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It was five AM when he came to terms with the fact that he wasn't going to fall back asleep. Silveus got dressed, got ready for the day, and still had a few hours before anything was supposed to happen. He wandered his room. What was he supposed to do?
When Logan was alive, they would've cuddled until he fell back asleep. Afterwards, at least he had the whole house to wander. He could go to his studio and paint, or go for a walk, or go make himself an early breakfast. Here, he felt so trapped. If he left his room, he was subjected to the expectations of Logan's family.
They were kind, and they tried to be accommodating, but he felt the pressures on his shoulders every time they looked at him. He was only wanted if he came into his powers and decided to have magic like them. But he hadn't hardly seen them use magic, and all he knew of it aside from that was that because of magic, his house was uninhabitable. It didn't exactly make magic sound great to him.
Besides, it wasn't like they owed him anything. It made him uncomfortable to receive their charity, that was the long and short of it.
He'd had to quit all his jobs. He couldn't afford to make the hours-long commute. At some point, they'd brought his car over, and he'd started looking for new jobs, but honestly? It was effort he didn't feel like making, most days. He felt stuck between his lack of motivation and his desire to support himself, and it left him feeling useless.
[i Maybe I can do that,] he decided. He had a few hours, why not?
Mid-search, someone knocked at his door. He glanced over. Faustus. His least favorite. He had half a mind to stay silent and let the man keep knocking. Silveus stared at the door, summoning the desire to face Faustus, then, with a deep sigh, strode over and pulled it open. "Can I help you?" he asked. He couldn't hide the tired note in his voice. He was running on empty, and Faustus took more effort to deal with than most people. If the man didn't need him, he'd rather be left alone.
[center It certainly was. Gorgeous. The picture of perfection. Made you wonder how someone could leave such an ideal life behind, didn’t it? But then, that would have been assuming so much about Logan that wasn’t true. He had never been the superficial sort. He was 99% heart, 1% trickers. Well, okay, those figures were off, but the simple truth had been that he’d chosen his life with Silveus happily.
For that, certain... things... had followed. Unavoidable, regrettable things. Something Faustus wouldn’t bring up for fear of destroying lives, no matter how severely the truth burned in his mind.
Silveus’ art had been transported somewhere safe and the seal had been broken on the house. Unfortunately, that meant the house had begun to rot, but what could be done about that? The seal couldn’t remain, and without the seal, any old thing could wander in. Talk about a haunted house. These creatures just loved to leech off of magick.
Arrangements had been made for Silveus to meet officially with the coven, but before then, Faustus was expected to debrief him. Ever so much the pleasure for him, of course. He just loved pursuing little, angry men who clearly cling to resentment for him.
But he was an adult. This was simply duty. There would be nothing to worry about. After all, it wasn’t as though he’d really done anything to him.
...okay, so he’d let him get fucked up a little by a trapping circle, big deal. He was fine, he’d been healed, and if he really clung to any resentment regarding that, then that was his problem.
Inhaling deeply, he raised his knuckles to knock thrice at his door, already dressed and fully prepared for the day. Well, prepared depending upon how this conversation went. If things went south, then this was pretty much over. Which, he guessed wouldn’t be so bad.
Silveus seemed adamant from the moment he’d arrived to get away from them. Despite how well received he had been by the family, and despite how little there would be to go back to in that house where Logan no longer dwelled.
“Silveus—you’re not still asleep, are you?” Even if he had been, it wouldn’t be for long. They had a long day ahead of them, potentially, and he wasn’t about to waste a second. Besides, he was eager to learn this man’s true intentions. If he did stay, to what end? Did he even care for Logan’s family? Did he even care to be one of them?]
Faustus, huh? He repressed the urge to grimace. Now was not the time. His resentment towards Faustus was something they could work out another day. If they could. Though the thought of having Faustus as his main source of information was worrying. His eyes flicked to the side, to the gormless, clueless Bastion. He could always ask him afterwards. Faustus liked to laugh at his suffering, but Bastion was much less of a sadist.
He looked up when the matriarch pressed him for more information. He'd rather fade into the background and vanish, but it seemed like he wouldn't be given the chance. "It's coming along fine," he lied. Since Logan's death, he hadn't been able to paint the way he used to. There was no joy in the task, just catharsis, anger, resentment, and when he came out on the other side, he couldn't recognize it as his own work. The series he'd been working on before Logan's death, the landscapes and portraits, was unfinished, and would remain unfinished, maybe forever. There was no more sunshine in his soul to share with the canvas. Instead, everything came out dark and twisted.
"This house is gorgeous, I must say," he returned, deflecting the conversation. It was always polite to compliment the host, but this time, it was easy. Her house really was quite beautiful. "I've never seen anything like it. Are these all antiques?" he asked, gesturing at the decor. She had an eye for quality, if so. They were incredible pieces, from the solid wood dining table to the chandelier overhead. And they went together so beautifully. It looked as though she'd purchased them all together.
[center It was so tiring. He could sense the bitterness rolling off of this guy. If he resented them so much, why eat with them? It seemed as though there was no pleasing him. What had Logan ever seen in him, exactly? Faustus found himself hoping this was him in mourning, because if this was his true nature, then perhaps his brother had been blind all along. That thought was something that did not settle well with him, given that Logan wasn't a fool.
However, he [i was] a bleeding heart. Honest to a fault. Kind beyond his means sometimes. That was the sort of man he'd always been. To think that his judgment could have been so skewed... that hurt.
Which made him wonder what this man had against them all. It was all too evident he despised being here already. They would have to explain to him, still, the real reason for his being brought here, but Faustus wondered if that wouldn't be better done tomorrow when they all got some proper rest.
Their mother, ever wearing a fond smile, as an image as she took in Silveus' words. Her fiery waves cascaded like silk, pinned up on just the one side. She looked like what every femme fatale might-- resplendent, youthful, probably bathed in the tears of men. Except, she was actually rather kind.
"Well, it's certainly a comfort to have you here. You're much safer with us. Faustus will further explain why soon enough."
Thanks, Mum. Just what he needed. More time spent with the half-blood. The ungrateful half-blood, at that. Okay, okay, no. He couldn't be biased. It wasn't his fault. Maybe they could find a solution to all of this that would make them all happy.
Like... well, he didn't exactly have any ideas yet, but he would... soon. He hoped. It was that or they'd simply have no choice but to return Silveus to his life...or what was left of it. What was to happen would have happened regardless of their interference. Except... he'd probably be dead or something.
Definitely not an acceptable outcome, he mused.
"How has your art been coming along?" She queried, eyes alight with interest.
Silveus narrowed his eyes half an inch at Faustus. [i Good to know it's not just his personality,] he thought, mildly annoyed. Nope, he actively hated Silveus, huh? Nothing he could do about that.
Food platters drifted before his face, threatening to spill gravy or sauce on him and the table alike. He leaned back in his chair. His clothes were already wrinkled, they didn't need food stains on them, too. "Yes, please, a little of everything," he said quietly. It all looked delicious, from the gleaming duck to the platters piled with vegetables. His thoughts flicked to the leftovers rotting away in the fridge. Was he taking Logan's place at the table, eating his share?
"Or, no, I'll just take--that's enough," he said. There wasn't much on his plate, but he didn't have an appetite anymore. "Thank you, Bastion."
[i Like he would let me bring a cat,] he thought angrily, shooting the cat a short glare. Only the essentials for him, but Faustus could casually pick up a new pet, huh? It still stung, that one.
He turned at the mother's greeting. It was hard to think of her as a mother, let alone his mother-in-law. She was gorgeous, young, and barely a day over Logan's age, let alone Faustus'. [i Magic, I suppose?] he wondered. [i How old is she really?] It would be rude to ask. Maybe he'd bring it up with Bastion at some point.
"The traffic was clear, so the drive itself wasn't bad," he said demurely. "I'm used to traveling, it doesn't bother me."
If traveling bothered him, he'd never be able to exhibit his art. Not in the tiny town he and Logan had settled in. He didn't mind it--hadn't minded it.
"Thank you for having me," he added after a beat, nodding in her direction. He still wasn't sure he wanted to stay. Apparently the whole family lived in this mansion, if they could all have dinner together; well, it certainly was large enough. He was an outsider, an unattractive little smudge among all these lively, beautiful faces. He didn't belong. Neither did he want to belong. He'd gone his whole life supporting himself, so why stop now? If he stayed, it would be temporary. Long enough to get this magic stuff figured out, and no longer.
Silveus picked at his food and tried to fade out of the picture. He was so terribly inadequate compared to all these supermodels. Why had Logan picked him in the first place, if all the other magic-users were so gorgeous? He didn't understand. He hadn't understood in the first place, with Logan being so terribly out of his league, but it had been a little easier to swallow before he'd known that Logan apparently had lived his whole life within arms' reach of a dozen beauties. Sure, most of them were related to him, but if all mages were like this, why bother with a scrummy little mortal like him?
[center The room had quieted significantly, just murmurs amongst the family as Silveus took his seat near Bastion. Their mother sat at the head, hardly looking like a mother at all. But then, immortality did that. She smiled at him, studying him carefully from her place beside Faustus. He was the complete opposite, chatting with Angeleau, a smile actually on his lips. So different from the portrait of cold distance he had been before.
“Everyone, you recognise Silveus...? Logan’s husband.” Now widow, but she didn’t make a point of saying as much.
There were quiet greetings and smiles, even a few names here and there. Each brother actually made the effort to name themselves for reference—as did the two sisters. There were other coven members there with their children—cousins, a couple of aunts and uncles. No grand children, though, for the main family. That generation was yet to come.
“Please welcome him warmly.”
Faustus cast a glance at his mother, smiling to himself. Good luck to the lot of them with that. Faustus wondered now if it would fall to him as the oldest to teach him the ways. He suspected his mother would ask. She was never the sort to enforce her position as the head of the coven unless it was a dire circumstance, but he could feel the question burning in her.
He wasn’t sure he would deny her, but he would certainly need some time to think about it. Perhaps he would decide after seeing how Silveus settled in.
“Faustus, after dinner, a word?”
Plates and platters were passed to and fro. Angeleau And Bastion were apparently the ones responsible for feeding the new addition, so they asked him to point out what interested him.
“Watch where you levitate, Angel—“
“Speak for yourself. Yours looks like it’s about to start a chorus.”
“Shut up.” Bastion ‘accidentally’ spilled a green bean on his face. “Having any, Silveus? There are carrots, potatoes, uhh, asparagus... that looks like mushrooms there.”
He could feel Faustus watching them, mostly with curiosity.
“Who is this new friend? Does he belong to Silveus?” Their mother queried, noting the cat, now collared and clean.
“No, just another new addition. He’s been purged of all impurities, so he’s quite healthy now.”
“Lovely. Silveus, how was your trip here? Hopefully not too unbearable? The drive can be dreadful sometimes.”
He sat carefully on the bed, almost afraid to disturb the covers. It didn't feel like it belonged to him. Then again, it didn't. His house was a long drive away, with most of his belongings. His whole life, miles and miles away. Gone. It was like the world was tearing every last piece of Logan away from him. First the man himself. Then his house, and everything they'd built together. What next? What was there left to take?
On the other hand... he wasn't spending every second reminded of how Logan wasn't there. He could sit here and not wonder if he was erasing the shape of Logan's body in the bed. He could look around the room and not be reminded of their vacation trips or Logan's favorite artists. It was--it was refreshing. A weight lifted off his shoulders.
A soft voice startled him awake. He sat up from the bed and wiped his face. [i Ugh.] He rubbed his eyes. [i I fell asleep?] Dinner. Right. Silveus stood, then stopped. Did he want to go down there? Face everyone? If they were like Bastion, it wouldn't be too bad. But... he imagined a room full of Faustuses and grimaced. No thank you.
It was weird. This whole scenario was weird. They'd kind of skipped the whole family-introduction bit of the relationship, so it'd be his first time meeting most of Logan's siblings. He wiped a hand down his face. Did he want to? He didn't really feel like a part of their family. His only link to them was dead. [i What even is a family,] he found himself wondering. What did it mean? Christmasses and birthdays and all that?
He didn't want to be taken care of. Didn't need it. He was too damn old to be living at anyone's parents' house. He had a job. Jobs. Was kind of making it as an artist. He didn't need-- but then there was magic. And he didn't know the first thing about that. [i At the very least, I need to learn more about that,] he decided. The first step, then, was meeting everyone. He steeled himself with a deep breath and walked out the door.
The table was huge, and the family filled it. [i The hell,] he thought, scanning the room. How many kids did they have? So much food, too. [i Do they have a private chef or something?]
He'd wanted to slide into the crowd unnoticed, but he felt everyone's eyes on him as he approached the table. Casting his own eyes down, he took the empty seat by Bastion, far away from Faustus.
"Good evening," he announced himself softly, not wanting to attract attention.
Everyone at the table looked so beautiful. Logan had been but a sample of what this family's genetics had to offer, clearly; there wasn't a lemon in the bunch. [i I wonder what they think of me.] He caught a glimpse in the polished silver plate set before him. Clothes rumpled from the ride here, his hair slightly askew from his nap and singed besides, complexion pale from spending too much time indoors, dark bags under his eyes from sleepless nights, the narrow face and the spidery fingers. He didn't look the part of the harlot who'd stolen their brother, as he had no doubt Faustus saw him, nor did he look like an upright, honest, sweet man who could nurture and care for Logan. [i More like the indy slum freak your kid dates on a whim, the one where no one can understand what the kid sees him him. The one his parents hope he doesn't end up with,] he thought. No wonder Faustus hated him.
He watched Bastion from the corner of his eye, waiting for the man to make the first move. Should he introduce himself? Was it alright to eat? How did they handle passing dishes around? Were they going to eat in courses, like this kind of extravagant spread seemed to demand? [i Maybe I should've just stayed in my room.]
[center “That’s fair,” Bastion concedes, taking him to what may or may not have been his room. It was as you would expect a room in this house to be. Decadent but welcoming. Meant to be lived in but never lacking in appearance. He set the luggage atop a coffer that footed the queen-sized bed and turned to exit the room. “See you at dinner, hopefully. It’s in a couple hours or so.”
And then he was gone, disappearing about the doorway a moment later and shutting the door behind him once Silveus was inside. He deserved his privacy, after all.
About the house, there was movement, voices rising and falling, fading or growing. It wasn’t so very long before they began to gather in the same place, summoned by the chime of the clock that announced dinner.
It was always a spread, but it kind of had to be for a gaggle of witches and warlocks. One ridiculously large table full of goodies for their consumption with at least a few dishes as entrees.
There came a soft knock at Silveus’ door and a soft voice announced that dinner would commence shortly. He was welcome of course, and despite the fact that it may have seemed unnecessary to say, it was stated nevertheless.
Faustus, Bastion, Danté, Angeleau, Krista, Juno— so many faces gathered about their table. They arrived in pairs or alone, taking seats for themselves where comfortable. Faustus kept to the far end of the table betwixt his mother and Angeleau, and Bastion had saved a seat for Silveus in the event he elected to join them.
“How is our guest doing?”
“Truthfully? As miserable as expected. Poor chap.” Bastion murmured sympathetically.
“I hope he does join us.” Esmé, their mother glanced curiously at Faustus. “You seem rather button-lipped about his arrival.”
In return, he offered her a humourless smile and no more. “Never mind it. Just tired.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Mm, I’m sure.”
“Quite the spread. Duck, roast, fish?”
“Options, we know not how he eats. There are plenty of vegetables as well if for some reason he is against the consumption of animals.”
“Thoughtful.” Angeleau remarked, dutifully filling a couple of decanters for the table.
Back to his house? He was allowed to go back? He raised his eyebrows. "I was under the impression that Faustus was going to burn it down," he muttered. He could just go back home. A small part of him unwound. They weren't going to destroy his house and everything he and Logan had built together. Everything was okay. He could go home.
He breathed out. "I think we're both pretty upset," Silveus sighed. Their tempers were both flaring. It made them a volatile pair. Gasoline and fire. Though Faustus could have been a little less of an ass. Just a little.
The house was gorgeous. He took it in as they passed. It was a Victorian manor, but glowing and spotless. A Victorian manor straight from the age itself, without a day to wear on its sheen.
"I appreciate it," he murmured, following the redhead through the halls. He needed a minute to compose himself. Think of his next move and consider what he wanted to do.
He sighed. Silveus met Bastion's eyes and shook his head. "It's been a hell of a day," he confessed. "I was ordered to come here, told magic was real, told my house was going to be destroyed... I need a minute. An hour." Time to think and process. Figure out what he wanted. "Please, show me to my room and just--give me a moment." He gave Bastion a small, tired smile. It had been a long day. He needed to gather himself. Think.
[center “Haven’t seen you since... uhh, well, since the you know what, but before that, when Logan was dragging you away from your wedding reception.” Bastion started up the steps with his luggage in hand, pausing to acknowledge his question of the room. “No, that’s actually my room, thank you. If anybody gets the view, that’ll be me. Sadly, you get a nice cushy room in the less treacherous part of the manor, so I guess I should apologise for disappointing you.”
Faustus had disappeared, to go and inform their mother of Silveus’ arrival no doubt. And of course, Bastion was now charged with showing Silveus to his room.
“You do know we aren’t your prison guards, right? If you want to go, you’re free to go. Faustus or one of us can simply bring you back to your home and leave you be. We don’t own you.”
Bastion was sure to emphasise the last part. Unlike Faustus, he was definitely a lot more open with his affect, so his thoughtful expression would have been easy to pick up on as he considered his brother’s disposition.
“I’ll be frank with you... he and Logan were close. Thick as thieves, never a day went by that they weren’t in contact. He’s pretty upset about his passing, so if he seems kind of rough, please try not to take it personally. I told him as much before he left about you. Obviously he wasn’t as... nice as I thought he’d try to be. But I don’t want you to take it as you ever being a bother. You’re really not.”
He crossed into the foyer, with its high ceiling, grand double-split stairwell, chandelier, and pretty much everything you’d expect the manor of a coven to look like. Expensive and... antique. Minus the signs of aging.
“If you’ll just follow me up this way... I’m sure our mum is dying to come and see you, but we convinced her to give you some time to yourself. You’ll see her at dinner should you decide to stay.”
Bastion turned to face Silveus suddenly. “Seriously. It’s optional. Tell me what you’d like to do. Because that’s really going to suck if I bring this all the way upstairs and you change your mind like... five minutes from now.” He let a wry smile touch the corners of his lips, and it was genuine at that.]
It was a long drive, but it passed in silence. Silveus stared out the window as if he was memorizing the route home. Part of him was. He hadn't failed to notice that he was not given the choice to drive there himself, in his own car. His means of transportation had been taken away. He still had his money for now, but who knew how long it would take before they took that as well. They were certainly ripping him away from his jobs, which meant he had no stream of income.
He hadn't failed to notice that Faustus had made no reply to his earlier comment. [i So that's how it's going to be,] he noted. A medieval bride, beholden to her in-laws until she found a new husband. It wasn't the way he'd wanted to spend his life. [i It's only temporary,] he reminded himself. Once he figured out this whole magic nonsense, he was going to vanish.
Out of the car, Silveus stretched. The cat followed docilely behind Faustus, and he watched it go with narrowed eyes. Was that supposed to be him? A cute new pet? Hardly. He wasn't helpless.
He turned his attention to the redhead. "I'm sure he was as kind as he could be," he said dryly, glancing after Faustus's retreating back. He turned his eyes back to Bastion at the man's greeting and nodded. "Nice to see you again, as well." He vaguely remembered seeing the man at one of those events. Maybe he'd attended the wedding. He certainly didn't remember seeing Faustus at the wedding.
"Don't tell me, it's going to be a tower room with a door that locks from the outside?" he quipped with a straight face.
He shook his head. "I don't expect to be bothering you for long."
Silveus watched Bastion's face as he spoke, checking for his reaction. The man looked like an open book, especially compared to Faustus. Depending on his expression, he could figure out what the family wanted from him. "Faustus didn't tell me much," he confessed. "Just that I was supposed to come with him." Which wasn't much at all. Meaningless, really, but then again, that did seem to be Faustus's MO: giving him no information, then laughing when he made a mistake.
[center Faustus resisted saying anything further. In fact, he didn’t say anything at all. The luggage went into the car, a message went out to his remaining brothers, and he tucked the cat away in the back seat. He was sure their friend would behave for the trip. He appeared to have taken to them already. He’d have to be given a proper name and collar once they arrived back at the estate, though.
And as for Silveus... well, that was another matter unto itself. He wasn’t sure what the rest of the family would make of the man, but he had at least drawn a few conclusions about how well they could get on. There was little hope for that bridge thus far, but who knew. It felt so odd to think that Logan had been married to him, but there was a good chance this was mostly grief and he was just lashing out. So he told himself, anyway.
Once they were in the car, he’d turned over the engine and drove off without hesitation. Not even a glance backward as the home Silveus once knew was left behind—abandoned. He had a new home that would accommodate him. One that wouldn’t wither and consume him as collateral, and that counted for something.
The trip they had to make was long—taking them through every manner of scenery, from urban to pastoral, to thick woodland and back again. They had just passed a sign for their destination when Faustus slowed to a regular speed, navigating the roads of a town. It looked nice, actually. Like the kind of place you’d want to raise a family in. Diners, bookstores, record shops, roller rink, et cetera. A lot of old architecture but plenty of trees and greenery.
He took them farther beyond, past the church, mills, a large farm, and even farther back until the estate came into view. Looming, beautiful, glowing from within. The hours of the day had slipped by in the time it had taken to get here, and truthfully, Faustus was relieved to see it at last.
He threw his car in park, stepped out, and rounded the car to greet the figure that had emerged from the house.
“Brother— you return, hopefully with our in-law in tow?” A kind face peeked about Faustus’ form. “Silveus, was he kind to you?”
Faustus cleared his throat. “Would you mind fetching his bag? I want to go and see mother.”
“Surely.” Offered the new face, fetching Silveus’ luggage from the boot. He also freed their furry friend, who was happy to trail after his new master into the house.
“Hi, there. I’m Bastion. Nice to see you again.” He offered, drawing open his door for him. A figure was lurking near the doorway, chatting briefly with Faustus on his way in. One of their sisters. He had handed off the album he’d taken with him to her and she’d disappeared from sight.
“Shall we go and get you settled?” Offered Bastion, a redhead, amusingly enough. The bright red was such a contrast to Faustus’ feathery locks. ]
The canvas was torn from his hands. He stared up. "Don't step on my art," he muttered. He glanced down at his gear. Did he have enough? "Yes," he said. He stood, cradling his supplies in his arms.
He was already sick of Faustus's high-handed nature. Oh, was he supposed to just believe he had magic? Was he so wrong for being suspicious? He hadn't survived this far in his life by taking everything strangers told him at face value. Especially not something so fantastic. Since he'd been stuck in the circle, it felt like Faustus had been laughing at him non-stop.
He made a face. [i No wonder Logan wasn't close with his family.] His brother was [i nothing] like him. Hopefully this wasn't a sign of how the rest of them would be.
[i With my luck,] he thought, shaking his head. What a month. His husband died, then he got kidnapped by his in-laws. His haughty, annoying in-laws.
"Make sure you don't miss a single one," he said, a slightly haughty note in his voice. That was his hard-earned money on those canvases, and his income. He couldn't afford to lose any of them.
As they left, Silveus took in the house for one last time. This would be his last time in the entrance hall. His last time past the kitchen, or the salon. The urge to sweep up the salt struck him, but he resisted the urge. There was no point. He could already tell that he wasn't coming back.
He shoved the gear into a bag and headed out the door. He grabbed a pair of sneakers on the way out to pair with his loafers in case they'd be doing physical work of some sort. Faustus hadn't told him what they'd be doing or where he'd be going, so he figured it was best to be ready for anything.
"I feel like a medieval bride," he commented dryly. His husband had died, so the family swooped in to rescue the poor damsel in distress who couldn't possibly support herself on her own. It made this whole situation more annoying. He [i could] support himself. He [i had been] supporting himself. He didn't need them to spirit him away like this. He didn't have a say in it at all, and it was pissing him off.
Faustus gently swiped a hand over the palms to heel them, doing the same briefly with the injured part of Silveus’ head before he’d hurried off to fetch his things. Patiently awaiting his return, he accepted the case and set it down, spiriting it away to the car. Like hell he would play the roll of bellhop.
Instead, he busied himself with the feline, exploring the lower level of their home. Silveus was clearly territorial, angry... though something told him that was likely just his disposition. Perhaps it couldn’t be helped for the time being. He had a right to his grief.
Still, Faustus could already spot bad habit they would certainly have to deal with. Like for one, acting as he pleased without consequence. That wouldn’t go over well with certain elders. Especially when it came to unbinding his magick completely. Perhaps baby steps were in order. Until he could be trusted with his temper.
He and their new feline friend perked up in the same moment, Faustus turning to follow the sound that was suddenly pricking at his ears. He took the same path Silveus had taken, suspicion tickling at his palms.
“No. Leave it.” A boot had already firmly drawn it away, allowing it to flatten against the floor once more. “Don’t touch it. Have you all that you need?” Gaze wandering from canvas to canvas, he didn’t even so much as grace Silveus with further eye contact.
It was best they left. This place was growing more rancid by the second. Perhaps his charge wouldn’t have been so skeptical, either, if he could see what he’d seen.
He would have to take a look once Silveus was out of range. Perhaps he would have the brothers come and fetch it up as well.
“Your art will be taken care of. My brother’s will come and safely transport it back for you.” And the seal Logan had buried in the hearth. No need to leave such a thing alive in his absence. The house already reeked of suffering.
His first instinct was to hide his hands. He glared up at the man, eyes narrowed. Trapped in, told nothing about the circle burning him, what a great first impression. After a second, he reluctantly showed the man his palms. As little as he liked this man, his hands were the tools of his trade. He couldn't afford to damage them like this. "I'm an artist," he snapped. "Tell me if my hands are in danger!"
Pack only what he needed. Shit, right. He had promised to go along if he had magic. But... Leave the home behind? The home he and Logan had built together?
Take only what he needed, but Faustus was taking the cat? That seemed fair. He rubbed his forehead in irritation, then swallowed it. It would be fine. He'd figure everything out.
He stood. Only what he needed. A quick scan of this room turned up nothing that called to him too strongly, so he headed upstairs, to the bedroom. On the stairs, he turned back. "Wait here," he commanded Faustus. He didn't want the man seeing his bedroom, for one, and for a second, he didn't need any more rooms to get filled with salt. One was quite enough, thanks.
Packing the essentials was easy. He filled up his luggage, the small size that would fit in an airplane's overhead carryon box. Then he paused. He might never come back. What else?
His eyes strayed to Logan's night table. The reading glasses, the half-finished book, the empty glass. It wasn't essential, none of it was. But he was leaving this house behind. He wanted to take something with him. Something of Logan's.
He slid the nightstand open. There was a bracelet tucked into the drawer, among the sundry items of their daily lives. He pulled it out, considered the thin golden links, the strange knot at the center, then linked it around his wrist. There. Now he'd always have Logan with him.
He rushed downstairs, carrying the luggage. "Here, put this in your car," he ordered, pushing it off onto Faustus. "I'm going to the studio, I need to bring my supplies."
Before Faustus could say anything, he ran off into the house. Shadows flickered around him as he ran, the lights too weak to banish the darkness.
The studio was in the back of the house. An annex to the original house, it was painted white from top to bottom and had plenty of windows. The once pristine white was now splattered with paint; the windows were grimy from neglect. He hurried past the paintings, picking up brushes and paints as he went. Slowly, he wandered deeper into the room, past the landscapes and portraits, deeper into the abstract works.
Stepping forward to grab a set of acrylics, he stepped in something wet. He glanced down. Red. Red like blood. Was it--
He dipped his fingers into the substance and sniffed it. No, just red paint. Had he knocked over a bucket? He looked around, searching for a source.
The tipped over painting seeped paint into the floor. He blinked and approached it slowly. What? Why was it bleeding like that? The paint should be long dry. Slowly, Silveus approached the painting. He put his hand on the frame and lifted it upward.
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