Big City

Chapter 1

Camille’s mouth had yet to close, they were all just staring at him, their mouths hanging open and their eyes wide. He nodded slightly, answering their unspoken question about his seriousness. At least someone understood how deeply terrible it was that he was going away for the entire summer. His parents didn’t understand in the slightest. It was just like them to send him away, his mother always being concerned for his ‘well being’ and his father always being the faceless figure of power. For someone who was rich, he didn’t relax a lot. He was a powerful company head who couldn’t care less about his son and prefered to send money Magnus’ way and be done with it. Not that Magnus or his wardrobe were going to protest. He and Camille would always spend his allowance on ridiculously expensive things, things they hardly needed. Speaking of Camille, she was staring at him still. Will was the first to speak.

“Are you shitting me?”

Jem frowned, “Language Will.” His best friend just gave him an irritated glare and Jem kept talking, “Magnus is this for real? Because we need a full explanation and Charlotte is going to kill us if we’re home late.” He glanced at his watch and continued to wait for Magnus’ answer. Charlotte was their foster mom, a strong willed business woman who had met the two and immediately offered them a place to live. Jessamine lived with them too, hating everything about Charlotte and the way their household worked. But she was only seventeen and she wasn’t going anywhere, Charlotte would never get rid of her, feeling it was her duty to Jessamine’s dead parents (Charlotte’s close friends) to take care of their daughter. Charlotte’s husband Henry had long since grown used to Charlotte bringing home strays and focussed instead on the technology advances he was making in their basement. The man was a genius, but in Magnus’ opinion wasn’t the slightest bit mad. Henry was one of the few people Magnus liked to hear talk, because he had a way of explaining and suggesting the impossible that was inspiring.

“Magnus?” Jessamine was waving a pale hand in front of his face, “Are you going to explain or are we going to have to torture the information out of you?”

Not sure whether or not he should laugh at that, Will was but Jem seemed to be taking her very seriously, Magnus sighed. “It’s complicated. I don’t even know that much myself. All I know is that my wonderful mother surprised me with three suitcases and a plane ticket this morning.” Camille was staring at the table and Magnus’ rapidly cooling fries. Ragnor still seemed speechless but had a look of sympathy in his eyes. Camille’s parents spoiled her rotten and Charlotte loved the other three to pieces, so only Ragnor really understood what he was going through. It was hard to hear that your parents didn’t really want you around, but it was commonplace for Ragnor.

“So,” Camille picked at her napkin, shredding it between slim fingers, “When do you leave?”

“Tonight.” Magnus said softly, “I have to pack as soon as I get home.”

Camille sighed slightly, “You’ll call us? All the time?”

“What else am I going to do?” He asked, grabbing her hand with a smile. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do for the entire three months of summer but he hoped to god it wasn’t farming. If he had to shovel even the slightest bit of poo he was going to throw a fit. She gave him a small smile and he released her hands. Magnus looked around the table, taking in his friends one last time.

“I don’t want you to go.” Ragnor admitted, “It won’t be as much fun without you here.” Ragnor and Magnus met eyes, having been friends for so much longer than the others it would be the weirdest for the two of them to say goodbye for so long.

Biting back another lengthy sigh, Magnus said “I don’t want to go either, but my mum isn’t giving me much of a choice.” He stood up slowly, his chair grinding on the linoleum and making a terrible squeaking, Camille flinching at the noise. He stretched, cracking his neck and making Camille squirm. Their relationship probably didn’t work out because he was always trying to bug her, he thought with a slight smirk.

“Where are you going?” Jessamine looked slightly offended, “You just got here! Not to mention you forced us all to come here hungover, dropped a major bombshell and didn’t even offer me one of your fries!” Grabbing one of the fries in question, she covered it in ketchup and bit into it aggressively.

Magnus rolled his eyes and pushed the plate closer to her, “I have to go and pack remember?”

“Need any help?”

Smiling at Camille he shook his head, “You lot go home and sleep, you look like you could use it.”

Licking her fingers, Jessamine waved him off, “Get going! You have better shit to do than stand around all day saying goodbye.” The others rolled their eyes at her but waved goodbye. Camille and Ragnor gave him hugs, getting out of their seats. Camille lingered for a second, brushing a lock of hair out of his eyes and sighing.

“Gonna miss you,” She said, “Ragnor is no fun shopping.”

“I am too fun!” Ragnor said, dragging her away from Magnus and pulling him in for a hug. In traditional Ragnor fashion, he patted Magnus’ back twice and gave his hair a slight tug. Jem grasped his shoulder, squeezing it slightly and giving him a kind smile. Will ruffled his hair just to bug him and smacked his back for good measure. Jessamine just licked her fingertips and winked at him, grabbing another fry and waggling her fingers. Glad they tried to keep from getting sappy, Magnus gave them all a friendly wave and left the restaurant.

He turned, right before opening the door and waved at the waitress, giving her a smile and slapping a tenner on one of the tables to pay for the fries. She noticed and nodded at him, walking over to grab the money. Magnus reached for the handle, yanking the door open and embracing the warm air, slightly musty and full of car fumes. The noises of the city rushed at him and he began to walk home. He walked past the window where his friends were sitting and slammed a palm against the window.

They looked up with a start, laughing and waving at him. He made faces at them and waved. The image of his friends all sitting there - smiling, waving and laughing with Camille blowing Magnus kisses - was enough to make him smile and forget about the trip. Blowing them all a kiss, Camille giving him a kind smile and all the guys imitating him, he turned away and walked briskly home.

The second he got close to the house Magnus could practically smell his mother’s frustration. Checking his hair in the front window, Magnus fished around in his pockets for his key. Before he could manage to squeeze it out of his skin tight pockets, the door opened. His mother was standing there, one hand on her hip and the other gripping the door so hard her knuckles were white.

“Where the hell were you?”

Not going to let her tone or glare phase him, Magnus walked past his mother and said, “So you didn’t get my note?” She slammed the door, the sound echoing through the front hallway.

“Oh I got the note.” She said snarkily, digging into her apron pocket for the piece of paper. Magnus stared at his mother for a second, her perfect bun, lack of jewellery and that weird half apron she always wore. It was stark white, never getting stained while she cooked or cleaned and stopped at her waist, tied behind her back. “Dear mum,” She read out, “I’m going out. I will pack my bags as soon as I get back, Magnus.” She crumpled up the note, “For once Magnus, just leave through the front door and tell me where you’re going.”

He grinned, “But that takes all the adventure and fun out of it.”

Her eyes widened and the moment he thought he was going to get a lecture, she just blew some air out of her mouth and brushed a non-existent stray hair out of her eyes. “Just pack your bags Magnus, I give up.” She wiped her hands delicately on her apron and walked back down the hall to the kitchen. Magnus watched her go, frozen in the front hall briefly. He felt like he should say sorry, but couldn’t bring himself to get over his pride. He made a mental pact to be nicer to her in the short time before he left, for her sake at least.

He rushed up the stairs, taking them two at a time. Shoving his iPhone into his speaker, he cranked the radio and started to grab things he might need. He started with the basics, toothbrush and the like. Once he had filled a tiny portion of the first suitcase with actually necessities, Magnus started to fill the other two. He tried to imagine the kind of clothes he was going to need, tossing all sorts of different tops and pants into the suitcases.

He held up a bathing suit, wondering if there was anywhere decent to swim in whatever god-forsaken town his mother was sending him to. Magnus decided to pack it, throwing it into one of the suitcases and finally trying to close the bags. After sitting on them and managing to just close the zipper, he started to look for things to take in his carry-on.

Magnus had opted to pack his laptop, but took a sketchbook with him. He loved to draw, more specifically design. He was determined to go to university for fashion and found thorough amusement through planning what he would put on the runway.

Finally ready to leave, Magnus glanced at his room once more and grabbed his phone. Cramming it into his pocket, giving his hair and eyeliner one last touch-up, and dragging the suitcases off the bed he opened the door. His mother was there and smiled upon seeing his bags.

“Those are ready to burst.” She said, biting back a laugh. Magnus grinned with her, noting how ridiculous they looked. The two of them took the bags down to the front door. Magnus eyed the clock, he still had a good half an hour before he had to leave. Getting ready to just sit and wait, his mother touched his arm. “I have something for you.” He raised an eyebrow and she led him into the dining room.

It was just off the kitchen, modern and sleek. Everything was spotless and it looked more like an IKEA catalog than an actually lived in room. The only things out of place were the present and meal sitting on the table. Magnus slid into the chair in front of them. His mother’s homemade poffertjes were arranged on a pristine, white plate. He looked at her and she smiled, stroking his hair slightly.

“I know it’s your favorite.” She said, “I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I know you don’t want to go on this trip and I don’t like forcing you. We just think you need to get away, grow into yourself a little and have an adventure that doesn’t involve loud music and alcohol.” Looking like she wanted to say more, Magnus interrupted her.

“I’m not really mad at you.” He said, Magnus was mad of course, but taking it out on his mother just seemed cruel. She didn’t really want to hurt him, she just did. “They look great.” He gave her a smile, even though it was half-hearted and probably looked like he was trying not to throw up, it made her smile double in size. She rushed to the kitchen and grabbed him a glass of water.

He was eating his poffertjes when she called from the kitchen, “Open the package!”

Magnus smiled at his mother when she walked back into the dining room. She set the glass in front of him and sat down. Gesturing to the parcel, she waited patiently for him to open it. Swallowing his mouthful of food, he grinned cheekily, “What is it?”

“Just open it!”

He nodded and ripped off the colourful paper. Magnus’ mouth dropped open and he stared at his mother in complete shock. “You’re kidding me right.”

She shook her head, smiling at him like a maniac, “It’s a brand new camera and the professional kind so you can take pictures of all the clothes you like making so much.” She had barely finished before he’d jumped up and thrown his arms around her. Clapping his hands like a little kid he tore open the box. Grabbing the camera and quickly adjusting the lens he held it up and quickly snapped a photo of his mother smiling.

Her smile fell, “Magnus! That photo must look terrible!” She tried to grab the camera from him but he held it out of reach and took another bite of his poffertjes. Glancing at the small camera screen he smiled at her and slung the camera strap around his neck.

“It looks beautiful.” He sat down, scarfing down the food. His mother shook her head and folded her hands in her lap.

“Magnus, you’re going to be staying with a friend of mine, her name is Maryse. Her husband’s name is Robert and they have a farm out Texas. They also have four children-”

Magnus practically choked on his food, “Four?!” He just looked at his mother incredulously, “They have four children?” The fear of having to share a room with a bunch of kids or worse, having a bunch of young kids bugging him day and night, suddenly washed over Magnus.

His mother sighed, “Yes, there are four kids, Alec - he’s your age, Isabelle and Jace are both sixteen and Max is nine. Don’t give me that look, you won’t be sharing a room with any of them.”

“But I’ll be sharing a house with them. I can’t believe you waited until now to tell me!”

Now his mother glared at him, “I would have told you earlier but you rushed out of the house.” She sighed, “Magnus just try and be good. Maryse is being kind and letting you stay with her. Return the favour.”

Magnus huffed, finishing his meal and quickly drinking his water. Almost as soon as he was done there was a knock on the door.

His mother gasped and rushed answer, “C’mon Magnus, that’ll be the cab.” He walked into the foyer to find her handing one of his bags to the cabbie and hauling the other out the door. Helping her and grabbing the last bag himself, he left the house.

Armed with just his luggage and camera, ready to face whatever this summer trip was going to throw at him, Magnus gave his mother a hug. He wasn’t in a good mood, he didn’t want to travel across the country to live with a bunch of hillbilly children.

“Bye.” His mother said quietly, giving him a smile, “Try and have fun. Take lots of pictures for me.” He nodded and got into the cab, slamming the door and winding down the window to wave at her one last time.

“Bye mum.” Magnus called, turning around to take a quick picture of her standing in front of the house waving. She turned around to go back inside and Magnus settled down for the drive to the airport.

Once he actually got to the airport, he realized how long he was going to have to wait before this whole damn adventure started. Growing irritable in the line to check in his bags, Magnus texted Camille about the whole ordeal.

Magnus: guess what

Camille: what?

Magnus: they have four children. four fucking children

Camille: omg

Magnus: ikr

Camille: okay enough texting talk....we’re not 12

Magnus: agreed

Camille: but still.... what are you going to do?

Magnus: i have no idea

Waiting for Camille’s response, Magnus moved up in the line and finally got called over the check in his bags. He charged the extra bag fee to his credit card and tucked his boarding pass in his pocket. Noticing he didn’t have a lot of time, Magnus rushed over to the gate area and sat down. Camille hadn’t responded so Magnus disappointedly decided to get a snack. After having a brief fight with a vending machine and needing the assistance of a nearby eight year-old, Magnus sat back down with a Kit-Kat in hand. Laying the wrapper in his lap and breaking off a piece, he busied himself with Temple Run.

“Whatcha’ doin’?” Magnus jumped, it was the kid from the vending machine. He had sort of shaggy brown hair and green eyes. He was a cute kid, but a little on the creepy side. The kid slid into the seat next to Magnus and watched him play the game.

“It’s called Temple Run.”

“It looks fun.”

Sighing, he restarted the game and held it out to the kid, “Do you want to play?”

“Sure!” The kid grabbed the phone, scooting closer to Magnus and smiling at him, his front teeth both missing. “My name’s Julian but everyone calls me Jules.”

“Well, Jules,” Magnus said, smiling, “The object of the game is not to die.”

Jules snorted, “Obviously.”

Liking the kid more by the minute, Magnus quickly went over the rules and controls, pointing to different things on the screen. Nodding every time Magnus said something, Jules was rapt. After about ten minutes of playing with Magnus’ guidance, a voice called Jules away.

Magnus’ companion whipped his head around at the sound of a young girl’s voice, “Jules? What are you doing? We have to board soon.” She looked like she was Jules’ age, but much more mature. She had blonde hair and dark blue eyes. Magnus raised his eyebrows slightly at the long scar on her forearm but didn’t say anything, just waved.

“I’m playing a game.” He held up the phone for proof, waving it a bit, “This is Magnus. Magnus, this is my best friend Emma.” He waved again, getting a small smile out of the girl.

She reached for Jules’ hand, “We have to go though.” He nodded and handed Magnus his phone back. Magnus stopped him before he left.

“Hey, here.” He handed him what was left of the Kit-Kat, the kids’ eyes lighting up, “You deserve it.”

Jules gave him a gap-toothed grin, “Thanks.”

Magnus nodded and watched the two run back over to a girl with Jules’ green eyes and ridiculously light blonde hair. She gave him a small wave that he returned, tucking his phone away and getting in line to get on the plane. The line moved surprising quick and before Magnus knew it he was settling in for a long flight on a hard seat.

The flight attendants were nice and annoyingly bubbly, they handed him drinks and tried to strike up a conversation. He stuck in his headphones, listened to some music and started to draw. First he drew a dress, but it ended up looking bland and generic. The lack of inspiration made him groan and he ended up spending the flight watching a really bad German movie. It was a situation that made Magnus want to bang his head on the tray table. The movie was terrible, there were subtitles that Magnus was almost positive were wrong and the characters spoke their lines like they’d forgotten them. But he was desperate to find out how it ended and had to watch the entire two and a half hour movie.

Once it was over he just turned to the woman next to him, “I’ve just wasted almost three hours of my life.” He said, frowning slightly and staring blankly at the screen. She giggled and little and he groaned.

“Was it worth it?” She asked, trying to hold back her laughter.

He raised an eyebrow, “No, like I said, it was a total waste of time.”

“You didn’t like the way Adrian and Gabi got together in the end?”

“No-” He stopped suddenly, “Oh my god.” She laughed again, “You’ve seen it before? And you let me suffer through that whole movie?”

“Pretty much.” He laughed now too, the absolute ridiculousness getting to him, “My name’s Rebecca by the way.”

“Magnus.” He shook her hand, still slightly giddy. “Please tell me this flight is going to be over soon.”

She gave him a grin, “You’re in luck. You can watch that movie again and then it should be over. You have just enough time to witness the awkward courtyard scene one more time. It was the highlight of the movie for me.”

“You’re kidding me right.”

“Of course.” She rolled her eyes, “Sleep kiddo. You might as well, all the other movies are shit. I’ll wake you up like fifteen minutes before landing.”

He grinned, “You’re the best. I just met you and we’re going to be best friends.”

“Judging by the New York accent, we won’t get a chance. Who’re you visiting? Family?”

Leaning back in his chair he shook his head, “Forced vacation. I was partying a lot and my mum got sick of it. I’m officially staying with strangers for the summer.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, some random family called the Lightwoods.”

Rebecca almost choked on her drink, “The Lightwoods?” She smiled, “What are the chances. My brother is friends with them, they’re practically our neighbours. Maybe we can be friends. Well, other than the fact I’m a lot older than you.”

“No sweat,” He said, “I don’t really play for your team. Wait. Repeat what you just said.”

“Maybe we can be friends?”

“No,” Magnus said, “The Lightwoods. You know them? Are they nice? Are they weird? Am I going to be shoveling poop?”

Rebecca laughed, “The Lightwoods are pretty nice, traditional but nice. They’re not super weird though I’m not sure about the kids. They can be kind of strange. Lovable though. And there will be little to no shoveling of poop.”

Magnus sighed, “Good, now with the knowledge that we’re going to talk again, I’m going to sleep and take you up on that offer.”

True to her word, she woke him up a few hours later and he had a few minutes to spare. He went to the bathroom, waving to Jules and Emma on the way. They gave him some drowsy smiles, their eyes barely leaving the screens in front of them. Magnus checked his hair in the bathroom mirror and ended up doodling for the last few minutes of the flight.

He and Rebecca talked for a little bit, walking off the plane together. Rebecca raised an eyebrow at Magnus’ three bags and he gave her a cheeky smile.

“The country life is gonna hit you hard, big city boy.”

They joked around a bit more, saying goodbye when a tiny woman with curly hair waved Rebecca over. Before she left, she pointed at a woman in the crowd and whispered, “That’s Maryse.”

Magnus nodded his thanks and made his way over to the woman, noticing a sign in her hand that said his name in clear bold print. She had impressively blue eyes and black hair. There was something about her that demanded respect, but she looked surprisingly laid back in her jeans and unwrinkled black shirt.

“Hi,” He said, shifting his feet awkwardly, “I’m Magnus.” He nodded at her sign and she lit up.

“Hello Magnus.” She gave him a small smile, “I’m your mum’s friend Maryse as you might have guessed. Have you gotten your bags yet?”

He gestured to the three bags, “Uh, yep.”

She laughed, “You’re mother wasn’t kidding about you was she?” Maryse grabbed one of the bags and pulled it along with ease, “C’mon Magnus, the truck is this way.”

He followed her out, a wave of heat hitting him instantly. The sun was burning hot, though the air was cleaner and fresher than New York by a long shot. Magnus breathed it in, letting the sun warm his face and squinting his eyes at the light.

Maryse was waiting for him, he got the feeling she wasn’t a patient woman, her foot tapping gently on the pavement.

“So have you gotten over this whole silence thing?” She asked, “Your mum mentioned that you were sulking on the phone. Is that going to continue on?”

He’d forgotten about dreading the summer without his friends, stuck between hating the summer and taking it as an adventure, he decided on the first. “Yes,” Magnus huffed, “Restarting now.”

She laughed, “Well, the truck’s over here. If you’re not too stubborn we can get in and I’ll drive us home.”

He shook his head.

“Right, not your home.” Maryse said, “You’ll get over that soon. You might think that this whole teenager thing is going to send you home. But it’s not.” She led the way over to the car, “It’s just going to force me to try and make this fun for you. I will give you a week. You can sulk for a week and then I’m going to make you shovel poop.”

His eyes widened and Maryse gave him a grin.

“We have a deal?”

Magnus took her offered hand and shook it. He was allowed one week of sulking in silence and then he would get his act together. Magnus figured that was pretty fair. They got into the truck, her loading his bags into the back and the two of them sliding into the cab. Maryse turned on the radio to some country. Wrinkling his nose, Magnus looked out the window and quickly brought up his camera to grab a photo. Cursing himself for not taking a picture of Rebecca, he grabbed a few of the scenery and even one of Maryse driving.

“Your silence is never going to bother me.” Maryse warned him, her eyes flickering to him for a second before refocusing on the dirt road in front of them. “My eldest spent eight months without speaking when he was twelve.” Magnus’ eyes widened considerably, “I still have no idea why.” She continued, “He just stopped talking one day and then started again eight months later.”

They got to a fork and she turned left, Magnus noting that right looked to be the way into town. Following his gaze, Maryse explained, “The house is about twenty minutes from town. Walking takes longer obviously, but we don’t do that often. I don’t go to town everyday and we sometimes only go once a week.”

Magnus tried to imagine a trip into ‘town’ - a small middle-of-nowhere strip of useless stores - being a big deal. He tried to imagine going a week without shopping and then realized he was going to have to go three months without anything remotely like his home. Shaking his head and going back to capturing the moment, Magnus turned on his camera and tried to busy himself. Twenty minutes of rolling farmland and country music later, they pulled up to a beautiful house.

Maryse just got out of the truck and headed around to grab his bags, but Magnus just stood there for a moment. He’d expected something rundown, probably rustic. But in front of him was the most beautiful ranch house. It was surrounded by green farmland and had an amazing garden that was overflowing with plants. He could see horses in the pasture to the side of the house and could hear a river nearby. The house was a stark white, not dirtied by the dirty of the road and had a brown roof. There was a wrap around deck and pristine windows shining in the afternoon sun. Whipping out his camera, Magnus took more than a dozen pictures of the house. There was something about it that was dreamy. He could imagine living in the country if he could live like this, it was charming and had enough country elements to feel like a house on a farm.

He turned around to see Maryse smiling at him and holding one of his bags. Magnus rushed to grab the other and she laughed at the look on his face, “Welcome to your home for the next three months, Magnus Bane.”


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