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Stargazing

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The stars hung far, far overhead, glittering in the blackness of the night. Magnus lay back on the platform, high in the trees atop Raven's Roost, and tried to count them all, but quickly gave up. As always, there were just too many.

"Do you ever wonder what's out there?" he said. "Other people, other words?"

Julia laughed and snuggled even closer against his side. "Not enough folks who need protecting in this world?" She rolled over on top of his chest and tapped the tip of his nose with a finger, smiling. "Now that Kalen's all taken care of, you looking for more fights out in the stars?"

Magnus chuckled and laid a hand on her hair, bunching the soft curls up into his fingers. "Nah, just being curious, that's all. I'm good. I'm not going anywhere."

"You'd better not," she replied, still smiling, but with a serious look coming into her eyes. "Because we need you right here. I need you."

He tightened his grip on her, moving his hand to rest a fist lightly on the back of her neck. "Then here is where I'll stay," he said.

Julia scootched up his chest and planted a kiss on his lips, soft at first, then more deeply, her hands framing his cheeks as he pulled her close. This, right here, was all he ever needed, ever wanted. He didn't need whatever was out beyond the stars. Julia was more than enough.

-x-

The stars always seemed brighter on the Bureau's moon base, and whenever he stayed there overnight, Magnus always made a point of taking time for a look. On this particular night, he sat out in the Quad with Merle, contemplating the night sky in the quiet. It was nice, although not as nice as the nights he would watch the stars with Julia, snuggled up in the treehouse that he'd built for them.

Julia. He sighed, softly he thought, but Merle glanced at him. "You okay?"

"Yeah, just thinking." Magnus leaned back on his hands and looked up. "Do you ever feel guilty that people didn't know who you really were, during those ten years? Like you were lying to them?"

"Nah," Merle said. "You can't tell a lie if you don't know the truth."

"Maybe so." Magnus shook his head. "But you don't wonder? Like, maybe if you were more aware of yourself, you would've been able to make things work with Hecuba." He closed his eyes against a fast-forming lump in his throat. "I wish I could've told Julia. I know it's not my fault. But I still wish I could've told her."

"Well, she knows now," Merle said. "Since Junior broadcast your story to all the planes and all. That would include the astral plane, right?"

Magnus looked at Merle. "I hadn't thought of that. You think maybe she's mad about it? Angry that I lied to her? That she never knew who I really was?"

Merle chuckled. "Magnus, memory or no memory, you've always been who you really are. There's lots of reasons Hecuba and I didn't work. But me not being myself was never one of them."

Magnus sighed. "If you say so."

"I know so." Merle hopped up to his feet, then patted Magnus on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it. If everything you've said about your Julia is true, you'll be fine." And he walked off, leaving Magnus alone with the stars and his memories.

-x-

Were those stars, glimmering in the darkness above the astral plane? Magnus rocked back in the chair set up next to the window of the cozy cottage to get a better view. "Almost as pretty as the night skies back home," he murmured.

Julia settled down, snug in his lap. "Which back home?" she asked.

Magnus kissed the top of her head, pressing his nose into those curls for a long whiff of her scent. "Raven's Roost, of course. That's home. That's where you were." She sighed, a contented sound with a tinge of sadness, and he wrapped his arms more tightly around her. "Julia, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I never told you the truth about me, who I was, where I came from."

Julia twisted her head around to look up at him. "There's no need to apologize. You never hid anything from me. You didn't tell me because you didn't know."

"Didn't I?" Magnus looked out the window again. "Remember when I asked you about other worlds, out in the stars?" She nodded. "Maybe there's a part of me that did remember all those years I spend out there exploring the stars, and living in other worlds."

She shrugged. " Even if that were true, it's not like you did it on purpose."

"Still." He kissed her forehead. "And I'm sorry you had to find out like you did, instead of from me."

"Don't be." Her voice took on a hushed quality, reverent. "That song is the most beautiful thing I ever heard. I wouldn't trade the experience of hearing it, and discovering the truth about you, for anything. I treasure that moment, Magnus, and I always will."

"I don't deserve you," he murmured, forehead still touching hers.

"Probably not," she agreed, and he had to laugh. "Well, you're here now. Tell me your story, your whole story, the way you'd like me to hear it. What was your childhood like, on that other world?"

"It wasn't too different from Feyrun," Magnus said, "except the sky was purple instead of blue. And my childhood was basically the same as I already told you, it just didn't happen here. So the new story doesn't really start until the day I joined up with the Institute..." And he told her the story, under the stars of the astral plane, and he didn't need to wonder any more.