'I don't trust you,' Simon said, grasping Basil's forearm.
'Well, I don't trust you,' Basil spat at him. Actually spat at him, bits of wet landing on Simon's cheeks.
'Why do you need to trust me?' Simon asked. 'I'm the one hanging off a cliff!'
Basil looked down at him distastefully, his arm shaking from Simon's weight. He swung his other arm down and Simon grabbed at it.
'Douglas J. Henning,' Basil cursed breathlessly, his body inching forward. ‘Knowing you, you’ll bring the both of us down just to spite me.’
‘You’re not worth that,’ Simon spat, wishing Baz would focus his energy on pulling them safely from the cliff edge instead of taunting him.
‘Careful, Snow, I’m the only thing between you and a very steep fall.’
He supposed Baz had a point; maybe now wasn’t the best time for insults. Simon’s feet scrabbled against the cliff face, and rocks fell away like breadcrumbs under his sneakers. He gripped Baz’s upper arms like they were his lifeline (actually, they were his lifeline).
‘Stop squirming,’ Baz growled, his face strained. They were nose-to-nose now, and below them was nothing but air and certain death.
‘Crowley, Snow, you’re heavy.’ They moved back an inch. Encouraged, Baz heaved upwards. Simon’s foot hit the cliff at a painful angle, and a large chunk of rock clattered towards the ground. They both paused for a moment, counting the long seconds before they heard the rock smashing far below.
‘Snow, you twat!’ Baz was slipping now; his stomach was almost over the edge of the cliff.
For the first time it occurred to Simon that his roommate’s life was in danger.
‘Baz!’ Simon’s hands slipped; he was now holding onto Baz’s elbows. ‘Baz, I’m gonna fall.’
‘No, you’re not,’ Baz growled.
‘You’re gonna fall, Baz, let go!’
Baz’s left arm slid out of Simon’s grasp. This was it, his last moments on Earth would be spent staring at Baz’s snarling face. Was that going to be his great profound fate?
‘On love’s light wings!’ Baz’s wand was in his right hand, pointed at the sky. Both boys floated slowly upwards, connected by one hand. Baz wrapped his wand arm around Simon’s waist and they floated to safety, well behind the cliff face.
As soon as his feet hit the ground, Simon stumbled away from Baz. His heart was beating fast and he rounded on Baz.
‘You’re a magician! Of course! How could it possibly take you so long to think of that?’
‘I just saved your life, Snow, you’re welcome,’ Baz shook his head, shoving his wand back in his pocket. ‘Just fucking typical, Snow. I should’ve let you fall.’
‘Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? You finally get your chance, I’m practically dead, and you rush out and save my life? Are you sure you’re okay, Baz?’
Baz sneered and turned away. ‘When you die, Snow, it’ll be an epic defeat, not a fucking accident.’
It had been an unusual day.
Simon had woken up in the early hours of the morning, when it was still dark, and found Baz staring out their window up at the stars. That was weird in itself, but stranger yet was the wistful expression on his moonlit face. Dreamy-eyed was definitely not an expression Simon was used to seeing on his roommate’s face. Then again, it had been dark, and he had been barely awake, so he might have been mistaken. Baz was probably just doing some nighttime plotting.
Still, the image stayed in Simon’s mind through his dreams and he remembered it clearly as anything when he woke up.
After breakfast, Simon had gone back up to their room and found Baz hunched over a piece of paper, scribbling furiously. This was also unusual, as Baz never studied in their room and definitely never wrote down his plotting, at least not anywhere Simon had ever seen him. When Baz looked up and saw Simon standing in the doorway staring, his face went bright red and he immediately lit a flame in his hand and fed the paper to it. It would be an understatement to say that Simon found this extremely suspicious.
(It was also unsettling to see Baz blush so darkly. Simon felt the heat rush to his own cheeks, mirroring him.)
Then Simon watched Baz slip out towards the woods and impulsively decided to resume his fifth-year stalking practices. He walked a good distance behind Baz and treaded as softly as he could. They walked for at least an hour and Simon soon realised that the path they were taking was unfamiliar to him. He’d never been in this part of the woods before; he’d had no reason to wander this far. Baz walked quickly with purpose to his long strides and Simon was sure this wasn’t just a leisurely stroll. Baz was definitely up to something, and Simon was going to find out what it was.
The trees began to thin gradually, until Simon could see the open sky above him, and soon enough he was walking hesitantly among shrubs. If Baz happened to glance behind him, it would be impossible to hide. Simon waited until Baz was just a small figure in the distance before continuing to follow him.
In the blink of an eye, Simon lost sight of his roommate. He stopped, blinked, and searched again, but Baz was nowhere to be seen. His hand hovered by his hip, ready to call up the Sword of Mages at a moment’s notice. Cautiously, Simon moved forward again, his eyes scanning the horizon, looking for any sign of Baz or something more threatening.
He wasn’t sure how long he walked like this for; eventually, his hand fell back to his side and his mind started to wander. For some reason, he was thinking about the time he found Baz in an empty classroom playing the violin. He was thinking about how poised Baz had seemed, but not the sharp kind of control he usually displayed, it was something softer, more peaceful.
That was another strange moment of vulnerability he could add to today’s incidents. Except that in the case of the violin, even Simon couldn’t imagine how Baz could have been plotting. And the music had been so beautiful…
That was when Simon fell over the cliff. One second he was playing back the haunting emotion in Baz’s music and the next, he was stepping out into nothing, stumbling forward and almost toppling over to his death. It was lucky there was a small outcrop in the cliff edge to hang onto, and it was lucky Baz appeared out of nowhere to rush to his rescue, throwing himself onto the ground and grabbing onto Simon just before the rock fell away.
Simon was explaining all of this to Penny (except for the part where he thought Baz’s music was beautiful, because that was embarrassing) as they sat in the dining hall later that day, Simon scarfing down cherry scones while he talked. Penny watched him with her eyebrow raised, considering the information after Simon had finished talking.
‘On love’s light wings?’ she said finally. ‘That’s the spell Baz used?’
‘Really, Penny? Out of everything I said, and Baz disappearing, and the cliff, that’s the part that catches your atten…’ Simon let his sentence fall away. He hadn’t taken much notice of the spell before, due to the obviously more pressing concern of his imminent loss of life and then Baz’s arm around him, flying him to safety. But now he remembered the conversation he’d had with Penny in their fourth year where he’d complained about the uselessness of up, up, and away if you weren’t in the presence of a friend. Penny had told him about a different spell that could make you fly… that only worked if you were stupidly in love.
Simon stared at Penny, open-mouthed.
‘Baz is in love?’ he said dumbly.
Penny fell back in her chair, laughing.
Baz still wasn’t quite sure why he’d done it. Why he’d led Snow to the cliff once he realised he was being followed, only to turn around and save his life. He wasn’t sure if he’d made himself invisible to make sure Snow would actually walk off the cliff, or if he’d done it so that he could stand right nearby when it happened, ready to hold onto him. He hadn’t thought Snow would be stupid enough to actually fall off. He’d been watching the whole time, of course, and he’d seen the way Snow gradually let his guard down, staring into space, not looking where he was going. And then literally just walking straight off the cliff edge.
Crowley, Snow was more of an idiot than even Baz had realised. He shook his head in disbelief.
And now Snow was back to his old antics, following Baz around everywhere he went, peering at him over the edge of his books, sitting right behind him in class, never letting him out of his sight. Baz should have been used to this; Snow’s paranoia knew no bounds. After all these years, it still set his nerves on edge.
Baz was in class now, and Simon was right behind him, and he could physically feel Snow’s glare boring into the back of his head. He turned around and met Snow’s blue eyes with a cool stare, his lip curling slightly. What was surprising was that Simon’s stare was curious, puzzling, rather than his usual suspicious glare.
‘Baz,’ Snow said, after he’d turned back around.
‘What.’ Baz set his jaw and turned around to glare at Snow again.
‘Um. Just, you know, I didn’t say thanks. For saving my life. So yeah. Thanks.’
Baz rolled his eyes.
‘… You don’t mean that.’
‘Of course I don’t. Sod off, Snow.’
‘Though it was technically your fault I fell in the first place,’ Simon mused.
‘Not really. You walked right off the cliff, you moron.’
‘True, I guess,’ Simon mumbled, his cheeks going red. Snow blushed so much, it was ridiculous.
Baz couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking.
‘So, that spell you used,’ Snow said.
‘On love’s light wings. Apparently, you have to be -’
‘It’s a flight spell,’ Baz snapped. ‘And a difficult one. Too advanced for you, Chosen One.’
He was pretty sure he knew what Snow had been about to bring up. Too bad the boy was stupid enough to walk off a cliff, but apparently too smart not to have realised what Baz’s use of the spell meant. And Baz was never, ever talking about that. Certainly not with him.
But when Snow got an idea into his head, nothing would stop him. Baz found his roommate rummaging in his bags when he walked in the room that afternoon. Snow had never dared before, no matter how tempting it must have been, no matter how clear Baz made it that he was plotting Snow’s demise. He’d also made it very clear that Snow’s demise would be imminent if he so much as breathed near Baz’s belongings, and Snow had every reason to believe him.
And now, apparently, this was important enough to risk Baz’s wrath.
Snow looked guilty at having been caught, but not guilty enough, Baz thought. He cursed the Anathema.
Baz even found Snow talking to Dev and Niall in the hallway. He had cornered them after a class, it seemed, and was digging for information. Baz sent him away with his meanest glare and discovered that Snow had been not-so-subtly prying into his love life.
Curse that stupid spell. He should have let Snow fall rather than use it, and risk giving away the one secret that would be his undoing.
Because if Snow found out, Baz didn’t think he could survive.
‘I’ve tried everything I can think of,’ Simon complained. ‘I can’t figure it out. Dev and Niall were useless, of course. They probably don’t know. And if they did, they obviously wouldn’t tell me. And there was nothing in his bag. And he knows I’m following him so he never does anything to give it away. I think he’s intentionally trying to make me think he’s plotting, but he’s obviously just trying to lead me off the trail. He probably wasn’t even plotting the other day at the cliff. Maybe he was meeting someone.’
‘Simon Snow insisting that Baz isn’t plotting. The world is upside down!’ Penny declared.
They were sitting out by the pitch, Penny jotting down some notes for an assignment, Simon keeping a close eye on Baz. He’d already given up any pretense of having a good reason to be out here. Who cared if Baz knew Simon was watching him? Let him be unnerved, for once. But if Simon was trying to unnerve his roommate, he was definitely failing. Baz was as flawless as always on the pitch, his gaze full of steely determination, never wavering. Never giving anything away.
Simon growled, frustrated.
‘I just want to know who it is! It might be the first time I have a chance at getting the upper hand on Baz, in the eight years we’ve been doing this.’
‘Simon, you’re the Mage’s heir, I’m pretty sure you have the upper hand -’
‘Imagine, Penny, the idea, it’s ludicrous. Baz Pitch, in love! Can you imagine?’ he said, ignoring her.
She rolled her eyes. ‘Si, you’re obsessed.’
They both paused, watching Baz sprint down the field. He was strong, graceful, unstoppable. As if proving the point, Baz scored.
Simon shook his head.
‘Just look at him, Penny. That’s his weakness. His one weakness, the one thing that isn’t cold and hard and unbreakable. I gotta know who it is.’
But how could he ever find out? Baz would never do anything to give it away. Years of trying to unveil his plots made that clear to Simon. Baz would never be caught staring wistfully at some poor unsuspecting girl. Baz would never absentmindedly doodle her name in the margins of his homework. Baz would never give anything away or let his emotions overrule his conscious mind - what about his unconscious mind?
Simon rolled over under the covers and stared at his roommate’s sleeping form. Did vampires dream? What would Baz dream about, if he did? If only there was a spell for that, Simon thought. If only he could get into Baz’s dreams…
Baz being in love went against everything Simon knew about him - he was cold, and evil, and ruthless, and hateful. Simon couldn’t wrap his head around the idea.
Simon felt himself finally drifting off to sleep, thoughts and clues and ideas still fighting each other in his head. Who was it? Who did Baz love? How could he ever figure it out?
‘It’s you.’ It was Baz’s voice, murmuring in the dark.
Simon jolted awake and found himself still facing Baz’s side of the room. His eyes adjusted until he could make out the outline of Baz’s body in the dark, buried under the covers. He stayed perfectly still, listening hard. He was sure Baz had said something…
‘It’s you, Simon,’ Baz whispered, and this time Simon was sure he’d heard right. But minutes passed and Baz remained silent, and soon Simon drifted off to sleep.
Simon sat up and took in the empty room, Baz’s bed neatly made as always. He could hear water running in the bathroom. He yawned widely and stretched his arms over his head, then froze as he remembered last night. Slowly, Simon lowered his arms back to his sides and thought it over carefully.
He’d been tired. He’d been drifting in and out of sleep, and he wasn’t sure which phase he’d been in when Baz had spoken. It didn’t feel like a dream…
‘Good morning, Snow,’ Baz said pointedly. Simon realised he’d been staring as Baz walked out of the bathroom and over to the door.
‘It was until you came in,’ Simon answered automatically, his heart sinking.
Baz had called him Simon, he remembered.
That meant it had definitely been a dream.
Baz breathed a sigh of relief as he closed the door behind him.
Thank snakes, he thought. He doesn’t remember.
Simon hated it when he got these dreams. It happened every now and then, especially since he’d figured out that Baz was in love. The subconscious was a strange thing, and he had no control over it. It was random, and it meant nothing, but it was so annoying. He would think about the dream all day and blush every time he saw Baz, cursing his dreams for offering up such weird and repulsive suggestions.
But he could never get it out of his head.
And now he couldn’t convince himself he didn’t wish it was real.
He never could, anymore.
Baz had thought Simon was asleep. Obviously. He never would have said anything otherwise. Simon had been mumbling about Baz being in love. This was clearly the focus of all his recent investigations, and Baz knew he would never be speculating out loud unless he was talking in his sleep. So when Simon asked who he loved, Baz answered him. He just wanted to say it out loud. He just wanted to say it to Simon, just once.
And then he’d said it and Simon had stopped mumbling and Baz wasn’t sure but he thought maybe Simon’s eyes were open and he’d been terrified that Simon was awake and had heard him and now he was done for.
But it was okay. Simon didn’t remember.
Simon stopped following Baz around. He stopped asking questions.
He didn’t want to know anymore. He knew it wasn’t him, it would never be him.
He didn’t want to know who Baz loved.
Baz was feeling hopeful.
And that was treacherous. Hope was a dangerous thing to be feeling.
Simon had stopped following him around. He’d stopped asking questions. He’d stopped accusing him of plotting. He’d stopped throwing insults.
But he hadn’t stopped watching him out of the corner of his eye, and he hadn’t stopped being wary every time Baz was nearby, and, Crowley, he hadn’t stopped blushing.
Baz had to wonder if maybe Simon hadn’t forgotten that night. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
But hope was treacherous.
Simon hated this. He hated feeling this way and he wished he’d never realised the truth of it.
Because Simon was terrible at hiding his emotions, and he knew it, and Baz probably knew it.
And it was foolish, so foolish, to imagine that it could be him. His love’s light wings.
Simon was talking in his sleep again.
Baz had been hoping this would happen. He was already facing his roommate, cursing his loudly beating heart. He didn’t want to miss a word. Just in case…
Simon’s muttering was unintelligible. Every now and then, Baz caught a phrase.
‘I don’t know.’
That wasn’t helpful, that didn’t mean anything.
‘Don’t do that.’
That wasn’t helpful either. For Crowley’s sake, Snow, please say something.
He held his breath.
‘This is stupid.’
Please keep talking, Simon.
‘Penny, I think I love Baz.’
Simon was tired. He’d slept in fits last night and he had an assignment to work on and he still couldn’t get any of his spells right for Miss Possibelf’s class. He didn’t even want to acknowledge the other thing that was draining all his energy.
He was grumpy. And he was hungry, despite the heaping plate of breakfast in front of him. He was glaring at Baz, who sat with his friends a few feet away. He was glaring at Baz because Baz was smiling. Baz wasn’t smirking or sneering at something his friends said, or even smiling his ‘I have an evil plan up my sleeve’ smile, or his ‘Snow just majorly screwed up’ gloating smile. (Simon could tell the difference between all of Baz’s smiles.) He was grinning, a full-on beaming smile, his eyes dancing, and Simon was unnerved to say the least.
He told himself he was unnerved because anything that would make Baz that happy had to be really awful for him. He had a sneaking suspicion that the real reason he was so unnerved was because… well, Baz was beaming and it was like the fucking sun just exploded.
Baz wanted to let Simon stew a little longer. He could see Simon staring at him across the dining hall and it was all he could do not to squirm happily in his chair (that would be extremely mortifying. He would not do that.). He could see everything Simon was thinking; he could see nervous and terrified and all of the same angst Baz had felt over the past years.
And he wanted to do something big, something amazing to wipe it all away.
‘Come with me, Snow,’ Baz said, standing by the door. It was evening and Simon had just stopped in their room to drop off some books. He hadn’t expected to see Baz there (he’d started blushing as soon as he did). He definitely hadn’t expected Baz to speak to him or invite him anywhere (his mind started imagining all sorts of impossibilities as soon as he did).
‘Why?’ Simon asked, bewildered.
‘Just come on.’
Baz’s face was stoic now, giving nothing away. Maybe all the smiling really did have something to do with Simon’s imminent downfall…
He didn’t care.
He suspected that even if he knew he was heading towards certain death, he would still follow Baz there.
Baz walked silently towards the woods.
‘Going to shove me off the cliff this time, finish what you started?’
‘What you started, Snow,’ Baz said, smirking. Simon was going to get one hell of a surprise…
‘What were you even doing that day?’
‘You’re so nosey.’
‘I have plenty of reasons to be suspicious,’ Simon retorted.
‘Do you think I was plotting?’ Baz said, still smiling.
‘Do you think I’m plotting now?’
Simon honestly couldn’t say. Baz seemed too happy, he seemed almost giddy, and now Simon didn’t want to follow him. Whatever Baz did, he wasn’t sure he could hold it together. He wasn’t sure he could keep this secret anymore.
‘Are you coming, Snow?’
Baz looked behind him at Simon, standing frozen, torn between following him to the ends of the Earth and running as far away as he could.
Simon stared above Baz’s head; he couldn’t meet his eyes.
He might go off. Baz was staring at him and his heart was pounding so fast and he was terrified and he might go off.
‘Okay,’ Baz said suddenly, walking back to Simon’s side. ‘Okay. Forget the sunset and the stars and… it was stupid. Okay. I’ll just do this.’
Baz took Simon’s hand. They both stared as Baz wound his fingers through Simon’s.
Simon’s hand was prickling. This was a new kind of fire, different to the magic coursing beneath his skin.
He looked up from their joined hands into Baz’s grey eyes, dark now like a brewing storm.
Then Baz moved forward, impossibly slowly, and Simon felt his eyes closing. This couldn’t be real, this couldn’t be happening.
They were kissing now.
And it was definitely real. Even Simon’s dreams couldn’t invent something like this.
This was a new kind of fire.