It had been there when she woke up, placed squarely on her bedside, right angles too straight for it to have been left there accidentally. Kate had rolled over gingerly, testing bones and stretching out screaming muscles. This had been a bad one, a foolish risk she should never have taken, and she would be paying for it dearly, she feared. Laying her head heavily into the pillow she had obscured half her vision of the world, her one clear eye looking through the silver railings of the hospital bed to see the worn leather book.
It was a pretty thing: russet brown in colouring except for clear patches that had been rubbed away to a hard earned copper. It looked as though it had earned its markings, been worried through anxious fingers, and subjected to the rigours of constant use. It had a hard cover, leather stretched over board that was beginning to warp, edges blunt and scuffed. It was the kind of book that screamed to be touched, that Kate longed to run through her own long fingers, and yet she was loath to stretch out and touch it, to pick it up and be responsible for its considerable weight.
Kate recognised the book. It wasn't one of the Sanctuary's many tomes, hailing from its considerable library - those she had touched, had used and studied. It was not from Will's personal collection, heavy with probing words that left Kate exhausted. It had not strayed from one of the many piles of reading material that Hank and the Big Guy left strewn about the grounds, in easy access for all. No, this was the one book that no one ever touched, that even now, left so purposefully as it was, Kate was reluctant to pick up.
She had caught glimpses of it over her time here at the Sanctuary. She had seen it tucked away in a corner of Magnus' desk more often than not, but she had also seen it cradled gently in her arms. Kate, a child of laptops and cell phones had silently marvelled at the care Magnus had paid this small, seemingly insignificant item. She knew that she had taken great pains in its selection and, despite its increasingly frayed appearance, its protection. Kate had seen her pack it inside luggage and briefcases, no matter how short the trip this book had made its way amongst her belongings to be joining her.
Once, on an afternoon that had caught them all unawares with its tranquillity, Kate had happened upon Magnus sitting in the garden, legs curled beneath her on the bench. She had known she was there, that was for sure, for Magnus had given a rare relaxed smile in her direction. Kate had not wanted to intrude, and yet she was unable to move from the sight. And so she had stood, watching, as Magnus scratched away at her journal, the unrelenting nib of the pen tattooing the fibres of the page in such a way as to be audible even at her distance.
Kate knew that this was Magnus' personal journal, not the open logs she kept for Sanctuary records. She knew that it was important to her, private. And yet it had been left here for her to see. Magnus was many things, but she was not careless. Pulling herself from her contemplation, Kate groaned with the mere inches required to reach and pull the book to her.
She ran her hand over the supple leather of the cover, fingertips find divots and grooves that had been made by regular passage. The book was marked at nearly midway by a strip of lace, once white that had yellowed into a dark cream with no doubt considerable age. Kate opened to this page alone, somewhat surprised by how easily the pages slipped open. She could read the entire journal, she knew. She could soak up the words off every page. But she knew that that was not why it had been left. There was something Magnus had wanted her to see, something she was trusting her with, and she could never betray a trust that carried such vulnerability.
The handwriting looped across the page, a cursive that was old-fashioned by the simple virtue of its existence. There were no tell tale signs that Helen Magnus had learned to write in an age long past, and yet the slope of her hand caused Kate to realise that even from Magnus had she never received anything untyped. This gift of simple humanity from her was touching to Kate in a way that she would not have expected.
Her eyes travelling across the page, Kate saw her name appear several times and she prepared herself for what was to come. It had taken her a long time to admit it, even to herself, but what Magnus thought of her was important to Kate. To see these thoughts laid out so clearly, so honestly, scared her a little (a lot) and knew not what to hope for.
The entry chronicled their first mission together, the first mission the pair had undertaken without the others. She was unsurprised to see a mother's pained words, her mourning for Ashley forcing comparisons both favourable and not, between the two young women. And yet, despite the apparent grief, Kate read of a growing respect for her. A fondness. A friendship. They were words unlike she had ever had directed at herself. And the undeniable honesty of them bought her to tears. She knew she had hurt her with her carelessness, with her disregard for a life Magnus apparently held dear.
Slipping the lace carefully back between the pages, Kate let Magnus' lingering words fill her, healing hurts she hadn't known she carried.