“You’re taller than I am,” Kravitz points out, amused, but he ducks as he moves into Magnus’s study.
The scent of fresh-brewed tea and scones waft with them up the stairs. Higher in the house pervades the scent of raw wood, lending the top floor a permanent earthy smell, accompanied nicely by the food cooking downstairs. There’s another picture on the wall. It’s tucked between the image of Taako and Kravitz on their wedding day and Carey and Killian on theirs. (Magnus was best man for both.) The new one is of Angus, playing catch with Magnus: it’s composed of thick, dark strokes, clearly sketched in Lucretia’s hand, and the frame is of hand-wrought oak, the same oak of the trees surrounding Magnus’s home.
“Here we go!” Magnus says, retrieving the letter with a pleased a-ha!, and handing the letter to Kravitz. “For Julia.”
Kravitz accepts the letter with a reassuring nod, tucks it in the pocket of his suit. There are creases around the corners of this pocket where he’s tucked a letter in there hundreds of times before.
Angus is teaching Magnus to write more neatly, to line his letters correctly, where to use commas and where to use periods instead. Kravitz never reads Magnus’s letters, but Angus tells him that Magnus makes excellent progress.
The invitations to his and Taako’s wedding were written in Magnus’s own, painstaking hand.
Magnus shuts the drawer and says, almost absently, “Tell her I love her, okay?”
Kravitz pauses, debating. He takes a deep breath. “Magnus,” he says, and Magnus, detecting the shift in his tone, looks up immediately. “You know that she already knows, right? She knows that you love her,” Kravitz says gently. “You do tell her every time.”
Magnus chuckles, rubbing a sheepish hand along the back of his neck. “I know,” he says, turning a bit pink. “I just - I love her, you know? I really do. And I guess, when you love someone, you want to tell them that every chance you get.”
Kravitz thinks of Taako. Kravitz finds himself nodding, then finds himself blushing as well at Magnus’s knowing look. “I suppose you’re right,” Kravitz concedes.
Magnus smiles, gaze drifting to the picture-laden wall. The entire wall is pocketed with dozens of pictures of his family, all smiling back at him. “I can’t wait to tell her myself,” he says, voice wistful.
Kravitz stiffens. He struggles to find words. “Magnus….”
The hesitation in Kravitz’s tone breaks Magnus out of his reverie, and he laughs. “Don’t worry, Krav. I don’t look forward to dying anymore,” he says, and gestures around his home with one hand, the other clasping his Stone of Farspeech, a small smile suffusing his face. The smell of tea and scones drifts lightly around them, the burnished afternoon light cheery as it dapples off the wall. “I’ve got too much to live for.”
“Good,” Kravitz says, and means it. Magnus slings a companionable arm over his shoulder as they head back down the stairs, and after so long in the man’s company it’s a comfortable weight.
“Do make sure you tell her though, yeah?”
Kravitz laughs, a glint of humor in his eye. “Ten years and I’ve never failed you once,” he says, and Magnus chuckles at that.
“I know, I know,” he says, and his smile softens. “But I can’t tell her myself, so I’m entrusting it to you.”
He pats Magnus’s hand reassuringly as they reenter the kitchen. “Okay,” Kravitz promises, smiling quietly. “I will.”
Taako doesn’t believe in words. Words are too easily manipulated, he claims, and his manner of speaking reflects that: he is flippant, his inflections curling up with indifference. It’s not often that he makes promises or declarations with solemnity.
So when he says I love you Kravitz treasures it, not because it is a sacrifice, but because it is an absolute truth - it’s an admission of trust, that Taako loves him enough to hand over a part of his very soul and know that Kravitz will care for it, gently.
For a while Kravitz wondered, because Taako doesn’t say it often - not nearly as often as Magnus, who says it every time Kravitz retrieves this month’s letter. Then he realized: Taako cooks. He says I love you all the time; he just doesn’t use words. His affection goes into the pot roast that Magnus marks as his favorite, the perfectly-grilled salmon that Kravitz loves, the oolong-and-scones for Merle and the cinnamon-chocolate cookies for his sister, because Lup loves peanut butter but Barry is allergic.
In this regard, Kravitz is more similar to Magnus than he thought. Magnus, brave and brash Magnus - when he’s not crushing people in an embrace, or slinging a casual arm around them, or letting them rest a head on his shoulder, or pulling them into a noogie reminiscent of a bear’s iron grasp - sticks with his tried-and-true “I love you,” which he says with such painful earnestness that he leaves no room for doubt.
Where Magnus says those three words, Kravitz says “Thank you.”
Thank you, to Taako, for the salmon. Thank you, to Lup and Barry, for a tirade of relentless jokes after a long week of reaping. Thank you, to Merle, for the nuggets of wisdom he dispels and the return of Kravitz’s green thumb. Thank you, to Magnus, for the hand-crafted piano that is their living room’s crowning jewel.
Magnus’s wall is full, now. His pictures spill over to the opposite wall, ringing the window that leads to the field outside, where Angus and Johann scamper around the yard. The most recent addition is a group photo of the Starblaster crew at Merle’s beach bar. Twenty years after the Day of Story and Song, Lucretia and Davenport are arm-in-arm.
He hands Kravitz a letter. His handwriting is smoother these days, but he retains the thick lines that demonstrate just how similarly Magnus wields a pen and an axe. Before Magnus can say anything, Kravitz stops him.
“Thank you,” he says.
Magnus looks up, a smile on his face that suggests he knows exactly what Kravitz means. “What for?”
And Kravitz says, simply: “Everything.”
Magnus dies surrounded by family, smiling.
In the white space between life and death, Kravitz steps forward and outstretches an arm. Magnus accepts it gratefully. He’s as young as the day Kravitz first met him.
Kravitz leads him beyond, gently, easing the passing as much as he can. Magnus slings an arm around Kravitz’s shoulder as they go. They step onto an island, a cottage that is familiar to Kravitz. Kravitz can hear barking inside, as he always does, and Magnus steps forward, about to rush in, and -
Kravitz turns. “Yes?”
Magnus looks at the cottage for a long, long moment. Already, his eyes grow red, and Kravitz feels his own prickle sympathetically. Then he reaches into his jacket and pulls out a sheath of letters. After so long, the words are perfectly-formed. He hands them to Kravitz.
“You know what to do, my friend.”
Taako, says the first letter. Then, as Kravitz shuffles through the stack: Merle. Lucretia. Angus. Lup. Barry. Davenport. And at the bottom: Kravitz.
When Kravitz is confident he can speak without choking up, he says, “I’ll send these along.”
Kravitz laughs, quietly. “Of course, Magnus.”
Magnus watches him for a long moment, then steps forward and pulls him into an embrace.
Kravitz returns it gratefully. This is certainly not goodbye, but it’s melancholic all the same.
Magnus’s voice is almost small. “Tell them I love them, okay?”
We already know, Kravitz thinks. He thinks of the wall full of photos, the ever-present scent of homemade food in Magnus’s house, the vines curling up the woodwork. He thinks of the sketch of Julia, sketched in thick, dark strokes, that was created on their wedding day by a woman with curly black hair but a hood tight over her head. He thinks of the thumbtack under which Magnus has pinned every single one of Davenport’s postcards. He thinks of the second stack of letters Magnus keeps tucked right next to Julia’s, addressed in the same small, neat hand that taught Magnus how to write.
We know that season three of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is set around a year after season one, that means that in less than a year Valencia went from hating other women to having a core group of female friends. I’m so proud of my girl.