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Magnus was seven years old when he finally made a friend. The house next door had been empty for as long as Magnus remembered, so when the day came that someone was finally moving into it, Magnus had to sit outside and watch. There was a boy moving in. Magnus couldn’t have been more excited.

It was very lonely living there. His father was gone most of the time and when he wasn’t, Magnus wished that he was.

Magnus would have been willing to do anything to get the boy to like him. He knocked on his door the day after they’d moved in. The boys' parents had come. They’d told Magnus that Ragnor wasn’t ready to go play yet. 

Magnus was disappointed but he hadn’t given up. The seventh time he’d knocked, Ragnor’s parents forced him to go outside. Magnus pretended that he didn’t hear Ragnor arguing with them about it.

It took a long time for Ragnor to warm up to him. Ragnor was angry a lot. He didn’t want to play games with Magnus. He wasn’t exactly the friend Magnus had imagined but he was a friend. 

Magnus loved Ragnor and eventually, Magnus thought Ragnor loved him too. They played in the creek. They made swords out of sticks and at the end of the day, Ragnor’s parents would bring them both inside for dinner. 

Magnus got more than a friend when Ragnor moved in. He got a family but that had all changed when Ragnor died. They’d been fifteen. They had been in the woods by the creek they’d practically grew up at and Ragnor had slipped. He hit his head on a rock. Magnus remembered looking at how much blood was coming from Ragnor and knowing that he wasn’t going to be okay.

Ragnor’s parents had moved out after. They said they loved Magnus and he was welcome to come over anytime. They’d given him their new address and he still had their phone number but after just losing Ragnor, it felt like too much of a betrayal. Magnus didn’t call them.

It had been months now and someone was moving in next door. Magnus watched them from his window. They had three children that all looked younger than Magnus. He was happy there was no one his age moving into the house. It would have been too painful. 

The odds weren’t in Magnus’ favor though because they did have another kid and he was almost exactly Magnus’ age. He took Ragnor’s room too. It took a long time for Magnus to warm up to Alec but Alec was persistent. He knocked on their door seven times before Magnus stopped pretending no one was home and opened it. 

Magnus finally knew how Ragnor had felt being forced to go outside with him when he wanted nothing more than to stay inside. He was happy Alec kept bothering him though. He hoped that Ragnor had been happy he’d kept bothering him too. 

Magnus knew he was.