Seymour tried to get out of bed, but Fiona pushed him back down again. “Dinna worry, I’ll fetch him back. You stay here. An’ you, too,” she added, pointing severely at the Alt-Mage, who had been about to leave the room. Reluctantly, he turned back, his face glowing faintly violet as his magic presumably worked to repair his shattered jaw.
Fiona swept through the door and closed it with a snap, leaving Seymour de Winter and Alasdair MacQuarrie shut inside.
“Has…has something like that happened before?” Seymour asked hoarsely.
The Alt-Mage nodded in reply. Seymour realized that it probably hurt too much for him to open his mouth. Yes-or-no questions, then.
“He’s hit you before?”
MacQuarrie shook his head in negation.
“Other people, then?”
No…well, maybe (this was conveyed as an afterthought with a shrug).
“But not here, though.”
Seymour had to break away from the interview for a moment to cough violently and uncontrollably, and when he recovered, he found that the mage had come to sit in the chair beside his bed. The luminescence on the lower part of his face had dimmed, and he was smiling slightly in what could only be described as wry sympathy. His eyebrows twitched in inquiry.
“I’ve been better, thanks,” Seymour replied, feeling his face twist to mirror the man’s. “And how are you?”
“Tell me when you can talk again, will you?”
Seymour lay back and pulled the blankets to his chin. He stared at the ceiling for a while, then rolled over to look towards the mage again. “Please don’t punish him.”
The man remained silent and motionless.
“Please, sir. Don’t hurt him. If someone must be blamed, then blame me. Just…just don’t punish him. Please.”
There was a long pause before MacQuarrie met his eyes. “I…won’t,” he said, wincing at the pain this declaration caused him. The violet glow faded entirely and he ran his tongue over his teeth. “I won’t…punish…either of you, Seymour. It’s not…in anyone’s interest. And it isn’t my place, anyway.”
Seymour raised his eyebrows. “And what, may I ask, brought about this sudden change in attitude?”
The mage patted him firmly on the shoulder. “I thought about it. All I’ve ever wanted for Seoc is that he be kept safe. Seems I can’t protect him from himself. Might as well give someone else a chance at it.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“You’re a good man, sir,” Seymour told him.
MacQuarrie smiled crookedly. “I try.”