Alec frowned.

“Okay…”

Isabelle didn’t pick up on her brother’s mood change, she just continued talking excitedly.

“Do you t’ink he’ll wike me?! I hope ‘e does, I wanna be able to play Barbies with more people!” She moved around in her carseat, a smile never leaving her face.

“I’m sure he’ll love you!”

“Hehe,”

“We’re here.” Maryse stopped the car on the side of the road, getting out. “I’ll be on the bench, okay?”

Isabelle nodded as her and Alec came to stop in front of her, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the playground.

“Is he here!? Is he here!?” She jumped up and down next to him, looking around.

Alec frowned, his shoulders sagging some.

“I don’t see him, he’s normally by the slide.”

“Aw…” Isabelle pouted, stepping up to the slide, looking over the side. “Ha!” The quick grin disappearing back into a pout. “I thought maybe he was hidin’.” She explained. “...Do you wanna play pirates?” She asked and he nodded.

“Yeah,” He gave one disappointed look towards the bench Magnus’ mother always sat on. “Let’s go.” He smiled at her and they went over to the playground jungle gym.

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“En Garde,” Isabelle shouted, pointing a small stick they’d found at her brother. “Ye won’t get ta me go’wd,” She giggled.

“Arr’.”

They chased each other around, yelling out commands to imaginary crewmen.

“Eh, matey! Tha mi’tary be ‘epproching, we’d best be gettin’ tha go’wd and leavin’.”  Alec said, staring off into an ocean that only existed in their minds.

“Oh no! All aboard!” Isabelle lifted her “sword” into the air as the two rushed up the steps on the jungle gym, spinning the plastic ship steering wheel that was attached to one of the walls.

Isabelle pulled herself up on the one of the bars and gazed over the side of the equipment. “They be on our tail, Capt’ain. We must be losin’ ‘em or they’ll stea’ all me go’wd.”

“Kids!”

Alec paused and jumped up next to his sister, staring down at their mom.

“Yeah, mom?”

“It’s time to go, I’ve got to start dinner.”

“Five more minutes?” Isabelle asked loudly, giving her mom puppy dog eyes.

Maryse gave her a look, shaking her head.

“Come on, sweetie. It’s time to go home.”

Isabelle pouted, but climbed down with her brother anyway.

“So, did you have fun?”

Alec nodded, grinning up at her.

“We were playing pirates.” He said, grabbing onto her offered hand.

“But I didn’ get to meet Awec’s friend, mommy! We gotta stay a wittle ‘onger!” She whined, grabbing ahold of her mom’s hand and jumping up and down next to her. “I wanna meet him!”

“Honey, we’ll come back in a few days, but we’ve got to go home now.”

“But m-momma.” Her eyes watered and her lips trembled.

Maryse stopped and knelt down, kissing her forehead.

“What about if we stop for ice cream on the way home?”

“Can I ge’ st’awberry?”

“Of course.”

Isabelle glanced at her brother and nodded.

“Okie!”

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Alec asked his mom to put his half eaten container of ice cream in the freezer before he went upstairs to his bedroom, spreading the brand new school books out across his blanket. He picked up the math book, grimacing at the bright orange color that had “1st Grade Math” written in a bubble on the side.

He pushed the others towards the foot of his bed and climbed up, flipping the book open.

“Math is icky.” Alec jumped a little at the sudden appearance of his sister, her bright brown eyes staring boredly up at him. “You should p’way Barbies with me instead.” She held up two of her favorite Barbies with a giggle.

“I can’t, Iz. Dad says I have to do this.”

She scrunched up her face in disgust, grabbing the book from him and looking at the problems.

“Can you do it fast? I don’t wike p’waying all the roles.”

Alec smiled at her.

“Yeah, I know how to do this.”

“Okie! I’ll wait here until you’re done!” Isabelle jumped up and curled up on his pillow, flipping through the pages of the other books.

He wrote down the problems on a spare piece of paper like he’d seen his mom do before, giving Isabelle a pencil so she could draw shapes on the corners of the paper while he worked.

“I’m gonna draw a person.”

“Okay.”

“What color should her d’wess be?”

“Pink.”

“Do you t’ink she shou’ have yellow or blue hair?”

“Definitely blue, goes with her dress.”

“G’ween or purple eyes?”

“Green.”

“Ta-da!” Isabelle giggled, pulling away from the paper to reveal the drawing she’d done. “Hehehe, did you finish?” She tapped the problems on the paper curiously.

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Can we p’way now?” She asked hopefully, giving him a scrunched up smile that made her dimples stand out.

He nodded excitedly and she squealed, jumping, or rather stumbling quickly, off the bed.

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“Hello?” Maryse tucked a piece of hair behind her ear as she held the phone up.

“Hey, it’s Jocelyn. Sorry to bother you this late, but Clary just won’t sleep unless I ask tonight.”

She smiled, sitting on the couch with a small laugh.

“Oh, well ask away then.” Maryse said with an amused tone.

“Well, Clary was wanting to know if Isabelle could come over and play tomorrow?”

Maryse could hear the high pitched voice of the feisty mini Fray in the background.

“What’d she say?! What’d she say?”

Jocelyn’s soft laugh poured through the phone.

“I’m sure that can happen, Isabelle will be thrilled.”

“Oo!”

There was a rustling sound and then her eardrum was assaulted loud “hi!”

“Can you ask Izzy’s brother to come too? I wanna meet him! Please, please, please.”

Maryse hummed.

“I’ll ask, okay?”

“Okay!”

Jocelyn took the phone back, whispering something to Clary.

“So, just bring them by tomorrow around 12? If Alec wants to come, I can watch them until you get off work tomorrow.”

“Oh, thank you. I’ll see you then?”

“Okay, well goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

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Isabelle leaned back against the wall and waved excitedly at her mom.

“Hyia, mommy.”

Maryse paused in the doorway, glancing over at the pile of books that had been pushed to the side of the bed.

“Awec let me a draw a picture on his paper!”  Isabelle jumped off the floor, knocking the discarded Barbie to the floor as she grabbed the paper. “See? Isn’t she pretty? He he’wped pick the colors.” She grinned up at her mom.

“It looks wonderful,” Maryse glanced at Alec. “You’re going to turn in math homework with this on it?”

Alec shrugged.

“I think it looks nice.” He didn’t look up from where he was popping a different pair of shoes on a dark haired doll.

“Well, I just wanted to let you know that since I need to stop by the office tomorrow, Jocelyn offered to watch you kids for a while.”

Isabelle squealed.

“Yay! C’ary’s gonna be there, right?” She turned to Alec, who was now looking at them. “She’s my bestie and I want you to meet ‘er!”

“Clary did ask if you wanted to go over there tomorrow,” Maryse raised an eyebrow at him.

“P’wease?”

“Okay,”

“Eh!” Isabelle squealed, wrapping her arms around him.

Maryse smiled, glancing over at the clock on Alec’s nightstand.

“Now, come along, Isabelle. It’s time for bed.”

“Ok! G’night, Awec! I wuv you.”

“I love you too, Iz.”

“I’ll come back and tuck you in after I put her to bed.”

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Sunday, September 2nd, 2007.

“Awec, get up! Get up!” Isabelle smacked him in the face with a pillow.

“No.”

“But today’s the day! You’re gonna meet my friend!”

Alec rolled over, giving her a blank look.

“We’re leaving at noon, Iz.” She nodded. “It’s 8 in the morning, go back to sleep.” He groaned out, rolling back and covering his head with a pillow.

“I can’t sleep though, I’m excited!” She laid across his back, staring up at the ceiling.

Alec sighed, yawning.

“Just sleep, like 5 more minutes.”

She pouted, rolling over so she was next to him.

“Fine, five minutes. I’ll be counting.” She said sternly, but her determination wasn’t strong enough to keep her from dozing off 78 seconds later.

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Maryse smiled down at her daughter, brushing her bangs back.

“Honey, it’s time to wake up.”

“Mommy?’

“Good morning.” She whispered.

Isabelle eyes opened slowly and she blinked tiredly up at her mom, giving her a smile.

“What time is it?”

“Almost 11:30, I made french toast.”

“Ooo,”

“Wake up your brother and get dressed, we’ll be leaving after you two eat.”

Isabelle nodded climbing out from under the covers while her mom went back downstairs. She woke Alec up quickly, wanting to get over to her friend’s house as fast as possible.

“Get up, get up, get up!” Isabelle paused in her jumping, letting herself fall to her knees on the mattress. She glared at the messy head of hair and smacked her brother with a pillow.

“Dude,” Alec sat up, grabbing the pillow from her and throwing it across the room. “What?”

“It’s time to get up!”

Alec fought back a smile as he flopped back against his bed, giving her a sigh.

“Okay, I’m up.”

Isabelle grinned down at him and jumped off the bed.

“I’m gonna go get weady, mommy said she made bekfast.”

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The two met downstairs a few minutes later, eating more than half of the french toast their mom had made that morning.

“Mommy, do you wike my dress?” Isabelle asked, spinning around in the middle of the hallway. “It’s the new one I got ‘en I went shopping with C’ary.” She grinned cheekily up at her, holding the sides of the white, floral printed dress.

“It looks beautiful, sweetheart.” Maryse answered, slipping her sunglasses on. “Now, c’mon. Buckle  up!”

They didn’t talk a lot on the way to the Fray’s house, the kids were busy singing along loudly to the radio, even if they didn’t know all the words. Maryse pulled into the driveway in front of a white house, multiple types of bushes and flowers covered the porch and surrounding areas. Decorating the yard to match the white picket fence.

The front door slammed open before they got the car doors closed, a small blur of red darted past Maryse and into Isabelle’s arms.

“Hi!” Clary pulled back with a giggle, holding onto her hands. “I’m so happy you’re here!”

“I’m so happy too! I missed you!”

Alec stepped past them slowly, grabbing on to his mom’s sleeve.

“Are you alright?”

He nodded, but didn’t respond as the woman he figures is Jocelyn came outside. He’s seen her a few times when his mom would drop off Isabelle.

“Hi,” Jocelyn hummed out, wrapping her arms around the other woman. “Thank you so much, I don’t know how much longer I could take her trying to put makeup on the baby.”

Maryse awed, stroking her thumb across the small, chubby arm of the toddler Jocelyn was holding.

“How’s he doing? He’s growing so quickly.”

“He’s been walking, or trying to at least.”

Alec glanced behind him at the two girls, but he finally decided that he’d rather listen to Isabelle talk about something than fawn over a baby.

“Awec, c’mere.” Isabelle waved him over frantically, grabbing onto his sleeve the second he got close enough.

“And this is my big b’wother,” She said proudly, wrapping her arms around his neck. “His name is Awec.”

Alec looked at her and smiled, he didn’t correct the error in his name.

“Hi! I’m Clary.” Clary leaned forward a little and she hadn’t stopped smiling since she’s seen Isabelle. “It’s super nice to meet you!”

“Yeah,” Alec gave her a one handed wave.

“C’mon, let’s go inside!”

He didn’t protest as his sister drug him inside the house with Clary, leaving the two adults on the porch to catch up.

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Alec thought makeup felt weird.

“I think it wooks beautiful!” Isabelle announced next to him, staring at the three of their reflections in the mirror. It had been about two hours since the three had come up to Clary’s room, random Barbies and accessories were scattered across the floor and two brand new “Kid Friendly” makeup kits from Wal-Mart were placed awkwardly on Clary’s dresser.

Most of the generic, and flat out lousy, eyeshadows were broken in places and there was excessive amounts of blush covering the mirror.

“We’re stunning.” Clary whispered seriously next to him, admiring the bright sparkling blue eyeshadow that was covering her eyes.

Alec gave them a look mixed of amusement and disbelief.

“We look like clowns.” He barely finished his sentence before he started laughing.

The other two started laughing as well, smearing the makeup as tears rolled down their cheeks.

“We should be barbers!”

“What?” Alec glanced over at Clary, who was holding one of her dolls.

“We should give them haircuts, I know where my momma hides the scissors.” She grinned at them.

They set up a fake “salon” in the bathroom and spent the next hour making different hairstyles on the plastic doll, though some of them were scalped or completely ruined by the end and there was fake hair clogging the sink.

“I wish we could redraw her makeup, it’s nowhere near as pretty as ours.”

Clary nodded her head in agreement, handing Isabelle another doll.

“Is your mom gonna be mad that some of them didn’t survive?”

“Nah.” Clary grinned up at him. “She likes it when I’m creative.”

Alec raised an eyebrow and glanced down at the scene.

“This counts as creative?”

Clary paused before shrugging.

“We should paint out nails next!” Isabelle said a few minutes later, scooping out small handfuls of plastic hair and soap from the sink and throwing them away.

“Ooo, yeah!”

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Maryse arrived half past 5, stray hairs had escaped from the bun she’d pulled up that morning and her normally subtle and soft makeup was streaked around the edges. She’d left the throwover in the car, using her arms to rub the chills that were going up and down her arms.

“Well, she sounds like a tramp.”

Maryse choked, a small smile spreading across her face as she looked over at Jocelyn.

“Lyn,”

“No, no, no.” Jocelyn held a finger up to stop her. “She’s a tramp. I don’t care how young she is, she knows just as well as he does that he’s married and she’s still doing this.”

“I don’t know what to do...It’s been eating me up inside for months since I caught them.”

“Leave him. Honey, you’re stunning and you could get any man, one hopefully that’s not going to bald before 30.” Jocelyn sipped her tea, hiding her grin.

“Lyn.” Maryse scolded gently, tapping her arm, but a small still spread across her face.

“All I’m saying,” Jocelyn turned to her, resting her hand on Maryse’s arm. “Is that you don’t deserve this.”

The two drank their tea while they gossiped, Jocelyn was trying to cheer her up.

“I hope the kids weren’t too much trouble,”

“Oh, nonsense. You know I love it whenever Isabelle comes over, and Alec is so amazing with her. I mean, I’ve seen him with her before, but I never expected him to get along with the girls so well. Most boys would bolt if their little sister wanted to put makeup on them.” Jocelyn giggled. “

“Alec, he just adores her.” Maryse said with a proud smile. “I remember...when Isabelle was first born, she was so tiny and she’d cry all throughout the night unless he was in the room with her. He never minded though, he hated leaving her alone. He was always worried something would happen to her if he wasn’t there to protect her.”  Maryse remembered fondly.

“I wish Clary was like that with Seb, but she avoids being around him most of the time.” Joccelyn admitted with a sigh, brushing her long auburn hair behind her ear. “It’s hard to keep an eye on both of them when she’d rather be outside than anywhere near him.” She sipped her tea. “It’s so much easier when Val’s home, but you know, with his job and everything…” She frowned, sighing. “He hates not being here. The kids are so young and he feels like he’s missing out.”

Maryse wrapped her arm around Jocelyn’s shoulder, rubbing her arm comfortingly.

“Has he thought about asking for a different position?”

“He was going to, but the money is helpful now that we’ve got 2 kids. And Clary’s starting school in a few years and that boarding school is so expensive.”

Maryse nodded, muttering a soft “yeah.”

“Speaking of the school, Alec’s starting tomorrow, right?”

“Yes, he’s excited.” She frowned, rubbing her temples. “Though Isabelle’s been panicking for the past few days, she thinks he’s leaving forever. I’ve heard him reassure her that he’ll be home every night, but…” Mayse glanced at the door with a shaky sigh. “I can’t convince Robert for the life of me to let him come home regularly. If it was up to him, he’d leave him there for the whole year...But I’m going to drive up there every two weeks and get him. I’ve been fighting with Robert about it for the past few days since we registered him.”

Jocelyn let out a soft noise.
“He won’t even be here for his birthday…They’re both going to be desasted.”

“I wish there was something I could do…”

Before Maryse could respond, the sound of loud laughing and feet hitting the wooden floor could be heard, the front door slammed open. The three kids came out, but paused at the sight of the adults.

Maryse let a smile spread across her face, covering her mouth to stop herself from laughing.

“Oh my,”

Isabelle giggled, rocking back and forth on her heels.

“C’ary got a new makeup kit and we p’wayed with them!” Isabelle danced around her, her pigtails smacking against her shoulders. “Don’t we ‘wook amazing?” She posed, resting  her chin on the back of her fingers.

“You all look stunning.”

Alec grinned up at her, specks of glitter falling onto his shirt.

Clary appeared behind Isabelle, wrapping her small arms around the other girl.

“Is it time for them to leave?”Clary asked quietly, staring up at her with wide green eyes.

Maryse nodded.

“It’s time for dinner, but we’ll visit soon, okay?” Clary scrunched her nose up in thought, humming.

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

“Okie,” She said slowly.

Isabelle turned around and hugged her, whispering something that Maryse couldn’t hear into her ear.

“You kids ready?”

The two nodded, saying their goodbyes to the two.

It took a few minutes before the small family was loaded into the car, driving back to their house. Alec and Isabelle were sitting in the back, talking excitedly.

“I t’ink your nails ‘wook the best.” Isabelle leaned over in her car seat, running his small fingers over his purple nails.

“They’re super shiny.” The two giggled when he wiggled his fingers in the light.

Maryse watched them from the rearview mirror, tapping her thumbs nervously against the steering wheel.

“Mommy, do you think daddy will wike our makeup? I worked weally hard on it!”

Robert had completely slipped her mind the second she saw her children.

She knew that Robert wasn’t going to approve of the makeup, she wished she could lie and tell Isabelle that Robert would be happy.

But that’s in an fantasy.

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Maryse asked them to go upstairs before she even pulled into the driveway, she knew her and Robert were going to end up arguing if he saw the state of the children.

The two weren’t phased by it, they went upstairs, grabbing a couple washcloths from the cabinet to try and get the makeup off.

Isabelle was sitting on the counter, scrubbing harshly at her eye.

“It’s not coming off.” She pouted, throwing the cloth down and shoving her face closer to the mirror.

“Maybe using soap will work.”

“Won’t that burn?”

Alec shrugged.

“I’ll try it first, okay?”

Isabelle nodded. She grabbed the cloth from him and pumped the small bottle of soap until she thought it was enough.

“‘Ere.”

Alec rubbed it into the cloth with his fingers before scrubbing it over his eyes, blue makeup stained the silky white fabric.

“Does it hurt?”

Alec didn’t say anything at first before scrunching his nose.

“It doesn’t feel good, but I mean, it’s sorta gone. Right?”

Isabelle nodded, grabbing the cloth from him and running it under the water.

It took a few minutes before they were satisfied with the results.

“What about the nails?” She asked worriedly.

Alec shrugged again.

“I don’t mind them, I think they look nice.”

“I’ll clean them up though,” She nodded to herself, standing up carefully on the counter, her brother standing below her incase her fell. She looked through the cabinet until she found the nail polish remover.

They went back to his room with a few cotton balls, climbing onto the bed.

“Gimme your hands.” Isabelle wiggled her fingers at him and he held out his hands. “Thank you,” She said, shaking the nail polish remover onto the cotton.

The two talked quietly as she tried to remove the nail polish off his skin.

“I think the makeup looked pretty on you.” Isabelle said matterfactly.

Alec smiled at her.

“Your L’s are getting better.” Alec said.

Isabelle gasped, looking up at him.

“Weally?!” She leaned forward some, scrunching her nose up. “I’ve been p’wacticing.”

He nodded.

“Eh.”

She giggled, rocking back and forth while taking off the polish on his left hand.

Maryse came in a few minutes later, telling them that dinner would be done in a little while and that Robert wants Alec to start packing.

“I’ll help!” Isabelle announced, jumping up and grabbing the backpack off the wall.

Maryse smiled sadly at her, but neither of them noticed as they started grabbing the school books and supplies.

“Can I sort them? I wanna make it wook nice.” Isabelle emptied out the packages of pencils, sorting them out and putting in a pencil pouch. “Do you want the colors in there too?”

Alec looked up from where he was putting the school books in his bag and nodded.

“Okie!”

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“Do you think we can watch a movie to’morrow when you get back?” Isabelle asked when they were walking downstairs for dinner.

Alec nodded, smiling at her.

“What movie?”

She shrugged, climbing up on one of the chairs next to him. Her small legs swinging back and forth.

“I’ll decide and tell you to’morrow.”

Maryse placed two plates of sweet and sour chicken in front of them.

“Is there more?”

Maryse nodded, sitting down next to Robert, who hadn’t looked up from his notes.

“Honey, I thought agreed to not work at the dinner table.”

Robert glanced up, his lips pulled tight as he looked across the table at the children.

“Fine.” He packed up his papers and placed them on the floor, giving her a blank look.

“Daddy! Look at my nails!” Isabelle leaned up, wiggling her fingers ecstatically.

“Very nice.”

Isabelle smiled happily, not taking offense to the fact that Robert hadn’t looked at her nails. She glanced over at her brother and waved at him before going back to munching on her dinner.

“I wanna play outside,” She said, looking up at her mom after she finished the last piece of chicken on her plate. “Can me and Awec play outside?”

Maryse hummed, looking at Alec.

“Will you watch her?”

He nodded and Isabelle clapped, pushing her plate away and jumping out of her seat.

“C’mon!”  

Alec followed her outside, the door closing loudly behind them.

“Let’s play tag!” Isabelle said, jumping down the stairs. “I’ll be it!” She turned around, her pigtails flying over her shoulders.

“Okay!”

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The air was cold, most adults would have went inside by now, but the street lights were still on. Isabelle refused to go inside until the lights went off, that was when they had to go inside.

“Wook! I found a grasshopper!” She stopped in front of him, her hands cupped to keep the small creature from jumping away.

“Ooo.”

The two leered down at the creature,  it’s small buggy eyes staring up at them.

“I wanna keep him!”

Alec laughed.

“Kids!” Maryse’s voice broke the silence of the cold, her hip leaned against the pillar on the porch. “It’s time.”

Isabelle pouted, allowing her brother to take the grasshopper from her. Alec put it back in one of the bushes, then following his sister up to the porch.

“Go brush your teeth, I’ll be up in a few minutes to put you to bed.”

The two nodded and went inside.

“I kinda wanna watch Cind’a’lla three to’morrow.”

“Do we own that one?”

“I t’ink so. I’ll ask mommy.”

“Are you scared? Of going to school?” Isabelle asked a few seconds later, washing her face with water.

Alec paused before shrugging.

“A little, it’s far away. But I wanna learn.”

He wanted to make his parents proud.

He wanted to make Robert proud.

He left that part out.

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Isabelle wrapped her arms around her brother, saying goodnight to him before skipping over to her bedroom. He watched her go before going into his own room, putting the full backpack onto the floor by the end of the bed.

He changed into his pajamas and got into bed, waiting for his mom to come in. Alec went over a mental checklist, trying to make sure he wasn’t forgetting anything.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

Alec jumped slightly, looking up and smiling at his mom.

Maryse walked over to his bed, sitting down next to him. Her long nails brushed over his forehead, brushing back his hair.

“I really hope you like your school.” Maryse said softly.

“I’m gonna do good, mom.”

Maryse chewed on her lip.

“You know I love you, right?”

“Of course, mom.” He grabbed onto her hand, giving her a soft smile.

“I just want you to have fun this year, okay? Don’t stress yourself out.”

Alec nodded before hugging her.

“Goodnight, sweetie.” Maryse whispered, kissing the top of his head.

“‘G’night,”

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Alec realized, almost 3 hours later, that he had too much energy. He couldn’t sleep at all.

He wasn’t sure if it was nerves or just because he was excited.  

“Awec.”

It took him a few seconds to realize he’d actually heard something and he turned around, facing his door.

Isabelle’s small, chubby face was peeking through, her lip trembling.

“Iz? What’s wrong?” He sat up, turning on the lamp on his bedside table.

“There’s a monster in my room…” She whispered, climbing up onto his bed. “I know you have school t’morrow...but I’m scared…” Isabelle looked up at him with big eyes.

“What monster is it?”

“Tha big one! With fangs and spooky eyes.” She said loudly, glancing over her shoulder at the shut door before hiding under his blankets. “He’s gonna eat me.”

“There’s no monster who’s going to eat you, Iz.”

“Uh-huh. He’s in my closet.”

Alec patted her head.

“Do you wanna go check with me?”

Isabelle shook her head quickly, grabbing his arm tightly enough to leave crescent moon dents in his skin.

“No! He’ll eat you!” She exclaimed tearfully. “Don’t weave me, Awec…”

Alec froze, hugging his little sister.

“Do you wanna stay in here?”

She nodded, flopping down on his pillow.

“He won’t try to get me in here, he doesn’t like it in here. There’s no closet.” She said.

“Okay, you just stay here then. We’ve gotta sleep though, I can’t be tired on my first day of school.”

“Okie, I’ll be good. Shhhh.”

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Monday, September 3rd, 2007.

Alec didn’t like the alarm, it was loud and annoying.

Isabelle seemed to agree as she swatted at it with a pillow, not bringing her face up from the mattress.

“S’ut up, ‘M s’weeping.”

Alec laughed, grabbing the pillow mid-air and throwing it towards the top of the bed.

“I have to get ready for school, Iz.”

“No. We have to sleep more before we go or else I’ll be tired.” She sat up, rubbing her eyes.

Alec frowned a little, grabbing the small pile of clothes that his mom had picked out last night.

“I don’t think you’re coming with us, Iz.”

“Hm?” She tilted her head. “No, of course I am. I’m going to school with you, silly. I decided last night. I even packed my own bag.”” Isabelle waved him off with a cheeky smile.

“I’m gonna go take a shower.”

“Okie! I’m gonna sleep more.” Isabelle replied, burying her face back into the pillow.

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“Are you excited, sweetheart?”

Alec nodded, swallowing another bite of cereal.

“I hope my teachers are nice.”

Maryse smiled at him, scooping out scrambled eggs onto Isabelle’s plate.

“T’ank you!”

“I hope they are as well.”

“Why do we gotta leave so early, mommy?”

Maryse hummed questioningly at her.

“We?”

Isabelle nodded.

“Honey, we’re not going with Alec. Your father is going to drive him to school and I’m going to drop you ,” She tapped her daughter’s nose. “off at daycare.”

Isabelle scrunched her eyebrows together, lifting up the small stuffed animal bag.

“But I got a’w my stuff weady, I’m gonna go with Awec. We’re gonna go to school together…”” “You’ll be starting in a few years and when it happens, you’ll be wishing you didn’t have to go. Believe me.”

“I wanna go now.” Isabelle played with her food sadly, refusing to look up as their conversation continued.

“Iz? I have to go now.”

She looked up at her brother, who was standing by the door with his backpack. Her eyes filled with tears and she crossed her arms.

“I wanna go.”

Alec opened his arms and, after a second, she gave in and hugged him.

“I’m sorry you can’t come with us.”

She looked up at him, tears dripping down her cheeks.

“Pinky P’womise you’ll tell me a’w about it when you come home?”

“Pinky promise.”

Isabelle stared at their intertwined pinky’s before wrapping her arms around him again.

“Buh bye.”

Alec smiled down at her, ruffling her hair.

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Alec always felt a little awkward when he was alone with his dad, the man was completely different compared to his mom.

He was colder, in a way.

“Why’s the school so far away?” Alec asked, fiddling with one of the zippers on his jacket.

“It’s a boarding school, it’s not supposed to be close.”

Alec wasn’t sure what that meant, but he didn’t ask.

He listened to his dad order a coffee, leaning forward so he could see inside the shop. Alec smiled and waved at that young girl who was at the window and she waved back.

“Can I get coffee?” He asked hopefully, watching the mixed emotions that crossed his dad’s face before he nodded.

“Yeah, uh, and give me a small.”

A few minutes later, with Alec sitting happily in the passenger's seat sipping his coffee, Robert pulled up in front of the school.

“I’ll get the bags from the trunk.”

“Wha-bags?” Alec watched his dad get out and he followed, putting the coffee in one of the holders. “Why would I bring clothes to school?”

Robert didn’t answer, just pulled the luggage out of the trunk.

“Did your mother not tell you?”

Alec shook his head.

“Tell me what?”

“The school allows kids to stay here because some of us parents don’t want to spend that much money on gas everyday.”

“I’m staying here?! For how long?”

“Your mother will pick you up every other weekend and you’ll spend a few days at home.”

Alec didn’t respond, small mumbles of protests slipping through his lips.

“Bu-no, I-I can’t. I promised Izzy we’d watch a movie tonight.”

Robert shook his head.

“It’s already been decided.”

“Dad, please no. I don’t want to stay here, please.” Alec grabbed onto his dad’s hand, tears filling his eyes as he stared fearfully up at him. “Please don’t make me stay here…”

Robert pulled his hand away and ruffled his hair.

“You’ll be fine. You’re turning 7 soon and it’s time to start taking some responsibilities.”

“I’m not even 7 yet though! I-I can’t be alone, please just let me go home. O-or go to a public school, those are closer to the house.”

“We’ve already paid for this, it’s happening. Whether you like it or not.”

Alec watched his dad walk to the front of the car with tears dripping down his cheeks, a feeling of panic in his chest.

 

Chapter Text

~Paint a pretty picture and smile until you mean it~


 

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007.

The grass was still damp from the night prior, staining his small fingers with water. Magnus giggled at the feeling, grabbing hold of a smooth rock. A grin crossed his face as he placed it carefully on the pile.

I’m gonna have the best rock collection ever.” He whispered to himself proudly.

Magnus climbed up off the ground, stumbling closer towards the large patch of trees.

He had seen some pretty rocks over there the other day.

The fuck do you expect me to do about it!?”

Magnus stumbled over his feet, his hands catching on the rocks.

“Oh, I don't know, maybe get a fucking job.”

Magnus tried to ignore the sound of his mom crying out in pain and the sound of glass shattering.

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Magnus knew his papa would go off the rail if he heard him talking to himself.

“You gave birth to a retard.” He’d spit out, giving Fenna a blaming look.

But Magnus didn’t understand why he got so mad, it was like writing things down, but instead it’s talking.

Magnus stood up, giving the small pile of rocks that were formed into a heart a proud look before going towards the house.

Mama?” He peeked his head into the house, holding the door open as he worried on his lip. The mirror on the wall by the kitchen was shattered and there was shards of blood covered glass on the ground. “ I made something for you.” Magnus said softly, biting down on his lip as he heard noise coming from the living room. Magnus moved towards the sound, but before he could get completely through the door, Caim stormed out of the room.

Their eyes locked and it’s like a bucket of water was dumped on his head.

His small legs couldn’t move fast enough and he hit the floor when Caim shoved him out of the way, slamming the door against the wall as he left.

Tears filled his eyes as pain shot up his arm. He looked down and gagged at the sight of blood dripping down his forearm and onto the floor.

Mama!” He cried out in panic, his small body shaking. Fenna took a second to appear, but the second her eyes zeroed in on the blood, something shifted in her face. She rushed forward, gathering him up carefully in her arms.

Oh, madu. What happened?”

“I was coming t-to get you ‘cause I made you something…A-and papa was c-coming out and h-he didn’t see me…”

Fenna carried him into the bathroom, placing him on the counter as she searched for the first aid kit.

“I never meant for you to get hurt.” She whispered softly, brushing her lips across his forehead. “ This is going to sting, but I have to get the glass out.”

Magnus shook his head rapidly, jerking his arm from her when he saw the tweezers.

N-no, it’s okay! P-please, it’s gonna hurt, I don’t wanna hurt anymore…”

Fenna held back a cry while she tried to calm him down.

“Bayi, I have to get it out. It can’t heal with glass in there.” Magnus sobbed loudly, his body shaking when his mama grabbed onto his arm. “I swear, I’ll be quick and afterwards you can have ice cream. You can watch TV all day, just please, I have to do this.”

Magnus bit into his lip and shakily held his arm out. She reached over and grabbed an washcloth, telling him to bite down on it.

Mama?”
“Just trust me.”

He did.

He trusted his mama with everything.

So he bit into the cloth and tried his hardest not to move when the glass move, or when the rubbing alcohol touched the open wound.

Or when she bandaged up his arm.

Oh, sayang. You did so well.”

He smiled up at her through the tears that were still dripping down his cheeks.

Can I have ice cream now?”

She nodded, telling him to go wait in the living room and she would get him a bowl.

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She came into the room a few minutes later, a bowl of chocolate ice cream in her hands.

Here you go.”

Magnus smiled up at her, watching the TV and munching on his ice cream. The pain in his arm was still sharp, but he was trying to ignore it the best he could. He knew it upset his mama. She reassured him over the few hours that Caim didn’t mean to shove him, he was just upset and Magnus was in the way.

He was curled up into her side, watching as different stories come and go on the News.

“And an update from last night’s top story, a local woman known by many as “Marsha King” passed away from her injuries early this morning.. After a domestic dispute that took place last night between Mrs. King and her husband, when she admitted she had had an affair with a woman, her husband brutally attacked Mrs. King in her sleep. She had been in critical condition for the past 12 hours before her family decided to pull the plug and end her suffering.”  

Fenna huffed next to him, shaking her head.

What?” He looked up curiously at his mama.

It’s disgusting. The things people are getting away with nowadays. Like I understand lesbians and gays, but this,” She gestures towards the screen with a shake of her head. “ This is just wrong. You want to bang a guy, fine, you wanna bang a girl, fine, but both?” Fenna laughed without humor. “ It’s plain selfish and disgusting.”

“But she died, mama. All for liking someone?”

“It’s different. That’s not natural.”

“So she deserved to die?”

Fenna sighed, shaking her head and looking back at the screen.

It’s complicated, but you shouldn’t feel bad for people like that. They get what’s coming to them.”

Magnus didn’t respond, he resorted to staring at  the corner of the TV with a frown.

He didn’t feel like eating ice cream anymore.

Thankfully he didn’t need to, as Caim made himself known abruptly and loudly. He stormed into the living room, throwing a stapled packet of papers at her before retreating to their bedroom.

Fenna sat up, grabbing the papers off the floor and flipping through them, her knuckles turning white from how hard she was clenching her first.

Magnus, go to your room. I need to speak with your father.”

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Thursday, September 6th, 2007.

It had started again a few days ago, on Saturday. He wasn’t sure what triggered the first fight, or the one after that.

All he knew was that it kept getting worse and worse. He hated it when they fought, it scared him.

His papa had always had a bit of a temper, but over the past couple days, it’s been worse.

What *thud* the *thud* hell is the matter with you!” Magnus jumped, knocking over the collection of rocks he had been setting up. Caim had ripped the door open, Fenna was following behind him.

He slammed his fist into the side of his truck, spinning around on his heel so he was almost nose to nose with Fenna, who glared up at the taller man.

You’re just begging to get your ass kicked right now.”” Caim warned in a low growl, indenting his thumb against her chest.

Magnus crawled back until he hit a tree, watching the two with tears in his eyes. He tried not to move too much though, he didn’t want to get their attention.

The tree was scrapped against his back painfully when he flinched as his mama let out a cry full of pain when Caim slapped her.  

You’re such a prick,” Fenna growled, wiping the blood off her lip.

Magnus couldn’t hear what his papa said next, all he knew was that his mama didn’t look too happy about it.

Caim threw a box into the back of his truck, pointing towards the house with a look that made Magnus figure he was telling his mama to go inside, before he climbed into his truck.

Fenna let out an annoyed shriek while she kicked at his tire, storming back inside the house after he pulled out of the driveway.

Magnus didn’t move until the door closed again, then he moved back to his spot and put the rocks back into formation.

He scrambled up, opening the door carefully and peeking his head in.

Mama?” He went to her bedroom door, scrunching his eyebrows up at the site of multiple boxes spread out across the bedroom, different amounts of items filling them. Fenna was in the middle of the room, pulling the clothes out of her dresser and throwing them onto the bed.

I made something for you…” He said quietly, waiting for her to notice him.

I can’t right now, Magnus.” Fenna glanced over at him, giving him a tired smile. “ I have a lot I have to do…”

Can I help?”

Fenna didn’t answer for a second, she just pulled her hair up into a messy ponytail. She looked around the room.

Just put my jewelry into that box.” She pointed to a small cardboard box that was sitting next to the doorway. “ Be careful with them, some of those belonged to your grandmother.”

Magnus nodded, skipping over to the table that had her jewelry on it.

Why are we putting everything in boxes?”

Fenna let out a sigh.

We’re gonna have to go away for a little while, sayang.”

“Go where?”

“A new place, across town.”

Magnus stopped what he was doing, turning around and looking at his mama.

We’re leaving? I don’t wanna go, what about Alec?”

We’re only moving across town,  you’ll be closer to the park anyway.”

Magnus pouted a little, but he went back to putting the jewels into the box.

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So here he was, sitting as still as he could on the bed while he listened to his parents move around outside. 

The fuck are you doing? You’re supposed to be packing.” Caim crossed his arms after throwing another cardboard box into the room.

I don’t wanna go. I like this house.”

Caim let out a deep sigh, clenching his fists.

Get up and start putting shit into boxes.” Caim snapped, kicking at his bed frame. “ Or I swear, I will burn everything in this room and you’ll be sleeping on the fucking floor. Got it?” Caim towered over his son, his fists resting by his biceps.

Magnus curled his arms around his knees, staring fearfully up at his papa.

Yes, papa…” He whispered, pressing his nails into his shin to stop himself from flinching.

Caim rolled his eyes, clenching his jaw as he walked out of the room, kicking violently at the wall in the hallway.

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It took Magnus a little over two hours to fold all his clothes to his mama’s approval, packing all his coloring supplies and broken crayons into a neat pile.

He still didn’t want to go, he really liked his new room and the yard they have, but his papa scared him.

And he didn’t doubt that his papa would go through with his threat.

Mags, Dinner’s done.”

“I’m not hungry.” Magnus didn’t look up, keeping his arms crossed.

Fenna sighed, running her fingers through her hair.

Okay,  there’ll be leftovers in the fridge.” Fenna said, giving him a sad look before leaving, closing his door quietly.

Magnus let out a shaky breath, turning over so he was facing the ceiling.

He didn’t want to go, he had heard his mama talking earlier and she’d mentioned a trailer park. Those had been on TV before.

There’s always lots of people.

He doesn’t want to be around that many people, papa keeps saying he’s not good at speaking English and then he’ll just be the weird kid.

He missed Alec, even though they’d only seen each other a few times, he liked playing with him.

Alec was nice.

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Friday, September 7th, 2007.

It was so cold, Magnus could even see his breath in the air when he exhaled.

Normally he would find that funny, but right now he didn’t feel like smiling.

Magnus, go grab the last box from the kitchen.”

Magnus pouted, but did as his mama asked.

He had seen his papa scraping ice off the windshield while his mama loaded boxes into the back of the truck.

I still don’t get why he have to leave so early.” He said with a yawn, lifting the box up to his mama.

Because the sooner when we get there, the sooner we can settle in.”

“I don’t wanna settle in.” He muttered as he rounded the car. His papa glanced at him with an annoyed roll of his eyes, slapping the back of his head as he passed him.

Quit complaining.”

Magnus watched him go and lock up the house after he climbed into the back of the truck.

There was a few broken beer boxes on the back floor, dried mud and tracked in grass staining the seats and carpet.

He hated this truck.  

It was loud, smelly and he couldn’t face forward. The back seats pulled out of the sides, facing each other.

He did like that he could look out the back window without hurting his neck.

Fenna climbed into the front, fixing her plaid shirt so it covered the bruises on her stomach and arms, giving Magnus a small smile.

This is going to be good for us.”

“You didn’t think that a couple days ago.” Magnus didn’t look at her, focusing at the driveway behind them. He heard her let out a loud, irritated sigh and he wrapped his arms around his small body.

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Magnus thought the park was ugly. It looked like an actual park, but with a lot of travel trailers and mobile homes.

The sign was ugly and this house was ugly.

He wanted to go home.

Neither his parents talked to him when he didn’t get out of the truck, they just started moving things inside.

He could see people walking around, talking and smiling, laughing with each other.

A black haired girl noticed him from one of the picnic tables and she jumped, grinning widely and waving.

He gave her a small wave in return.

She looked up at, what he assumed, was her mama and said something and the woman looked over her shoulder at where her daughter was pointing.

It looked like the girl was trying to convince her of something and, a second later, she was pulling her across the empty street.

Before Magnus could freak out about how his papa might react to him talking to someone, Fenna stepped out of the house.

“Hey,” The woman grinned as she stopped in front of them. “Welcome to the neighborhood,” She said with a short laugh, tucking her thick, curly hair behind her ear. “I’m Nyla and this is my little rebel.” She cooed down at her daughter, who gave her a small whine of disapproval.

“Moooom,”

Nyla smiled lovingly down at her, brushing her hair back in an apology.

“This is Maia,”

Fenna shook her hand, giving her a friendly smile. She leaned a little towards the truck, tapping on the window with her knuckle.

Sayang, get out of the truck.” She said sternly.

Magnus bit into his lip as he climbed out,

“Hi,” He whispered, giving them a shy smile while hiding behind his mama’s legs.

“Hey,” Maia leaned towards him a bit, trying to see him clearly since he was hiding.

Fenna pushed him forward a little, moving her legs so he couldn’t hide.

“I’m Magnus,” He said quietly, fidgeting with his fingers.

Maia grinned, glancing up at the doorway as Caim stepped outside.

They stayed and talked for a few minutes, explaining that they were close friends with the park managers and lived down the road a bit.

Maia had moved near him while their parents talked, leaning against the side of the car.

“There’s a lot of kids here too, so you’ll have lots of friends.”

“Are they nice?”

Maia nodded.

“There’s a couple older ones that are just blechy, but they live over there.” She waved vaguely behind her shoulder. “There’s a couple kids who live down the road, Lily and Elena. And then there’s a brother and sister who live in the gray house right outside the fence by the highway, Simon and Rebecca. Simon’s starting school with me on Monday,” She said excitedly, her large brown eyes widening. “I can’t wait.”

“You’re starting school?”

“Yep, I didn’t want to at first, but my mom convinced me it’ll be fun.”

“School sounds fun, I can’t go yet though…”

“How come? Are you not old enough?”

He shrugged.

“I’m six, but my mama wants me to be able to read better before she’ll let me go.”

“No one there is gonna know how to read,” Maia said. “Even some of the teens here can barely read.”

He giggled, looking over at where his mama was standing.

“I don’t think she’d listen,”

“I wish you were starting on Monday, you’d be in the same grade with me.”

“Really?”

She nodded proudly.

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Maia and her mom left a few minutes later, leaving them to finish unpacking.

Magnus, take the last of those boxes into the back room, that’s where you’re going to be staying.”

“Okay, mama.”

Magnus pulled a long box out of the backseat, carrying it awkwardly into the backroom.

It was small, smaller than his old room, with pastry cream walls and tile floor. It was barely big enough for him to spread his arms and not reach his bed.

He slid the box onto the bed, pulling out his clothes and sorting them into his dresser. Placing his papers, colored pencils and cars onto the desk.

Are you almost done?”

Magnus looked up and nodded, smiling happily at her.

Yeah, almost.” Magnus turned around. “ Uh, mama?”

She hummed, sitting down on his bed and smoothing the purple comforter.

I was thinking and….well, I’ve been practicing my reading a lot and I...I thought maybe I could go to school?” Magnus asked hopefully, gripping his jeans. “ Please?”

Fenna sighed, closing her eyes.

Madu…”

“Please, I really wanna go….”

Fenna sighed.

I’ll think about it, okay?”

Magnus nodded excitedly with a grin.

I’m gonna color our new house, okay?”

Fenna nodded, standing up and brushing his hair back lovingly.

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Magnus came out of his room a few hours later, clutching his drawing in one hand. His parents were sitting at the kitchen table, talking quietly while Fenna unpacked the boxes.

Mama, I finished the picture.” He stopped in front of her, gripping her belt loops. “ Here,”

Fenna grabbed the picture, putting it on the fridge.

Magnus climbed into one of the chairs, handing his mama random cooking utensils for her to put away.

She gave him a small, grateful smile.

So, mama, have you thought about it yet?” He bounced around excitedly, his mouth forming a huge and hopeful smile.

Fenna chuckled, shaking her head.

I haven’t had the chance, sayang.” Fenna said softly and Caim raised a thick brown eyebrow at the two of them.

Think about what, Fen?” He said slowly, giving her a tight smile.

Fenna froze for a second, letting out a small sigh and rubbing her hands across her jeans.

Magnus wants to go to school, on Monday.”

Caim huffed a snarled laugh, his grip on the table tightening.

Were you planning on telling me any of this or are you just prone to keeping secrets from me?”

“I’m not keeping anything from you, Caim. I was going to take it up with you tonight.”

“Tonight,” Caim asked, standing up and stalking around the table. “ Before or after you explain to me why I can’t seem to leave you alone for more than a minute without you bitching to other chicks?”

Fenna flinched, setting her gaze onto the floor.

I didn’t,”

“You did,” Caim stepped forward, trapping her against the dishwasher. “ I’m not deaf, Fen, I could hear you.”

Fenna ducked underneath his arm and stepped over by the boxes.

Caim, can I just unpack without an argument?”

Caim sneered at her, shoving by her and knocking the box over harshly onto the floor.

Magnus flinched violently, his knee knocking against the bottom of the table.

I’m sorry, mama…”

Fenna didn’t look at him, she just knelt down and started picking the pots and pans off the ground. Magnus climbed down, but she put her hand out to stop him.

Just go to your room, I’ll bring you dinner in a while.”

“Are we not gonna eat at the table?” He asked quietly, taking small steps backwards.

I think it’s best if you just ate in your room tonight,”

Magnus let out a soft “oh” before walking back to his room, his slumped sadly.

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Saturday 8th, 2007.

Magnus wiggled his toes excitedly as he ate his cereal, listening to his papa talk on the phone. His mama wasn’t up yet and so he had to make breakfast for himself.

Knock knock knock

Magnus looked up, pursing his lips while he swung his legs, his small eyes flickering between his papa and the door.

When Caim didn’t make any sign of answering the door Magnus pushed his bowl away and jumped down, going over to the door.

“‘Ello?” He peered out of the door, keeping his hand on the door knob.

He gazed up at the man in front of him, from the shiny golden police badge that was hanging from his belt to his friendly smile.

Before he could say anything, Nyla appeared behind the man, grinning down at him.

“Hey, we met yesterday,”

He nodded, moving so the door was open more, and returning her smile.

“G’morning,” He looked over at the man and wiggled his fingers up at him. “Hi, I’m Magnus,”

The man waved back.

“This is my husband,” Nyla smiled over at the man, pecking him on the cheek.

“I’m Luke,” He laughed, grinning lovingly over at his wife.

“Are you guys cops?” Magnus asked quietly, looking between their badges. They nodded and he grinned excitedly. “That’s so cool.”

“Speaking of that, we were on our way to work,” Nyla gestured behind her shoulder towards the black cop car. “And I wanted to stop by and let you guys know that the managers are planning a barbecue tomorrow afternoon, everyone’s invited.” Nyla pointed to the pastel pink mobile home a few houses down the street. “I really hope you guys can make it.”

Magnus swung the door back and forth a little as he listened, nodding when she was done. There was the sound of something shattering behind him and he flinched, glancing over his shoulder quickly, closing the door a little bit.

“I’ll tell mama about it,”

He didn’t miss the concerned looks on their faces and he smiled largely up at them.

“It’s okay, papa just tripped.” He said quickly. “Mama isn’t up yet, but I’ll remember to tell her right when she wakes up.” He nodded proudly, waving goodbye to them and exchanging a few words.

Magnus closed the door, turning around slowly and peering into the living room. The area were the front door was was formed into a small, indoor porch.

Papa?” He looked around, noticing the broken phone that was scattered on the floor by the doorway. Caim was sitting in his air chair, tapping his pack of cigarettes against the arm of the chair.

What’d they want?”

“Uh...Nyla just wanted to let us know that the park managers are having a uh...ah grill out thing.”

Caim snorted, leaning his head back and glancing at him.

You’re gonna bug your ma about this, aren’t you?”

Magnus frowned as he climbed up on his chair again and grabbed his bowl.

I think it’ll be fun, I like them. They’re nice.” Magnus put his bowl in the sink and ran water into it.

Caim didn’t respond for a minute before telling him to bring him a beer from the fridge.

Magnus did as he was asked, carrying a cold can of beer into the living room.

It’s still early though,” He said quietly, handing him the can.

Caim paused, looking over at him.

And?”

Magnus tried to not flinch under his glare.

Never mind...sorry.”

Magnus went back to his room a few minutes later, deciding to go and finish unpacking his toys.

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He set up a small paper track for his cars, drawing them with his worn down black crayon.

“Good morning, Mags.”

Magnus looked up from the floor and waved at his mama.

Hai mama, I was playing with my cars.”

Fenna walked over, pulling a chair near him.

You papa told me you talked to some people this morning,”

Magnus nodded, making soft “vroom” sounds to go with his cars.

It was the lady we met yesterday, Nyla, and her husband. They were nice.”

“Madu, I’ve told you not to answer the door, just let me or your papa get it.”

“Papa was on the phone though,” Magnus protested, huffing a little when he looked up at his mama.

Then you should have waited until he got off the phone, you know better than this Magnus.”

“‘M sorry, mama…”

Fenna sighed, rubbing her temples.

So, what did they want?”

“Nyla was letting us know that the managers of the park are having a grill out tomorrow and she wanted to invite us.”

Fenna said a short “okay.” and stood up, ruffling his hair a little before leaving.

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Mama? I’m hungry,” Magnus peeked up over the arm of the couch with a large grin towards his mama.

Fenna looked up at him from her book.

Didn’t you just eat, madu?”

“A few hours ago, when’s lunch?”

“You’re gonna have to wait a while, I still have to go to the store and I don’t feel like it right now.”

Magnus frowned, his shoulders sagging.

But what am I supposed to do until then?”

“Color or play in your room, just don’t go outside right now, okay?”

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Magnus stared out the window, watching a group of four kids running around outside, multiple adults spread out around the different trailers. He rocked back and forth on his heels, chewing on his lip.

His eyes were ride with awe, watching one of the girls do tricks on her shiny green bike. He locked eyes with Maia and she grinned, waving ecstatically at him.

He waved back with a huge grin.

Magnus, what are you doing?”

He jumped, flopping down on his bed and looking over at her innocently.

Nothing.”

She gave him a look, raising an eyebrow.

There’s kids outside, they seem nice.”

“Oh.”

He followed her back into the kitchen, grabbing a piece of cauliflower off the cutting board.

Do you think we could go meet them after lunch?”
Fenna opened her mouth to respond, but Caim beat her to it.

You really think that’s smart? You can barely make a sentence without,” He pretended to choke, rolling his eyes afterwards with a low single laugh.

Mangus bit the inside of his mouth and he looked down shamefully.

Caim,” Fenna hissed, giving him a what-the-hell look.

What? It’s true and you know it.”

Magnus glanced over at his mama, expecting her to say something more, but his stomach hurt when she sighed and turned back to the stove.

He didn’t say anything the rest of lunch and neither seemed to notice as they ate.

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Sunday, September 9th, 2007.

Magnus was drawing another picture, multiple others were thumb tacked to the wall.

You know you can’t stay in here forever.”

“I like it in here,”

Fenna sighed, rubbing her temples.

Bayi, you could at least walk down the road to the store with me.”

“I’m okay in here, mama. I’m drawing.”

Fenna put her hands up.
Okay, I’ll see you when I get back.”

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Magnus didn’t leave his room much, he could always hear people outside from there, listening to them talking and how they would pronounce stuff.

He wanted to go outside and lay in the sun, but he didn’t want to at the same time.

He wanted to be at the old house.

Knock knock knock

He looked up and Fenna opened the door a little.

Hey, sayang. We’ve talked about and Caim thinks it’ll be a good idea to get out of the house for a little while,”

“Are we gonna go to the grill out?”

“Barbeque, and yes. So get dressed.”

“I am dressed though,”

Fenna sighed loudly.

Just, something more….not pajamas.”

Magnus pouted, but he did as his mama said.

He met up with his mama a few minutes later in the living room and they went outside, from the grip she had on his hand, he figured this was more papa’s idea than hers.

Nonetheless, Magnus skipped happily next to her as they approached the lot.

Maia was standing near her parents, talking to her dad.

They stopped next to the park managers, Natalie and Jared.

“Mama, can I go over there?” Magnus asked nervously, tugging on his mama’s arm.

“Uh, yeah, just don’t go to far.” Fenna said absentmindedly and he pulled his hand away, skipping excitedly over to Maia.

She waved ecstatically at him with a grin.

“Hey!”

“Hi! How’s it going?”  

“Really good, I really love cheeseburgers.” Maia said, looking over at where Luke and the male manager were standing by the grill. “And my mom took me school shopping this morning and we got lots of stuff and I got some new clothes.”

“How much stuff do you need for school?”

“Not a lot, since we’re just starting, but I’ve heard that high schoolers have to get lots of stuff.”  She whispered, before letting out a soft “oo” and a small jump in her step. “What’d your mom say about you going to school?”
Magnus shrugged a little.

“That she’d think about it. I hope she’ll let me though.”

They went over to the cooler, grabbing a couple sodas while they talked. She pointed out some of the kids from the other side of the park, telling him that their parents weren’t super nice so her mom and dad said not to talk to them much.

Nyla came over to them a few minutes later.

“Maia, we forgot the 12 pack of Root Beer up at the house, do you wanna go get it with me?”

“Yeah, I’ll be back in a few minutes, okay?” She told Magnus and he nodded, promising to watch over her soda while she was gone.

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Maia skipped happily alongside her mother, ducking underneath the pole gate that was down the hill from their house.

“Mom, do you think we could have tacos for dinner tomorrow? I can help after I get back from school,”  She said, grinning up at her mom.

“I’ll think about it, okay? I’m going to the store in the morning and I’ll see what the pricing is on the hamburger.”

Maia nodded excited, holding onto Nyla’s hand.

“You were talking to Magnus’ parents right?” Nyla nodded. “I’m hoping his mom will change her mind about letting him go to school. He asked her yesterday and we’re waiting for her to answer.”

“Well, I hope she does.” Nyla ruffled her hair affectionately.

They walked up the driveway, passing by a circular garden next to where the cars would pull by, a medium sized tree sprouting up with smaller bushes and flowers around it. Perfectly placed dark red bricks outlined it.

Maia brushed his fingers across the hood of the shiny black cop car that was parked in the open garage.

“I’ll go grab the case.”

Maia nodded, waiting for her mom to to return while she waited in the garage.

They walked back down to the park a few minutes later after Nyla locked the garage, delivering the case of soda to the refreshment table and Maia ran off to find Magnus.

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Nyla walked over to where Luke was grilling, stopping next to him and pressing a kiss to his cheek.

“We got the soda.”

“Thanks babe.”  He grinned. “The burgers’ll be done in like five minutes,”

“I’m gonna go mingle with our neighbors then,” Nyla said, not moving away from him and keeping her shin resting against his shoulder. “I love you.”

Luke looked down at her and smiled lovingly, brushing their noses together before pressing their lips together.

“I love you too,” He looked at her curiously for a second. “What’s up?” He turned back to the grill for a second to flip the burgers.

“Our baby’s going to school tomorrow, she’s growing up so fast.” She said quietly, staring at her daughter from across the road.

“She’s only 6.”
“And soon enough she’ll be taking the training wheels off her bike and talking about boys.” She said as she walked away, smiling teasingly over her shoulder with a wave of her fingers.

She walked over to where the manager, Natalie, was standing with Caim and Fenna, sipping on her beer as she wrapped an arm around her shoulder.

“Hey, how’s the house treatin’ you guys?” She asked with a small jerk of her head in the direction of their house.

“It’s nice, we’re still unpacking, but it’s coming along.” Fenna said softly, keeping her arm wrapped around her stomach while leaning close to Caim.

“You guys’ve met?” Natalie asked while popping a mouthful of Lays into her mouth.

Nyla nodded.

“I was walking Maia back from the Lewis’ house when they were moving in and figured we’d say hi.”

They chatted for a few minutes, asking questions about each other and drinking.

“So, Fenna, I heard you were debating on whether or not to send Magnus to school yet,”

Fenna paused, taking a long drink from her Sprite.

“Uh, yeah, m-me and Caim have been talking about it.” She curled a piece of hair between her fingers and tucked it behind her ear with a large grin. “He seems to really want to go.”

“Maia’s the same way, she’s been talking about going all summer.”

“Which school is she gonna go to?”

“Hillcrest, they have buses that’ll come over here to pick them up.”  

“Oh, really?”

Neither of them noticed the growing annoyance on Caim’s face as they talked.

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“I love my dad’s burgers! They’re the best.” Maia said, grabbing a couple paper plates and handing him one.

Magnus fiddled with it nervously, the line was large and honestly, he would rather just sit down.

“Are you okay?”

He nodded, giving her a small smile.

“I can get you one, if you want? And you can find a spot?”

Magnus let out a breath, handing her the plate.

“Thank you.”

Maia nodded, a smile never leaving her face.

He found a spot next to one of the trailers, a small tree was growing there and he thought it looked nice. Magnus sat down, watching with an amount of awe as a Daddy Long-Leg crawled across his leg.

“Here you go, I forgot to ask if you liked cheese or not, so I just went with it.”

Magnus reached up and grabbed the plate from her.

“Thank you!”

It was huge!

Way bigger than any other burger he’s ever ever had!

“Oh, mom said that your mom said to come home after you were done eating.” Maia said as she finished her burger, munching happily on the Lays potato chips.

Magnus paused for a second before nodding.

If she noticed he slowed down, she didn’t mention it.

He didn’t know how long they sat there, but he did know that he didn’t want to go home yet.

The only reason his mama would have left early was if papa was upset.

And papa was never nice when he was upset.

It calmed his nerves a little that she walked him back to his house, it took his mind off the fight he could practically already hear.

“I really hope I see you again, I’m gonna start school tomorrow, but I’ll be back at around 3:30.” She grinned, waving goodbye to him as he went inside.

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It felt like the tension in the air was pressing all the air out of his lungs.

He couldn’t breath.

He couldn’t move.

Magnus was curled into the corner on his bed, listening to the unbearable silence coming from the living room.

When he had gotten home, his papa had been sitting on the couch,  glaring a hole into the floor, and his mama had been across from him.

He fled quickly to his room.

A single shattering crack rang against the walls and he flinched, pressing his head against the cold wall.

Every fucking time you open your mouth to those people, you manage to trash all over my name.”

“I wasn’t doing that, honey,” *Slap* “I-I was just answering her question!” His mother’s voice broke, her sobs could be heard throughout the house.

”I just answered her question”, bullshit. I was standing there woman, you can’t fucking lie to me. You women play mind games.”

The floorboards whined.

“Caim, please. Nothing happened,”

“Nothing happened? You were prancing around there like a fucking whore, flaunting your nonexisting tits like someone gives a shit.”

“You can’t even see my chest, Caim. You’re the one who bought this fucking shirt.”

There was a loud thud in the hallway by his bedroom.

You stupid little cunt,”

The sound of a struggle, huffing and noises of distrest before there was another thud as something hit the floor.

Don’t fucking walk away from me,”

“Caim stop it.”

All I fucking told you to do was to not be super fucking friendly with them, that was the terms, and you go out there acting like a damned nun. And it’s not like your worthless excuse for a son was any better.”

“Don’t you fucking dare, he’s as much of a son of yours as he is mine.”

“Pfft, oh please. Like anyone would believe you could keep your legs closed long enough to not get knocked up by some faggy looking fucker.”

“I’m not doing this again tonight, I’ve aruged with you over this so many times, Caim. I’ve never fucking cheated on you.”

“Fine, you don’t wanna talk about that, how about we talk about how much of a whiny little bitch your son is!”

Magnus presses himself closer to the wall, as if he was trying to merge with wall.

The door slammed open and he forced back tears.

Fenna was grabbing aimlessly at Caim’s arm, trying to close the door again.

Caim, stop, just leave him out of this.”

The two paused in the middle of his room, staring each other down.

Caim’s fists clenched as he glared down at his wife.

Unhand me,”

“Caim, don’t do this.”

Caim jerked his arm towards his chest, pulling her off the floor for a second and she stumbled.

I’m about to break your fucking arm, woman.”

Fenna’s shoulders shook, but the second time he jerked his arm she released it.

It all happened so fast.

He wasn’t quite sure what papa was really mad about, all he knew was one second he had been curled on his bed and the next Caim was dragging him down the hallway.

His grip was tight and it hurt.

It hurt a lot.

He was sure he was gonna have a bruise and the skin around his papa’s fingers was aching.

He realized why his feet hurt, he was dragging them on uneven wood and splinters pressed into his skin.

Warm tears streamed down his face and his ears were ringing.

He could see Caim talking, screaming or shouting, but he couldn’t hear him over the sound of his own screaming.

Fenna was protesting, but his papa didn’t seem to be slowing down.

The white walls in the bathroom seemed to enlarge and sink towards him all at the same time.

His papa lifted him up by the arm, his ankles hit the edge of the tub roughly and skidded across the slick surface. The only thing that kept him up was his papa’s bruising grip on his wrist. Caim shook him violently around as he leaned forward, turning on the shower head at full blast

He felt like he screamed.

Felt.

It was like the words literally froze in his throat when the almost painful, sudden surge of freezing cold water hit his skin.

His clothes were soaked almost instantly, sticking to his skin.

Caim let go of him, glaring darkly at Fenna, who was halted in the doorway, and left.

Magnus’ knees gave out and he hit the bottom of the tub, water pouring down his face and he stared at the wall with a look mixed of shock, pain and tears.

Fenna closed her eyes and sighed.

Why do you always have to piss him off?”

Magnus hiccuped a sob as he watched his mama leave through the corner of his eye.

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There was a sickening feeling in his stomach and he wanted his mama, but he didn’t move. The water was still pouring over his head, but he couldn’t bring himself to lift his arm up and turn the nozzle.

Warm tears streamed down his cheeks and dripped off his chin, he could barely see anything.

The sun had gone down a while ago and neither his papa or mama had turned on the lights.

His body flinched and he squeezed his eyes shut as the lights turned on. The water stopped and a fluffy towel landed on his arms.

Get up, you’re just going to make it worse.”

He wrapped himself in the towel, gripping the hand rail tightly to pull himself up. It took a few tries, his body was shaking and his head was pounding.

Magnus stumbled out of the bathroom, keeping the towel wrapped tightly around his shoulders as he rushed as quickly as he could to his bedroom.

He stumbled over to his bed and fell face down onto his pillow, curling up  towards the wall and holding back his sobs.

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Monday, September 10th, 2007.

Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock.

Magnus groaned, burying his face farther into his pillow. His body felt weird and he realized he hadn’t changed out of the drenched clothes. His head hurt and he heard a couple voices from outside.

“Hey, I just wanted to come and make sure everything’s alright? A couple people heard yelling last night and were concerned.”

“Oh,” Caim let out a laugh. “I was watching the game and I guess I got a bit to into it, right Fen?”

Fenna’s soft voice let out a chuckle.

“He’s always been a very vocal man.” She giggled.

Magnus scrunched up his nose as he sat up, rubbing his forehead. He stared sadly, and a bit shellshocked, at the dark bruise forming on his upper arm. After throwing his blanket off to the side, he touched at the scratches and scraped skin on his ankles and the splinters digging into his feet.

It was the first time his papa had ever purposely hurt him.

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He ventured out of his room a few hours later, picking at the ends of his long sleeved shirt nervously as he peaked around corners and doors, almost expecting papa to jump out at him.

Once he realized he was alone, he poured a bowl of cereal, sitting quietly at the table while he ate, listening for any sounds coming from outside.

A few minutes later he heard the sound of the truck pulling into the driveway and the doors slamming shut. He jumped up and put his empty bowl in the sink, running water into it as the door opened.

Great, you’re up. Here.” Caim threw a plastic bag at him, the papers inside ruffling violently as he caught it. “ Since you wouldn’t quit bitching to the neighbors, making us out to be terrible fucking parents.”  Caim muttered, stalking around him to the fridge.

I’m going to school?”

Caim let out an annoyed huff, balling his fists and placing his beer can on the counter roughly, looking over his shoulder at the small boy.

Can you fucking read? That’s what it says. Don’t ask stupid questions.”

Magnus ignored his papa, gazing down at the neatly printed text.

Hillcrest Official Handbook: The Rules To A Healthy School.



Chapter Text

Monday, September 10th, 2007.

 

She would never forgive him.

He promised to watch Bambi with her and he knew she couldn’t watch it by herself, she would get sad and there’d be no one there to make her happy.

It’s 7 days.

Isabelle had decided she didn’t care why he didn’t come back, all that she had been right.

He left for school and forgot about her.

“You can’t start telling people you’re an only child.”

“I am, Awec left me.” Isabelle said, throwing her braid over her shoulder as she looked away with a pout.

“Alec didn’t leave you.”

“He’s not here, is he?” She asked, blinking slowly up at her mom, who nodded. “Then he left me. He broke his promise and isn’t my big bwother anymore.”

Maryse sighed, leaning her head back and looking up towards the sky.

“Are you done with your ice cream?”

Isabelle nodded, handing her mom her half eaten cone of chocolate ice cream.

“Can I go play now?”

“Yes, just refrain from telling anyone else that you’re an only child.”

She gave her a weird look, but nodded.

She skipped excitedly over to the swings, jumping onto the smaller one and pushing herself off the ground.

It was harder to do by herself, normally she would have Alec here to help her, but Alec decided school was better than her.

She could do this perfectly by herself.

Isabelle spent a few minutes trying to get herself farther into the air, but after a while, her legs began to tire out. She went over to the slide, climbing and sitting at the top.

She could see everything from up here, it was like those big planes in movies.

Isabelle threw her pony purse down the slide, watching it flop down into the wood chips at the bottom. She slid down afterwards, jumping off at the end, unfortunately her knee missed the purse and scraped against the wood chips.

She bit her lip, pulling herself up and looking at her knee.

It didn’t really hurt, but she could already feel the tears rolling down her cheeks and she burst out sobbing.

“Uh, are you okay?”

She hiccuped, looking up with large, watering eyes.

“I scraped my knee, see?” She held her leg out, her lip trembling violently.

“Oh...Is your mom here?”

She nodded.

“But she’s over there and I wasn’t supposed to leave her sight and now I’m hurt.” She pulled her knees closer as she cried.

“Do you want me to go get her?” The boy asked after a second, picking up the purse and putting the two fallen dolls back inside, putting it next to her on the ground. Isabelle looked up, rubbing her nose with the back of her sleeve.

“You know my mommy?”

The boy stuttered for a second, shaking his head.

“Uh, no, I don’t, but I could go get her for you, what’s her name?”

Isabelle paused, looking at the car in his hand while she thought.

“Mommy, I only call her mommy.”

“Have you heard anyone call her something else?”

She shook her head.

“Awec calls her mom, does that help?” She wanted her mommy, she was trying, but she didn’t know what her name really was.

The boy smiled at her and she smiled back, chewing nervously on her nail, trying to ignore the pain in her knee.

“What direction was your mom sitting?”

“That way.” She pointed straight ahead and off to the left. “Behind the big play thingy.”

“Okay, I’ll go see if I can find her, okay?”

“W-wait! You can’t leave me, please, I can’t walk.” Her eyes were watering again.

“I’ll be back, either way, I promise.”

She watched him disappear silently, convincing herself with each second that he’s gonna come back with her mommy.

Less than a minute later, he came back with the familiar form of her mommy following behind him. The second she saw her, Maryse rushed by him and knelt down next to her.

“What happened?” She asked worriedly, pulling a tissue out of her purse and using it to clean her knee.

“I-I was going down the slide a-and I missed jumped and hit my knee right here.” Isabelle tapped  the ground with her fingers. “A-and it hurts, mommy. I-I trying to d-do the swings by myself, but I can’t without Awec.” She leaned against her mommy, her small body shaking with sobs.

“Oh, honey. Alec will be back this weekend.”

“He forgot about me, mommy...he left and he didn’t come back. He promised he was coming back.”

Maryse didn’t answer, she just gently brushed the parts of her hair that weren’t in braids.

“Come on, let’s go home.”

“I wanna go to Awec. He scares away the monsters.”

She wrapped her arms around her mommy’s neck when she picked her up, peering over her shoulder at the park.

She watched as they passed by the big playground machine and a couple of families. She saw the boy who helped her a little ways away with a couple people, a girl probably a few years older than Isabelle and a woman in a cop uniform. They were next to a cop car, leaning against the side of it.

She waved with a smile to him and he waved back.

She could hear the end part of their conversation before her mommy put her in the car, and while it wasn’t a lot, she heard his name.

Isabelle giggled.

That’s a weird name.

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Maryse stumbled with her keys for a brief second, looking over her shoulder at the car and making eye contact with the boy who had helped her daughter.

She didn’t know if he knew who she was, or who Isabelle was, but she knew the second Alec found out about this, there wasn’t going to be a chance in hell sending him away is going to do anything to effect his friendship with this boy.

She turned back to her car and climbed in, fixing the mirror.
“You buckled in, sweetie?”

“Yep.”

Maryse glanced in the mirror and smiled at her daughter, who was swinging her legs while looking out the window.

“So, what’re your plans for the rest of today?” She asked after a few minutes.

“I’m gonna keep making my fort.”

“The fort in Alec’s room?”

Isabelle pouted, continuing to stare out the window.

“Our legos are in there.”

Maryse giggled, turning into their driveway.

“You mean his legos.”

Isabelle shook her head, waiting for her mommy to undo the seatbelt.

“Nope, we share our toys.”

“And yet I thought all the Barbies were yours?” Maryse stepped aside and let her jump out before grabbing her purse from the backseat.

“No, Awec owns all of them too.”

“All? Even Jen?”

Isabelle froze, looking back at her mom with a look of disappointment.

“No. Jen’s mine. Awec knows that.” She turned and ran into the house, throwing her purse onto the floor and running into the living room, pouncing onto the couch where Robert was sitting.

“Hi, daddy!” She smiled up at him.

“Isabelle, you just tracked dirt all over the living room and the onto the couch.” Robert rubbed his temples, waiting until Maryse came over to them, picking her up.

“It’s okay, sweetie, just go work on your fort.”
“Okay!” Isabelle ran off upstairs, her shoes falling loudly down the stairs as she kicked them off.

Maryse looked back at her husband, shaking her head and grabbing the vacuum.

“You cannot start treating her like you do Alec.”

“You baby them, Maryse. And then they’re gonna grow up and not be ready.”

“She’s four, she doesn’t need to be ready yet.” Maryse snapped.

Robert shook his head.

“Whatever, I’ll be in the office. I can actually get work done in there.”

Maryse watched him walk away without a word, shaking her head as she vacuumed up the dirt on the carpet.

All she wanted to do was drive up to that damned school and get her son, but she knew Robert would only take him back tomorrow, whether he had to drag him there by force or not.

Chapter Text

Monday, September 3rd, 2007.

He was still excited about being at school, but the idea of not going home for weeks is terrifying.

He had probably said less than 10 words to his dad before he left, just followed him wordlessly throughout the hallways and into his new room.

It wasn’t huge, smaller than his room at home, but there was a single twin sized bed in the middle of the dark blue carpet.

Alec hung up his backpack on the small hanging rack by the door, flopping down on the bed.

He wished there was a way he could talk to Isabelle, he knew she was gonna be upset when he didn’t come home, but he didn’t know if she was going to be upset with him or their parents.

There was a single desk on the other side of the room, underneath a curtain covered window, and a small, one person bathroom.

He had been some other kids while they were walking, but most of the rooms he’d seen vague glimpses inside of had two beds.

He didn’t understand why he was alone, but he had a feeling his dad had something to do with it. He was in a smaller hallway than the others, with six rooms all together and, he figured, they were all like his room.

Knock knock knock

Alec sat up, rubbing his eyes.

“Yeah?”

The door opened and a tall, balding man stepped in while giving him a friendly smile.

“Good morning,” They shook hands. “I’m Mr. Luhare, I’m the principal, I just wanted to come and welcome you before class starts.”

Alec gave him a tight smile, glancing around his room.

“Hi, um...Why am I alone? The other boys down the hall have roommates.”

“Well, we have a special package for some parents and yours paid extra to have you roomed alone, rather than with a randomly chosen student.”

“Oh.”

“It’s for privacy, mainly.”

“I’m 6, what’d I need privacy for? Brushing my teeth?”

Mr. Luhare looked taken aback.

“Well, maybe when you're older you'll understand wanting privacy.”

Alec sighed, crossing his arms.

“Doubtful.” He muttered, but didn't say anything else since the bell rang.

Mr. Luhare handed him his schedule and a map of the school.

“Well, I’ll be off, do you know how to get to your classes?”

Alec shrugged, grabbing his schedule and staring at it.

“I guess.”

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He really should have asked the principal for directions.

Alec had been wandering around for five minutes, his stomach curling more and more when he realized he had no idea where he was going.

He figured a lot of the other kids had been here a while, or if they were new, they’d already been here over the weekend and got the tour.

“Hey, kid? Do you need help?”

He looked up, clutching his backpack to his chest.

“I don’t know where my class is,” He handed his schedule over to the girl, who took it wordlessly.

“Ooo, okay you got Mr. G for your first period, he’s cool. C’mon, I’ll take you to his room.” She gestured for him to follow her.

Alec followed behind her, taking in the long and large hallways. The classroom was at the other end of the school.

“Just be warned he has a hard time telling his students to shut up, or leave.   There’s always upperclassmen in there being loud. I wouldn’t use it as a study room.” The girl said as they came to a stop in front of, what he assumed, was the teacher’s room. She pushed open the door and he realized she wasn’t kidding.

It also reminded him that while this was his first year, a lot of these people were older and knew each other already.

An older, graying man slid his rolling chair over towards the door, stopping in front of them. They hadn’t stepped into the room yet so he was kinda perched in the doorway.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“I was just showing him where your class is, he’s got you first period.”

Mr. G nodded, giving him a friendly grin.

“Well, c’mon in. We’re not doing anything today, since it’s the first day and I felt like being the nice teacher this year.”

The girl laughed, resting against the front of one of the desks.

“When have you ever given homework before like the third week.”

“My first year teaching, actually.” Mr. G grinned, rolling over to the front desk, Alec following him with his papers. Mr. G glanced over them and sighed off that he was here on the attendance. “I was hated that year, I assigned homework everyday and I started every Monday with a pop quiz.”

Alec sat down in the chair next to the one the girl was leaning against.

“I’ve learned in my 30 years of teaching that students, no matter the era, hate teachers who give homework the first day.” Mr. G rolled his chair over to them again. “So, a little someone was in here earlier, ranting and raving about you, Marina.”

The girl let out an annoyed groan, leaning her head back.

Alec looked around the room while they talked.

It wasn’t super big, large enough for maybe 20 students with one person desks spread out across the room. There was a countertop on the left side of the room, opposite of the door, with a large window above it. He could see how foggy and damp it was outside.

Random math puns were hung up around the room and, despite it being the first day, the two drawing boards where already covered in messages, drawings and signatures.

“So, how’s your first impression of the school?” Mr. G asked him after his conversation with Marina ended and she left.

Alec turned to him and shrugged.

“It would probably be better, but my dad didn’t tell me I was staying so that kinda messed everything up.”

He frowned.

“How long are they making you stay here at a time?”

“Two weeks, it’s a kinda long ride here.”

Mr. G nodded, patting his arm reassuringly.

“We’re not doing anything in class today?” Alec asked a few minutes later.

“Nope, I figure for the first week I’ll just let everyone get their schedules together and get situated before I start teaching.”

“Oh,” Alec flipped through his math book, chewing on his lip. “Is it okay that I already did the first three chapters?”

Mr. G laughed, taking a sip from his coffee cup.

“That’s very much okay, I can tell I’m gonna like you.”

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Alec asked Mr. G how to get to his next class before he left,  he didn’t want to be late again, even though he didn’t get in trouble this time.

It didn’t help him feel better that a few of the uppermale classmen wished him luck after they heard the next teacher’s name.

Mrs. Nawright.

She was his History teacher, down on the basement level. There was three levels to the school, most of the rooms and housing were on the top two and on the bottom was Science and History teachers, English and Math were spread out between the top two levels.

The first thing he noticed when he finally got to the basement level was that it smelled like cleaning products, really strong cleaning products.

He stepped inside room 302, the lights were off and, for a second, he was worried he was in the wrong room, but from the stream of light from the hallway, he could see kids sitting by four at a table. He walked slowly to the back, where the light of a screen shined against the platinum blonde hair of the teacher.

“Uh, Mrs. Nawright?”

“Hm, yes?” She turned her attention onto him and he paused.

“I was just wondering if there’s like...assigned seats?”

She shook her head.

“Not yet, I’ll make a seating chart in a few weeks.” She didn’t wait for his response as she stood up, almost on cue the bell rang. “Just pick a seat for now.” She gave him a supportive smile before going to the front of the class.

Alec looked around as the lights turned on, most of the seats were taken and there wasn’t any that neglected to have someone in the seat next to him.

“Hey! You can sit here, if you want.” A mildly loud whisper to his right and he looked over, a small boy with messy blond hair grinned at him. Alec grinned back thankfully at him, climbing into the chair.

“Hi, I’m Alec.” He held out with hand.

“Underhill,” They shook hands. “I like your nails.” Underhill whispered, reminding Alec that his mom never did make him take off the rest of the nail polish.

“Alright, welcome to Homeroom. I know some of you who are new are probably wondering why there’s so many upperclassmen in here,” She glanced over at the two tables that held most of the older kids. “It’s because other teachers, over the years, have begun refusing to keep you nine in their homerooms. So we’re all stuck with them.”

One of the girls at the table laughed, giving Mrs. Nawright a bracey grin.

“Oh, you love us. You just won’t say it cause it’ll ruin your street cred.”

The teacher rolled her eyes, turning towards the board.

“Now, even though this isn’t one of your core classes, it’s still important. I won’t tolerate fooling around or laziness, if that’s how you plan to spend your days here, leave. Your parents aren’t spending thousands of dollars for you to sit around all day.”

Alec noticed she didn’t look at the younger side of the class when she said that, mostly looking towards the tables in the back.

“Also, I know it’s probably confusing why Homeroom isn’t first period, it would make more sense, but it doesn’t matter what we think.” Mrs Nawright said as she walked around the room, her thin, sharp black heels tapping loudly with each step.

Alec picked up the packet of stapled papers she handed him.

“Now,” She leaned against the empty desk as the front of the class when she was done, staring out at them. “These are your semester planners, I expect all of you to fill out daily what your homework is, each day I’ll go around and sign off on the day prior, but this way you’ll always have something to do. If you lose this, you get a week’s detention and a new one. I wouldn’t lose it.”

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Alec was glad he sat next to Underhill in Homeroom, he doesn’t like being alone that often.

He has two more classes before lunch, both of which are on the middle floor.

Literature and English.

His literature teacher was a grumpy, short old man, book stacked up against his walls, matching the theme that the classroom was located inside the library.

Mr. Sweet.

And his English teacher was a younger woman, apparently she was new, this was only her first year. She was nice, she only teaches the 1st-3rd grade English.

Ms. Platine.

He was currently packing up his new folder of papers into his backpack, looking forward to lunch.

The line in the cafeteria was long, but he’d gotten there fairly early so he was already punching in the 7 digit code he has on his school ID.

He walked aimlessly around the cafeteria, trying to find a table that wasn’t full.

“Hey!” He looked over, seeing the slightly younger boy from his History and homeroom class. “You wanna sit with me?” Underhill asked, grinning up at him.

Alec nodded, climbing in across from him.

“Thank you.”

They talked for a while, all through lunch actually.

Underhill, who’s first name is Brock but he goes by Underhill, is a first grader, just like him, and really loves apples.

They agreed to sit together each day during lunch, since there was so many older kids and they didn’t want to be alone.

Alec went to his final class of the day, Science, with Mr. Goldblum.

Mr. Goldblum was a mid twenties, fit and tan man, who stood almost three times taller than him.

He seemed to really like Science, and thankfully he didn’t get them any homework, he just showed them a couple videos regarding some of the topics the 1st graders would be learning this year.

After class let out he found Underhill in the halls and they went outside since it was still sunny.

They hung out for a while, talking excitedly about how their first day went.

Alec returned to his room a few hours later after dinner from the cafe.

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Friday, September 14th, 2007

The next few days were more of the same, introductions and people switching in and out of classes. At the end of the school on Friday they got Math and Science homework, thankfully he’d already finished his Math and the Science wasn’t that hard.

The weekend passed mostly uneventfully, a couple of upperclassmen got into a fight on Sunday, everyone had been talking about it.  

Underhill had gone home with his parents on Friday, Mrs and Mr. Underhill were nice, an older couple who’d adopted him. Alec had been lonely since he’d left, but thankfully it was only for two days.

He still wasn’t a fan of staying there everyday, he missed his mom and Isabelle, but he knew it didn’t matter to his parents, or at least to his dad.

By the second Thursday he’d been there, he’d talk to approximately 12 other students, all including “Sorry”, “Hi” and “Excuse me”.

The only exception was Underhill, who he quickly formed a friendship with.

It was Friday afternoon and he was sitting in his room, packing up the few clothes items so his mom could wash them.

Robert was suppose to pick him up at 12:30, which means he’s has six minutes to finish packing. Robert was normally on time, down to the minute.

There was a knock on his door and he looked up, smiling happily at Underhill.

“Hey,”

“Hi, are you going home?”

Alec nodded, folding another shirt into the corner of the suitcase.

“Yeah, my dad’s suppose to be here in a few minutes. You too?” He asked after noticing the suitcase he was holding.

Underhill nodded, sitting on the edge of his bed.

“Yeah, we’re gonna go get ice cream first,” Underhill said excitedly, swinging his legs back and forth. He picked up books and sorted them near Alec’s suitcase. “Maybe you could visit soon! That’d be cool, then you could meet my puppy.”

There was a knock on his door before Alec could respond and he looked up.

Robert stepped into the room, grabbing the closed suitcase that was nearest to the door.

“Come on, we gotta go.”

Alec chewed on his lips and nodded, forcing his bag closed.

“I’ll see you on Monday?” He asked Underhill, who jumped up.

“Yeah, I’ll be here by 7.”

They said their goodbyes as they went down separate hallways.

“So, you made a new friend.” Robert said after he started the car, pulling out of the school parking lot.

Alec nodded, sipping on the fresh, hot coffee his dad bought him.

“His name’s Brock, but everyone calls him Underhill.” Alec said in a cheerful tone. “He’s really cool.”

“He seemed like a good kid.”

“Yep,” Alec played with the window button.

They didn’t talk for a while, driving down the highway in silence.

“You know your mother is wanting to throw you a makeup party on Sunday, you could invite your new friend.”

Alec paused, flicking the control button for the window.

“Can I only invite one?”

Robert let out an annoyed sigh.

“Cause if I can only invite one person, I wanna invite Magnus.” Alec crossed his arms.

“Alexander…”

“I’m just saying, you brought it up. I don’t want another boring party that’s full of your boring coworkers, I wanna go to the park.”

Robert tapped his fingers against the steering wheel.

“Well, you can take that up with your mother.”

They pulled into the driveway and he jumped out of the car, leaving behind his suitcases and backpack.

Jocelyn and Clary were visiting and Maryse was talking with Jocelyn in the living room.

He ran over and hugged her, ignoring the sound of Robert coming in with his bags.

Maryse hugged him back tightly, brushing his hair gently with her fingers.

“Oh, how was it? I've missed you.”

“I missed you too, mom.” He pulled back, sitting on the edge of the couch. “It was okay, my teachers were nice and I made a friend. I have my own room though, I don't get to share with anyone.”

“Would you prefer to have another boy in there with you?” Maryse asked. She had assumed he'd rather be in his own personal room than have to share it with a stranger.

He shrugged, but didn't get the chance to answer.

“It doesn't matter, Maryse. We already paid extra for it, he's gonna have to learn to be grateful.” Robert stepped around the back of the couch, pushing on his back a little to get Alec to stand up.

“Go take your stuff to your room, your mother is busy right now.”

Maryse gave her husband a disapproving look behind her son's back. Both of the women knew Jocelyn didn't have a problem with Alec hanging out with them.

Alec went and grabbed his bags, his shoulders slumped as he went up to his room.

He could hear the familiar high pitched voices of his sister and Clary and he smiled a little.

The first he noticed when he opened his door was that his bed wasn’t made, he made it the morning before he left.

He didn’t pay any mind to it however, just throwing his suitcase onto the bed and opening it.

Almost an hour later he heard them leave, throwing the last of the dirty clothes into the hamper before he ventured downstairs.

Maryse was in the kitchen, cleaning the few dishes scattered around and from the sounds of fairy tale like music playing from the living room, he figured Isabelle was in the living room.

“Hey, sweetie. Sorry about earlier,”

Alec shook his head, climbing into one of the step stools and grabbing a clean hand rag to dry with. Maryse smiled at him.

“It's okay, I needed to unpack anyway.”

“Have you talked to your sister?” She asked a few minutes later, her brows furrowed when he shook his head.

“Why? Is something wrong?” He turned around, looking towards the room.

“She's just been...she's been upset, that you didn't come home.” Maryse grabbed the rag from him after unplugging the sink, drying her hands.

“I’m gonna go talk to her.” Alec said, jumping down, giving his mom a quick smile before ducking out of the room and into the living room.

His sister was curled into the corner of the couch, a pink bowl of popcorn in front of her feet.

“Iz?” He leaned over the top of the couch, looking down at her.

She didn’t respond, but her foot twitched.

“Izzy.”

“I hear nothing.” She whispered, crossing her arms close to her body.

He leaned over and fell onto the couch, knocking the popcorn onto the floor and leaning against her legs.

“Fine, we don’t gotta talk.”

They sat in silence for 30 minutes, her small toes poking into his back almost painfully. She started sniffling while the theme song played and he turned around, resting his chin against her knees.

“Are you gonna talk to me?”

She pouted, her lip trembling. “Why should I? You’re just gonna leave again.”

Alec frowned, sighing.

“You were gone for two weeks, two weeks. You promised to come back and you didn’t.” She snapped tensely.

“I swear, I tried. I didn’t want to stay there.” Alec argued, resting his hands on her knees.

Neither of them noticed Maryse in the hallway, watching them with tears streaming down her face.

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It took a few hours before Isabelle calmed down enough for them to really talk, she asked him about the school and the people.

He told her about Underhill, and the small group of upperclassmen who got busted with drugs yesterday and were arrested.

“Mommy is gonna have a party on Sunday, is he gonna come?”

Alec shrugged, not taking his eyes off her hair, which he was braiding.

“I haven’t talked to her about it, I don’t like parties. I kinda wanna just go to the park. ”

Isabelle gasped, spinning around and grinning at him.

“I went to the park and I fell.” She pulled up her pant leg to show him the fading scab on her knee. “It hurt, but I’m okay now.” She smiled at him, turning around so he could keep braiding her hair. “A boy helped me and went and got mommy.”

“Alec?”

They looked up, Maryse was standing in the doorway, a small, soft smile on her face.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?”

He nodded, finishing the braid and securing it with a hair tie before getting up and following his mom out of the room.

They went out to the front porch, sitting on swinging bench in the corner.

“So, your father mentioned that you told him you don’t want a party.”

Alec nodded, pulling his legs up so he was curled into the corner of the bench, looking at his mom.

“I just wanna go to the park, or dinner...I don’t like parties.”

Maryse nodded, wrapping her arm around his shoulder.

“Okay, we don’t have to throw a party. How about, on Sunday we wake up early, go to that nice little pancake mill downtown and then we’ll go to the park for a few hours.”

Alec grinned.

“Yeah! Can we go to the fancy restaurant in the mall for dinner?”

“The one your father and I went to for our anniversary?”

He nodded.

“Yeah, I’m sure I can talk your father into that.” She smiled, kissing his forehead.

“Oh, and mom?” He said a minute later when they started to go back inside. “I want Iz to come with us,”

“I figured.”

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“Alec!”

He was sitting on his bed, reading the next chapter of his Science book when Isabelle rushed in, knocking her slippers off onto the floor before tumbling onto his bed.

“C’mon, c’mon, turn on the TV.” She threw the remote at him excitedly. “Mommy said I can finally watch the Ju’assic Park movie, but you gotta watch with me. Please! It just started!”

Alec sighed, pushing his books to the side and flipping on the TV, changing it to the channel.

It wasn’t the first time he’s scene the movie, mom watched it with him last year, but Isabelle wasn’t allowed due to Maryse worrying about it giving her nightmares.

Isabelle squealed, curled at the top of the bed, her large, dark brown eyes wide with wonder as the plane of the screen flew over and around the island.

While he knew, deep down, this probably wasn’t the best idea, she was prone to nightmares, but she had been wanting to watch the movie for a while.

She gasped.

“Why’re they stopping?”

He didn’t answer, leaving her to gaze up at the screen as it panned over to the large, CGI Brachiosaurus came onto screen.

“I know that one! T-that’s uh, uh long neck!” She giggled excitedly, her face lit up in a grin.

She squealed happily when the phrase she’d heard over the TV, but was never allowed to watch, was said.

“Welcome, to Jurassic Park.”

Isabelle watched the screen with awe as they explained how they brought back the dinosaurs.

“Eh!”

She dug her nails into his arm in joy as one of the eggs started hatching, cheering the small, bloody velociraptor on while it broke through the shell.

“It’s so cute! I want one.” She looked over at Alec, as if expecting him to pull one out of his backpack.

“Well, if you work hard and become a fancy scientist, maybe you could make one.”

“Really?!”

She went silent a few minutes later, crying and hiding her face in his shirt when they lowered the cow into the cage.

“No,” Tears soaked into the cotten.

Her eyes were wide with horror at the sounds, her lip trembling.

“S-so...they’re smart, like super smart.” She asked. “Poor Mr. Cow…” Isabelle whispered, not moving from being curled against her brother.

He didn’t bother moving, knowing that soon enough, she would be hiding again.

There was a reason Maryse didn’t want her watching them, her love for animals and high fear rate didn’t match well with killer animals.

“He seems cool,”

Alec chuckled.

The guy in the leather had always been his favorite the last few times he watched the movies.

“And his hair is really shiny.”

Isabelle paused.

“What’re they talking about? They keep using big words…”

Alec shrugged.

“They’re trying to tell the guy in white that it’s not a good idea for them to bring back dinos.”

She hummed.

“That kid is creepy. He smiles too much..” She scrunched her nose. “The sister is okay.”

One thing Alec knew about his sister was that it was impossible to watch a movie with her without commentary, even if she didn’t understand.

“Wait, who’s driving? How’s it doing that?”

“It’s the white thingy, it’s like a track, like trains use.”

“Oh.”

She crawled to the front of the bed towards the TV when they announced the first dinosaur, chewing on her lip while waiting for it to show up.
“Why wasn’t it there?” She gasped. “Oh no, did it escape?!” She looked behind her shoulder with a pout.

He shrugged again, grinning at her back when she flipped around again, waiting anxiously to see another creature.
“Is 10,000 volts a lot?”

“Yeah, it’s like….a bunch a bunch.”

“God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man, man destroys God, man creates dinosaurs.”

“Dinosaurs...eat man. Woman inherit the earth.”

Isabelle giggled.

“I like her, she’s cool.”

She gasped again, backing up.

“Nooo, Awec, no, I don’t wanna watch that.” She whispered, watching and listening to the lamb as it laid down. “Why did nothing happen? Nothing’s happened, Awec…”

He flicked her ponytail, giving her a reassuring grin.

“Don’t worry, it’ll happen.”

There, look at this, see, see I’m right again. Nobody could predict that Dr. Grant would suddenly jump out of a moving vehicle.”

“Where’s he going?” Isabelle asked, her brows furrowed. “Why would he get outta the car?”

Is there anyone else who thinks we shouldn’t be out here.”

“Me.” She crossed her arms. “Oh no, it is okay? She’s sick...Is she gonna be okay, Awec?”

“Yeah,” He said quickly. “It’s just a normal sickness, she’s okay now.”

Isabelle scrunched her nose in disgust when the blonde woman touched the dinosaur’s tongue.

“Ew, that’s...that’s gross.” She said, watching her strip off her gloves.

When the female doctor said she was staying with the dinosaur, Isabelle agreed with her, nodding proudly.

“Why would you keep a mosquito in your cane, that’s weird.”

Alec laughed, leaning back against his pillows. Isabelle paused, chewing on her lip.

“Am I talking to much?” She asked.

“Nope, you can talk all you want.”

She grinned at him.

“Wait, is he gonna let the dinos out? That’s not very safe…”

Isabelle covered her mouth worriedly when the fences started failing.

“What’s that dude doing? Is he trying to get them killed?” She asked, not taking her eyes off the screen, flinching back when the car on the screen crashed.

“Poor Mr. Goat…”

Alec sat silently behind her, listening to the rain on the screen.

He knows the T-Rex is going to show up soon, the one part of the movie he’s been waiting to see her reaction of.

“Is a giant coming?” She asked, watching the water cups on the scene shake.

“Something like that.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him quickly.

A high pitched scream came from her throat when the leg hit the car, the large form of the T-Rex coming onto screen.

“Where’s he going!? Why’s he leaving them!?” She crawled back a little, a mix of awe and horror on her face at the familiar roar.

“Why’re they moving...Why’s she got a flashlight?”

She flinched back more when it roared, it was loud and it hurt her ears.

“Just put it upside down! What’s wrong with them!’ She snapped, moving back against her brother when the T-Rex knocked the car over, the kids screaming on screen. She held onto his leg tightly when the car started getting crushed.

“Nooo, is he gonna die...No, I like him! He should listen to Mr. Blonde Smart Dude.”

Alec held back a chuckle.

Her mouth was stuck open in horror when the T-Rex bit down on the man.

“How rude…” She whispered when it spun the car around.

She didn’t say anything for a few minutes, just watching tensely until the car fell off the edge of the cliff.

“Ha! What you deserve, meanie.” Isabelle crossed her arms, watching with a wide eyed look as the man traveled into the forest, rather than onto the road. “Where’s he going? Doesn’t he know there’s dinos in there?’ She tsked.

Isabelle gasped, covering her mouth, but in an “o” way, a smaller dino with a taco looking shape on its head appeared, making high pitched noises, almost like a bird.

“It’s gonna eat him, he called it stupid, stupid.” She huffed. “It’s cute, I like that one. Ooo!” She squealed, giggling loudly when it started rattling.

“How’d it get inside though?”

“Probably left the door open to long.”

Isabelle didn’t say anything for a few minutes, watching them run around trying to find the kids and Dr. Grant.

“It’s coming back, poor Mr. Shiny man…” She whispered.

“Anybody hear that...It’s a um impact tremor...I’m fairly alarmed here.”

Her face lit up when the trees fell and the T-Rex came back, chasing them down the road.

“I thought you didn’t like the T-Rex,”

Isabelle giggled a little, looking over her shoulder.

“It was scary, but it’s big and I’m sure it’s just hungry.”

Alec didn’t respond.

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By the time the movie was over, Isabelle had declared that velociraptors were her favorite and that she was going to get one, or make one when Alec reminded her that dinosaurs are extinct.

She talked about it all through dinner, despite how terrified she was during some parts, Alec has small, red half moon dents on his shins from her nails as proof.

Robert seemed annoyed by the conversation, but he didn’t comment.

Maryse mentioned that Alec and her talked and told him about the plans for Sunday, Alec wasn’t listening fully, he was paying more attention to Isabelle still talking excitedly about her new dream of being a super smart scientist so she could create her own velociraptors.

After dinner was over, Maryse told them to go upstairs while she cleaned up and then she’d come say goodnight.

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Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Saturday passed quickly and uneventfully, watching TV most of the day. They woke up early Sunday morning, the Pancake Mill opens at 8:00AM and Maryse insisted on being first in line.

Alec was waiting in Isabelle’s room for their mom to come get them, they could hear their parents already arguing downstairs.

“Why’re they fighting?” Isabelle asked, not looking up from her toy chest.

“I’m...I’m not sure.”

Maryse came upstairs a few minutes later, running a hand through her thick black hair after she told them to grab their stuff.

“Mommy, can I take Jen with us?” Isabelle asked, but she didn’t wait for a response, putting the small, plastic doll into her favorite pony purse.

Alec grinned at her when she stood next to him, holding her purse close to her body.

“Weady.” Isabelle gave her mom a toothy grin.

It took about 20 minutes for them to get to the Pancake Mill, there was a few cars already parked and Maryse parked the farthest away from them, saying she didn’t want to take the chance of getting the car scratched.

They all climbed out of the car and headed inside, Isabelle skipping in front of them.

The building wasn’t very big, a bit worn down.

A waitress led them to a back booth, a smaller one secluded from the larger area. Isabelle climbed into the booth first, insisting that he should sit next to her.

Alec grinned, handing Isabelle one of the menus the waitress left on the end of the table.

“What’re you kids getting?” Maryse asked, giving them a soft smile over the top of her menu.

“I want one of the big waffles! With extra cream and strawberries.” Isabelle said excitedly, knocking her heels on the wood. “And a uh,” She paused, leaning towards Alec nad pointing at one of the items. “I don’t know how to say that.”

“Fruit parfait.”

Isabelle grinned, handing the menu to Maryse.

“Are you gonna be able to finish all that.”

“Yeah!”

Alec ordered the full stack of pancakes with blueberries and whipped cream.

It turned out, Isabelle couldn’t actually finish all of her meal, Maryse seemed to expect that though, her and Alec finished what was left while Isabelle talked, telling Alec about the things she’d watched during the two weeks he was away.

Including the newest season of Avater: The Last Airbender, the two released “The Little Mermaid” movies and a handful of random episodes playing on Disney channel.

Maryse bought them both a chocolate chip muffin while they were paying. The muffins were always freshly made that morning.

“Are we gonna go to the park now?” Isabelle asked, holding onto Maryse’s hand while they walked back to the car.

Maryse nodded.

“We’re gonna stop by Dutch Bros first,” Maryse said, stifling a yawn in her elbow. “And then we’ll head over.”

“Yay!” Isabelle jumped into the back of the car behind Alec.

“Can you buckle her in?”

Alec nodded.

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Maryse listened to her kids talking loudly in the back of the car while she drove away from the coffee joint. She didn’t have the heart to tell Alec that Robert wasn’t going to meet them at the restaurant for dinner.

While she knew he wouldn’t be surprised, she knew he would be disappointed.

She parked the car near the the picnic tables, locking it after all of them climbed out.

Alec and Isabelle yelled a thanks before running off towards the playground and she sat down, holding a shaking hand over her growing stomach.

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Isabelle’s favorite thing was playing Pirates with her brother, he would always let her be captain if she wanted and he never got mad at her, no matter what.

Right now she was trying to get the treasure from the “military”, the treasure being her pony purse that was hung up by the top of the slide.

She refused to go down the slide though, ever since she scraped her knee.

She climbed up to the highest level on the playground equipment, holding onto her pretend sword tightly as she look around.

“Oo, Awec!” She jumped, tapping his shoulder with her stick.

“Hm?”

“That’s him! That’s the boy that helped me, my new friend.” She said proudly, nodding to herself.

Isabelle frowned when Alec dropped his “sword”, his face lighting up as he jumped off the jungle gym.

“Awec?” She asked, scrunching her face up as she ran after him.

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He didn’t recognize the two people with Magnus, but it didn’t stop him from running up and hugging him, tackle hugging him.

The woman giggled at them as they rocked back and forth, grinning.

“Hi!”

Alec pulled back, it felt with his face was going to split in two from the size of his grin. Before he could respond he felt something hit his back and he looked behind him.

“Awec!” Isabelle pouted, picking up the purse she’d throw at him and clutching it close to her body. “Why’d you leave…?”

“It’s Magnus!” Alec said excitedly and she nodded.

“I know, it’s my friend.” Isabelle said, the “duh” showing in her facial expression.

Alec laughed a little.

“No, Iz, this is Magnus, like the one I’ve told you about.”

“Oh,” She paused before grinning, waving ecstatically at Magnus, who waved back.

Magnus introduced them to Nyla and Maia, the two people Isabelle had seen with him the other day.

Isabelle was talking hyperly with Nyla and Maia, telling them about her new love for velociraptors.

“You started school?”

Alec nodded, sitting sideways on the bench across from Magnus.

“Yeah, I started a couple weeks ago, I have to stay there. It’s weird.” He frowned, kicking at the dirt. “I got back on Friday, but I’m leaving again tomorrow morning.” Alec said, glancing over at Isabelle, who wasn’t paying attention to them.

“That sucks, you’re gonna be back, right?”

“Yeah, in another two weeks.”

“I’m uh, starting school tomorrow too,”

Alec lit up, grinning.

“Really? Are you excited?”

Magnus nodded.

“My papa got the papers last week after…” He paused. “I’m excited, I’m gonna go to school with Maia and her friend Simon.”

Alec didn’t mention that he switched gears in the middle, just grinned happily for him.

“She seems cool.”

“She is, she’s super nice and her parents are cops! It’s so cool. I get to ride in the cop car.” He pointed over his shoulder at the car behind them.

Alec told him about his new teachers and his friend Underhill and Magnus told him about them having to move to the park and about meeting all the new people.

He wasn’t sure how long the two of them sat there talking, he didn’t realize how much he missed him until he was finally talking to him again.

Maryse came over and found them though, a small stumble in her step when she realized who they were with, but she smiled and greeted them nonetheless.

She told them they had to get going if they wanted to get to the restaurant before they were packed and Alec frowned.

“Can’t they come with us?” He asked, kicking at the dirt with his sneeker. “Please, dad isn’t even gonna be there.”

“Alec…”

“You wanted me to invite my friends to a party, and even though it’s not a party, Magnus is my best friend and I don’t wanna not see him.”

Maryse and Nyla looked at each other, talking quietly for a minute. It was hard to say no when four pairs of puppy eyes were staring up at you.

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She tried.

She really...really tried to find something to dislike about him. She wanted  to understand why her husband was so adamant about disliking him.

But the more time she spent watching the two boys across the booth from her, the harder it was becoming.

The only time she’d seen her son smile this much was around Isabelle.

After they all ordered, Maryse insisting that she’d pay and that it’s her treat, the kids migrated to one side of the booth, leaving Maryse and Nyla to get to know each other.

She tried to keep an eye on the kids, incase something happened, but the only thing worrying that came to her was the vague scratches, scabs and bruises she could see littering Magnus’ arms, not including the gauze wrapped around his arm.

But she didn’t comment on it, figuring it was probably just kids being clumsy kids.