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Beside Me

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Ragnor had left Magnus alone for the moment. He was truly heartbroken and Ragnor was sorry, but in order to be able to keep caring for him, Ragnor needed a second for himself. He blew a breath.

It made Ragnor furious to see Magnus this way, Camille had trampled over his feelings and left him in the dust. What was worse—Magnus had allowed her behavior to color his perception and he was closing himself under Ragnor's eyes. Magnus had decided to never feel that betrayed and vulnerable again. It was as infuriating as it was sad.

Ragnor sighed as he started walking down the garden path. He did not hurry, looking at the stars, hands behind his back. It was as tranquil as anything could be found in town. The night was quiet, balmy, exactly what a summer’s night should be. It was still too early in the evening to be completely dark, but at least the gas lights’ yellow glow was not enough to light the path he was following through the garden. Everything was perfect… almost too perfect.

It was given that something was bound to happen.

And it did. A portal opened between two trees, and an oddly dressed man came through. He landed on his back and, like a bug, was trying unsuccessfully to turn over. The portal winked closed immediately after.

The man was the tall sort, had a bow and arrow, a couple of blades, and a satchel. He had rune tattoos, which marked him a Shadowhunter. He was also currently writhing in pain and bleeding all over the place.

What was a Warlock to do with such a man?

Finally managing to get to his stomach, the man coughed something. Ragnar only caught ‘wren amie,’ and rolled his eyes, the man was probably delirious. The man tried to lift himself up, but he must have thought that hurt too much because he only managed a slow crawl. Ragnor was starting to believe that he needed a plan of action.

“Ragnor,” the man said huskily. “Ragnor Fell.”

Oh dear, that was awkward.

“Come here,” the man beckoned.

Ragnor did not move. It could be seen as heartless, from an observer's perspective, but Ragnor would ask that person to consider the fact that he did not step back. He simply waited until more details were in his possession.

“I don’t think I'll survive this one. So you need to help. You’re a helpful person, right? Yeah.” The man coughed and continued crawling. “I need your Warlock’s Oath that if I die, you won’t look in the—” he interrupted himself and grimaced. He took a deep breath, then winced, and took a shallower one. “That you won’t look at the object in the bag, you won’t let anyone look at it, and I will be buried with it. In the bag. The object, I mean. Should be in the bag.”

“Why would I do that?” Ragnor inquired, politely interested.

The man almost finished crawling, closing the distance between them. He had dried blood on the side of his face, a wound next to an elbow, and demon venom was visible by the dark lines crisscrossing his collar bone. He was oddly dressed. 

“I can pay for that. And for you attempting to heal me,” the man said. “But I need the Oath, that’s more important.”

“Why would I not take whatever it is you have as payment, and leave you here?”

And of course, that was when the Shadowhunter leaped to his feet and held a blade to Ragnor's throat. Ragnor could curse himself. He had forgotten who the man was, and he had made ungenerous assumptions based on his appearance about his skill level. Which he clearly should not have done, seeing as the man could obviously withstand a great amount of pain to be moving his finger, not to mention leaping to his feet, and withdrawing the blade only to keep it steady at Ragnor’s throat. Or maybe what was in the satchel was worth it. And right there came the frightening thought: it was possible for both to be right. It then occurred to Ragnor that he emphatically did not want to know what the object was.

“You’re an honest person,” the man had the gall to say.

“And the blade?”

Something glimmered in the man's bright eyes. “I thought we weren’t mentioning it.”

Ragnor frowned. He would like this type of humor on anybody, but more than that, it was the sort that came with familiarity. And the Shadowhunter knew his name, even though Ragnor had not met him before. Hm, very vexing.

“How do you know my name?”

“We have a mutual friend. The Oath, Ragnor.”

“How do I know you can pay?”

The man reached the other hand in his shirt and took out a chain with a beautiful sapphire set in a silver frame and a ring. “I’ve got it on good authority that the stone could buy a townhouse.”

It was indeed massive.

“Fine. I shall say then: I swear upon my magic, that I shall not look at the object in your satchel, nor allow anyone to look at it. In the event of your de—wait a minute! That ring belongs to my friend.”

Ragnor frowned and paid more attention to it. The fede with an empty heart on the other side was exactly like Magnus’ ring. He never took it off, refused to say where he got it from, or its significance. But Ragnor was able to recognize the ring because it had once a gem as the heart, but it had since been long gone, and when he offered to have it replaced, Magnus said he preferred it this way.

“He would never take it off,” Ragnor accused.

The Shadowhunter gripped the ring protectively, his fingers curled around it as if the shield it from Ragnor’s eyes. “Magnus gave it to me, and I'll prove it once I have your Oath,” he insisted.

“You are from the future,” Ragnor proclaimed.

With a final effort, the man glared and tightened his hold on the knife. “Your oath.”

“Fine, fine, fine. I swear upon my magic, that I shall not look at the object in your satchel, nor allow anyone to look at it. In the event of your death, you will be buried with it, in your satchel, or any other way I can find that does not include me, or another person, seeing the object.”

The man smiled slightly, and oh what a difference did it make. He was handsome, even under all the blood, and smiling made him more so. But his strength was almost depleted, and his legs folded under his weight. “I am from the future,” he confirmed. “And—when am I?”

“1884, Clapham, London,” Ragnor fired back rapidly.

“So Camille is… was?” The Shadowhunter blinked faster, probably to keep himself awake. “Magnus gave me th—”

And that was it. The man had fainted. It was expected, but suddenly Ragnor realized that he had Magnus’ future bleeding out in front of him. Because he did believe the man. An object would, in theory, only work as a stable point in time if it was given willingly and with affection. Ragnor only hoped it wasn’t too late. He kneeled, and started healing.