A/N: Nya!!! Last chappie. Sorry for the long wait, I've had a pretty hectic schedule.
I know Barty'll seem a bit outta character in this chapter, but hey, it's been a while for him (as you'll soon find out). He's bound to change (yes, that's my lame excuse).
Notice anything about the name in this next chapter, 'Kristine'?
Now, your favourite djinni, for the last time. Presenting, Bartimaeus!
Chapter 22: Till Next Time
"Good-bye, Bartimaeus," he said.
"Buh-bye!" I told him. "May the great Nathaniel, John Mandrake, noble notable et cetera never summon me again." I didn't mean it of course. My emotions then were too complicated…too difficult to express. They were beyond words.
He didn't dismiss me. He just stood there, staring, his hands raised in preparation for the incantation.
I tapped Ptolemy's bare, left foot. "Well? Hurry up pal. I wanna go home already."
He looked down and shook his head slightly, not as in 'no'…but as in 'what was I thinking?'
He looked up, grimacing slightly. "Thank you, Bartimaeus. For…for all the things you've done for Kitty; for London. And…and for me. We owe you our lives."
Well, would you look at that! He's thanking me, after a career of more than five, long, difficult years. So I decided to play along. "Well, gee, eh. You've been just as dandy too."
And instead of insulting me back like in the Glass Palace in St. James' Park, he just smiled and spoke the dismissal.
I felt the chains and weights lift up from me, and the Other Place beckoning me towards its peace and tranquility. I didn't strain, I just didn't relax. His good-natured composure had surprised me. Ah well.
"Good bye, Nathaniel," I said, genuinely smiling at him for the last time.
Aw, gee. I felt something tug at my essence again. When were these magicians going to stop summoning me? I metamorphically sighed—it had been quite a while since I was last called for a task. After Nathaniel had dismissed me, I've been floating around in the Other Place for…oh I don't know how long. So, half-willingly, I relaxed and let my being be pulled along, back down to Earth…
…and plop back, to what seemed like London. I had noticed the Big Ben and the House of Parliament straight away, even if a few other houses and constructions had sprouted up around them. Other than that, everything looked quite the same, with the cold, rainy, gloomy weather, and the…well—the buildings were a bit more colourful, I must say.
I looked around the room. Everything was normal, as usual, and opposite me, a magician of around seventeen looked back at me with very dark eyes, his eyebrows slightly raised. Subconciously, I had taken Ptolemy's form (1), but now, I changed to Nathaniel's. A bit of modification can't do anyone harm. Nat's looks were a bit fuzzy to me, and I couldn't quite grasp his facial features. Across the room, a mirror hung on the opposite wall. I stared at myself and adjusted my looks to match Nathaniel's (2). The boy in the other pentacle turned back to face the mirror too, and for a moment, our faces were right next to each other, though mine was smaller, since I was farther behind, of course.
We both gasped.
Our looks were near identical. Down to Nat's black hair, not too short, nor too long. Right down to the accusatory look Nat always wore his. The only slight difference was that my face (or rather, Nathaniel's) was longer and paler. This guy, whoever he was, didn't look too peaky, and had a slight tan to his skin. His face was also friendlier, though his eyes moderately betrayed that look. He wore a pretty similar suit to Nathaniel's. And a bursting explosion of colour ran across his breast, where, can you believe it, he had stuffed one of the coloured scarves John Mandrake always wore in his shirt, even if these scarves were a bit more classical (3). The only exception was that there were no cuffs. Thank God.
"Bartimaeus," he choked out finally. "Are you?"
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Who the hell was I then? Even if my insides were swirling in surprise, and my heart was pounding at our similar looks, I boomed out in my deep, rich, voice.
"I am Bartimaeus! I am Sakhr al-Jinni, N'gorso the Mighty, and the Serpent of Silver Plumes! I have rebuilt the walls of Uruk, Karnak, and Prague. I have spoken with Solomon, Ptolemaeus, and John Mandrake. I recognize no master. So I charge you in your turn, boy. Who are you to summon me?" (4)
And instead of cowering and dismissing me right away, the boy rolled his eyes. Yes, he rolled his eyes. At me.
"Who am I?" he asked.
I resumed my composure. "Look, buddy, I haven't got all day, if you just tell me what your wish, will, et cetera, is, I'll finish it and be off, 'kay?" I put my hands on my hips (5).
He shook his head. "I am Nathair," (6) "grandson of ex-Prime Minister John Mandrake, or later known as Nathaniel," that boy said smugly.
"Riiiight…" I crossed my arms. Then I actually computed what he had said. "Wait a second," I held up a hand (the universal sign for 'stop', incase you didn't know), "'ex-Prime Minister John Mandrake, later known as Nathaniel'? You're Nathaniel's grandson???" my jaw dropped in disbelief. Now it all made sense. His looks, his persona, his seemingly similar behavior to Nat.
"Hm. Impressive. Nat even passed on his bad taste in clothes and smug personality onto you. How long's it been? Since he was Prime Minister, I mean." Then I realised the reality of it all as the truth gripped my heart with fear (7). "Is…it's been so long…is he…?" I couldn't say it.
"Dead?" The boy asked, sighing. "A few years ago, yes; but his wife's still alive—my grandmother—Kathleen—"
"Wife? Kathleen?" This was all too shocking. I needed time to digest all this weird information. "What the—"
He waved the fact away and sighed again, this time shaking his head in slight disbelief. "Looks like I'm going to have to tell you everything. I must say, your inabilty to talk and level of articulacy surprises me. Grandfather had always told me of your…'witty insults'." He cleared his throat. I ignored the remark, and sensing a long story, I sat down too, transforming into Ptolemy's scribe look.
Nathair raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. I would call him Nat Junior perhaps, or Nat the Second, just to piss him off. Anyways, Nat Jr. rolled his eyes at me, then, to my surprise, stepped out of the pentacle. In a second, I was free to eat him if I felt I needed to.
"I see you've noticed," he smirked. "Ever since Grandfather—aka Nathaniel—ascended the position of P.M., he's altered many beliefs and positions. And he's changed so much. England's a democracy now, and magicians can have children, obviously. Plus, to stop blood feuds between family ties, they now have commoners, to vote. They now have rights in elections and public choices. It's not like before."
I nodded silently. I had heard, of course, of London's changes. But the spirits in the Other Place hadn't been the most…eloquent. And I hadn't known that Natty was the one who had made all the changes, nor had I been informed that of all people, Nathaniel had married Kitty.
Nathair continued. "And now, Ptolemy's Apocrypha is not only an essential read for every magician or apprentice, it's followed as well. A bit like our bible. Of course, it's been translated now into many different languages." (8) "Treatment of djinn and spirits are way better than before. We respect them and don't treat them with the same disdain—" (9) I scoffed. He ignored me. "—they used to receive. Kathleen Bartholomew made sure of that."
"Bartholomew," I repeated. Since when had Bartholomew been Kitty's last name?
"Well, she used to be Jones, but then when Nathaniel changed his name from John Mandrake to Nathaniel, he needed a last name. So he chose Bartholomew. Perhaps after you. As in Bartimaeus." Nathair shrugged dismissively. He seemed to not have noticed how inside my head, deep emotions and feelings were swirling around rapidly.
Nat Jr. continued. "And so he and Kathleen got married, and lived happily ever after. Okay, well, not that. They got married and after releasing his name as Nathaniel Bartholomew, Grandfather retired out of politics, and carried on to work the huge public library he and Grandmother had opened together. You can see it over there," he jerked his hand towards the window.
I looked out again, and noticed a stocky building. Short but large. That must be the public library Nathair was talking about.
But Nat Jr. didn't have time for my wonders. He just ranted on. "Grandfather seemed to be very…capable, of changing people's beliefs. He turned out to be a noble man, if having a head for business and politics was noble. But he did it for the good of the country. He's been commited into its history now. One of the notables besides Gladstone." The boy paused and stared at me, catching his breath.
It was so difficult to believe that they were actually dead (10). But I shouldn't be surprised. I've lost Nat once already, and well, Kitty's been presumed dead before too. I should get used to this type of thing anyways, being a five-thousand-year-old djinni.
"You know," Nathair spoke, breaking the deafening silence that engulfed the room. "I only found out your name because Grandmother told me a few years later after Grandfather's death. She said he would've wanted me to know. You were always known as the 'brave, self-sacrificing djinni' to him and the others. He said you deserved to rest in peace and would not reveal your name. He didn't want you to be summoned again in this era. Grandfather wanted to wait until the good treatment of djinni was permanent. Of course, no one knew it was you when they saw your name in the records of djinn. Grandfather's last words were 'Tell him, Kitty. Tell him the name'. You must've made a pretty big impression upon them."
I didn't cry of course, even if inwardly, I was feeling sadness and loss all over again. Just like when Ptolemy had died. Guilt surged through me of the times I had tried to, well, do bad things to Nathaniel. But life's like that. At least Kitty was still here. And speaking of that…
"Nathair, can I…can I see Kitty?"
The boy actually smiled this time—and not just a smirk or snicker. It was a true smile.
"Grandmother doesn't know I've summoned you. She'd probably be delighted. I'm telling you though, she's nearing the end of her life, even if the spell Grandfather performed on her helped her regain her youth and—"
"Spell?" I cut in. "Ah…did you know that it was me who discovered that spell?" (11) Nathair rolled his eyes in such a Nathaniel-like way that I was forced to believe that in a split-millisecond, he actually was Nathaniel.
"Yes I know," he said exasperatedly. "Don't need to be so smug about it. The spell…that's probably why they were so grateful, 'cause they 'owed their lives' to you, putting it in Grandmother's words."
Hey, I didn't want to fight with this lil' shrimp. So I just inwardly swore at him in Egyptian and asked instead, "so can I see Kitty now?"
Nathair scowled. But he was saved from answering when the door opened, and an old woman with familiar dark eyes poked her head into the room.
"Nathair? Rebecca Piper wants to see you downstairs. You know, the Police Chief? She needs help with some spots of bother in her Department, the ones your parents haven't been able to clear up yet. They're up North, so they can't come help right now.
Oh, and Becky's brought her lovely cousin, Kristine along too." A smile curled around the woman's lips. "Says Kristine is practising to go into politics; and of course, little Krissy's a bright young lady, and wonderfully nice as well, if not your age too I presume. Becky wants to know if you can help Krissy resolve some issues she's been set with. We all know how strict and crisp you are, but with Krissy, it's a special case. You're particularly kind to her." The lady winked and began to withdraw her head from the doorway. She caught sight of me and nearly tumbled over.
The mood in the room changed completely: from friendly jokes, to stiff remembrance.
Kitty righted herself—her eyes wide—and stepped into the room. She walked slowly over to me. The door creaked shut, but no one uttered a single sound. Only the faint drizzle of rain outside was heard. The tension could've been sliced through with a knife.
I recognized her of course. The round face, now lined and mature; the long hair, which was now streaked with grey; and the round, burnt-sienna eyes, warm enough to melt an iceberg. I smiled, as if an old friend greeting another.
No tears were revealed. She smiled at me, a smile I knew and hadn't seen for what seemed like a century.
"Bartimaeus," she acknowledged. Poor Nathair was stood in the middle, turning his head from side to side, as if watching a tennis match. Even if we weren't saying anything, there seemed to be thoughts passing via our eyes. Nat Jr., of course, didn't understand the sentiment of it all.
"I see time's worn you away."
The eyes twinkled. "Yes, Rekhyt. It has. Soon, I'll be joining Nathaniel."
"Of course. Say hello to Ptolemy for me—if you meet him. And Nathaniel too of course."
Kitty nodded. "I will." She hugged Ptolemy's slim form. I embraced her back. We drew apart. She grinned one last time, before shuffling back towards the door. She opened it slowly turning back to me.
"See you soon, Bartimaeus," Kitty Jones said softly, before exiting the room, swinging the door shut behind her.
No words needed to be explained over our feelings. We understood each other perfectly. And as Nathair dismissed me with curious eyes, I wondered if I really was going to see her again…perhaps not. But I knew I would, one day. Maybe in heaven, or another place where souls all went. Maybe I'll meet her there, along with Ptolemy and Nathaniel.
My essence shimmered, and I felt the draw of the Other Place upon me once more. Perhaps we'll all have a little reunion—together again.
(1) It was pretty automatic. I'm so used to it. So sue me.
(2) His lips were particularly out of shape. Way too full and cherubic. Nat's were thinner, particularly when he pursed them.
(3) Navy blue, if I must say. Well, I bet if you looked in his closet, you'd find magenta and pink. Still, anything better than Nat's. His never got out of style—they looked just as old-fashioned every year.
(4) It's pretty annoying you know. Each time I'm summoned and the stupid gits as me who I am, I have to repeat the whole shebang all over again. That's whatcha have to pay for being a noble serving djinni like moi: a long introductory speech thank-you-very-much.
(5) Nathaniel's never really done this before. Normally, it's Kitty. Hm…perhaps I'm mixing the two together?
(6) Nathair. Sneaky name, I must say. Means 'snake', in Scottish. There was a magician named that, during the Lochness Revolutions a few centuries ago. This little boy even had a name similar to Nathaniel's!
(7) If I had a real physical heart that is. Okay, fear didn't really surge through me. Just shock. And surprise.
(8) Ptolemy got his wish. For djinn and humans to live in harmony. Well, okay, not exactly harmony, but in peace. More than before at any rate. And his Apocrypha was finally followed. Better keep that in mind if I ever meet him again. He'll be delighted to hear the news.
(9) Perhaps. It wasn't perfect. But I gotta admit, it was a lot better. No Shrivelling Fires, no tortures, no Eternal Imprisonment…
(10) Gee, I'm becoming a softy!
(11) What? It's not a crime to gloat.
A/N: Well, there ya have it people. End of story, good-bye, adios. This story's dedicated to all my faithful reviewers. For all your continued support!
I'd appreciate it if you'd submit a final review for moi, saying how you liked the story, or just your plain opinion on it XD It gives me great help. No flames please, but constructive criticism is accepted.
Keep you eyes peeled for my next fan fics. Perhaps a few one shots will be coming up for the Bartimaeus Trilogy, and a few Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl fan fics (shrug). Well, if you wanna keep up to date on my future fan fics, you can put me on your Author Alert List—just for convenience ;)
Till next time,