Epilogue: The End
Disclaimer: The Bartimaeus Trilogy is the property of Jonathan Stroud.
A/N: And so it ends. This chapter marks the end of my first foray into fan fiction. I still can't believe I managed to stick with it to the finish! Thank you to all of you who reviewed a chapter of my story: experiment630, Omorose, Monica, otahyoni, sofia666, pkoholic, and xxxLoverOfWrittenArtxxx and very special thanks to Duckweed and Nari-nick for reviewing nearly every chapter. You guys are the reason this story is here!
The Alexandria Airport was a wasps' nest of activity. New departures and arrivals swarmed over the concrete, their calls of greeting and farewell rising into an unintelligible cacophony. Jets screamed overhead, ferrying passengers to whatever distant land their hearts desired.
We were out on the runway, saying our goodbyes to Piper and Button before they boarded their flight. It wasn't a terribly comfortable place. Hot rolls of steam rolled up from the pavement, heated as it was in the mid-morning sunlight. If we stood out there any longer, chances were we'd be boiled to death in our own sweat.
"Make sure you come and visit," Button was saying to Kitty, as he mopped his brow with a sodden handkerchief, "I rather think that I'll not be returning to Egypt anytime soon, so the task falls on you, dear."
Yes, I didn't blame the man if he wasn't keen on coming back to Siwa. Getting kidnapped by a radical faction and being threatened with death, well, not your ideal vacation getaway, as far as I understand it.
"I will," She said. She reached out and shook his hand.
The old magician hobbled towards the plane, which was waiting impatiently for its last two passengers. Rebecca made to follow, but stopped, then turned back briefly and looked at me.
"Take care, Bartimaeus," She said.
Then she too was off, hefting her carry-on luggage over her shoulder and making a break for the plane.
Kitty and I stood on the tarmac, waving our arms off, until the plane finally began to roll towards the runway. Well, the magicians were off, headed back to where they belonged in Britain. I had to admit, I was going to miss Piper a little.
It was eleven o'clock, and there was still an hour and a half before Kitty needed to board the bus back to Siwa. So, after a bit of aimless wandering, we found ourselves in the food court. The area rumbled with conversations held in a multitude of languages. Hordes of people jostled each other, desperately trying to get their hands on the last greasy hotdog. Kitty and I took advantage of the chance to rest for a bit.
We sat down at a cheap plastic table, which I immediately noticed was peppered with dried up wads of chewing gum. Quite distasteful.
I looked up from my perusal of the many delights of our dining surface, only to find Kitty fixing me with a contemplative stare. Her brow was furrowed as though she were trying to broach a particularly difficult subject. I wondered what could be bothering her–apart from our less-than-stellar surroundings, of course. Suddenly Kitty leaned back a little, propping her elbows up on the back of the chair behind her.
"So, I guess you'll be leaving soon," she said, her voice deceptively casual.
I fidgeted in my seat. I had been dreading this moment ever since we'd arrived in Alexandria. After all that had happened, how could I just say good bye? Looking askance at me in my hesitant silence, Kitty continued.
"After all, you've been here for a couple days straight now, and I know how it pains you to remain on Earth for too long. I certainly can't blame you if you're itching to return." She looked at me carefully as she spoke.
I tried to look nonchalant.
"Maybe that's not such a good idea," I said, "I mean, with djinn popping out of you every time you shut your eyes, someone's got to be there to keep you out of trouble, right?"
Kitty's expression soured.
"I think I've proved I can handle myself," She growled, "And I don't need someone hanging around, babysitting me. Don't feel obliged to stay here when it's there that you really want to be."
I rubbed the back of my neck with one hand and cleared my throat, trying again.
"Well… you know… " I stared intently at a small black mark on the tiled floor. Strange, the things you find fascinating when you're just wishing you could disappear.
"What I mean is, umm… maybe I want to hang around for a bit…"
"Yeah, maybe I actually like being–"
My pathetic attempts at forming a coherent sentence evaporated as Kitty gently placed a hand on my arm. I looked up abruptly into her face.
There was a strange sort of smile in the girl's eyes that I couldn't read, no matter how hard I tried. As I was frozen, staring into those eyes, an odd sort of hope ballooned within me. Kitty's hand slid up my arm, over my shoulder, rested behind my neck. And then she was pulling me towards her.
As her mouth met mine, a single thought bubbled to the surface of my mind.
Oh yes, I'm definitely sticking around.