Disclaimer: The Maiden of Autumn owns nothing.
Major canon-and-character fuckery, improbable things going on… a bit crackish, though presented in a serious tone. More of a what- if story, as in, "What if certain things that would never happen actually, did in fact, happen?"
Sometime near the end of the second book...
"Bartimaeus, can djinn grant wishes?"
The spirit, in his usual guise as Ptolemy, looked up from the window, cocking an eyebrow. "Where'd you get that ridiculous notion?"
His master, John, or Nathaniel, held up the book he was reading. Bartimaeus's eyes widened as he saw the title. Bloody hell, how had that book survived? All surviving copies had been hunted down and burned to prevent certain-wrong-knowledge from falling into the wrong hands. And yet, here was one.
The Complete Account of the True Nature of Demons. Blasted book.
"Where did you find that book?!" Bartimaeus demanded.
"I found it in a secret shelf in one of Ms. Whitwell's bookcases. Why should it matter?" John asked, narrowing coal-black eyes. "Just answer the question, demon."
"That book matters because of the knowledge it contains. All of it utter bollocks, but magicians believe it and to gain the benefits, such as wish-giving, many wars were started. Many good djinn were lost because of that book."
John looked down at the book, suddenly disgusted by it. As an active knowledge-seeker, to be deceived by a book horrified him. Huffing, he tossed the book onto his neatly made bed. "So you cannot grant wishes?"
"Nope. All of it was made up as an elaborate hoax as a prank on the emperor of Syria by his younger brother." Bartimaeus grinned. "Disappointed?"
Anything that made John miserable made him happy. It was amusing to watch the boy mope.
John sighed. "Not really. I don't need wishes. I have everything I want here, and wishing for the position I want to someday be granted would make me feel as if I didn't work for it- which I wouldn't have. There's no point of gaining anything if you haven't worked for it."
Bartimaeus was silent. For a moment there, John had reminded him of Ptolemy, with his insightfulness and views on working to gain something that you wanted. The similarity momentarily stunned him.
And for a moment, Bartimaeus felt guilty for lying to the boy that had reminded him of the one he had loved so long ago.
"Bartimaeus, can djinn grant wishes?"
Kitty stared up at the newly-erected statue of John Mandrake, the magician that had saved London-and perhaps the whole world- from Nouda. Bartimaeus was right next to her, summoned not long ago for an account of what had happened in that final battle.
"Don't be silly, Kitty," he replied, tucking his hands deeper into the coat he wore as a guise to better blend in. "Genies grant wishes, not djinni. Do I look like a big, blue, creature that lives in a lamp?"
That was the second- no, make that third time that someone had asked him that question. Ptolemy had asked it all those millennia ago, and he was the only one Bartimaeus ever gave the truthful answer to. Djinn were capable of granting wishes and of being granted wishes, if the person or djinn who had uttered the wish had been judged as worthy by the higher- ups. But only one human had ever known about this, and that was the only one that ever would.
"I suppose not," she said, still staring at John's statue. They had done it extremely well; every detail sculpted to perfection- the crease John got between his eyes when he was concentrating on something, the straight, firm line of his lips when he was determined to do something, and the way his hair blew back during windy days. Everything was perfect, from the straight line of his nose, to the shape of his overly large eyes, his square jawline and pointed chin, and his thin, almost scrawny body, and that damned, overly large cloak he always wore that made him look younger than he was while enveloped within its folds.
But it was the eyes that took Bartimaeus's breath away. Somehow, the sculptors had captured the certain glint John got in his eyes when Nathaniel was showing through. Peaceful, determined, and only the slightest hint afraid. It made the magician look more human, more… like Ptolemy. Only Nathaniel would never be like Ptolemy- he was a different entity unto himself.
But comparing Nathaniel to Ptolemy would be wrong. Ptolemy was warm and kind, innately curious and always trying to find a way to better the world around him. John was cold, and more prone to curse him than spare a kind word-or even a single bloody thank you. He seemed to only care about himself, and possessed a burning, voracious appetite for knowledge. Ptolemy was like the warm sun to John's cold moon. Their looks fit the celestial bodies they were compared to, as well.
Ptolemy was brown, with warm, sun-kissed skin and a ready smile on his face. John had white, almost ghostly skin, though under the moonlight, it seemed almost silver sometimes. And like the night that surrounded the moon, John had inky-black hair, always seeming to fall forward to linger in front of endless, cold eyes.
But at times when Nathaniel peeked through the cold demeanor of the magician John, the sun and moon seemed to merge within Nathaniel- almost becoming kind, while still trapped within that cold body.
It had been Nathaniel that had worried about the magicians as Simon Lovelace threatened to kill all of them by using Ramuh. It was Nathaniel that had dismissed him when he was so weak, he could barely keep his form as a frog, no nevermind of what all his superiors though. And it was at the end that Nathaniel had shown through, when he had dismissed Bartimaeus, to prevent him from dying in the explosion as well.
And it was Nathaniel that the sculptor had captured in this statue. Purely Nathaniel.
A hum from Kitty brought Bartimaeus back from his thoughts. "Still, it's a pity that you can't grant wishes."
Bartimaeus turned to her, cocking a blonde eyebrow. He had taken on the guise of a blonde newspaper boy he had seen earlier today, as he thought that an Egyptian boy would draw unwanted attention amongst the pale-skinned Londoners.
"Why, what would you wish for?" Bartimaeus asked. He turned back to continue staring at the statue he had decided he both hated- and loved. "You loved him, right?" he inclined his head towards the statue. "I could tell- I saw the look in your eyes when he said he would be back for you. But I think we all knew that he wasn't coming back- and I saw the broken look in your eyes, Kitty. If you could wish it, would you bring him back?"
Kitty opened her mouth, but then slowly closed it. She hesitated before slowly shaking her head. "No. I wouldn't."
Bartimaeus was stunned, to say the least. "Why? You miss him- I can see it in your eyes."
Kitty sighed, turning away from the stature, looking resolutely away from the statue. "I did love him, Bartimaeus. But, he was still a magician, and no matter how kind or caring he was, magicians are still better off dead. I'll never be able to forget what magicians have done to my friends and family- and myself." Kitty closed her eyes, before opening them and fixing them above, on the sky. "Although, if I did have a wish… I'd wish that he rests in peace, wherever the dead go. John is better off as a memory- not alive to turn into the cold magician he surely would have, and wreck countless other's lives."
And with that, Kitty was gone, walking stiffly away from the statue. Bartimaeus watched her go. "I never knew you to be that cold, Kitty. That's not love." he murmured, before turning back to the statue of Nathaniel, gazing up at it. "You died thinking that the wrong person loved you, Nat."
A moment of silence passed, before Bartimaeus started speaking. "If I had a wish…I'd wish that things could go back to the way they were before the Nouda fiasco, Nathaniel." He chuckled humorlessly at the state he had fallen into.
Here he was, not able to come up with one witty remark to address to the statue. Instead, he was acting like some bloody mature adult human or some rubbish like that.
But… perhaps he had matured. All that he had gone through with John -Nathaniel- had given him a different outlook on things. Not all magicians were bad, as Nathaniel had proved. Their training led them to be the cold, ruthless blighters they were, and the way djinn continuously sought to kill them didn't help the situation either. The two sides were both to blame, Bartimaeus had come to realize, but unfortunately, the epiphany had come right as Nathaniel committed that one last act, dismissing him instead of dragging him down to die with him.
That Ptolemy-like act, the act of Nathaniel surfacing and winning against John even with all his cold magician's upbringing had sobered him. No more did the snarky remarks and witty comebacks flow from his mouth- he was simply too tired, felt too ancient to continue on like this.
"Looks like you won out, Nat," Batimaeus murmured, gazing up at the statue. "John wasn't there in the end, was he? And I'm glad- John was slime, but you, Nat, you had potential to become something special. And you did, at the end. You helped me see things differently, Nat, and although we fought many times, I think it was because of the way you were… that I fell in love with you." He sighed. "We had some grand times, and no doubt, if you were here, you'd be obnoxiously bragging about your actions against Nouda and strutting about."
A cough came behind him, obnoxiously loud and obviously fake. Bartimaeus started to scowl, but stopped when a voice started speaking. "I do not strut." Bartimaeus whirled about as a ghostly white- skinned, lean, black- haired figure in a dark coat stepped up to his side, coal-black eyes fixed on the statue. "Although I do brag. But you have worse qualities."
Nathaniel turned his head to fix Bartimaeus a look, a single eyebrow raised.