The thought strikes in the middle of the night. In the middle of a really fantastic dream featuring Channing Tatum is when it comes to her, to be precise. While she's irked about that, she shuffles that to the back burner for just a bit. This new thought isn't really one she thinks she can brush away.
So she rolls over to wake up Quentin--Fen's back from Brakebills, and she and El have slept together most nights. It's strange that El's not here; they've shared a bed more often than she can count, since the first day they met. Then whenever one of them needed it when they were wrapped up in their first days of erratic spells, fingers that wouldn't bend the right ways, and wide-eyed wonder.
Here in Fillory, however, they hadn't much. It's part of the getting back to them (a concept she's not sure is even possible; they can't un-become the people this place is turning them into, un-become the people time is turning them into) that Margo really hopes works, but has a sad suspicion that it won't. It's not just the two of them anymore.
Now, the three of them--her, Eliot, and Q...that seems like it might have a less gloomy outlook even if it doesn't cover the Fen situation. But in Margo's experience, if Eliot's around, life is generally better. Or at least not as bad as it could be. It turns out she's beginning to feel that way about Q, too, though it is a bit different. Where Eliot flagrantly ignores problems and parties instead, Q sort of fixates and turns things over and over ad nauseam, which has never really been her way.
With Eliot, she's part of the distraction and usually too busy to slip into thinking about her problems. With Q, it's more of a misery loves company kind of ambience, but neither of them like company that hangs around too long, so they both actively try to pull the other onto steadier ground. It's...surprisingly effective. She feels less panicky about things for a while, at any rate, and Q smiles more after they have things like that out, even if they don't specifically mention or dissect their problems. He eventually makes things seem manageable, and that's not a quality Margo treats lightly in her companions; it's come in handy far too frequently lately for her, but it is useful.
Like now, for example, since she's about ready to hyperventilate. So she rolls over and shakes Quentin awake.
The first sound he makes is a pitiful sort of groan, and she winces. She'd forgotten about his shoulder. Trick had gotten them all the medicinal herbs and straight up drugs he could find, but without magic, they had to heal the old fashioned way, and that fucking mob had gotten in more than their share of hits in before she'd been able to calm them down.
Q had, of course, shown up as the mob had been carrying them off, and he'd tried to talk the people down. Between High Queen Margo ordering it, and King Quentin, who was seen very little and still somehow mysteriously interesting (though there were rumors he'd killed Ember, which endeared them rather less to the mass of people but did make him more intriguing), showing up, things had calmed some. Not quite as quickly as she would have preferred, but it was far better than having things escalate any further. (She gets it, she does: their High Queen and High King had been turned into puppets, and erratic ones at that, and they didn't realize someone else was pulling their strings; they'd just thought their royalty was batshit.) Because seriously, rotten mushrooms? They couldn't find *anything* else to throw? If she didn't know now why the Fairy Queen had demanded the fucking things planted, she'd think it had been so their people would have lots of ready ammunition to chuck at the High Queen and High King.
At one point just after Q had shown up but hadn't spoken yet, she'd just begun to be relieved they weren't rocks. She'd turned to Q, eyes too wide in fear. "I am not taking part in some live action role play based on The fucking Lottery!" she'd shouted. Quentin just shrugged. "Have you read it? This town, they stone--"
"It could be worse," Q interrupts her. When she looked at him like he was as nuts as his statement suggested, he'd shouted back at her. "I've read Lord of the Flies, too!"
Well, he had a point. The feeling was still awful. It wasn't so much the act of being stoned-- or mushroomed-- that's the really disturbing thing. It's that the people--for whom she's tried so hard, fought so hard, negotiated so shrewdly, schemed so complexly, scraped so low, crawled so humbly, for in an attempt to gain every last shred of power and inch of leverage she could because they needed it to improve Fillory-- for whom she became a High Queen worthy of them, (even as parts of herself were stripped away, every last inch of her deliberately carved and sculpted for them)--that her subjects would be the ones to turn on her. And likely would again. Possibly with even more violence. Hopefully with fewer projectiles.
That is what's most painful.
Her hands were still shaking even when they turned in for the night. This wasn't supposed to be like this. She didn't realize it would be so painful--they'd been playing explorers, pretending Narnia was stuffed inside the trippy Harry Potter world they'd been living in, joking around when they found the crowns; it'd been a lark and a decent way to break up the boredom. Then shit got real, real fast. There was a certain inane flippancy with which they'd treated their positions and the court's expectations at first, or there had been in the way Eliot dealt with being High King, and Margo originally had as High Queen. But now...oh, now. It may have taken them a while to understand the gravity of their situation, but they couldn't miss it now.
The Fillorians expected their rulers to rule, not party, and with growing skill (though for Margo and Eliot, it wasn't an either/or thing; they were going to rule *and* party); they needed the problems they presented to the court to be tackled and addressed with an awareness of the complexity each issue. They expected they be addressed with acumen and wisdom. They needed their High Queen and High King to be discerning and selective when it comes to their behavior, not freaking out about their positions; acting instead with increasing percipience, discretion, and insight into the lives of their subjects and their kingdom
Which is all well and good until they have faeries on their backs who their subjects cannot see. It leads to...well, it lead to earlier tonight.
On their way back, El looked shaken and scared, but he doesn't look as completely gutted and crushed like Margo feelt. (Though, to be fair, she was rockin' the whole stoic queen look pretty hard all day while he sort of gave in to the shock and panic a bit, so it wasn't like she'd been much comfort to him, either.) Now that the three of them are back in the castle--with some kind of farmer turned guard--Quentin's heard both her and El go on quite a bit about this already tonight. In fact, that's why he suggested they retreat to the Royal Chambers.
The repetition of his suggestion and the steady decline in Margo's patience and Eliot's resilience are what finally allows Q to get them to their feet, and at the very least, move this particular conversation someplace in which it would be more difficult than standing next to the door or behind a pillar to spy on them. They'd agreed, but then realized they didn't feel like rehashing it one more time, anyway.
Margo's thinking maybe she should have had another drink before she fell into bed, because now she's awake with this terrible thought she can't shake. Nor can she avoid thinking about the revolution hoping to gain serious traction, though they managed to shut it down for tonight.
The inevitable second round of uprising, the weird pit of loneliness sinking like a stone in her stomach, the black hole forming under her sternum that sucked in everything, every positive emotion or thought--and most negative ones, too--into it (things she'd used to feel regularly, until she'd found Eliot), and the unexpected rising panic at the idea of having Fillory taken away...it's all made a perfect storm of anxiety and tension that has left Margo unable to sleep alone anymore.
She's pretty sure she'll love Q forever for noticing this.
For realizing Eliot's got to sleep with his wife most nights, realizing that left Margo in either an empty bed or with strangers, and realizing with all this shit going on she could use something more useful than someone to just scratch an itch. Because, yeah, sure, they weren't unfamiliar with the scratching, but he knew it was about more than that, and when they turned in for the night, he'd just followed her along, as if there'd never been any question about where he'd be sleeping, like he'd never slept anywhere else in the castle. (Though now that she thinks about it, she's not sure where he *has* slept before now.) *That's* what she loves about him. Those quick flashes of brilliance and insight and when he acts on them. (He's also really good at sex--apparently he got lectured for...hours about sex magic once, but she's still impressed stammering, nervous, unsure Quentin gives head like a fucking pro. Eliot's impressed, too, so it's not jut her.) He can be strangely empathetic even while he's close to spiraling out himself, and she's surprised at how much she admires and appreciates that. She shakes his arm again, gently this time, but enough for him to actually respond..
"Hnghh, Margo?" Quentin rolls over. While he still had a way to go to reach the level she and El were on, she's always been impressed with his ability to maintain mobility and accurate proprioception when cognitive function should have been too impaired to maintain either. He just claimed he'd had a lot of practice; anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, Adderall...his body was used to operating while under the influence of chemically altering substances. "What's up?" He rubs his hand across his eyes, trying to pay attention.
"I thought of something," she says slowly. "And I was having a really good dream, too," she adds, still a bit bitter.
"The one with Channing Tatum?" he asks, trying to blink himself awake.
"Not this time," she grins at him.
And they're awake.
"So what woke you up?"
"The Fairy Queen; or, well, thinking about her." Margo pauses, thinking. "Though, really, interrupting my dream at that particular moment is just the kind of dick move that bitch likes, so maybe it was her." She shivers at the though, and can see Q's alarm written on his face.
"We can come back to that. What thought?" Margo remembers being surprised the first time she'd seen him study--she'd expected him to be the one to distract Alice with completely unrelated conversation, but it turned out Q could be really focused and task-oriented when he needed to be.
"It's sort of--whatever, just bare with me," she glances back at him, and he nods. He's fairly familiar with the way her brain works, which is nice. "We got here trying to fight the beast, right?" She takes a deep breath. "And he was horrible and awful, but also just an abused kid who grew up and wanted to take it out on the world. We worked that out together, used magic together, and we got rid of the guy. But once we sent him packing, then we had to deal with apathetic gods who were going to exterminate us because they were bored. Getting rid of them was more complicated, and everybody sort of..."
"Had to grow up," Quentin finishes for her. He really wishes he didn't know where he thought she was going with this.
"Exactly, and when the gods...left, the faeries showed up." Margo pauses, working out how to say this next part. "They forced our hands in so many ways, but sometimes...I felt like I ended up learning how to be a better Queen," she finally just says. "Eliot sometimes still--I make the calls that they need me to." She tries not to think about the way her own eye squished in her hand, tries to focus more on talking to the ship, that had felt good. Quentin's nodding along, which doesn't make her feel any better this time. "So what if...what if she knew something bigger was coming for us, and was trying to prepare us? She talked a lot about how to be a leader of my people."
"You mean what if something else is really the Big Bad, someone worse than the faeries?"
"Maybe she wasn't growing an army with which to attack us, but one which would defend Fillory?" That's Margo's fear, and it won't go away.
The possibility seems to drop a stone pit into the middle of Q as he thinks it over. The growing sense of dread is growing faster than he can control it. Because what she's saying doesn't sound that far-fetched. It would be just like the faeries to make them think everything they'd ordered done was just whimsy or to make them look like fools when it really was part of a bigger plan.
"Oh god." His voice sounds hollow, even to himself.
"Exactly." Now that it's off her chest, it still doesn't feel any better.
Beside her, Q takes several deep breaths before he speaks again. "Okay, what time is it, anyway?"
They don't exactly have clocks in Fillory, but Margo's spent enough nights lying awake in here to recognize the quality of darkness. "Zero dark thirty," she replies. Morning, the sun anyway, is a long way off.
"Jessica Chastain is a gift," Quentin replies like it's almost relevant. Margo hums in agreement, amused he's started making comments like that randomly like she and Eliot do. And honestly, even if she enjoys watching The Huntsman more than tense drama in the middle east, she can't refute his point. "It's late enough we should try and get some sleep. We can work this out in the morning. Isn't El supposed to have a free morning?"
"So we can tackle our impending doom together, or figure out how to re-align ourselves with the faeries in case they're not as twisted as fuck like we always thought?" Margo's not really good at waiting.
"Oh, I'm pretty sure they're still fucking' twisted assholes who only look out for themselves, I just think we might need to make us a part of who they look out for. I think an argument could be made for the fact that keeping the High Queen and King in place as leaders of the humans keeps Fillory running smoothly in a way that allows the humans to keep out of faerie business," Q said. Margo looked over, a little impressed. If there was one way to get on that queen's side, it would be by helping her protect her faeries.
She sighs. "Okay, yeah. We have a lot to talk about in the morning, you're right."
Quentin smiled and lifted his arm. Margo scootched across the bed until she'd arranged herself to her satisfaction, using him as a body pillow. He was quite good at being one; she appreciated how little fuss he made about physical contact. With her and Eliot on a rougher terrain than usual, they didn't absently drape themselves over one another any longer, and it turned out she missed the contact. Q wasn't Eliot, not that she wanted him to be, but he was comforting in his own right, and she was pretty sure that if he kept playing with her hair the way he was, and rubbing her back, she was going to be out like a light, before she could worry much more..