Eternal gratitude to Reeder for “Julia” (I heard it for the first time a long time before it was in the podcast, and I’ve only grown to love it more the more I listen to it), but I like to think that the song exists in canon. This isn’t something I’ve put a lot of thought into - I was just listening to the song and I thought it would be nice if it existed for these characters, too. There are a few ways this might be true.
Maybe eventually, as Magnus spends more time with his family, he tells them more about Julia. How much she would have loved all of them - how much all of them would have loved her. All of the little things she did that made him laugh, or made him fall for her again every day. She’s never there, but somehow she’s always there because Magnus is always talking about her. He tells all of their stories so many times that his whole family knows them by heart. And one day, for Candlenights or maybe even just because, Barry tells Magnus he has something for him and sits down at the piano. It’s not long before Magnus is crying, but he doesn’t notice because his attention is elsewhere. That’s her. That’s Julia, there in that song. He must have done a good job introducing her to his family, because they know her so well.
Learning to play can be difficult, but the piano is an accommodating instrument for beginners. All of the keys are laid out in front of you right from the start, all cards on the table, straightforward. In a way, that matches Magnus. It’s a stumbling start, and Barry demonstrates impressive patience as Magnus tries to master the new skill. Magnus is very good about practicing, though, and while he might not ever perform on a stage, he’s always been good with his hands. It’s nice to have something new to do with them while his thoughts are elsewhere. As time passes and his skill grows, he thinks about how much Julia would have liked to listen to him play, and the idea sticks in his head. When he’s ready, he asks Barry and Lup to listen to the song, and they note it down as he plays. It’s common to hear the music of that song streaming through the window and whispered in the streets of Raven’s Roost, in some small way filling an absence that’s been there for a long time. When Magnus isn’t there to play anymore, Lup or Barry sometimes still do; the title of the song, which only had one name before, is changed to two.
Julia could play. Julia could play and fill the whole room with music and laughter and joy. Before - and especially after - the revolution, she would visit the tavern and play loud, excited music while everyone there sang along or danced. Everything, everyone, was more alive when Julia played. When it was just the two of them, during quiet afternoons at the shop when the work was done, Julia played a different kind of music - soft and sweet, another part of her that Magnus had the honor of seeing more than anyone else. Somehow even with the town gone, the sheet music in the little oak chest survives, and he takes it with him when he leaves. Years later, that same sheet music held delicately in his hands, he explains to Lup who wrote it. Magnus doesn’t even have to ask; Lup squeezes his hand, sits down with him at the piano, and goes over the basics. Until Magnus can play the song for himself, she plays it for him; he sits in a rocker that smells like lavender and if he closes his eyes, he can pretend that it’s years ago and another lifetime and Julia is just across the room.
(Whatever the truth is, one day there is a piano and a set of sheet music in a little house on a little island. The house is filled with music even when no one plays.)