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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.
[center The look Faustus had on his face in that moment was worth a million words. And yet, he spoke not one of them. He had to choose carefully how to approach this next. Well, for one, he’d have to heal him once he got him out of that circle. Which, by the way, the temptation of leaving him within was almost too great.
Perhaps it was his lack of patience when it came to mortal beliefs. He had to work on that. At the very least, not act on it.
Stepping forward, he cast the toe of his boot through the border, smudging it away and one of the trapping symbols along with it.
He crouched before Silveus, palm extended. “Let me see your hands.”
There would be more time for answers as they went. “I highly suggest packing only what you believe you will need for now. My brothers can fetch anything else of importance before this structure succumbs later on.”
If he were younger and less restrained, he might not have been above floating in that moment, but spoiling in another’s pain wasn’t really his style when he wasn’t seeking vengeance. After all, Silveus was his charge now, it seemed.
“I guess you can consider this lesson number one. Don’t fuck with a trapping circle. You’ll always get burned in the end if it’s done right. Also, we’ll take this fellow with us.” He indicated the cat.
“He was kind enough to help me, so I will offer him a home in return. Which is the second lesson of the day. Expect nothing without cost. Plus, he’s pretty damned cute.”
Cuter than this uppity half-blood, anyway. Logan must’ve had his hands full with this one, considering his fiery disposition. Fates help him if this was what he had to expect going forward. Some real talk was very much in their future. Especially considering where they were going, there were rules.
Ugh, and then there was his heritage to consider. They would certainly have to explore that further given that he would have to officially become part of the coven at some point. Before that ceremony, there would be much preparation ahead to look forward to.
He couldn’t imagine how he must’ve been feeling. To not know something like this about yourself, in the wake of possibly the worst tragedy of one’s life? Definitely got the rough end. What had [i he] done in his past life.
Okay. The cat walked out of the circle. He cocked an eyebrow at Faustus. Right, so he was supposed to stand in there, and then... what? Get trapped? Sure, sure. It was just salt, after all. He'd watched his brother-in-law lay it down right before his eyes. There was nothing magic about it at all.
"Well, if I do have magic, then of course I'd want to go with you," he said. He was a logical man. If he had magic, then he needed help figuring out how to use it and everything. He didn't, of course. Magic didn't exist. He had never seen a seal anywhere on his body, and Logan had never been anything more than mundane. A wonderful man, yes, the perfect husband, but magical? Hardly.
Silveus eyed the salt. He knelt down and touched it, lifting the particles to his nose. It was salt, for sure. Ordinary table salt. [i This is ridiculous.] He shouldn't even go through this test. The whole setup was absurd.
[i If I do this, he'll go away and leave me alone forever,] he told himself. He took a deep breath and stepped over the border of the salt.
It didn't feel like anything. Any more than stepping over a line of salt ever felt like anything. He shrugged, making eye contact with Faustus. [i See? No problem,] he thought. He stepped over the salt on the other side.
His toe stubbed on something. He continued forward, carried by his momentum, and smashed into a wall face-first.
Silveus pushed himself up on the wall, confused. There was nothing under his hands. Something was burning, too. It smelled awful. He glanced down. His hands--his hands were... smoking?
Suddenly, it felt like he'd touched a hot stove. He yanked his hands away and stepped back, shaking them. "What the hell?" he asked. There was no wall. He saw nothing. He backed away. His heel hit against a wall. He fell back and smelled his hair burn as his head smashed into the circle. Silveus yanked his head forward and pitched forward into a crouch, curled up in the center of the circle. What fresh hell was this?
"What did you do?" he demanded, glaring at Faustus. It couldn't be magic. ...Could it?
[center This was ridiculous. Having to resort to such measures. “This cat...” he began, petting the fur of the small creature. “Though it can serve as a familiar, would not be trapped by something like this.” He indicated the circle he had formed on the salon floor, expression hinting none whatsoever at his annoyance.
It would have been so much easier if he could simply walk away, but giving it an honest effort would have been better than living with the guilt. If he still opted to rot after this, that was his choice. But he would not desecrate his own honour in the process.
“This is a trapping circle. As you can see,” he explained, setting the feline gently in the circle. “It does not trap anything it isn’t meant to.” He clicked his tongue gently at the young cat, summoning it back.
It hesitated at first before leaving the circle, sauntering back over to curl about his ankles and weave betwixt them.
“The test is simple. If you are a witch... a warlock, then you will stick. If not, then you should be able to step out again. After all, it [i is] just salt, is it not? From your cupboard, no less. Being that you’re so... all knowing, this shouldn’t daunt you in the least.”
He scooped the cat again, affectionately scratching behind its ears. “I’ll wait.”
After all, simple as it may have been, it was effective for simple applications. Even in more complex circumstances, it was a nifty little trick to have up your sleeve in the event you needed a bit of scene setting.
It was apparent in his features suddenly how tired he truly was. Promises could be foolish things, but he was not so selfish that he would abandon this one so easily.
“I will say, no one is forcing you to do this. You however, set the terms willingly, so I hope you are prepared for the possibility you will have to keep your word.”]
Now Faustus was trashing his house. He stood by the countertop with his arms crossed and watched while the man drizzled salt all over the floor. Then he vanished.
Silveus crumpled against the countertop for a minute. He rubbed his temples. Just being around Faustus was exhausting. The exact opposite of his husband. The man was a ball of energy and demands. The first conversation they ever had, and what did he do? Demanded Silveus come live with him, told him he knew nothing about himself or his husband, and told him his house was infested. He wanted to take a break. Take a nap, maybe. Sleep.
A creak from the door warned him of the man's returned. He stood up. Couldn't look weak. Not in front of this grifter, anyways.
A cat. He raised his eyebrows. Why did he have a cat? Where had he even found the poor thing?
Join him in the salon? "Why did you pour salt on the floor here if we're going to...?" he asked, following the man. Not that it mattered. This was all fake anyways. Nothing was going to happen. He'd just have to watch this man wander around flailing until he got tired and went home.
"I am fully prepared," he sighed, leaning against the wall. Prepared to watch this man wave his hands, maybe waft a few smouldering herbs, and nothing to happen. He'd almost believed the man for a second there, but then-- claiming [i he] had magic powers? He scoffed again at how ridiculous it was. He would have [i noticed] that. It had to be part of the grift. Act like the target was special, then, what, teach them nonsense and charge an arm and a leg? Had to be something like that.
At this point, he wasn't even sad anymore. He was just angry. The extent to which this man was trying to fool him was disgusting. And he was supposedly family, too. Showed how important family was.
“Okay, fine.” This was a fair enough request. “I will answer all of your questions if you come with me, about the house, Logan, but if it’s proof you require, then we’ll simply have to do that first.”
And with that, he stepped away from the counter, opening the cabinet to find a jar of salt. When he turned away in the next moment, he offered not a single clue as to what this was about. He made a circle and arranged bits of the salt, letting the grains fall to create symbols.
It took him no more than ten minutes to create, oriental rolled out of the way, and before long, he had ventured out of the house, returning with a stray cat.
“We need this guy for our purposes. Please join me in the salon. I have your test for you.”
It would be nice to put this nonsense aside once and for all. He’d formed a trapping circle, and he knew for a fact that this was the quickest way to prove anything. There were more intense feats he would have to overcome if he chose to go with him, but why frighten the man? Best to leave all of that for later.
“Since you’re so keen on insisting I’m wrong, prepare to be proven wrong.”
Okay, that was a little of his own bias showing. Mortals could be so cocky sometimes. The fact that they truly believed that nothing beyond them existed in this universe was one of the largest crimes of ignorance he had ever witnessed in his entire existence. But it couldn’t be helped. Not all of it, anyway.
He only had to care about one mortal in particular - and he was thankfully only half that.
Silveus rubbed his forehead again. What was this man saying? The shadows were because of Logan? Him? A--what? He frowned at the man. His parents had given him no indication of any of that. "I'm magic. Which part of me? My mother was a librarian and my father was an accountant," he scoffed. There was nothing magical about him or his family. He hadn't gotten a letter on an owl or flown on a broomstick or used a magic wand. This had started ridiculous, and was only getting more so by the second.
The house--"What do you mean, return to the earth?" That didn't make any sense. It was a house, not a living being. What about his stuff? His studio?
"A seal. So what's the point of all this anyways? Even if I am a... magician, I can't do anything, can I? I'm a mere mortal."
Back. To the manor. He stood up and paced the room, agitated. What was this? What on earth was even going on? Back to the manor. Like they were goddamned nobility or something. Non-negotiable. He snorted at that. Ha. HA. Good one, that. Sure, they wanted him to be a part of the family. That's why they'd been so warm and friendly to him until now.
"Safer? I've been fine so far, haven't I?" he challenged Faustus. He crossed his arms and glared at the man. "Lived my whole life a mere mortal, so why stop now?"
He couldn't accept this. He'd lived a normal life with Logan with absolutely no indication of any of this. And now this Faustus guy thought he could come in here and take over his life? He had never seen anything to show that he'd had magic. If he had, then maybe, maybe he'd believe the guy. But if Faustus really expected him to believe that he had magic, with absolutely no evidence, he had another thing coming. Hell, maybe he just wanted their house or something, he didn't know.
He crossed his arms and gave Faustus a challenging glare. "If you can prove that I have magic, I'll come with you." But there was no way the man could do that, was there?
[center “Dont take this the wrong way, Silveus, but my younger brother entrusted you to me in the event something should happen to him, because he knew something about you at the time that I suppose he had assumed you didn’t. You’re only a half-blooded warlock, but a warlock all the same. And yes, those things are here because of Logan. More so the grief he triggered and his lack of presence. There is a likelihood he had binding magick that kept the house and grounds safe. It is no longer in place now that he is gone.”
“Unfortunately, this house will not be here much longer. It will return to the earth, as he did. I will banish the... vermin, of course. But clearly much of him lived in this house.”
It was difficult to accept such a thing about one you’d loved. To accept such a thing about yourself? He wasn’t sure how Silveus would manage as much.
“If I had to guess, any active power you might’ve had was likely bound when you were still a child so that you lived out a mortal existence. Perhaps not immune to all things, but at the very least no freedom to get yourself into trouble. Besides, unchecked magick can drive one mad.”
He had seen it too often before. A youth with no guidance and no control. “I’m here to ask you to come back with me... to the manor, to learn more about the family and... explore what it is to do next. You’re still family, and that’s non-negotiable. When you married Logan, you did marry us, too. We just... respected his wishes. He didn’t want... or, as he put it, couldn’t risk anything.”
Though Faustus was unsure what could have frightened him so much. Perhaps prejudice? Witches could be the vengeful sort, and some were not above scorning a half-blood.
“Of course, no one is going to force you to come back with me. If it’s you’re choice to remain on your own, separate of us, then it is so. But I will say, it is much safer that you do come with me.”
Especially when who knew what else might attempt to prey upon him in his absence. He’d be damned if he let some lowly hell creature feed upon his magick and drain him to the brink of death.
“I can understand why you might refuse, but it is worth considering, at the very least. Regardless, I’m bound to uphold my word, one way or the other.”
A warlock. Ravencraft? What was that, some kind of video game? Their whole family played it? If he thought of it like that--but no, then waht about his house? Vermin?
"The hell are you talking about?" he asked, angry. Vermin. He kept his house clean. Even now he kept it clean. There were no rats or mice. Had Faustus just come here to insult him and his house?
"I said--" The tea? He looked at it, steaming away in the cup. Touched the cup. It was hot. But the kettle wasn't on the stove, nor was the stove on. He turned. The album... how? He'd knocked it over, and he hadn't seen Faustus reach for it. "Sleight of hand," he muttered. No way. How could he get tea leaves into the kettle and heat it by sleight of hand alone? It wasn't possible.
He sat heavily back down, one hand wrapped tightly around his teacup. "So they're here because of him?" he asked. The things. The shadows. The weird phenomenon that kept flitting around the corners of his eyes. He'd been married to a warlock without knowing it. Whatever that meant. Apparently that weird things were going to happen after Logan died, clearly. He rubbed his brow. If he'd known--
No. It wouldn't have changed a thing. Having had Logan in his life was worth such a minor annoyance.
He wasn't sure how much was because of Logan, though. He'd seen things his whole life. Never much. Only from the corner of his eye. Little flickerings in the night. They were worse now, of course. But it wasn't as though they had never been. Even if this man had magic, and it wasn't all a grand sleight of hand, there wasn't anything he could do about all of them. The man had some kind of angle, he knew it. He just had to figure out what.
"What do you want to do, then? Supposing I was to believe you," he said, gesturing vaguely. "What's the next step?" There had to be something this man wanted to do. Something he wanted from Silveus.
[center “No.” Faustus remained ever calm, his gaze even. He knew mortals were prone to skepticism, and he had expected no differently. “And Logan was not a Wiccan, he was a warlock, part of our coven, that of the Rävenkroft, and he lived a mortal life in most recent years, sheltering you from the truth of that which was all around you.”
Narrowing his gaze, Faustus lifted his steaming cup, sipping very calmly at his tea.
“I, too, am a Warlock, but I’m older. And the moment I arrived at this property, several things became apparent to me: one, your home is infested with vermin who had been feeding from your grief, two, you’re cleaely succumbing, and three, this house will soon wither from within. I’m sure they’ve been calling for your attention, playing their games because they know you’re not capable of banishing them.”
It had never been his intention to be so cut and dry, but this one was stubborn, and the only way to make him see reason would be give him facts.
“So if I’m lying to you... who made the tea?” His eyes cut to his, fingers delicately replacing his cup atop the counter. He preferred more subtle measures... extreme instances of magick could be traumatic after all.
“And who picked up the album from the floor?” A subtle head tilt and a glance was offered toward the time that had very nearly replaced itself nearby, not an inch off from where it had been just moments before.
“My brother was a warlock, and as difficult as this may be for you to even begin to accept, I assure you, we have time enough.”
Silveus stared down at the page. Glanced at Faustus. Looked back at the page. His heart panged. That was undoubtedly Logan. Young. Handsome. So terribly alive. His eyes at last travelled to the other people in the photo. Faustus, too, he could recognize him as well. What, had they gone to one of those nice photo places where they could dress up? Faustus flipped the page. Another. A different outfit. A different style of photo. Was this some elaborate prank? He wasn't laughing. It wasn't funny.
His expression tightened by a hair as Faustus continued. How long was this joke going to go on? Didn't he know how painful he was being? Even the most tasteless joke had to stop sometime.
Coven. "You're--he was Wiccan?" he asked. Logan had never seemed particularly religious, regardless of what religion they were talking about.
At the next line, Silveus stood up. The teacup rattled on the countertop with the force of him standing. He swept the album off the countertop. "Get out," he demanded, glaring at this stranger in his house. So that was what this was. A long wind-up to a grift. And those photos, they must be elaborate photoshops. There was nothing more disgusting than those fake psychics and exorcists who preyed on people's grief. He was grieving, but he wasn't stupid. He wasn't prey. He wasn't going to piss away Logan's money on some stupid services he didn't need. Ghosts weren't real. Psychics were just grifters. Family or not, he wasn't going to fall for this man's ploy.
The shadows darkened behind him. Strange shapes twisted in the corners of his eyes. But it was all in his head. If he needed anything, it was a psychiatrist, not a psychic. And he didn't need even that. He was strong. He could handle it. Though he struggled, he would survive.
[center As it should have been, he supposed. Something about the way Silveus conveyed this information told him Logan must have been pretty button-lipped and hard line about it. Fair enough. Didn’t exactly make for easy transitioning for the rest of them, though, did it?
“This, is our family album.” He explained, sliding it across, now unwrapped but still resting atop the cloth. It was a beautiful time, bound in leather... the works, pretty much.
“There’s a lot you don’t know about this side of the family, obviously, but I’ll start with the album.” Reaching across, he flipped to the first page with he and Logan on it, something so mundane. It felt odd to use his hands for this.
“This is Logan and I when we were children.” He explained. “This is our mother... you’ll certainly meet her at some point again. “Cousins, family friends.”
All wrapped in decadence it seemed. They looked like they belonged to one of those fantastical TV families who lived in a gothic manor and spent their evenings plotting murder. And every one of them was beautiful, Logan included, ever the mischievous glint in his eye.
“You see,” Faustus began. “We are not your ordinary family. This is why we stayed away. Logan desired it, and for practical reasons he did not closely embrace you.” He went on, straightening a bit.
“This is our coven.” He explained, flipping to the next page. “The leader of our coven is here... this is his wife, their children, Logan, myself, our two other brothers, our sisters, one of their companions here - she is a sweet girl. Et cetera.”
He was tempted to just let that... brew for a minute. And in the meantime—
The kettle whined, complaining of its state as Faustus rounded the breakfast bar to finally fix that tea. One cup was placed squarely before Silveus, and he took a second for himself, setting the kettle aside.
“Surely in the days that have passed you have experienced some oddities, strange occurences here that could only be explained as grief, or... ghosts, haunting you after what you’ve been through?”
It was viable, but it was not the case. And they would explore that in just a moment. ]
Family matters. He breathed out, looking around the room. Taking in anything, everything but the man before them. Was he a part of the family? Had he ever been? Here he was, after the funeral, finally learning the name of Logan's brother. He'd tried, but Logan had always insisted on celebrating the big events alone. There were a few gatherings, but there was always a distance between him and them. He'd always had a hard time interacting with other people. His poker face made them think he didn't like them. Logan's family always seemed so tight-knit that he never felt like he had a place. They were practically their own species, really. So he'd given up on trying to really become a part of anything.
Better or for worse. He glanced in Faustus's direction at that. Was his side, too, disappointed that Logan didn't end up with a blushing bride and his two children? They hadn't seemed openly disgusted with him, but they'd been very... inwardly pointed. Uninterested in him. He'd tried not to assume that had anything to do with his orientation--maybe it was just the way they were--but he couldn't help but wonder now.
He hid his worries in the motions of making tea. The slight tightness in his shoulders would have gone unnoticed to anyone but Logan. Tea will be handled. He didn't want to sit, though. As long as he was up and moving, he could distract himself. He turned back toward Faustus and met his eyes for just a moment before he looked away again. In the end, he obeyed the man's order and sat. The kettle sat on the stove behind him, unheated and forgotten.
"I don't know much," he said, taking the initiative. He sat tall, his fingers twined together on the countertop before him, staring Faustus in the eye. "Logan didn't talk about his past much. Nor his family. I didn't push." He gave Faustus a long look. Logan had seemed to have a good relationship with his family, but if he hadn't wanted to talk about it, Silveus wasn't going to ask. Plenty of people had a good relationship in public, and a very different relationship where it mattered. Or maybe Logan's family was very private, and that was Logan's way of respecting that. In either case, it hadn't mattered to him. He didn't want to talk about his family either, and it all seemed to matter so little compared to the present.
If only he'd known how quickly that present would get ripped away.
He shook his head. "I didn't know your name. Take that as indicative of how much I know about your family." Nothing, in other words.
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