There is excitement everywhere, and lights, colours.
The Expo seems to fulfil every possible dream, and he is certainly living his own dream.
Young warlock, only one hundred twenty-something, he's the mightiest of them all.
He can feel he's waited for big feats, looking to the future with confident hope and that misguided confidence that only those of his kind can hold.
He is presently in London at the Council’s behest, on request of Commander Belcourt and at the invitation of Queen Victoria herself.
He’s a soldier, an alchemist and a man of learning. His immense analytics capabilities make him an amazing scientist, and not just because he's a warlock. Among the warlocks themselves there aren't any like him.
Which is why he, that young, has been sent to check the first Expo of the ever. The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations. A big deal. The whole world is in turmoil.
He will be stationed in Hyde Park from May the 1st until the end of October. Undercover, needless to say.
Here he will be in position to observe the genius and creativity of the greatest minds on the planet. From here he will report any abnormalities, any kind of innovative instrumentation far too evolved for mundanes.
So said progress is a dangerous thing, if it ends up in the wrong hands.
A young Lord has recently caught his attention. These is accompanied by a beautiful woman with whom he shares a proud look and regal bearing. They walked confident with noble gait, under the admiring eyes of the crowd. Impossible not to notice such a couple.
For a few days they met in Hyde Park, among the pavilions, always by chance. Or at least so it seemed.
Something inexplicable happens when he is close by the couple, his magic grows, unrestrained and pushy, but all that was there were fleeting looks through the crowd.
They still have not been formally introduced.
He believes he recognizes in the other the same perturbation that he feels for himself, even though he does not know how to fight it.
He shouldn’t feel what he feels, he shouldn’t think what he thinks. Those are forbidden things, prohibited, impure.
But on the other hand, how can he stop his soul from pounding when the young Lord appears before him?
He is a soldier, dammit. A warlock. He needs to be more in control of himself. And much better than that. He cannot just act like an ordinary mundane.
And then, one night, it happens.
He is late to look more closely at some futuristic equipment presented by a Belgian manufacturer. He waited for no one to be there in order to work undisturbed.
Those apparatus were not what they claimed to be, there is no magic-based progress nor even dangerous. Nothing that was not exquisitely mundane, but it was worth checking out.
On his way back, late at night, walking through a narrow alleyway, a sort of gasp breaks the silent of the darkness, and he hears the unmistakable thud of someone fighting.
Overlooking the alley, two people are actually fighting, heatedly. A top hat is lying abandoned on the pavement, while a stylish blue coat shines in the moonlight, dodging the blows of a white shirt that was muddy and worn.
Given the distance and darkness against which the moon itself cannot do anything more, he can’t see anything else of the two men. They certainly are men though, the fluffy raven hair of one shines contrasting the cap pressed on the other's eyes. A thug of course, and that’s definitely a robbery.
Maybe he lingered a moment too long on that hair, how the hell can he say it's fluffy? Even if only in his mind...
Recovering from that thought, he hurries over shouting an imperious: -Who goes there? In the name of the Queen!-
The blue coat suddenly freezes, and the raven head turns toward him, eyes shining in the dark.
His heart stops as soon as he recognizes the young man, but turning to him was quite imprudent from the poor Lord. He exposed his back to the mugger, and the next minute his blood chills.
The stranger grabs the Lord's sword-cane, pulls out the blade from inside and puts it at his throat, surprising him from behind.
He grinds his teeth getting dangerously close to the young man’s face, after immobilising him with the other arm. -Hold it right there, Soldier.- He addresses him, voice harsh and sharp. -Or I'll slit his throat.-
The young Lord’s eyes are calm, fixed in his, as if they are talking directly to his soul. He is looking at him insistently, a mute conversation.
And he can feel the power of his magic on his fingertips, blue sparks appearing through the gloves, feeling like he’s about to lose control. He can't do anything though, he would likely hit them both.
And he can’t even draw his sword, not with that blade at the man’s throat. The man, who doesn't stop looking at him. Looking up at his face, then down at his hands, and then meeting his eyes again. The man, who raises an eyebrow and in one breath exclaims: -Hit him. Go for it. I'm immune!- And then in a clear, lower voice: -Trust me, Warlock.-
Heart starts to beat again, the subtle light of a hope appears in his mind, while puzzled he wonders what this might mean.
He remains still, though; just another moment to process that surprising information. Trust me, Warlock...
Meanwhile, the thug pushes the blade deeper into his victim’s neck. A drop of blood runs down, dyeing the white collar of his shirt scarlet red.
That’s all it takes to get him completely out of control. A wave of cosmic energy starts at the centre of its being. Angry, uncontrolled magic. It’s not a shock wave, it’s not gonna blow the robber’s ass. He’s not going to arrest him, he’s not gonna take him to Scotland Yard.
They'll never find that mugger. Ever.
Live fire comes out from his hands. And ash is all that’s left.
Panic doesn’t have the time to get to him. While wondering what he did, recovering from a huge amount of energy consumption, he only feels the relief: clearly the young Lord is completely unharmed.
These, unaware of the anguish devouring his saviour, lowers to pick up the blade and puts it right back into the cane; then, with a gloved hand wrapping his neck where the blood had made its way down, he turns to him: -Thank you.-
He is slowly regaining the ability to speak. -Yu're not... er...- Well, non completely, it seems. -You are not disgusted?-
An eyebrow rise up to the hairline. -Disgusted? For you saving my life?-
-I...- A spark of awareness flashes in his eyes. -How... did you know?-
-I have been watching you for a few days.-
And so, he was watching him too; this beautiful guy had actually noticed him. Out there, through the crowd...
His face is heating up. His whole body is heating up indeed. Embarrassed, he lowers his gaze.
The young Lord approaches holding out his hand. -Alexander Lightwood. So good to make your acquaintance.- There's a little smirk on his face. -Finally, I might add.-
-Magnus Bane. Likewise.- It seems to think it over, and then: -May I escort you to your mansion? Is there anybody waiting for you? Maybe your lovely...-
-Sister.- Lightwood interrupts him.
-Sister.- He replies, pleased. Very pleased. Maybe too pleased. Basically delighted.
The young Lord doesn't miss the proud grin on Magnus' face, while handing him the top hat which he dusted absently with the back of his hand.
He accepts the hat and returns the smile. -That way.-
They walk into the night, the flames of the gas lamps flickering as they pass by.
-How do you know what I am?- He can't stop himself from asking.
-A warlock?- Lightwood smiles again. -And even a very powerful one, may I add...
My family, since forever, is trustee of the Royal Family. We’re the ones who deal with people of your kind more often. I guess that's beacause we're immune.-
-The Queen doesn't trust us?-
-Something like that. Better to have someone your magic won't work on.-
-I'll change my question, then. What are you?-
-Immune, as I already told you. We’re like conduits of your magic. It simply passes through us, not affecting our bodies in any way. Every few generations in our family one shows up.-
-That's why you are so close to the Royal Family.-
-Hey, we are also brave fighter, you know? Able commanders.-
The teasing tone gives him the courage to reply the same way. -Yes, I was watching you earlier in the alley with that thug...-
His heart pounds hard in his chest, Perhaps he has gone too far in addressing a Lord that way. The latter, though, doesn't miss a beat.
-Well... That, old chap, I think that was because of you.-
-Yes, you... You are confusing me...-
Maybe this is the first time he’s seen the young Lord’s confidence falter, and it's sort of shocking. Could be? Does he feel what he himself feels?
He doesn’t have time to organize a coherent thought, worthy of becoming an appropriate reply, because they stop in front of an imposing wooden carved main door.
Embossing and wrought iron decorations make strange shadows in the pale light of night.
Neither of them is in a hurry to say goodbye, not even ready to. Lord Lightwood looks nervous, tense. -I guess I'll see you again.-
-I know you will.-
It's a certainty.
It's a promise.
And with this awareness in his heart, Magnus walks away into the darkness.