Disclaimer: Don't own the Bartimaeus Trilogy, making no money. All props to J-Stroud because this is a phenomenal series. Lyrics are Gaslight Anthem, Meet Me By The River's Edge.

Note: Almost my submission for a ff competition but decided it wasn't good enough. My first foray into one of my favourite fandoms, though, so not letting it go to waste. Concrit greatly appreciated because hell I know this needs work.

x

After Icarus

and I was full with fiery wonder
you wore Audrey Hepburn pearls
you were the only one who understood me then
and the only one who will

-

The boy in the pentacle is skinny and pale, and forever twelve years old. He has dark, combed hair, and his black eyes are locked on the thick chalk line at his feet.

He is regretting this form.

"Huh," Kitty says. She's still all old and young at once, but looking better – the lines are fading. "This is new. No Ptolemy?"

Bartimaeus does not look up.

They have long since passed the point where anything else will fit, so he asks, "how long?"

Kitty does not answer for a moment. He can feel her eyes on him, raking through his neat hair, studying his thin face. He can feel her realising.

"Five years," she tells him. "I put you down as dead. Thought it'd give you some peace and quiet."A pause, a hitched breath, then, "Bartimaeus, is that – ?"

She leaves her pentacle and kneels down in front of him. She traces, softly, the immaculately recreated jawbone, the curve and stretch of his neck. He tilts his head, and his eyes lock onto hers.

"He would have kept his promise."

"I know," Kitty says, and her eyes are very bright.

"He said to say hello."

She starts to cry.

Outside, London is rebuilt. Bartimaeus doesn't know if it's still the pinnacle of the Empire, doesn't know if there still is an Empire. He doesn't much care. Maybe magicians have stopped mistreating djinn, or stopped summoning djinn altogether.

Maybe magicians have just stopped.

Kitty steadies herself.

As inappropriate as it is, a little smile curls his boy lips. She's still the same. Her face changed, her life changed, her heart changed, but Kitty – nothing in the entire world could make her less good, less strong, less incredible.

If he had a heart, he would give it to her.

"He was good," she says, "in the end. Nathaniel."

"Nathaniel," Bartimaeus agrees.

She gets up, scrubbing her eyes with the heel of her hand.

"I can change." Even as he murmurs the words he allows his skin to darken, his planes to shift.

"No." Her voice is abrupt, and steady. "No. This...fits."

In a sense, this is exactly where they left off. Bartimaeus looks at her. Behind her eyes is a glint of laughter, of breathlessness and recklessness, of exhilaration.

It does fit, and God help whoever tries to tear Kitty Jones down.

Bartimaeus clears his throat. "Right, then. Did you have a point with all this summoning jazz? Hardly a fun experience for me, after all."

Kitty snorts. "There was me thinking you'd be pleased to see me."

He makes a noise like a buzzer. "Eeeerr. Wrong." But there's a wry smile rising that he can't press down, and they both know it is a lie.

"Pfft." Kitty tosses her hair, and tears are still glittering at the corners of her eyes. She smiles a wicked smile. "Down to business, then. What do you remember about Jane Farrar?"

Bartimaeus smiles back, and Nathaniel's teeth have never looked so sharp. "Go on."