Disclaimer: All characters depicted belong to Jonathan Stroud, the lucky bastard.
Warnings: None! :O
Overall Rating: G / K+
Authors Note: This is my first time writing for the fandom as well as writing in first person. I've always been a huge fan of the series and was disappointed by the lack of entries on the site for this pairing. So, of course, I wrote my own. xD Sorry it's not a dreadfully original idea, but it wouldn't leave me alone. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. (Also, I did my best to make Bartimaeus's side-notes easy to find and understand and they are placed at the end of their respective paragraphs.)
The market place was buzzing with color, the mid-day sun that was beating down upon the massive crowds doing little to distract the people from their pursuit of cheap goods and services. I strode calmly beside my young master, my body molded into it's common form as a tall scribe; a tall tower of dark skin and muscle topped with a cleanly shaven head and piercing brown eyes. (1.- I generally prefer to call them chocolate brown or add words such as "piercing" and "intense" to their description. It makes them seem less lack-luster.)
All morning Ptolemy had been craving the sweet taste of Halawa (2.) and we were only just getting out of the master's apartments in order to retrieve his desired breakfast. We had been engaged in a lovely debate about the physical properties of spiritual essence and how it worked for the better part of the morning and Ptolemy had deemed his hunger to be less important than the prospect of gaining knowledge. (2.- Relatively dense confections that are sweetened with sugar or honey and contain ingredients such as seeds and nuts.)
I noticed our destination and did not hesitate to point out the way Ptolemy's pace had quickened when the stall came into view.(3.- I believe I said something along the lines of "Oh, you mean knowledge can't cure physical hunger?")
He scoffed at me. "It can, I just haven't acquired the exact bit of information that'll do it." He gave me a cheeky little smile and joined the end of the short line that had grown outside of the wooden stand.
We waited patiently for the line to dwindle and then Ptolemy ordered a rather large slice of pistachio Halawa, then made our way towards the library where my master was sure to spend the rest of the day taking notes on various scrolls and templates. I would most likely spend that time sitting by his side, silently watching him work and occasionally answering questions as they came to him. It wasn't exactly the definition of excitement, but I didn't mind.
The way to the library was no less crowded than the path from Ptolemy's apartments and we were held up by large crowds on several occasions. At one point we had stopped due to a large crowd that had formed around a young boy who had claimed to be lost. When the mother was finally found he had been quick to run into her arms in a tight embrace. Ptolemy had frowned at this and continued on, the leisurely smile that had been gracing his face prior being replaced by a look of thought and faint confusion.
It wasn't until we reached the steps of the library that he finally voiced what was bothering him. Good thing too, I was beginning to get worried. (4.- It was a rather long walk; never had he gone that long in my presence without asking me a question.)
"Rekhyt, may I ask you a question?" He seemed rather nervous, his hands shaking as he moved to pull open the doors to the library. I quickly rushed forward and beat him to it, holding the heavy door open with one arm and gesturing for him to head in with the other.
"Go ahead." I said in what could almost pass as an eager voice. Never before had Ptolemy been so nervous about a question, I was quite interested to see what it would be.
He waited until we were seated in the back corner of the building, both of us sitting cross legged on the floor. "I'm not exactly sure how to ask this."
I shrugged. "Just spit it out."
He hesitated only a fraction of a second before taking a deep breath and diving in. "Have you ever been embraced by a human? Or a demon?"
My nose wrinkled to show distaste for the question. Despite my feelings on the subject I prepared to answer, carefully planning what to say. "Not in the way that you are thinking of." He gave me a confused look. "I once hugged a man so I could stab him in the back." I explained. "Why do you ask?"
He gave a small sigh. "It's just, seeing that woman and her son got me thinking about it. I was never shown much physical affection as a child." He gave a little shrug. "It was a strange sight to see and it just made me wonder."
We sat in silence for another moment. What did you say to something like that? I could have just responded with my usual witticism, but it just didn't seem like the appropriate action. Of course, had it been any one of my past masters I would have gone ahead and made a joke or insult.
He shifted forward, hands on the floor and shoulders hunched, in an attempt to get a better look at my now down-turned face. (5.) He still seemed rather uncertain, his mouth twitching as he formed the words to what was undoubtedly going to be another question. "Would it be alright if I... hugged you?" He trailed off, clearly worried that he would be rejected. (5.- Or at least that's what I assumed he was doing.)
It shouldn't have been such a hard question to answer. The obvious answer was 'no'. I did not want to be embraced by a human, or the other way around. It just wasn't something that I would do.
"Come here, friend." I said instead of the "Don't be ridiculous." I had been planning.
Dark eyes widened in obvious shock, clearly the boy had been expecting me to decline the offer. (6.) He crawled over to where I was seated a couple feet away from him, stopping just inches away from my crossed legs and sitting back on his knees. (6.- He wasn't the only one surprised by my acceptance.)
Neither of us moved for quite some time, the air was tense and I could tell I wasn't the only one having second thoughts. He opened his mouth to say something, most likely to say I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to, when I pulled him in. A clumsy approach no doubt, but over all it was effective and it was only a second or two more before he had wrapped his arms around my guise's shoulders.
Admittedly, it wasn't my cup of tea. The boy's skin was warm from the desert heat and it felt stifling against the cooler skin of my current form. His skin clung lightly to my own, a slight sting as he shifted to find a better position for his thin legs. The uncomfortable heat continued to tug at my shoulders as my young master continued his attempts in finding a suitable position that would relieve the weight from his knees. "Might I make a suggestion?" I asked finally.
"What is it?" He pulled back, hands on my shoulders and dark eyes looking at me in confusion.
I moved quickly, giving myself only the briefest of seconds to reconsider, pulling him into the valley my crossed legs created, his legs extended and hooked over my left thigh. Alright, I realized it was probably a little more intimate than he had anticipated, but overall it was significantly more comfortable for both of us.
The second hug was more enjoyable than the first (7). Although he now had more bare skin against my own, he was no longer resting half of his weight on my shoulders which lessened the uncomfortable pulling sensation on my own skin. And he fit, oddly enough. (7- Not that I would ever tell him that.)
Eventually he pulled away and stood to retrieve a scroll he had been working on, as well as his paintbrush and ink bottle. I hid my surprise as he padded back toward me after all the items he needed were in hand, easily making himself at home where he had previously been sitting in my lap. I watched as he spread the papyrus out across his lap, carefully writing down his own account of what happened upon the coarse paper. He paused, eyes turning toward me once more.
"Rekhyt, would you mind if I asked you a question?"
I sighed, did he always have to be so formal about it? "Have I ever?" I asked.
He shook his head, seeming to come to the same conclusion that I had. "What did you think of that? Was it enjoyable?"
I hadn't felt the need to lie to the boy in quite a while, but something was keeping me from being too honest about the previous situation. I paused, tilting my head to the right slightly to give him the impression that I was thinking it over. I decided half truths would have to do. "It was... strange." I finally said. "Uncomfortable." an afterthought. His head and shoulders drooped forward, steady hands writing down what I had said. "Maybe you did it wrong." I added teasingly.
The boy huffed. "I can't imagine how a simple embrace could be done incorrectly."
"Maybe it's not possible to embrace a djinni properly." Realistically, this was true. Any other self respecting djinn would have killed a human for even vocalizing the desire to do so. "Maybe if you tried with someone else?"
He shrugged. "I probably won't bother." I raised an eyebrow; this certainly wasn't something I was used to hearing from the curious youth. Dark eyes rose to stare into my own. "I don't really have anyone else I would want to try with." He added as an explanation.
I leaned back on my arms, contemplating the boys lightly flushed face. "It was nice." And there was the other half of the truth, rearing it's head. "More so the second time."
"You're not lying?"
I didn't comment on the thick black line that had made its way through the second sentence on his papyrus, nor did I make fun of the small smile that it's creation had been the result of.