Chapter 1: People are Magic
When Todd wakes up, he’s cold. It’s not the kind of cold that comes from lack of blankets, or having the air conditioner on too high. No, this cold came from loneliness. This happens a lot. But he deals with it. It never goes away, but it’s not as prominent sometimes. Right now though, he feels almost like ice. For a few minutes, he just sits in his bed, deciding if he should go downstairs or not. When he sees it’s almost three in the morning, and he thinks he won’t disturb anyone, he walks downstairs.
Almost immediately he realizes that people are awake. There’s only one possibility, after all, they’re the only students who haven’t left Brakebills. He doesn’t want to annoy anyone, but he really needs some warmth right now. Deciding to risk it, he walks into the kitchen and begins to make hot chocolate. He can hear them all in cottage’s living room, Eliot’s voice just a little louder then the others. They’re talking about Blackspire. He knows it’s probably an important conversation so he does his best to hurry up as to not disturb any of them.
“That shit will kill you.” He jumps when he hears her voice. When he turns to her Margo is simply staring at him with a single eyebrow raised, arms crossed.
After his heart stops racing from the scare she give him, he gives her a shy smile and shrugs. “There’s worse ways to go.” When she simply keeps staring at him, he rubs the back of his neck in guilt. “I-uh, I’m sorry. I really didn’t know anyone was awake until I came downstairs, I didn’t mean to bother you all.”
She squints her eyes at him, both of them. He’s still getting used to the fact that she has two eyes again, though he’ll never say it out loud, or course. After a moment she uncrosses her arms and shrugs. “You didn’t. They all have their heads so far up Blackspire’s ass they didn’t even notice you.”
He nods, clasping the warm cup in his hand. “You did.” It’s not a question. He can’t tell if she’s mad or not.
“I notice a lot nowadays.” She points to her right eye. “Fairy eye.”
“Holy shit, really? That’s so cool!” He doesn’t mean to get excited, he really doesn’t. They never told him how she got a new eye, he just knew she did. He had assumed Julia had fixed it for her. While Julia is cool, this was off the charts awesome and he couldn’t contain the outburst. He blushes slightly. “Sorry.”
She waves her hand, signaling it’s fine. “Your aura is practically buzzing. I may not like you all that much, but being a High King has unfortunately made me more caring, so, you wanna spill and tell me what’s got your panties in a twist?”
He wants to ask her about his aura, so badly, but he doesn’t. “Oh, no, I’m fine, just a little cold is all.” She clearly doesn’t believe him but she lets it slide. She leaves the kitchen and he’s not sure why, but he follows her.
She’s not far. She’s leaning against the entryway to the living room, watching all her friends. That word rattles around in his for a few seconds.
Julia is sitting between Quentin and Eliot on the sofa in front of the window. They’re all looking at some sort of map but Todd doesn’t miss the way Quentin and Eliot look at each other when they think the other isn’t looking. Josh is sitting on top of the table, talking to Penny twenty three about something while he lounges on the couch. Kady and Alice are more separate from the group. Alice is sitting in the hidden nook by the bookshelf reading a book that he immediately recognizes as the Tale of the Seven Keys. Kady is simply leaning against a wall, not looking at anything in particular, but sometimes her eyes move towards Penny twenty three and her face doesn’t show it, but to Todd her eyes tell a lot, and he knows she’s sad. He can’t even begin to imagine what she’s feeling.
It feels almost like he and Margo are on the outside looking in. But it’s really only him. She belongs, he doesn’t. Her face and eyes barely reveal anything but he knows she’s upset about something. He’s awkward, and probably unwelcome. He knows that. But he admires these people, Margo especially, and he doesn’t like when any of them are upset. “Can I tell you a secret?”
Margo looks at him like he’s grown two heads but eventually nods at him. “If we never get magic back, I’d be okay with that.”
Her eyes widen slightly. “Are you shitting me? A world without magic is fucking hideous.”
He smiles at her and shrugs. “Not to me. When I was accepted into Brakebills, I thought magic was going to fix everything. I thought I’d never be lonely or have any problems ever again. Obviously, I was wrong. Even when I had magic, I was still lonely. I still didn’t have any friends, not really. And after it was gone, that really didn’t change at all. But.” He moves his eyes away from her and back to the group. “But what did change was how I looked at things. How I look at people changed. I thought magic was my answer to loneliness, but it’s not. People are. Now that it’s gone I can see that. People are better than magic. Being able to move stuff with a flick of my wrist and learning how to do all kinds of magic was great, but people? People are magic too.”
She rolls her eyes at him. “I’d tell you that if you were even sappier then you already are you might be accused of having a pussy, but, I’ve seen your dick.”
He ignores her harshness and smiles sadly at the group. “Magic isn’t a permanent fix to anything, but people are. People will love you unconditionally and they’ll listen to your thoughts, your worries, your hopes, and when you’re sad or lonely, they’ll cheer you up. And to me? That’s magic. I haven’t ever gotten to experience that kind of magic before, but I know if I ever do, I’ll be extremely lucky. People are magic, Margo. They really are.”
The two of them don’t say anything for a while, just stand in silence and watch the others.
“You know,” He looks back towards Margo when he hears her voice. “You’re kinda not the worst.” He beams at her. From anyone else, that wouldn’t be a compliment, but coming from Margo, it’s the biggest compliment he’s ever gotten. She walks towards the group and looks at him, silently asking if he’s coming and he almost trips in his rush to follow her.
And when Margo subtly asks for his opinion on something, he knows it’s her way of telling him that he’s welcome in the group in her eyes.
He shyly asks Josh if he’d like his hot chocolate because he knows Josh loves sweets and when he smiles at him and takes it, thanking him, Todd feels lucky. Todd doesn’t need the warm drink. Especially not when Penny twenty three meets his eyes and nods to the spot next to him on the couch, telling Todd he’s free to sit there. And he does. Josh and Penny quickly add him into the conversation they’re having about music and Todd looks over at Margo where she’s sitting next to Eliot, hoping his eyes are conveying how extremely grateful he is. She rolls her eyes and mouths the word pussy at him but he knows there’s no true meanness behind it. When Penny asks him a question, he’s more than happy to answer.
Suddenly, he’s not cold anymore.
Chapter 2: Peaches and Plums
Who asked for some Queliot angst? No one? Oh, okay. Well you’re getting it anyway.
Everyone is panicking, and, crying and screaming. Except for him and Julia. Julia, he can tell, like him, has accepted that this is happening. It’s breaking them, but they’ve accepted it. They make eye contact through the glass and Julia gives him a sad, watery smile which he does his best to return.
He doesn’t know if the library is extremely cruel, or if they’re confident, but there’s two of them in each of the room. Except Penny twenty three. Penny is alone. And Alice is just gone, she’s somewhere else. Julia is with Kady, and Kady is screaming while Julia gently shushes her and rubs her back. Margo is with Josh and he wishes he could see her, but he can’t. He can hear her though, and she’s crying.
He’s with Quentin. And Quentin is panicking.
He’s not breathing properly and he’s sitting on the floor while sobs wrack his body and Eliot’s heart breaks a little more but he knows they don’t have long. Their memories will be gone soon and Eliot needs to do this now and he doesn’t have time to comfort him.
He also knows that if he attempts to comfort him, he’ll break down as well. And that can’t happen. Not right now. In a minute, but not right now.
“Quentin.” The younger man doesn’t look up at him, he just keeps sobbing into his knees. Eliot kneels down and gently holds his chin, making Quentin look at him. “Quentin, baby, I need you to listen to me. I need you to calm down and listen to me.” Quentin tries his best to do just that but he can’t. Eliot takes in a deep, shaky breath.
“Quentin, please.” His voice breaks at the end and that’s enough to make Quentin stop sobbing, now crying quietly while trying to breathe. “I’m going to say goodbye to you now, okay?”
Quentin stares at him in shock. “Wh-what? No! We’re gonna fight this! We’re not-we’re gonna be fine, why are you giving up? El, you can’t give up. You can’t just say goodbye to me!”
Eliot wants nothing more than to pull him into his arms and hold him until he doesn’t remember his name, but he can’t. “I have too.” He takes Quentin’s hands in his and squeezes. “I have too because that’s all we’re going to get right now. Q, we’re not getting out of this. Not this time. I’m sorry baby, but we’re not.”
Quentin let’s out a sound like he’s choking and Eliot has to force the tears away. “This is happening. These people are fucking disgusting and what they’re doing is evil, but this is happening, and I need to say goodbye to you, because that’s all we’re going to get for now. You’re going to find me. You’re going to remember. I have the utmost faith in you, you are going to find me, all of us, but for now, I’m saying goodbye. I love you Quentin Coldwater. So much that it physically hurts. I need you to know that I don’t regret a single thing that happened between us, and I need you to know that you and Margo are my favorite people in the entire universe and I’m not going to know it, but I’m going to miss you like crazy. This isn’t forever Quentin, it’s not.” He’s letting the tears fall now. “Peaches and plums.” He squeezes his hands even tighter. “Peaches and plums, Q.”
Quentin begins to sob again but he rests his forehead against Eliot’s and nods. “P-peaches and plums. I love you too El, I love you so much. I’ll find you, I’ll remember, I swear to every fucking god that I’ll find you.”
Eliot cups his cheek in his palm. “When you remember, not if, when, I need you to find Julia first, okay? Make her remember, then find us. Promise me you’ll find her first.” Julia is the most powerful out of all of them, goddess or not. She’s also extremely intelligent and Eliot knows Julia will find them in a snap once she remembers.
Quentin can’t do anything but nod and he’s hiccuping and there’s snot dripping from his nose but Eliot doesn’t care. He grabs Quentin and pulls him into his arms, connecting their lips and letting their tears mingle together. They don’t stop kissing, not even when they run out of breath.
Peaches and plums.
Peaches and plums.
Peaches and plums.
Peaches and plums.
What was he thinking about?
Chapter 3: Later
Something is wrong, something is very wrong.
Something is wrong. She knows. She doesn’t need magic to understand that.
She can feel it.
It’s nothing specific, but it’s a heavy weight on her chest. It’s gnawing at her and she can feel it. Almost like it’s watching. Like it’s there, just outside of her view, smiling at the fact that she can’t figure it out. For now, she puts it into the back of her mind. Julia can do a lot of things, but she can’t predict the future. There’s no use worrying about something that she can’t figure out, something that probably won’t even happen.
Later, she’ll wish she had worried more.
Later, she’ll understand.
During breakfast, her chest tightens. It’s not painful. It’s not pleasant, but it’s not painful. It feels like there’s something squeezing her chest, like there’s vines wrapped around her body. But it doesn’t hurt.
Later, she’ll wish it had hurt. Maybe then she could’ve acted faster.
They’re all together when she feels it again. There’s nothing out of place, everything is as it should be. Eliot, Quentin, and Alice are studying the keys while the rest of the group are planning on what they’re going to do when they get to Blackspire. They’re all scared, but they’re also happy. Josh is making conversation with Margo and whatever he’s saying has her smirking. There’s nothing wrong.
But there is.
Something is very, very wrong.
Penny twenty three notices she’s not herself. When he asks what’s wrong, she tells him it’s nothing, that everything is fine. She doesn’t like to lie, not anymore, and it makes her gross in a way. But still, she lies.
Later, when Eliot is sobbing and the others are panicking, she’ll wish she had been honest.
After everyone goes to bed, Julia goes to sit outside to get some fresh air. It’s almost to silent and it scares her but she pushes it away and focuses on another feeling. She can still feel it, but now she can almost see it. Like it’s there, hiding, just out of her line of sight.
Later, she’ll wish she had looked harder.
The next day, the feeling is gone and she’s relieved. She shouldn’t have been.
It’s almost five in the morning two days later when she figures it out. When it rushes into her. Immediately she goes to stop it, to prevent it from happening.
By then, of course, it’s too late. She’s too late.
Quentin is already gone.
Chapter 4: Dreams
Slight AU where Quentin subconsciously remembers the people he loves after he becomes Brian. My headcanon is that Brian is a fiction writer because I feel like that fits Quentin perfectly.
Brian dreams. Every night he dreams, and while he can never remember the events, he always remembers the people. He’s not a genius, but he’s smart enough to know that he’s never met these people in his life. And yet, he dreams of them every night. Sometimes it’s only one of them, sometimes they’re all together. Last night he dreamt of the beautiful girl with the long curly brown hair who, for reasons he can’t understand, has a glow. Not a glow as in she’s gorgeous, though she is. A literal glow surrounds her every time he sees her. Everything that happens in the dreams always fades, but the people stay.
The person he dreams of tonight is a man. He’s tall with light brown eyes and dark wavy hair. He’s beautiful. He’s eloquent in a way that Brian doesn’t know how to explain, walking as if he’s floating with a smile that could light up a room and probably stop armies in their tracks. Being bisexual, he’s obviously had crushes on men before, but never like this. This man doesn’t even exist, and yet he’s almost familiar in a way.
Later on, at his desk, he’s thinking of the man again. He doesn’t remember the events, obviously, but he does remember the way the taller man beamed at him and instantly he’s filled with butterflies.
“Sir?” He jumps slightly at his receptionists voice and looks up at her. By the look on her face she’s already tried to get his attention a few times. His eyes flick to her blonde hair that’s tied up in a graceful bun and the color reminds him of a girl he’s dreamt about. She furrows her eyebrows at him. “Are you okay?”
Quickly snapping out of it, he nods. “Yeah. Uh, yeah. I’m fine. What’s up?”
“I’ve got your publicist on line two.”
He swallows nervously and nods. “Uh, right. Okay. Thanks, Josie.”
She gives him a knowing smile. “I haven’t told her you’re here. Just that I’d check. If you want I could tell her you’re on lunch?”
He grins at her. “You are an absolute angel.”
She laughs slightly and shakes her head. “Angels don’t lie.” She gives him a playful smirk. “Go. You need to get out of your head. Why don’t you go get a coffee?”
He does just that. When he’s walking back to his office he decides that a quick trip to the bookstore couldn’t hurt. After all, it’s on the way. After making a few selections he pays and leaves, walking outside to go back to the office.
“Quentin, I found you.” Brian looks up and gasps inwardly. It’s not possible. He’s dreaming. He’s losing his mind.
He’s not. The gorgeous wavy haired man is standing in front of him. But. That’s not his name. He laughs shyly, disappointment coming with the shyness and shakes his head. “No sorry, I’m Brian.” He wishes he was Quentin, because this man is even more gorgeous in person.
“Do a card trick for me.” He looks at the man in confusion. A card trick? Sure, he went through a magic phase when he was younger but he hasn’t done a card trick in years.
He gives him an awkward smile. “I’m sorry, you have the wrong person.” He walks away and goes around a corner.
Only to bump into him again. He looks behind himself in shock? How? That shouldn’t have been possible. “Will you play with me?” The man from his dreams is smiling at him but it gives Brian a slight sinking feeling in his gut so he looks around to see who’s close and to his shock the streets are empty. Another thing that shouldn’t be possible. “Don’t be afraid,” The man is standing toe to toe with him. In his dreams, this mans height was something he loved. But now, it’s something that scares him because he’s practically looming over him. “Things are so much more fun when you do them with a friend.” And then his eyes are flashing orange.
And Brian’s world goes black.
He dreams of this gorgeous man. And he dreams of a child.
Chapter 5: Monsters
It’s not real. It was only a nightmare.
Alright, so, a few things about this chapter.
1. I have a headcanon of what Julia’s new name is, and I gave it to her in this.
2. Even though her memories are gone, I wanted their to be a small hint about the fact that she used to be a godddess, and because her title was “our lady of the tree”, I added a bit in that I hope you all like.
3. After going through the trauma Julia did, you don’t easily forget, memories erased or not, hence her reaction.
4. I have this headcanon (that I actually hope isn’t true) that because the producers love to make us suffer, they’re going to give one of the characters a child in the memory loss arch, and I wanted to write about that.
When she hears screaming, she’s immediately jolted awake. It takes less than a second for her to wake up fully, and then she’s running down the hall to where the screaming is coming from. She pushes the door open and sitting up in bed is her daughter. Her beautiful, perfect angel of a daughter and she’s sobbing. Immediately she’s next to her on the bed, holding her and rocking her back and forth. “Shh, shh sweet girl, it’s okay, it was just a nightmare.”
Her daughter is still crying and it breaks her heart. She loves this person that she created with every fiber of her being and it’s killing her that she can’t do anything but hold her while she calms down. After a few minutes, she calms down enough that she’s able to communicate what happened. “There was a monster, he took you away and told me I’d never see you again!”
“Oh, sweetheart, no.” She leans against the headboard and pulls her daughter to rest between her legs. “I’m right here, see? It’s okay. I’m safe. You’re safe.” She brushes her hair from her face and gently wipes her tears away.
“It was so real mama, he was so real.”
“I know, I know, but it wasn’t real.” She pulls her closer against her chest. “How about I tell you a story?”
Her daughter merely sniffles and nods. “How about I tell you about how you got your name?”
Again, she just nods. “Alright. Well, you know how much I love nature. Flowers, animals, all of that.”
She nods a third time but this time she speaks. “You used to have a garden.”
She smiles and kisses her forehead. “I did. When I found out I was having a girl, I got so excited because then I could name you after a flower. Violet, Rose, Lily, Daisy, I thought about all those names. But then, on the night you were born, so many things went wrong.”
“I was sick.”
She nods. She hates thinking about it, hates thinking about that one terrifying minute where her baby wasn’t breathing. Five years later and her throat still burns from screaming at the nurses. “You were, but you pulled through. And then when I held you, I realized that none of those would fit. I wanted to name you after something strong, because you were so little but you were already so strong, and then I remembered the tree I had in my backyard when I was little. It survived a tornado, it survived hurricanes, and it survived being struck by lightning, and so I named you after the type of tree it was.”
“A willow tree.”
She smiles and stares into her daughters hazel eyes. “Yes, the willow tree. You’re my willow tree. My Willow. You’re so strong, sweet girl, you don’t need to worry about monsters. In fact, they should be worried.” Absentmindedly, she begins to braid her dark brown hair. “No monster can hurt you.”
“But mama,” Willow turns in her arms to look up at her. “He wasn’t after me, he was after you.”
They way Willow says it scares her. There’s a harsh fear in her daughters voice, and it’s unwavering. The kind of fear a five year old should never know. “Well, it’s a good thing you’re around to protect me.” She holds up Willow’s hand against her own. “Do you remember?”
Willow finally smiles and moves her fingers. “Five fingers for five wonderful things.” She wiggles her pinky finger. “Courage.” She wiggles her ring finger. “Wisdom.” She wiggles her middle finger. “Kindness.” She wiggles her pointer finger. “Honesty.”
She wiggles her thumb and looks up at her mother expectantly and her mother smiles, and kisses her thumb. “And a touch of love. Wonderful things about a wonderful girl.” She squeezes her hand before letting go and allowing Willow to rest her head in her lap.
“Is there a special reason behind your name too, mama?”
She laughs softly and shakes her head. “No, I think my mom and dad just liked the name Phoebe.”
After a few minutes of Phoebe humming a lullaby, Willow finally goes to sleep and she stands up, heading for the door. “Mama?”
Phoebe turns back around. “What is it, sweet girl?”
“The monster. He told me his name. After he took you away, he told me his name.”
“What was his name?”
Phoebe has no idea why, but that name sends a shiver down her spine and makes the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Her heart is racing as well, but she smiles at Willow in what she hopes is a reassuring way. “Monster or not, no one will take me away from you. I promise. Now try and get back to bed, okay? I love you.”
When she steps out into the hallway and gently closes the door, Phoebe notices her hands are shaking. The name shouldn’t seem familiar. It shouldn’t be scary. But it is.
She pushes the fear away and slowly walks back to her own room. Nothing will ever take her away from her daughter. Nothing. And nothing will take her daughter away from her.
She’ll set the world on fire before she lets that happen.
Chapter 6: A kiss and a fist
Quentin’s reaction to finding out Penny 23 kissed Julia.
Quentin isn’t really paying attention to the conversation that the group is having, to focused on the keys.
“So, wait, let me get this straight.” Eliot’s voice interrupts Julia’s. “There’s a Marina from another timeline just..running around the city and Penny from that timeline was in love with that timelines Julia?”
Julia nods. “Yeah, he said that we were soulmates.” Her eyes move to where Kady is sitting but she refuses to even look at Julia.
Margo scoffs. “Well that’s a mind fuck.”
Julia simply shrugs her shoulders. “To him too. I mean, when he saw me he just..grabbed me and kissed me.”
Quentin’s head snaps up at this. “He kissed you?”
“Yeah, it was..weird. Especially after when I had to tell him I wasn’t his Julia.”
Quentin is no longer laying on the couch, instead he’s sitting up. “Wait. He kissed you..without your consent?” There’s anger in his voice that’s slowly rising to the surface. “What the fuck?”
Julia sees what’s happening and immediately makes it her mission to calm him down. “Q, he didn’t know. It’s o-“
“Don’t say it’s okay, Julia! I mean, what kind of-“
He’s interrupted when the door swings open and Penny twenty three walks in holding a bag with what looks to be groceries. “Uh, hi.” He gives Julia a soft smile which seems to make Quentin even angrier.
As if he’s suddenly developed super speed, Quentin is across the room in seconds, glaring at him. “What the hell gives you the right to touch somebody without their consent?”
Julia is on her feet and she walks over to them, gently putting her hand on Quentin’s shoulder. “Quentin, stop.”
But he doesn’t. “Do you have any idea what she’s been through?! No, of course you don’t, because you don’t know her, you don’t know this version of Julia!”
Penny is now glaring back at him. “Maybe I don’t know her in this timeline but in my timeline we were pretty..” He smirks at Quentin and Julia gets a sinking feeling in her stomach. Penny has always been an antagonizer and that definitely hasn’t changed. “Friendly, if you know what I mean.”
Thinking he’s won, he turns to walk upstairs but then.
Then Quentin is grabbing him and he’s punched him right in the jaw.
At this, Eliot and Margo are no longer just watching, they’re now trying to calm Quentin down as well. Kady, however, is still acting indifferent.
“What the hell you fucking psycho?!” Penny shoves him backwards into the wall. “What’s your problem?”
Quentin shoves him back, harder. “My problem is that you kissed my best friend without her consent!”
Penny let’s out a mocking laugh. “Dude so what? It was a kiss! What’s big deal?”
“She was raped you absolute idiot!”
“What?” Penny turns to look at Julia who’s now glaring at Quentin. “Jules, holy shit, I-“
He doesn’t get to finish what he was going to say because Quentin punches him again, making him stumble backwards. For a second he’s stunned but then Penny let’s out a growl and immediately lunges at him. Both of them are ignoring the others yelling at them to stop until Julia physically steps in.
Her eyes are glowing the slightest bit and both men are frozen. After a few moments she lets them go and they both fall to their knees, Quentin getting up first. “This is over. Do you understand me? This is done. We don’t have time to be fucking fighting each other.” Quentin looks at her for a few seconds before storming up the stairs to his room. Eliot moves to go after him but Julia shakes her head and sighs. “I think this one is mine.”
Quentin is sitting on his bed when she walks in. He’s calmed down considerably but she can see the tightness in his shoulders. “What you said Quentin..that wasn’t your right. I’m the only one who has the right to choose to share what happened to me, if it at all.”
Quentin doesn’t say anything and after a couple minutes Julia moves to leave but then he lets out a sob and she’s immediately sitting next to him on the bed. “Q..”
“I’m sorry, fuck, I’m sorry. Thinking about what happened to you kills me, Jules. If I hadn’t pushed you away, if I hadn’t been such a dick to you in the past then maybe..”
He trails off and Julia swallows. Oh. “What happened to me was not your fault Quentin. Reynard is a monster. It is nobody’s fault but his.”
He looks up at her and she wants to cry too because he looks so defeated. “Just..the thought of someone touching you like that again without your consent makes me sick. Afterwards, I promised myself I’d protect you. And obviously I can’t. I know it was just a kiss, but I always thought that I’d be able to stop anything remotely similar from happening to you and I just..obviously I failed.” He let’s out a choked sob and Julia takes his hand.
“Oh Q..you didn’t fail, you really didn’t. You know I can take care of myself, especially now. If I had felt threatened Penny would’ve flown across the room in a heartbeat. I understand what you’re saying, but you can’t be around all the time Quentin, and that’s okay. I’m a big girl Q, I’ll be okay.”
He takes in a shaky breath and nods. “I just..you’re my best friend, Julia.”
She squeezes his hand. “And you’re mine. But no more starting fights to defend me, okay? Unless I ask, of course.” There’s humor in her voice and it gets him to crack a small smile. She leans her head on his shoulder and he leans his head on the side of her head. “We’re going to be okay.”
They sit in a comfortable silence for a few minutes before Quentin speaks. “I’m not going to apologize for punching him. Our timeline or not, I’ve wanted to hit Penny for a very long time.”
Julia let’s out an actual giggle at that and he feels her nod, squeezing his hands. Not just because she wants to reassure him, but because when she takes both his hands, her hands glow and the aching that was starting to bloom in his knuckles is immediately gone. “Okay, fair enough.”
Chapter 7: Graham Crackers
“I’ll always protect you.”
Slight trigger warning for self harm.
Quentin is terrified. His hands are shaking and he feels like he’s going to vomit, but he doesn’t stop walking. He keeps telling himself that he’s going to be okay, that nothing bad will happen.
After all, it’s only kindergarten.
He’s just recently turned five and for the past three weeks his parents have been telling him how much fun he’s going to have, that he’s going to learn all sorts of new things. And that he’s going to make lots of friends. He’s not entirely sure about that last one, but he’s going to try. The small classroom is full of vibrant colors and there’s letters on the walls, and there’s color charts on some of them as well. All of the other children are there, running around and introducing themselves and choosing where they’re going to sit.
Quentin chooses to sit at a table that’s in the back, he’s nervous and unsure but he manages to walk to the table without tripping over himself. A few other children eventually sit at the table with him but they don’t converse with him, clearly having already found their buddies for the rest of the year. He almost talks to one of the other boys at his table, but he chickens out. A few moments later their teacher comes in and tells them all to be quiet, that it’s time to learn. To him, it seems that he’s the only one who listens to her. That is, until he sees a girl in the very front of the classroom with her hands neatly folded in her lap, waiting for their teacher to begin the first lesson of the year.
The rest of the day is uneventful, until snack time. Their teacher hands out graham crackers to everyone as a treat, and before Quentin can even bite into his, it’s being taken from him. The boy who took it from him is slightly taller and he’s smirking at Quentin, as if asking him what he’s going to do about it. Of course, he does nothing. Just when all hope is lost, the girl he saw at the front of the class that morning is poking the boy in the back and glaring at him. “That’s not yours.”
They both look at her and the boy glares back. “Finders keepers.”
She crosses her arms and pouts angrily. “You didn’t find it, you stole it.”
Quentin wants to tell her that it’s fine, that it’s just a graham cracker and he can have it, but he’s to shocked too. The girl is pretty, he quickly realizes. Dark brown hair and light brown eyes. He can’t believe that she’s standing up for him. No one has ever stood up for him before.
He must have zoned out because now the other boy is stomping off and the girl is handing him the graham cracker. “Oh..thanks.”
The girl smiles at him and nods. “Trevor is dumb, don’t worry about him. I’m Julia Wicker. What’s your name?” She sits next to him and he gives her a small, shy smile.
“I’m Quentin Coldwater.” He waits for her to laugh at him, the sort of laughter that always comes when he introduces himself, but she just keeps on smiling.
“That’s a really cool name. If you want, we could be friends, and I could protect you and stuff.” Quentin almost says no because she’s a girl and he doesn’t want to be called a sissy but after a moment he nods.
She beams at him and for the rest of the day they share crayons and when his parents come to get him, he’s over the moon excited to tell them all about his new friend.
When they’re ten, Julia gets braces. She cries for a whole hour because she thinks she looks ugly despite how many times Quentin tells her the opposite. She knows he’s not one to lie, but she still doesn’t believe him.
On Sunday, she goes over to his house and they spend the entire day in the treehouse that his father built, pretending that they’re in Fillory and that school was just a distant memory. Not even coming down for lunch, his mother had to put their sandwiches in a basket that had a rope attached to it so they could pull it up.
Unfortunately, school was not a distant memory and Julia had to leave a few hours later to make sure she was well rested, despite her protests that knights didn’t need sleep. Her mother’s counter argument was that knights do, in fact, need sleep, how else are they supposed to protect the citizens? To that, Julia begrudgingly agreed and waved goodbye to Quentin, telling him she’d see him tomorrow morning.
That was a lie. An accidental one, but still a lie. In the morning when he walks up the stairs, he expects Julia to be waiting for him like always but she’s not there so he has no choice but to walk in alone. He’s alone in homeroom for ten minutes before she walks through the door. He can tell by the redness of her eyes that she’s been crying and his heart stops. He wants to ask her what’s wrong as soon as he sees her but a sharp glare from their teacher stops him in his tracks. He stares at the clock for the rest of the forty five minutes and when the bell rings, Julia is already halfway out the door and he’s immediately running after her.
“Julia! Jules! Stop, wait up!” She doesn’t listen, and for a minute he’s distracted because, how is she so much faster than him? He immediately shakes the thought from his head and practically sprints to catch up with her and thankfully, he does. He’s panting and Julia is looking everywhere but his face. “J, what’s wrong? Why were you crying?”
“Not now, Quentin.” Her voice is a whisper and he frowns at her.
“Hey, brace face!” He whips around to see a boy a year older then them cackling as if he hadn’t just used one of the most outdated phrases in the history of braces.
He glares at him and turns back to Julia who’s attempting to walk away and before he can grab her elbow the boy is taunting her again. “What’s the matter metal mouth? Can’t here me?” Julia keeps on walking and the boy whispers to his friends and they all laugh at whatever he said and then he’s crumpling up a piece of paper and sends it flying.
Right into the side of Julia’s head.
If you were to ask Quentin exactly what happened next, he really wouldn’t be able to tell you. All he knows is that one minute he was standing on one side of the hallway, and the next he’s standing over Julia’s bully, fist throbbing while the boy gapes up at him in shock.
When both sets of parents pick them up early from school, he can tell that though they’re angry, his dad is slightly proud that he stood up for Julia. And he’s proud too, the week of being grounded is totally worth it.
Until it isn’t. Later that night, he finds he misses Julia immensely and of course, he hatches an escape plan. As high king of Fillory, it’s his job to find his knight. Thankfully, said knight lives directly across the street. Making sure both of his parents are asleep, he goes into the kitchen to grab something from the pantry before quietly opening the back door and doing his best to sneak around front. When he’s in the clear, he sprints across the road and goes to the side of the Wicker house where he knows Julia’s room is. Lucky for him, her bedroom is on the first floor.
He has to knock a few times but eventually she comes to her window and slides it open, giving him space to climb into her room. He’s slightly breathless but he manages to smile at her and hold up a box. “Graham cracker?”
She tries to resist but she can’t help but to smile at him and nod, both of them sitting on her bed. “You didn’t have to punch him, you know.”
Quentin shrugs. “I know. But Dylan is a dick.”
She lets out a laugh at that and shakes her head, her curls bouncing slightly. “I’m supposed to be the knight, remember?”
He smiles at her. “I remember. But I want to protect you too, Julia.” She gives him a soft smile while breaking off a piece of a graham cracker. “I’ll always protect you, Jules.”
She looks up at him again. “Promise?”
He grins and holds out his pinky finger. “I pinky promise.”
She wraps her pinky finger around his and beams at him.
To Quentin, it’s like the sun just came out.
At fourteen, Quentin realizes he’s short for his age, despite having a growth spurt over the last year. He also knows he’s not the best looking. Which is why, when Alyssa Diaz asks him on a date, he almost faints from shock before sputtering out a yes.
When he tells her, Julia is reasonably skeptical, after all, Alyssa is one of, if not the most popular girl in school. Despite her skepticism, Julia is happy for him and she even offers to help him plan where to take her, but he tells her that she’s already worked out all the details. He doesn’t notice, but when he says that, Julia’s eyes squint ever so slightly but she doesn’t say anything, she could be wrong, maybe Alyssa is a nice girl and they’ll have a great time on their date.
She’s not. And they don’t.
He should’ve known, really. When things seem to good to be true, they usually are.
It started off okay, at least to him. They went to a movie and he bought the snacks and afterwards they decided to go to a small diner for milkshakes. He really should’ve seen it coming.
When four of their schools football players come in and start heading straight to their table, his throat becomes dry. Alyssa is smirking into her glass and Quentin has to force himself not cry, because that will only make everything worse.
Andrew, the quarterback has just made a joke about how he stupid he is but he isn’t listening because Alyssa is agreeing and laughing along with them. And then, Andrew is forcing him to stand and he’s picking up Quentin’s still full milkshake and is dumping it onto his head. Except, he’s not.
He doesn’t know how, and sure as hell doesn’t know when, but Julia is there, and her entire head and face is dripping from what he quickly realizes is the chocolate milkshake that was meant for him. Everyone, him included, is gaping at her.
It’s as if she doesn’t even know that there’s liquid dripping off her as she turns to Alyssa. “You may be pretty, but you have the ugliest heart I’ve ever seen, and one day, you’re going to be sorry for being such a terrible person.” And with that, she’s dragging Quentin out of the diner and into the parking lot.
Quentin is still registering what just happened as they walk down the sidewalk. “I-wha-how-Julia!”
She stops and gives him a small, slightly sad smile. “I sort of followed you. I heard Bryce and Andrew talking about their stupid plan after school on the bus and I was going to warn you but you weren’t home, so I asked your mom where you were and I followed you.”
“You..” He’s dumbfounded. He was still embarrassed, but she had stopped it from turning into a humiliating situation. “You took a milkshake for me.”
She laughs at that, wiping her face with one hand. “Quentin, I would take a bullet for you.” She says it with such sincerity that he finds himself tearing up. “I’ll always protect you.”
He smiles back, knowingly. “Promise?”
Her pinky finger is already wrapping around his. “Pinky promise.”
He grins at her and swipes some of the milkshake off her nose, licking his finger and making her laugh. “Come on,” She wraps her arm around his shoulder. “Let’s go make s’mores without the chocolate and the marshmallows.”
“J, that’s just graham crackers.”
She smirks at him and nods. “I know.”
Julia is the first to get her license and on her sixteenth birthday her parents give her their old car. Both she and Quentin are ecstatic because to them, a car equals freedom. It also means Julia can not only stop taking the bus, but she can drive Quentin to and from school as well so his parents no longer have too. The car is far from fancy but neither of them mind. Every morning and every night they blast their favorite songs and sing along completely off key while laughing until their stomachs hurt.
One night, Julia asks him to drive with her to the beach, even though it’s about an hour drive. He doesn’t understand why she wants to, but he of course goes with her. She doesn’t sing along to the radio this time, and after a while he falls silent and simply turns it off. When they get there, she gets out and walks towards the water and he simply follows behind her. For a minute, they just stare at the moon reflecting on the water and when he opens his mouth to say something, Julia screams.
He jumps in shock and says nothing as does she does it two more times. He’s been best friends with Julia Wicker for eleven years now, and he likes to think he know her better than anyone, but this. This is different. After the third time, she collapses on her knees into the sand and he sits next to her. He doesn’t ask what’s wrong, knowing she’ll simply tell him. “Collin hit me today.” Her voice is slightly raspier than usual, most likely from the screaming.
Collin. Julia’s boyfriend for the last six months. Quentin has never liked him, but he seemed to make Julia happy so he kept his mouth shut, but now he wishes he hadn’t. “He..what?” There’s a rage inside him threatening to build up but she continues speaking.
She doesn’t look at him, just keeps staring out at the ocean. “I caught him cheating and I confronted him. I was yelling at him and all of a sudden he just..slapped me. He apologized after but I broke up with him.”
Quentin nods, once. “Good.”
“I’ve never seen someone look so..so angry. He threatened me. Said I’d regret it.” Finally, she looks over and meets his eyes. “I’m scared, Q.”
He pulls her close and she leans her head on his shoulder. “If he tries anything, anything, I’ll beat the shit out of him.”
He can tell she’s crying because suddenly his shoulder is wet. “I really thought he loved me, Quentin. I really did. I’m so stupid.”
He brushes her hair away from her face. “You aren’t stupid, Jules. He’s stupid. You deserve so much more than someone who would willingly lay a hand on someone they claim to love.”
Silence falls around them again again until she speak. “You’ll always protect me, right?”
He nods. “I promise.”
They connect their pinky fingers. “Pinky promise.”
They watch the waves crash against the shore for another hour until they decide to go home. Quentin can’t help but chuckle when Julia tells him there’s a box of graham crackers in the glove department. For the entire ride, they sing songs written about terrible men.
At nineteen years old, Julia is already exhausted from college, which is why she drives an hour to visit Quentin at his dorm, picking up Chinese food on the way. He gave her an extra key so she simply walks up the door and unlocks it, pushing it open. “Hey, so, I’m being absolutely murd-“ she freezes in place when she sees Quentin, sitting on his bed, with a razor blade on his arm looking like a deer caught in headlights. “What the fuck? Quentin!” She’s running and grabbing the blade from his hand, not caring that she cuts her finger while doing so. He’s crying and apologizing and she runs to his bathroom to grab a towel and presses it over the cuts.
They aren’t deep, thank god, and they stop bleeding after a few minutes. “Q..what did you do?”
He’s crying and shaking his head. “I wasn’t trying to kill myself, I swear. I just..this makes the pain stop sometimes.”
“Oh, Quentin..” She gently takes his hands, intertwining their fingers. “I didn’t know it had gotten to this point. Q, you have to tell someone.”
He sniffles and nods. “I know, I know. I will, I swear.” For the next half hour he tells her how stressed he’s been, how the depression was really starting to get to him and he had only started doing this last month. Julia asks if there’s any other things he’s been harming himself with and though he says no, Julia checks every inch of his room to make sure, then she flushes the razor blade.
“Q, I love you, so much..if you don’t tell someone, I’m going to.”
He hiccups and simply nods. “I’ll tell the campus psychiatrist tomorrow.”
“Okay. Okay, that’s good.” She cleans the small cuts for him and puts bandaids on the ones that need them. She puts on a movie and lets him rest his head on her lap while she plays gently with his hair. “I’m always going to protect you Quentin Coldwater, even if I have to protect you from yourself.”
He’s quiet but he lifts his hand up, silently asking the question. She wraps her pinky finger around his and kisses the palm of his hand. “I pinky promise.”
Now, while she’s sleeping on the sofa in the physical kids cottage, he feels a pang go through his chest. He puts the book about the seven keys on the table and carefully covers her with a blanket, doing his best not to wake her. He notices with a large sadness that the only time she looks remotely relaxed is when she’s asleep, and even then it doesn’t always last, nightmares slipping in from time to time. He gently moves her hair from her face and sighs. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect you, Jules.”
And with that, instead of going up to his room, he decides to crash on the other sofa, just in case she needs him. He wasn’t able to protect her from Reynard, but he’ll protect her from the nightmares. He’ll make damn sure of that.
In the morning, for breakfast, they share a box of graham crackers. And there’s no promise, because they can’t promise anything anymore, but for the hell of it, just because they can, they connect their pinky fingers together and when it makes her smile, he breathes a little easier.
Chapter 8: Beautiful Thief
Slight AU in which Julia has a familiar.
Being able to hear prays, Julia quickly realizes, is both a gift and a curse. It’s a gift more than it is a curse, but still. It’s so new to her that she doesn’t have full control over it yet, and sometimes she hears so many at once that it overwhelms her. When that happens she usually hides herself in Eliot’s old room and meditates to try and get a handle on all of them. Today, however, is different. She doesn’t know why, or what, but there’s something gnawing at her, something practically pushing her outside so instead of hiding, she decides to go for a walk. She slips on a knee length cable knit violet sweater over black skinny jeans and slides on simple black flats, and deciding she doesn’t want her hair loose she ties it up in a simple loose plait braid. The sweater is slightly to big, the sleeves going an inch past her fingertips but she doesn’t mind, sometimes she likes to just swim in her clothes.
When she walks downstairs, Quentin is the only one there and she gives him a soft smile. “Hey. I’m going out for a bit.”
He gives her a slightly concerned look. “Everything okay?”
She nods, tucking a piece of hair that fell out of the braid behind her ear. “Yeah, I just need some fresh air. If you need me just..send out a thought and I’ll come. I won’t be long though.”
He seems to study her for a moment, like he’s trying to decide if she’s really alright or if something’s wrong but eventually he smiles back at her. “Alright. I’ll be here.”
She gives him one last smile before stepping out into the slightly chilly weather. Closing the door behind her, she inhales deeply and begins to walk down a path that she knows leads to a wooded area. It’s secluded when she gets there. She’s not surprised, after all, so many people had left Brakebills after magic was shut off. It doesn’t bother her though, she enjoys the sounds of nature. Wind whips through the trees and she can hear birds singing to each other off in the distance. She walks for about fifteen minutes when she hears it.
Somewhere to her right there’s the sound of leaves crunching and for a minute she’s startled, fingers twitching and ready. But then she hears the whimper and immediately she relaxes. Carefully, just in case she does actually have something to be worried about, she walks towards the sound and after walking for about two minutes she finds the source and she gasps.
There’s a fox, a beautiful silver fox tangled in barbed wire. Every few seconds it tries to stand and bite at the wire before whining in both pain and exhaustion. Slowly, she walks towards it and when it notices her it growls and tries to run, failing miserably and falling. She crouches down slightly and walks closer. “Shh, it’s okay. You’re okay.” It starts to breathe rapidly when she kneels down next to it and she pulls her hand back when it snaps it’s teeth at her. “Hey, alright. You poor thing. Let’s get you out of this, huh?” Realizing she probably shouldn’t touch it if she doesn’t want a bite mark on her hand, she breathes in deeply and closes her eyes, her hands glowing ever so slightly.
And just like that, the barbed wire is gone and she expects the animal to run off but it doesn’t and she quickly realizes why. There’s blood in its fur and there’s a noticeable gash on it’s right hind leg. It’s extremely skinny as well. Too skinny. She can’t help it if she can’t touch it, so she decides to attempt to at least partially gain its trust. She sits cross legged in front of it and it growls again. “I’m not a threat. I know you’re hurt, and I know you’re scared, but I promise you’re safe now.”
She stares into its eyes and it stares back. She doesn’t know what happens, but there’s suddenly a warmth in her chest and it’s as if the world almost pauses. Carefully, she moves her hand towards its nose to allow it to smell her. It doesn’t try to bite her this time, though it’s still wary. She can almost see the change in its eyes. The fear doesn’t vanish but it shrinks and she can a bit of trust seep through. Slowly and gently, she picks it up and wraps it in the bottom of her sweater. She doesn’t know if it’s calm because it’s too tired to fight her, or because it trusts her, but she immediately teleports herself back to the physical kids cottage.
Quentin jumps and drops the book he’s reading when she appears. “Jesus! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.” He quickly notices the fox and stares at Julia, slightly wide eyed. “Uh..what-“
“He’s hurt.” She interrupts him and sits on the floor near the bookshelf, laying the animal in front of her. “And freezing. Q, can you get a blanket?”
Shaking out of his shock, he does exactly that and hands it to her, crouching behind her. She carefully puts it on top of the animal and begins to inspect the wounds. The gash is deep, and it looks like it was possibly made by a person. “Do you think you can heal it?” Quentin questions from behind her.
She inhales deeply, slightly shakily. “I’m going to try.” Quentin watches as she flattens her palms and gently puts them on the animals leg. It whines from the pain but as soon as her hands start glowing it stops and sags in relief. “Okay. Main issue solved.”
Quentin furrows his eyebrows. “Main issue?”
She turns her head and gives him an exhausted smile. “Do you know what foxes eat?”
Once it had been completely healed and fattened up slightly, Julia expected it to leave, but it’s been a week, and he’s still here. He follows her everywhere and most everyone has taken a liking to him.
Currently, she’s sitting on the couch under the window and he’s curled up on the floor by her feet. A couple of days ago Josh had suggested that maybe this animal is her familiar. Julia has never really believed in those, but the more time she spends with the fox, the more she realizes it’s possible.
Kady, Quentin, Alice, and Josh are sitting on the couches discussing the keys when Kady looks over at her. “Are you ever going to name that thing?” She asks.
Julia’s head snaps up from her book. “What?”
Quentin nods in agreement. “I don’t think he’s going anywhere, especially if he’s your familiar. Don’t you think you should give him a name?”
They’re looking at her expectantly, and so is the fox. She studies him for a moment, smiling. “Yeah, I should probably give him a name.” His tail wags slightly and her smile grows. “Not yet though, I want it to be something good.”
At that, she goes back to her book and the others go back to talking about the keys.
A week later, he’s by her side when she walk down the stairs and she opens the door for him and immediately he’s running out towards the forest. She watches until he disappears into the bushes and sits herself next to Quentin on the couch. Eliot scrunches up his nose at her. “Aren’t you afraid he won’t come back?”
She looks at the older man and grins. “No. He always comes back. He’s a fox, he’s still partially wild and he needs to run, but he always comes back.”
And she’s right. Two hours later he’s scratching at the door and Julia opens it. He walks in and circles around her legs, causing her to laugh slightly. She notices something in his mouth and kneels to see what he has. When he drops a twenty dollar bill in her hand she has to cover her mouth to keep from laughing. “Again? Three days ago you brought me a ring someone lost in the forest and now you’re bringing me money?” She scratches his head and smiles. “The ring I can tell you found in the forest, but this I’m pretty sure you stole.” He just stares at her happily and she grins. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Little thief.” She pauses at that. “Hmm.”
He tilts his head at her, as if asking what she’s thinking. Suddenly she’s beaming at him. “Newel.”
“What’d you say?” Quentin and Kady are walking down the stairs and she can hear Margo coming down behind them.
She stands up and looks at them. “I think I’ve figured out his name.”
Margo scoffs. “About time.”
Quentin raises an eyebrow. “What name?”
They all stare at her for a moment. “Jewel? As in, Julia and Jewel?” Kady questions, smirking slightly.
Julia shakes her head. “No. Newel. Like Jewel, but with an N.”
Penny twenty three and Josh come towards then from the kitchen. “What’s that mean?” Josh inquires.
“It’s from a book,” Julia explains. “There was a character, Newel. His name meant beautiful thief.”
They all turn to stare at the fox who’s cleaning his fur. Penny twenty three shrugs. “Yeah, that fits.”
Quentin smiles at her, nodding. “I like it.”
Julia kneels back down and pets his fur. “What do you think, hmm? Newel?” In response, the silver fox makes a happy whining sound and licks her hand. She looks up at the rest of the group and grins. “I think that’s a yes.”
When Eliot and Alice join them, they all begin to discuss how to find the next key and what comes after. The entire time, Newel sleeps on Julia’s feet, keeping her warm.
Chapter 9: I hear you
Soulmate AU where when your soulmate dies, you go deaf. Everything is canon compliant minus Kady and up until the season three finale.
Quentin has heard a lot of heartbreaking sounds in his life. Like the screams of people in the mental hospital he checked himself into when he was younger, or the sound of Julia crying in her sleep. And the sound of Rupert crying for a mother that was no longer there. He doesn’t think sound can get anymore heartbreaking.
And technically, he’s right. Because the sound of Eliot’s heart stopping isn’t really a sound, it’s the removal of sound. The stopping of sound. It’s silence. Where there once was rhythm now is just a shell of what used to hold it. And the silence remains, even when Margo screams in agony. He doesn’t hear her. When Eliot’s heart went silent, so did the world.
It was supposed to end when they got magic back. But he should’ve known. Magic is never a permanent fix. Magic can’t cure cancer. And neither can Julia, she can do a lot as a goddess now, but she can’t cure cancer.
It’s almost ironic, in a way. His dad died because they got magic back. And now Eliot has been taken from him in the exact same way. Maybe it’s karma.
When Eliot was diagnosed, he went through every treatment possible. It was a painful process for all of them, but none of them lost hope, not for a second.
On the day that Eliot began to lose his hair and asked Quentin to shave his head, he was surprised that he was more upset than Eliot was. When it was done, Eliot didn’t cry. He wasn’t angry, he wasn’t upset, for him, it was just something that had to happen. But for Quentin, it was as if he had seen Eliot lose a part of himself and when he knew Eliot was asleep, he sobbed into his pillow until sleep took him.
Quentin didn’t think that silence could be so soul crushing, but it is. It’s a permanent, constant reminder of what he’s lost. They all try to move on. To move forward. But life without Eliot is no life at all. And one day, Margo leaves and she doesn’t come back. Quentin thinks maybe it’s partially his fault, after all, he’s a reminder to her too. Quentin doesn’t leave, can’t bring himself too, but he withdrawals from everyone and when Julia comes to him with a book on sign language, he hates himself a little for telling her to get the fuck out of his room. And when Kady tries to help him, because she understands, because she knows, he just screams at her until she gives up, not caring that she can’t hear him.
He doesn’t care about being able to keep up with conversations. He doesn’t care that he can’t listen to music, that he’s lost one of his senses. All he cares about is the fact that Eliot is gone.
He gets used to being deaf surprisingly quickly. He’s pretty certain that without Eliot in the world, there’s no point in sound anyway. There’s nothing worth listening to, not without him. He might as well have lost the rest of his senses as well, because nothing is ever the same again.
But one day, he wakes up, and he decides he’s going to try. Because Eliot would want him to try, and he’s not here to help him, but the others are, and so, he tries. Kady and Julia teach him sign language and the others learn as well, and soon he’s fluent. He thinks maybe it’s easier for all of the questers to learn it because they’re magicians and for that he’s grateful.
And he continues to try. And slowly, so slowly, his happiness comes back. There’s still bad days where he can’t get out of bed and days where all he can do is scream. But he always tries. He hopes Eliot is proud of him.
Four days after his twenty ninth birthday, Quentin decides to take it all a step further, and goes on a date. On the walk there, he doesn’t hear the beep of a car as it runs a red light when he’s crossing the street. And he doesn’t see it until it’s too late to get out of the way.
People say that when something like this happens, your life flashes before your eyes. And they’re right. Quentin sees his friends, he sees Rupert. He sees Arielle. He sees Eliot. There’s so much all at once.
And then, there’s nothing at all.
When Quentin wakes up there’s light streaming through the window. And there’s birds chirping. And he can hear them. For a second, he’s paralyzed, eyes staring at nothing. Until Eliot is leaning over him, a familiar twinkle in his eyes, a twinkle that Quentin feared he would forget. And Eliot’s caressing his cheek, so featherlight and gentle that it makes him tear up. He’s smiling. That incredible, shining, Eliot smile. “You’re a little early, Coldwater. But that’s okay. When we first met, you were late,” His smile turns into a teasing grin. “Trying to balance it out, Q?”
Quentin can do but nothing but pull his face down and kiss him and when he hears Eliot laugh, he starts to cry. Quentin has never heard anything so beautiful in his entire existence.
Chapter 10: Sparks
For the prompt “sometimes you forget to breathe and it scares the shit out of me.”. Wickoff. I made a slight change to Julia that I hope you all enjoy
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
When Kady first met Julia, it was an accident. She’d seen her around campus and of course since they both lived there, she saw her in the physical kids cottage everyday, but they never met. Julia was always attached to the hip with Quentin Coldwater and they were rarely seen without each other. Not even when Quentin started dating Eliot Waugh and joined his tiny clique with Margo Hanson. Julia had always seemed like the uptight type. Kady didn’t know why, especially now when she knows her better than she knows herself, but she just did.
And then, one day, as if fate had stuck out it’s foot to trip her, Julia Wicker literally fell straight into Kady’s arms. She had dropped her books and apologized to Kady immediately while she picked them up. And that’s when she first got a good look at Julia. She was all legs and olive skin and her wavy hair cascaded down her back. And her eyes. A light brown with something powerful lurking under the surface. Kady brushed it off, told her it was fine. And then they both went their separate ways.
After that, though, it seemed like Julia was always running into her and one day, having had enough, Kady asked her when she was going to ask her out. And she was shocked, but it quickly turned into a smirk that she’s come to love more than the sun, and did just that. And, the rest, as they say, is history.
Now, Julia is sitting across from Kady on the sofa in the middle of the living room, her hands moving and her fingers dancing. And Kady can tell that she’s not breathing. This happens a lot. Julia gets so caught up in her own head that she forgets just about everything else. “Jules.” Kady stands up and walks over to the other couch. “Julia.” She carefully puts a hand on her cheek and as if just realizing she’s been holding her breath, she lets out a slightly gasping one.
Kady is immediately sitting besides her. “I hate when you do that shit.”
Julia looks at her, mouth frowning in confusion. “Do what?”
“It’s like..you forget to breathe sometimes and it scares the shit out of me.”
“I do?” Kady nods and leans over to give her a soft peck on the lips. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” She moves closer and sits cross legged, mirroring Julia so their knees are now touching. “What’s going on in your head?”
Julia sighs and tucks her hair behind her ears. “The exam tomorrow.”
Kady frowns at her. “Why are you worried about that? You’re gonna ace it, you always do.”
Julia shakes her head. “But Alice Quinn-“
“Fuck Alice Quinn. You’re ten times as powerful as she is.”
And she really is. Alice may be trained but Julia’s abilities come from raw power. Kady has seen Julia master spells in minutes. But it’s more than that. When Julia casts, it’s like she enters an entire different world. Her eyes light up and she practically glows and if Kady didn’t know any better she’d swear Julia was a goddess. Julia doesn’t just practice magic, she is magic. “And you’re not just powerful, you’re brilliant, Firefly.” At that, Julia cracks a real smile. It seems, at least to Kady, that that nickname always makes her smile no matter the circumstance. Kady has never been one for nicknames because they rarely mean anything. But Julia’s does. The way she is with her sparks, and the way she’s dragged Kady out of the dark more times than she can count. She’s a firefly, a lightning bug. And she’s gorgeous. “You’ve got this, Jules.” She squeezes her knee and then they both go back to what they were doing, but they stay touching.
Kady is waiting for Julia when she walks out of the classroom and she’s grinning because Julia is practically beaming and has a slight skip in her step. Before she can even open her mouth, Julia’s lips are on hers, her arms snaking around her neck and Kady responds immediately, grabbing her hips and pulling her closer. Julia is the first to pull away and when her smile grows even bigger Kady can’t help but laugh. “I’m guessing it went well?”
Julia’s smile turns into a smirk. “It went excellently.”
“Mm,” Kady squeezes her hips. “And?”
Julia grins and shakes her head. “You first.”
Kady scoffs but complies. “Battle magic.”
Julia makes a humming noise like she’s not surprised. “I totally called that as your discipline.” When Kady gives her an expectant look she holds up her hand and wiggles her fingers. “Electrokinesis.”
At that, Kady let’s out a laugh and grabs the hand Julia is holding in the air, intertwining their fingers. “No shit.”
Julia looks behind Kady and smiles. “Quentin!” She rushes towards him, dragging Kady with her. “Hey, how did it go?”
Quentin looks more mopey than usual and Kady almost rolls her eyes but she restrains herself because Quentin is her girlfriends best friend so she’ll at least try to get along with him. He runs his hand through his hair and shakes his head. “They don’t know, I’ve been marked as undetermined.”
Julia gives him a reassuring smile. “It’s no big deal, Q. Remember when Eliot told us Margo didn’t find out her discipline until her second year? Maybe it just takes time, they’ll figure it out soon enough.” She grabs his hand with the one that isn’t holding Kady’s and they all begin to walk down the hallway. “Either way, we’re celebrating tonight.”
Sex with Julia is incredible. Not just because of the obvious. Sex with Julia is literally electric, and there’s a million things Kady loves about her, but the fact that when she comes, small sparks gather around her fingertips, is very high on that list. Kady moves from between her legs to trail kisses up to her naval, slowly moving upwards until she’s breathing against her neck. “You’re doing it again.”
Julia lets out a single breathy laugh. “Maybe I’m not forgetting how to breathe and you’re just taking my breath away.” At that, Kady looks up at her with a blank expression on her face and she holds it for a few seconds before both of them burst into a fit laughter that makes their stomachs hurt.
“That was the worst attempt at being smooth anyone has ever tried.” Kady lays on her back and opens her arms and Julia lays her head on her chest, excepting the invitation. “Remind me why I’m in love with you again?”
She can’t see Julia’s smirk but she can practically feel it. “Because I can do this?” Julia takes a single finger and presses it against Kady’s left nipple, giving her the tiniest shock. “Or maybe because I-“ Kady cuts her off by yanking her on top of her and crashing their mouths together causing Julia to smile against her lips.
The entire room is silent. It’s not exactly tension, more so fear. “So were really going to do this.” Margo is the first to speak up. “We’re going to kill the fucking Beast?”
“We have too,” Quentin speaks up from his position between Eliot’s legs where he’s resting his back. “This needs to end.”
Alice is the first to stand up and the others follow her. “Hey,” Kady grabs Julia’s hand and squeezes it. “We’re going to be fine, Firefly.”
Julia doesn’t looks convinced but she gives Kady a small smile. “I love you.”
“I know.” She leans in and kisses Julia’s forehead. “I love you too. We’re going to be fine.” She repeats it again and then they’re walking into Fillory.
Kady’s too late. That’s always been her problem. She’s always too late. The room smells like copper and she wants to vomit. Kady feels guilty for a split second for not caring about the others. They were her friends and they’re dead, but she doesn’t care because Julia is the only thing on her mind. As she rushes over to her she slips in the blood and falls to her knees and instead of getting back up she crawls over to where Julia lays in a puddle of blood. She’s sobbing when she reaches her and cradles her face in her blood covered hands. “Please breathe, Julia. Oh gods, please breathe.”
It’s useless. She knows it’s useless. Julia’s eyes are open, staring at nothing. But Kady still presses her mouth to hers and blows air into her lungs while holding her nose. She does it twice before giving up and presses her forehead against Julia’s. “I’m so sorry, fuck. I’m sorry I wasn’t by your side.” She’s choking on her tears now and her voice is breaking. “Please.” It’s a prayer now. Kady doesn’t believe in prayers but she’ll do anything to bring Julia back. “Julia, please,” She lets out a sob. “Please, breathe-“
She hears the slicing of her flesh before she feels it. And then suddenly she’s bleeding and she falls against the cold floor. Weakly, she reaches out and closes Julia’s eyes. She deserves at least that. One last thing she can do for her. The last thing Kady does before her world goes black is grab Julia’s already cold hand and intertwines their fingers. The last thing she sees is Julia’s hand against hers. Those hands that created the sparks that became a part of something so important, something so beautiful. Kady wonders if she’ll ever see those sparks again.
Maybe in another life.
Somewhere, in a dimly lit room, Jane sighs. She really thought it would work this time, after all the tries. Kady and Julia were a force to be reckoned with but it wasn’t enough, just like all the other attempts. With a disappointed sigh, she resets the timeline for the thirty eighth time.
In case it wasn’t obvious, the change I made to Julia was her discipline and her house. I have a headcanon that in at least one of the timelines, Julia was a physical kid.
Chapter 11: Hard to swallow
Fen touches the depression key.
Fen doesn’t mean to be a thief. She really doesn’t. But she needs the truth key. And she knows if she were to ask Eliot or Margo for it, they’d ask her why and then she’d have to be honest, and then they’d talk her out of it. She doesn’t want to be talked out of it. Not after how long it took her to talk herself into it. So, she doesn’t mean to be a thief, but she’s going to be anyway. When Margo and Eliot are distracted, she leaves Fillory through the door and steps into the physical kid cottage. Thankfully, no one is home. She had a plan, just in case. She’d use an excuse, say she was there to visit Julia. But she doesn’t need it and she sighs in relief. The keys are on the table, all of them numbered, and she almost smacks herself when she remembers she doesn’t know which one the truth key is. All she knows for sure is that it isn’t the first one. She recognizes that one, after all, she went on that quest with Eliot.
She’ll have to guess. She grabs the key marked as number four and looks around. Okay, wrong one. Before she can reach her hand out to touch the one marked number two, she hears the door to the cottage opening and Quentin is walking in. He stops when he sees her and raises his eyebrows in surprise. “Oh. Uh. Hey, Fen. Is everything okay?”
She swallows hard and nods. “Yes, everything is great! I’m just here to see Julia.”
He gives her an apologetic smile. “She’s not here. She and Josh are off somewhere together..I think.”
She gives him her best disappointed look. “Oh, okay. Well..I’m going to go back then.”
Quentin stares at her, skepticism in his eyes. “Right..well, I’ll tell Jules you stopped by.”
“Great, thanks!” Before he can say anything else she’s walking through the clock and back into Fillory. She sighs in relief and turns to walks towards the throne room but when she turns around, she gasps in shock. There’s another her standing in front of her. An exact copy. Except. No. The other her has bags under her eyes and she’s almost frighteningly skinny.
“You stupid bitch.”
Fen stumbles in surprise, her back hitting the wall. “I..”
The other her is staring at her, eyes full of loathing. “How dumb do you have to be to almost get caught by Quentin Coldwater?”
Her head is pounding, still not being able to comprehend what she’s seeing. “Who..what are you?”
The other her smirks. “I’m you, sweetheart. I’m here to point out the truth.”
The truth. Fen repeats that a few times in her head. So she had touched the right key. “The truth.” She echoes back.
The other her sighs in annoyance. “Are you deaf too?”
Fen still can’t fully understand what she’s seeing. It doesn’t make sense. But, she supposes, none of the keys really make sense. “I don’t understand. I thought..I thought I’d see-“
“Your dead daughter?”
The interruption is like a slap in the face and suddenly her throat is dry. “Yes.”
The other her sneers at her. “And what? Did you think someone would tell you that it wasn’t your fault? That she’s fine now? I can tell you that she isn’t. She died knowing she was nothing but a pawn, that her own father didn’t even love her. And that her mother was dumb enough to believe a fairy.” The other her walks closer to her, cornering her. “You were so desperate for a family that you ignored logic. You wanted Fray to be your daughter so badly that you didn’t even question it.”
Fen feels frozen. She wants to run, wants to protest, but she can’t. Her chest is tight and she’s fighting back tears. If she could, she’d go back in time, tell herself never to touch that key. But she can’t. In a way, she thinks, she deserves this. She asked for it, after all. “I-“
“Fen!” Margo cuts her off and both versions of her immediately look at the High Queen. “There you are. Me and El need you in this,” She trails off, noticing that something is clearly off about her. “Is everything okay?”
The other her turns and smirks. “Go ahead, tell her. Tell her how stupid you are.”
Fen swallows the lump in her throat and gives Margo her best fake smile. “Of course.”
Margo doesn’t look convinced, but she doesn’t press. “Okay. Well, me and El need you in this meeting. There’s a bunch of bullshit we don’t understand. And honestly I think Eliot is to drunk right now to even try.”
Fen nods and when Margo turns, she follows behind her. The other her laughs. It’s mean and hollow, nothing like her own, and she does her best to ignore it.
When they get to the throne room, Fen can see that Margo is right, Eliot is drunk. Too drunk. Almost to the point of passing out. Margo sits next to him at the table and Fen sits next to her. The other her sits on top of the table, right between her and Margo.
Fen tries her best to listen to what the council is saying so she can help, but the only thing she can focus on is the other her tapping her fingers on the table. “They don’t care about you, you know.” The other her stands from the table and walks over to Eliot. “There was never a chance he was going to love you. All you do is make him miserable. He’s relieved, you know. That she’s dead.”
Fen’s ears are ringing now, in an almost painful way. The other her walks back towards her and stands between her and Margo. “You certainly are nice to the bitch that traded your daughter to the fairies. What would she think, if she saw you? You have no spine, Fen.”
As the ringing grows louder, her breath becomes shorter, her chest tightening, and then the other her is leaning next to her, whispering in her ear. “Dying was the best thing that could have happened to her.”
The world collapses.
Fen stands from the table, barely muttering an apology before she’s running from the room. She doesn’t know how long she runs before she collapses onto her knees in an empty hallway and begins to sob. The other her is grinning ear to ear, and then Fen is thinking about her knives. Thinking about how easy it would be to end all of this. Her blades are sharp. It would be painful but it would be fast and-
“Fen!” Margo’s voice stops her train of thought and the other girl is kneeling in front of her. “Fucking shit, what happened back there?”
She can only let out a choked sob in response. “Fen, honey.” Margo touches her shoulder and it’s grounding in a way. Her voice is gentler now. “What happened?”
Fen leans back against the wall, hot tears still dripping down her face. “I fucked up.”
Margo’s face scrunches in confusion. “What do you mean?”
The other her gives her a sharp glare. “Don’t tell her.”
It takes everything, but Fen ignores her. “I touched the truth key. I just..I just wanted to know about my baby. I thought maybe..” She trails off, looking away from Margo. “It..it created another me. Except she’s different. Mean. She’s saying all these awful things and-“ Fen covers her mouth and let’s out a hiccuping sob. “I guess I asked for this, right? I wanted the truth, I got it.”
Margo’s face has gotten more and more worried as Fen talks. “Oh, fuck.” She grabs Fen’s cheeks, makes her look at her. “Fen, you didn’t touch the truth key.”
Fen looks in her eyes, clearly not believing her. “But-“
Margo shakes her head, silencing her. “You touched the depression key. It makes some sort of fucked up copy of you that’s basically all your dark thoughts and feelings made physical.”
Fen doesn’t know wether to be relieved or even more upset. “Oh my..it’s saying so many horrible things. Am I thinking those things? I don’t..Margo, I can’t..It’s telling me my baby is better off dead.”
When Margo pulls her into a hug, she’s so shocked it takes her a minute to hug her back. “It’s lying.”
It’s only two words, but they hold so much meaning and then Fen is crying again, clutching onto Margo like she’s the only thing keeping her grounded. “It’s saying I’m a terrible mother, that I’m stupid, that none of you care about me. That she’s dead because of me.”
Margo pulls away gently, but there’s a harshness in her eyes. “What a crock of shit.” She sits next to Fen and takes her hand. “Fen, you would have been a wonderful mother. Look how you were with Fray. How you still are with her, even now when you know she isn’t yours. And don’t ever think we don’t care about you. Yeah, when we first met you, me and El weren’t happy, but now I don’t think either of us can imagine you not being in our lives. And you know Julia cares, too. Fen, if anything, it’s my fault. I traded your baby, not you. It was fucked up and I never apologized but Fen, I am so, so sorry.”
Fen squeezes her hand and Margo gently presses her head so she leans her head on her shoulder. “It’s okay. We’re going to get rid of it.”
The entire time, the other her has been glaring and shouting that Margo is full of shit, but Fen isn’t listening. “How?”
For a minute, Margo is silent before she speaks again. “We’ll make one of the prisoners touch the key. Find the worst person in the dungeon and then make sure no one touches it again.”
She’s okay with that. Fen closes her eyes, her body relaxing slightly. “Can we stay here for a few minutes?”
Margo kisses her head in response and that’s all Fen needs. “If you want, I can get you the truth the key.
Fen immediately shakes her head. “No. No, I..I’d rather not know.”
At that, Margo tightens her grip on Fen’s hand. “Okay.”
If Fen had touched the truth key, she would’ve been shown a vision of the goddess Demeter holding her daughter in her arms. Demeter would have reassured her that her daughter is safe, and warm, and knows how much Fen loves her. She would have made sure Fen knew there was nothing she did wrong, nothing she could have done to prevent the passing of her daughter. She would’ve promised her that her daughter felt no pain when she died, she simply went to sleep. And with an ever so soft touch to her stomach, she would have sworn to Fen that she will have another chance, someday. With someone who is bound to her through true love, not through a blood test.
Chapter 12: I bless the rains
Some short, sugary sweet Queliot domestic fluff that no one asked for.
Quentin smiles as he hears Eliot walking around in their living room from where he stands in the kitchen chopping vegetables. A soft laugh comes from his throat as he hears the sound of their Alexa turning on. Quentin had to basically beg his husband- that word still gives him butterflies- to buy it. He remembers Eliot rolling his eyes because, ‘There’s spells for music, Q.’ And he knew that, but still, he wanted one, and of course Eliot would never deny him anything for that long and now Eliot uses the machine for almost everything. Quentin let’s out a hum as music starts playing and he can’t help but grin. Eliot’s taste in music is nothing if not interesting.
When he turns, he sees Eliot standing with his back towards him, swaying his hips to the beat of the drums. Quentin can’t hide his smile as he leans against the counter. “You haven’t played this one in a while.” He states, as the first of the lyrics start playing through the speaker
And as soon as they do, Eliot spins around dramatically and lifts a closed fist to his mouth, acting as a microphone and he begins to sing. “I hear the drums echoing tonight!”
At that, Quentin let’s out a surprised laugh. Almost five years of marriage and this man never ceases to amaze him. Eliot begins to saunter over to him, swaying his hips dramatically. “But she hears only echoes of some quiet conversations.” He grabs Quentin’s hand, pulling him out of the kitchen, to his chest and swaying them both. “She’s coming in 12:30 flight, the moonlight wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation.” His hands move to Quentin’s hips and he grips them, encouraging Quentin to move along with him.
He pecks Quentin’s lips before doing another spin as the next part flows through. “I stopped an old man along the way, hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies.” Quentin grins and shakes his head, turning back to return to the kitchen and the counter to finish making dinner, but of course Eliot has other plans.
He squeaks as Eliot grabs his shoulder and spins him back into his chest. “He turned to me as if to say, ‘hurry boy it’s waiting there for you.” When Eliot reaches down and squeezes his ass, Quentin let’s out a sound between a laugh and yelp, swatting him away playfully.
“El, I have to make dinner.”
Eliot smirks at him as he brings the imaginary microphone back to his mouth to bellow out the next part, his eyes twinkling the entire time, “It’s gonna take a lot to get me away from you! There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do!” He tilts his head up dramatically. “I bless the rains down in Africa!”
He holds the note longer then necessary and Quentin can practically feel the happiness radiating off the older man. “Gonna take some time to do the things we never had.”
He loves when Eliot gets like this, especially when it’s just the two of them. They’re always happy around their friends, of course, but there’s this secret happiness that he can’t begin to describe when it’s just he and Eliot, alone in their house. “I’m going to finish cooking so we don’t starve tonight, you absolute gorgeous idiot.” Even though the performance is adorable, he really does have to finish making dinner so he walks back into the kitchen, the sound of Eliot’s singing quieting only slightly behind the door.
Quentin finds himself grateful he’s not holding a knife because a few moments later his husband bursts through the kitchen door and it makes Quentin jump in shock. “It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you!” He grabs Quentin and dips him before letting go and spinning around the kitchen.
He tries, gods does he try, but Quentin can’t hide his smile. “You’re a pain in my ass.”
Eliot does a few more dance moves as he sings more of the song before turning his attention back to his husband, gently pulling him into arms and holding on tightly. He leans down and kisses Quentin’s ear, feather soft before continuing. “Hurry boy he’s waiting there for you.” Quentin doesn’t miss the fact that Eliot changed the lyrics and his stomach tingles as Eliot lowers his voice to a soft whisper, his breath tickling Quentin’s cheek. “There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.”
He presses their foreheads together, not caring he has to lean down slightly and cups Quentin’s cheeks, rubbing their noses together. “Gonna take some time to do the things we never had.” And it’s such an intimate thing in this silly moment because they’ve basically lived this song. Eliot has almost been taken from him so many times, but he’s always gotten him back. They’ve had to fight tooth and nail for what they have. This, them. Together.
Eliot intertwines their fingers and they sway together as the song fades out. “Fuck, I love you so fucking so much.”
Eliot practically beams at him, pulling him closer. “I love you too.” He cups his cheeks again, bringing their faces closer. “So much.”
And when Eliot kisses him, lifting him up and setting him on the counter, standing between his legs, Quentin almost, almost forgets about dinner.
Chapter 13: Speak
Quentin hasn’t talked to him in three, five, seven, nine, ten days. And Eliot gets it, he does. But enough is enough.
Eliot watches Quentin from his seat in the kitchen. It’s been three days since they removed the monster, and almost a week since they’ve gotten their memories back and they’re all still, understandably adjusting. But Quentin hasn’t talked in three days. Actually, scratch that, he hasn’t talked to Eliot in three days. He’s talked to the others, especially Julia when she’s not with Kady. Normally he’d try and diffuse the tension with his wit but when he sees Julia come back to the apartment everyday with red rimmed eyes he keeps his mouth shut.
It was fairly easy to get back into routine with Margo. He doesn’t know why that surprised him, after all, they’ve always been them. A memory wipe could never change that. There’s unshed tears, he knows. They all want to break down but they all know they can’t, not now. Soon, but not now.
His entire body aches from having that thing inside of him for so long, his soul aches too. Everything aches, really. But not as much as the thought of Quentin.
Because Quentin hasn’t spoken to him in three days and it’s scaring the hell out of him. He understands, he does. The things he did as the monster were unforgivable, he knows this. He knows Quentin is suffering from some form of PTSD, probably, but it still breaks his heart because all he wants to do is grab the shorter man and never let go. He wants to hold him and confess every single thought he’s ever had about that man, he wants to tell him he loves him.
But when Quentin makes eyes contact with him and quickly looks away, he goes to bed instead.
It’s now been five days, and Quentin still hasn’t spoken to him. Eliot is frustrated now, because dammit this man means the world, the whole fucking universe to him and he wants Quentin to look at him, to say something, even it’s a single world, even if he’s screaming at him instead of talking to him.
So, when Julia gets up off the couch and whispers something to Quentin before heading to bed, he goes over and gently takes hold of his cheek.
Quentin flinches. Eliot’s heart breaks even more.
And then Quentin is running away from him and up the stairs.
Eliot can’t cry, not now.
He does anyway.
When it reaches an entire week, Eliot decides that Quentin Coldwater is going to talk to him, because this has gone on long enough and they need to talk. Or, maybe, Eliot just needs him to talk to him. He’s in the kitchen and Eliot walks over to him, and grabs his arm. When he tries to flee, Eliot tightens his hold, something he’ll regret in the future, he knows. “Q, listen. Please.” He’s begging, pleading. He let’s go of his arm and reaches for his hand. “Talk to me.”
Quentin doesn’t say anything, but his eyes say everything.
And then he walks away.
And Eliot is alone.
On the ninth day, Eliot realizes he’s probably going crazy. He probably already is, but this time when he grabs Quentin’s arm he doesn’t let go, and Quentin refuses to look at him and it’s a gut punch, it makes his throat dry, but he needs to tell him. “Q, I understand. I understand and I’m so sorry. What I did, what that thing did..fuck, I’m sorry. I get why you’re afraid of me, I do, oh my god I do, but please Quentin, this can’t go on anymore.”
There’s an uncomfortable silence before Quentin looks into eyes. “I’m not afraid of you, El.” It’s a whisper, and then he walks to the door and leaves the apartment. Eliot is more confused then he’s ever been.
Margo tells him to give Quentin time, but he can’t. He can’t because time isn’t on their side, never has been, not even when Jane could control it.
So, he acts without thinking, and locks Quentin in a room with him. Quentin glares at him and it’s a welcome sight because it’s not that empty look he usually gets. “I get it, Q. Everything is fucked up, okay? I get it. But fuck we need to talk about this. What I did when that thing was inside me, what it did-“
Eliot’s been pushing. Quentin finally snaps. “It’s not about what you did as the fucking monster Eliot! I’m not fucking afraid of you! I’m mad! I’m so mad at you, I’m so fucking mad at you god dammit.”
Eliot gapes, tries to reply. “Q-“
“Did you fucking think before you shot that thing? No, you didn’t, because you decided your own feelings were more important then other people, more important then me. I could have lived in Blackspire Eliot, I really could have. I could have guarded that thing and be fine with it because I would know that all of you were safe. I could’ve lived without all this shit on earth, it would have sucked ass but I could have done it. But you took that choice from me, you made a decision by yourself and you shot the thing. I could have lived without every goddamn thing. But you know what I couldn’t live without? He gets closer until they’re standing toe to toe. “You. I love you, Eliot. I’m in love with you. You’re one of my best friends, but you never fucking think! You could have died. And if you had, you would’ve left us all behind. Me and Margo would have to keep going because you didn’t think, we would have to go on without you and I’m so angry you made that choice because dammit Eliot, I can’t picture a world without you and I almost had too. If I had lost you Eliot, I may as well have lost the world.” His voice cracks and Eliot’s breath is gone.
Eliot expected a lot, but not this. And Quentin is right, he doesn’t think.
He never thinks, and so he grabs Quentin and he kisses him like he’s been poisoned and Quentin’s mouth is the antidote. It’s rough, their teeth knock against each other but Eliot doesn’t care because Quentin is kissing him back just as harshly and they don’t pull away until they run out of breath. “You’re right. You’re right and I’m sorry. I didn’t think of anything, anyone but you, and I made a big fucking mistake and I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”
He presses his forehead against Quentin’s and eventually the younger man wraps his arms around his waist. “I’m not ready to forgive you yet, El. But I am ready to talk.”
That’s good enough, that’s perfect. He cups Quentin’s cheek and he doesn’t flinch this time and Eliot almost sighs in relief. “Okay, I can work with that. And Q?” He intertwines their fingers. “I’m in love with you too.”
They have a lot to talk to about. A lot to get over, to get through. But that’s okay.
Because Eliot knows they can.
After all, they’ve lived an entire life together. And Quentin is his world, and the world wasn’t built in a day, so he’ll be patient, he’ll let Quentin forgive him in his own time, if at all.
Because Quentin is worth everything.
When Eliot opens the door and walks upstairs, he’s not alone.
Quentin is the world, the universe.
And the universe is beautiful.
Chapter 14: Escape
It’s life or death, and they’ve only got fifteen minutes left to escape.
I’m just going to let my writing speak for itself this time.
Quentin groans as he pulls on the door handle for what feels like the hundredth time. “Dammit, come on!”
Alice rolls her eyes at him. “Do you know what the definition of insanity is, Quentin?”
He shoots her a glare. “Shut up, Alice, it’s worth a fucking shot.”
Margo sighs in annoyance as she helps Eliot rummage through drawers. “You’re all more pathetic then a virgin getting a condom stuck on their dick.” Eliot makes a humming noise in agreement.
Josh lets out a choking sound from his position by the wall, moving his hands away from the bookshelf. “I told you that in confidence!”
Before Penny can say anything about that wonderful piece of information, Julia lets out a victory shriek. “I got it!”
Kady leaps off the table she’s been sitting on and kneels next to her girlfriend on the floor. “Really?”
Julia beams, and then there’s a beep. “...Never mind.”
Everyone collectively groans. “Great. There’s fifteen minutes left, we’re fucking dead.” Eliot kisses Quentin’s forehead. “I love you. I’m sorry it’s going to end like this.”
Quentin sighs and leans back against him. “I love you too. At least we tried.”
Julia leans her head on Kady’s shoulder. “I’m not giving up, I could still stop it.”
“Can’t believe I’m saying this, but currently Julia is my favorite person in this room.” Margo kneels down next to her. “You got this.”
Alice sighs and walks towards the bookshelf. “I’ll look through the books again.”
Penny gives her a blank look. “We’ve looked through them twice. Each.”
Alice gives him a slightly mean smirk. “You want to? You would know books better then anyone.”
Josh lets out a chuckle at this but quickly stops when Margo’s glare threatens to put him six feet under and he quickly clears his throat. “Uh..maybe Kady can try kicking the door down again?”
“Do we want a repeat of that?” Eliot questions, flask in hand while he rubs Quentin’s hand.
“No, no we do not.” Julia answers for them, ignoring her girlfriends look. “I’m sorry you guys, I really tried.”
Margo sighs and leans against the wall. “Oh well. There’s worse ways to go. At least it’ll be quick, just like the dumbass who got into my pants last week.”
A few seconds later there’s a loud beeping noise, followed by the sound of an explosion and a flash of light.
“How is that eight magicians, who go to a magic school, all with above average intelligence can’t solve an escape room?” Margo questions as she grabs Eliot’s hand so he’s standing between her and Quentin.
She notices a neon sign from an ice cream shop and immediately drags them over, the others following her.
Julia lets out a scoff and wraps her arm around Kady’s waist as they cross the street. “First of all, I didn’t go to Brakebills. Second of all, if there was three seconds left I would have totally disarmed that bomb. I’d very much like to be excluded from this narrative.”
She barely dodges the piece of paper with their score that Penny throws at her head while Quentin and Josh cackle at her Taylor Swift reference.
“Next week, four hours.”
They all look at Margo. They had learned their lessons, they had done this twice before.
Or, maybe not.
“So,” Penny gives Josh a shit eating grin. “You got a condom stuck on your dick?”
Chapter 15: I looked fear in the eyes
Julia stands up and gently makes him stand too. He still can’t look her in the eyes but he watches as she pulls back the duvet and then ducks his head when she looks at him. “Come on, lay down.” He doesn’t protest, simply does what she asked. He thinks she’s going to pull the covers back over him and then leave the room, and he’ll be alone again. But instead she climbs in next to him and pulls the covers over both of them and carefully wraps her around him. They’re almost nose to nose and she gives him a tiny, gentle smile and brushes his hair out of his face. “Sleep, Quentin. We’ll all be here when you wake up.”
I won’t lie, this was sort of hard to write, mainly because Quentin’s biggest fear is my biggest fear too.
Quentin Coldwater wishes he was somewhere else. Wishes his hands would stop shaking. Wishes he could fucking walk downstairs and make eye contact with his friends. Friends. The word makes bile rise in his throat and for a split second, a second that lasts forever, he thinks of the sleeping pills in the bathroom. And then he’s reeling backwards until his head hits the headboard of the bed and his hands are shaking even harder. Because how selfish, how goddamn selfish.
He closes his eyes but immediately wrenches them open because the images he sees are worse then real life, even though real life is just as bad. He draws his knees to his chest and clasps his hands together. He can hear the others talking downstairs. It’s muffled but he can make out each and every voice, can tell they’re talking about Alice. And for a moment anger washes away fear and sadness because he doesn’t want to think about how Alice betrayed them but how the fuck can he not?
It’s not fair, he thinks bitterly. And then the anger is swept out to sea and he’s crying because again, he’s selfish. He could have it so much worse. He could be like Eliot, who came so close to death that he could’ve kissed it, who will now forever have to live with what he did. Or Margo, a High King who might not even have a kingdom to go back too. Or Julia, who has to process the fact that she’s been raped for the second goddamn time.
And he’s upstairs, crying, shaking, panicking, because a day into being Quentin Coldwater again, it washed over him like a bucket of ice water and it melded into veins and it hasn’t left. They forgot him.
His friends forgot him.
And he wants to reach up and hit at the sides of his head because selfish, selfish, selfish. Because he forgot them right back. Because he could have it so much worse. But it’s his biggest fear in the whole fucking world, being forgotten. Ever since he was young and the IT miniseries he and Julia had begged her mother to let them watch when they found the DVD gave him a panic attack that had him vomiting outside on the sidewalk. And it wasn’t because of the clown. It wasn’t because of the horror. It wasn’t because of the death. It was because the kids who were supposed to be friends grew up and forgot each other. That was day Quentin Coldwater truly realized what fear was. But he thought he was okay. Because he had Julia. And Julia wasn’t just his best friend, Julia was his platonic soulmate. Even when they weren’t talking, she still remembered him. And he knows she missed him just as much as he missed her. He wouldn’t be like the kids in IT, because he would never have to look his worst fear in the eyes.
Except then he did. And maybe, like the kids in IT, he had beat it. But did he really? Because by himself in this bedroom he feels like he’s lost. And he’s alone, alone, alone. And then he’s sobbing, loud body wracking sobs. Then the door opens and he wants to scream at whoever it is to go away. To let him wallow, because he deserves this. Because he’s selfish, selfish, selfish.
But Julia’s presence is too warm and familiar for him to do that and so when she sits on the bed and wraps her arms around him, he tucks his head in the nape of her neck and cries, and holds on to her like if he doesn’t, she’ll disappear into thin air. “I’ve got you, Q, I’ve got you.”
When he finally calms down enough to breathe, he pulls away from her and guilt fills him up even more when he sees the red around her eyes and how absolutely exhausted she looks. “Quentin, what happened?”
He shakes his head and moves to sit on the edge of the bed, putting his hands between his knees and leaning forward, trying to curl into himself as much as he can. She follows him, crawling over and sitting on her knees. “Q..”
He winces and feels another sob work it’s way into his throat but he swallows it down. “We forgot.” He feels her hand on his back, rubbing soothing circles between his shoulder blades. “I forgot all of you. You all forgot me.”
There’s silence for a moment before she lets out a breath of realization. “Oh.” He wants to to run, wants to lock himself in the bathroom because she’s going to tell him there’s bigger things to worry about right now, that this is ridiculous because it could be so much worse, that they don’t have time to deal with his bullshit, and he’s selfish, selfish, selfish.
That’s what she should say. But instead she climbs off the bed and kneels in front of him. “Oh, Quentin.” And then she’s pulling his hands from between his knees and cupping his large hands between her much smaller ones and she’s looking at him with such understanding and tenderness that he can’t help but start crying again. She simply lets him, and when he stops she lets go of his hands and reaches up to wipe his tears with her thumbs. “It’s okay, Quentin. It’s okay.” And he wants to disagree, wants to open his mouth and tell her it’s not because this is stupid, this is bullshit. But before he can, she’s speaking again. “We’re all going through it, right now. What we’re feeling is valid, Quentin, it really is. You’re valid, Q. Even though I know you think it’s stupid, that you probably think you’re selfish, you aren’t, you really truly aren’t.” And he almost wants to laugh because they’ve only been themselves again for a day, but it’s like nothing between them has changed, she can still practically read his mind.
She stands up and gently makes him stand too. He still can’t look her in the eyes but he watches as she pulls back the duvet and then ducks his head when she looks at him. “Come on, lay down.” He doesn’t protest, simply does what she asked. He thinks she’s going to pull the covers back over him and then leave the room, and he’ll be alone again. But instead she climbs in next to him and pulls the covers over both of them and carefully wraps her around him. They’re almost nose to nose and she gives him a tiny, gentle smile and brushes his hair out of his face. “Sleep, Quentin. We’ll all be here when you wake up.”
When he’s half asleep, he feels Julia intertwine their fingers. “Q?”
He makes a humming noise in response to let her know he’s listening. “We didn’t forget each other, not really. They took out memories, rearranged them, but they couldn’t rearrange our hearts, or our souls, and maybe my mind didn’t remember you, but my heart and soul did. A piece of you lives in me Quentin Coldwater, lives in all of us.” She squeezes his hand tightly. “We’ve got you Quentin, and we’re never letting you go.”
When he finally falls asleep, he doesn’t dream, but there’s no nightmares, either.
In the morning, Julia is gone and he panics for a minute until he hears the muffled conversation downstairs. He gets out of bed and changes his clothes before taking in a deep, albeit shaky breath and walking downstairs. Josh and Penny are lounging on a sofa, laughing about something. Kady, Margo, and Julia are in the kitchen talking and Julia is making breakfast. There’s a different feeling between Margo and Julia, and he can’t tell what it is until Margo smiles at her and Julia smiles right back. Ironic that it took all of this for them to finally become friends. When she notices him she gives him a small smile and he does his best to smile back.
And then he sees Eliot, alone on the small loveseat, staring at the television but not watching. He’s paler then he usual is, and his curls are greasy and knotted but all Quentin can think is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
As if he can feel him looking, Eliot’s eyes flick over to Quentin’s and immediately tears are making their way into the older mans eyes and for a minute, time seems to stop. but then Josh snorts at something Penny said and Margo says the food is ready and everything starts up again. While the others gather around the kitchen table, Quentin walks to where Eliot sits and balances himself on the arm chair. “What are we watching?”
It takes Eliot a few minutes to respond, but it’s okay, he doesn’t mind. He’d wait forever if he had too. “...Project runway.” His voice is raspy from not being used, or maybe from all the screaming he had done, but a genuine smile tugs at Quentin’s lips because he didn’t need a reminder that this is really Eliot, that the monster is gone from his body, but it was nice to have it anyway.
He knows Eliot doesn’t feel good, knows he’s nauseous and sick and sore from what they had to do to get the monster out of him, knows he’s in no mood to make an effort. So, when he slides his hands up to where Quentin’s rests and intertwines their fingers, and mumbles, “Missed you.” Quentin’s heart swells in chest and he wants to cry, but he doesn’t. Eliot didn’t turn to him, at all, during the interaction, but it’s okay, because he can wait.
Julia brings him a few pieces of bacon and he gives her a grateful smile. She kisses his forehead before walking back to the table and sitting in between Kady and Penny. He watches them for a few minutes before his eyes move back to Eliot. And he feels warm, warm, warm.
Because maybe they forgot each other. Maybe they forgot him.
But they remembered, and that’s what matters most.
He leans down and kisses the top of Eliot’s head, closing his eyes and inhaling. “Missed you too, El. Missed you so much.”
Eliot only squeezes his hand tighter in response, but it’s enough for Quentin. Julia had told him that a piece of him lives in all of them, and if that’s true, then he’s damn sure that a piece of each of them lives in him too.
And he’s still afraid, still sad. And there’s so much ahead of them, so many future battles, and his chest still aches, and he knows that last night wasn’t the end of the horrible feeling of facing your biggest fear.
But he’s not alone.
And for now, that’s enough.
He squeezes Eliot’s hand and Eliot weakly squeezes back. Margo says something snarky that has everyone at the table laughing and Josh is humming and they’re all talking at once. And it’s enough.
It’s more than enough.
Chapter 16: Opposites
Quentin Coldwater loves Julia Wicker and Margo Hanson with his entire heart and soul. He’d die for both of them, any day of the week.
That being said, they are the literal neighbors from hell.
I wrote this in 5 minutes, I’m sorry.
Quentin Coldwater loves Julia Wicker and Margo Hanson with his entire heart and soul. He’d die for both of them, any day of the week.
That being said, they are the literal neighbors from hell. When the apartment building they all live in had availability in two apartments that were directly next to each other, He, Eliot, Margo, and Julia had jumped at the opportunity. Quentin sort of wishes he had maybe jumped off a cliff instead.
To be fair, it’s not all bad. Julia is his platonic soulmate and Margo is one of his best friends in the world, and the day the two of them started dating was a fantastic day. Margo and Julia are a power couple if he’s ever seen one, both hard headed and competitive. He’s seen them solve problems in seconds. Quentin never lived with Julia in college, but he had always assumed that she would be how she is in her outside life, organized and neat and clean.
He assumed fucking wrong.
Her and Margo’s apartment often looks like a tornado flew through it, which is the polar opposite of his and Eliot’s perfectly clean and organized one. And the day he found an extremely suspicious stain on the corner of their bed, he almost bolted.
Margo and Julia are both made of fire. And together, they create a firestorm. They compete in all areas, including sex. Unfortunately for him and Eliot, the apartment walls are paper thin and for some reason Julia and Margo have decided that three am is a perfect time for loud, headboard slamming sex instead of sleep like normal people. Not to say he and Eliot aren’t loud on occasion, but gods, you’d think those two were banshees.
They also have frequent prank wars, and Quentin has threatened them more than once about keeping it in their own apartment, and to leave him and Eliot out of it.
So, he’s not entirely surprised that when he knocks on their apartment door and walks in, he finds Margo standing on the countertop poking at something with a broom on the ceiling, a scowl on her face. Julia beams at him from where she’s sitting upside down on the couch, her hair touching the floor and her face slightly red from the blood pooling to her head. “Hi, Q!”
He moves his eyes back and forth between her and Margo and she grins at him. “I taped Margo’s phone to the ceiling.”
“Lies!” Margo whirls around and points the end of the broomstick at Quentin. “Don’t listen to a word she says! She can’t even reach the cupboards without using a step stool, she had an accomplice!” She goes back to poking at her phone with the broom that just barely reaches it, and when Quentin looks at Julia, she gives him an innocent, upside down smile and he immediately knows who her accomplice was.
“Right..uh, I’m here to get my cups that you borrowed back.”
Julia makes a humming noise and stands up from the couch, walking into the kitchen. She pulls out two cups from the dishwasher and hands them to him. “We-“ She lets out a squeak when Margo’s phone finally falls from the ceiling and she darts towards Julia who quickly begins to run towards their bedroom.
“Come here, you little demon!”
Julia trips over one of Margo's heels and Margo catches her before she can fall, and immediately begins tickling her waist, causing the five foot one brunette to burst into a fit of giggles. “I’m not sorry! You put my bras in the freezer, this was simple payback!”
“So is this!”
Quentin can’t help smile at them, but then the smile quickly vanishes when the tickle torture turns into a heated makeout session. “And I’m leaving.” Neither of them acknowledge him and he shuts their door behind him.
When he gets back to his and Eliot’s apartment, he immediately walks towards the sink and begins cleaning the cups because he knows for a fact that Julia doesn’t rinse things before she puts them in the dishwasher. He feels arms wrap around his waist and he smiles and leans back against his boyfriends warmth. Until he remembers a very important detail. He turns in Eliot’s arms so they’re facing and gives him a glare with no true bite behind it. “Did you happen to help Julia tape Margo’s phone to the ceiling?”
Eliot gives him a grin that says he’s not even a little bit sorry. “Yes.”
Quentin rolls his eyes. “Fantastic, now we’re involved.” He walks into their bedroom and Eliot follows him, grabbing his arm and pulling him back against him.
“I’m sorry,” He purrs in Quentin’s ear, rubbing his arms. “I’ll make it up to you.”
And well, Quentin isn’t going to turn that offer down. “Let’s give Margo and Julia a run for their money.”
Quentin scoffs at that. “Yeah, okay.” Because there’s no way that’s possible.
But when Eliot whispers something in his ear, Quentin quickly changes his mind and decides it’s definitely possible.
The next morning, Margo strolls into their apartment like she owns the place and flops down on their couch. “So, Q, how are we going to get Julia back?”
Quentin shoots Eliot a look that says ‘see what you’ve done?’ And glares at Margo. “I’m not helping you prank Julia.”
Margo gapes at him and stands up. “But she used Eliot!”
He begins to push her through the open door. “Too bad. Figure it out yourself.”
She turns to him. “Okay, wait! One question!”
He raises an eyebrow at her.
“Do you think I can magically conjure up a bunch of nipple clamps?”
Quentin slams the door in her face and Eliot has literally fallen to floor clutching his stomach from laughing so hard.