Magnus cursed, breathing heavily as he scrambled to grip the ledge of the windowsill, ducking out of sight. He knew the little warlock was inside this house somewhere, and that they needed to be saved. Ragnor had gotten the tip because of his new, fancy role as High Warlock of London, but had been too busy to check it out. Magnus had been relatively free, though he wished he wasn't dressed for a night out on the town.
The light passed out of sight of the window, and Magnus lifted himself up to see the servant was gone. Unlocking the window with a simple spell, Magnus dropped to the floor. All around him were the heads of animals from across the British Empire. Magnus almost wished he knew enough necromancy to bring them back to life and send them on the master of the house.
Because Magnus had a good idea of where he would find this kid, and in what state. It was hard to keep his breathing even and quiet. He hoped everyone would stay out of his way, because he was not in the mood to be merciful.
Magnus reached out with his magic, trying to find where the child was. He sensed a room nearby that had a lingering magical signature. Walking to it and murmuring a spell to silence his footfalls, Magnus found the child's room. It was thrown apart, but there were plenty of toys that Magnus could use to track with. It wasn't the room of an heir to the great estate, destined to parliament and all that rot. But it was once that of a loved child. Magnus picked up a little porcelain doll whose face had chipped off. Clutching the doll tight, he focused, reaching out once more into the house.
There! The basement, of course. Magnus fixed the doll, and tucked it in his coat pocket. He snagged a book and a few other trinkets. They were the child's after all. He paused, turning once more to find a coat and a blanket. It was cold out, and Magnus knew he would need to beat a hasty retreat once they got out of there.
The tracking spell guiding him, Magnus made his way down the spiral staircase and then through the servant halls and stairs. It was one of those houses made to hide the staff as much as possible. It helped Magnus in this case, keeping him out of sight.
The basement was damp and cold. Magnus hurried to where the child was. It looked like a cell, and Magnus hated to think why such a thing was in this house to begin with. It was obviously not a new addition. Opening the door, he saw the little one was curled in the corner. Their bat wings, what must have been their mark, were wrapped around them, but still they were shivering. They flinched away when Magnus came in.
He knelt in front of them. "I'm here to save you," Magnus whispered, holding out the blanket. "We're going to go where no one can hurt you again."
When the little one peaked up at him, Magnus let his glamour down so his cat eyes showed. The child flinched away, but then moved closer, wings folding against their back.
"I'm like you," Magnus said. He looked around the cell. It was clear that the child hadn't used their powers to try and escape. They must have just been coming into them. "I'm going to pick you up, if that's okay?"
The child nodded, and Magnus wrapped them in the blanket. It was clear that the jacket wouldn't fit now that their mark had come in. Nothing Magnus' tailor couldn't handle later.
"Here, I found your doll," Magnus dug his free hand into a pocket, pulling out the toy. The kid clutched it tight, pulling the toy to their chest, before resting their head on Magnus' shoulder.
Once he was sure he had a secure hold on the kid, Magnus booked it. He wished he and Henry had made better progress on their new idea for a spell to create portals. Instead Magnus had to navigate his way through the house once more, with the extra complication of holding a very scared child.
They didn’t make a sound, just pressed close and held on. Magnus could feel the way they shook though, from cold and fear and probably pain. Magnus had to keep in control, though he felt his magic leaping within him. It wanted to burn this home to the ground, killing every person who had participated or turned a blind eye to the hurting of this child. It was hard as of late not to give in to the rage that his despair turned to. But he couldn’t cause more hurt to this child. He needed to be the one that put an end to that hurt, and the best way to do that was to get the hell out of here.
He found a servant’s entrance and unlocked it with ease. There was a man in shirt sleeves leaning beside it smoking, and he jumped when Magnus appeared. Magnus snapped his fingers, sending the mundane to sleep before running onwards. Settling a glamour over himself and the child so no mundanes could see them, Magnus hurried to Ragnor’s home.
“I wish Catarina was here, maybe she could tell us what’s wrong with the child,” Ragnor sighed. They had managed to get the child into new clothes, fed them, and cleaned them with some magic. They had healed any visible wounds but the little one wouldn’t stop shaking and hadn’t said a word when Magnus had settled them in a guest room.
“Could they be mute?” Magnus asked, grabbing a rum bottle and splashing it into his tea cup. He winced at the taste though, feeling sick, and put it down.
“That was not the intelligence I had,” Ragnor said, sitting beside Magnus. They were in his parlor, which was really an extension of his library. The warm fireplace made the gliding of book titles flash like captured sunlight. It was one of Magnus’ favorite places to be and he wished he could enjoy it. “If they can’t speak now, it would be a new development.”
Magnus swallowed, eyeing the rum again. His stomach roiled in protest. He was going to have to say this sober then. “When I... after what happened with my mother and step-father... I didn’t talk for a very long time. The shadowhunters that found me on the streets thought I was just being insolent, and would hit me to try and get me to speak.”
Even though Magnus tried to keep himself distant from what he was saying, he still felt the words choking him. Ragnor didn’t look at him as he talked, but a hand settled on his own. Magnus almost shook it off, but instead turned his so he could hold Ragnor’s back.
“It’s probably shock, or fear,” Magnus finished, not wanting to talk further about himself. “We just need to earn their trust, and hopefully they will speak to us.”
Ragnor nodded. “Thank you, my friend, for doing this. For rescuing them. I feel now it might have been unfair.”
Magnus gave a single, bitter laugh, but it was better than the sob he felt building. “It wouldn’t have been fair to most of the others you could have asked.”
“I should have done it,” Ragnor cursed, standing up, still connected to Magnus by their joined hands.
“And leave the mermaid ambassador’s requested meeting? No, we don’t need to cause such offense,” Magnus assured. “You know I’m always happy to help.”
“I do,” Ragnor said, turning to look down at him. “And that worries me sometimes. Magnus, when have you last asked for help yourself?”
Magnus looked away, focusing on the flames of the fire instead. He gripped Ragnor’s hand a little tighter. “I don’t want to be a bother.”
“Damn it, Magnus,” Ragnor tugged back. “Please tell me what I can do.”
Magnus shook his head, blinking quickly. “Let me stay here and help with this little one?”
“That sounds like you helping others...”
“I can’t be in my house,” Magnus admitted, though the words were sharp enough to cut his tongue. He glanced up at Ragnor, then quickly away again.
“She’s gone again,” Ragnor guessed, crouching into Magnus’ line of sight.
Magnus scoffed, more at himself than his love life. “Camille’s on a “trip,” yes.”
Ragnor scowled. “Magnus she’s...”
“I know, I know!” he snapped back. He moved to stand but collapsed to his knees, the truth he knew too heavy for him. Ragnor reached out, pulling him close, holding him tight. And that did it, Magnus couldn’t hold back anymore. His tears fell, and the sob escaped, followed by many more. He felt he couldn’t breath with the force of them, and he was hardly aware of Ragnor’s hand, rubbing his back. “I know,” he choked.
Magnus didn’t know when he was able to stop, just knew that Ragnor had sat and he was curled against his oldest friend’s chest.
“Forget about Camille,” Ragnor murmured.
“Let me stay,” Magnus croaked. “I can’t be alone.”
“Of course,” Ragnor said. “And I could use the help with the kid. You know I’m not... the best with them.”
Magnus nodded, relief spreading through him. “Okay.”
“Now, let’s get us both to bed, hmm?”
Magnus stood, and held out a hand to assist Ragnor. Ragnor accepted and they didn’t even have to say a word as Magnus followed Ragnor. Changing into a sleeping gown with a snap of his fingers, Magnus curled up on one side of Ragnor’s huge bed. Listening to Ragnor’s steady breathing beside him helped lull him to sleep. His first dreamless night in many weeks.
When Magnus was woken, it couldn’t have been the grey London morning filtering through the curtains. His eyes were drawn down as a shadow fell over him. The little child had found their way into the room, their wings stretched now above them. Their eyes were wide and they were holding the doll close.
Magnus pushed himself up, slowly so that he wouldn’t startle the kid. “Good morning,” he whispered. “How are you feeling?” He didn’t see their body shaking how it had been.
The little one just blinked back.
Magnus slipped from the bed, summoning a robe. The child’s eyes went wider and their mouth opened in a gasp. Magnus realized then that he and Ragnor had been fools. They just needed to use their powers, big and flashy, around the kid. That way they would know they were safe. That they were not alone
Magnus tied the warm robe around him, then conjured a little version. He held it out to the child. They pass him their doll so they could put it on over their nightshirt.
“Does your doll want a robe too?” Magnus whispered.
“Sarah,” the voice was so soft, Magnus almost didn’t hear it.
He knelt, holding out the doll. “The doll’s name is Sarah?”
He got a nod for that.
“Nice to meet you Sarah,” Magnus said, turning the doll to face him. Then he wiggled the fingers of his free hand to make another robe appear, this one the perfect size for the doll. He handed both over to the child.
“Thank you,” the child whispered, then carefully put the doll’s arms through the robe.
“What’s your name?” Magnus asked, hoping maybe with the focus on the doll that it would easier for them to talk.
“Mel,” was the whispered answer.
“That’s a very nice name,” Magnus said. “I’m Magnus, in case you don’t remember.”
Mel nodded, holding the doll close again.
“Are you and Sarah hungry?” Magnus asked.
“Sarah is,” Mel answered, voice a little stronger.
“Let’s get her some food, and maybe you can help her eat it,” Magnus stood, and held out a hand to Mel. They looked at the hand, before taking it. So small, Magnus couldn’t help but think. So small to have suffered as they had.
He set them all up in the parlor, using more magic than he usually would. He made the fire, conjuring the wood and lighting it. He summoned the food after ringing the bell. Ragnor had one servant, a mundane woman with the Sight who did his cooking. The bell rang when it was ready, letting Magnus know to get it. There was plenty of toast and sweet jams, eggs and tea. Magnus put lots of milk and honey in “Sarah’s” tea, which Mel drank. Mel also ate all of Sarah’s food, but giggled whenever Magnus addressed the doll to ask if she wanted more. Magnus had everything spread out on a blanket, as if they were having a picnic.
Ragnor found them, smiling as Magnus passed him a plate he’d kept warm with magic. Ragnor summoned his paper, his glamour fully down. Mel watched him with wide eyes, but they hadn’t started shaking again.
“Ragnor, this is Mel and Sarah,” Magnus said, gesturing. “Mel and Sarah, this is my dear friend, Ragnor Fell. He’s the High Warlock of London.”
Mel’s eyes went wider again, if possible. “Magic,” they whispered.
Ragnor smiled, setting the paper aside for later and resting his elbows on his knees. “Yes my dear. I am a warlock, like you are and like Magnus here is. We all have magic, which I think makes us rather fantastic.”
Mel smiled, nodding. “I like magic.”
“Good news!” Ragnor encouraged. “Magnus and I can give you lessons, if you want to know more magic?”
“It’s not bad?” Mel asked, and their face became pinched.
Magnus had no idea what they had been told, when they were locked away. Mel was showing great improvement already, but he knew that Mel would probably have days of silence, would probably flinch away from friendly touches. He looked at them, and assured, “Magic is wonderful. You can help people with magic, and helping people is good, right?”
Mel nodded and seemed to relax a bit. Magnus warmed their tea and added a bit more honey.
“You can stay with Magnus and I for as long as you want,” Ragnor said. “But we can also help find you a new home, and family.”
Mel shrunk in on themself at that.
Magnus shot Ragnor a look, then turned a smile to Mel. “But that’s a long ways away. Right now, we’re just going to take one day at a time, how about that?”
Mel blinked, and looked at Sarah. Magnus looked at Sarah too. Mel made Sarah nod her head.
“Wonderful!” Magnus smiled. “After this breakfast picnic, do you want to explore the house? Ragnor has some meetings, so we can find all the rooms in the house while he does those.”
Ragnor nodded, flicking open the paper. It hovered in front of him, leaving his hands free to drink his tea and eat his breakfast. “My first meeting is in an hour.”
“Sarah would like to explore,” Mel said, after tipping their head as if to listen to the doll.
“Maybe play hide and seek too?” Magnus asked, raising an eyebrow.
This got another smile from Mel. Each one was a little bigger. “Yes, please.”
Magnus thought that, with Ragnor and Mel, he’d be okay. He just hoped Mel felt the same way. He and Ragnor were pretty odd fairy-god-uncles. But as Mel smiled, and sipped more of their tea, watching closely as Ragnor turned the pages of the paper with magic, Magnus thought that might just be perfect for them right now.
Together, they would make it. One day at a time.