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Coven(ant)

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All Hedge Witch covens have a test of some kind that helps them weed out the muggles from their new candidates. It’s essential, as much as Eliot dislikes the practice. Just because someone spent enough time deep-diving on the internet to figure out that magic is real doesn’t mean they actually have the physical make-up to channel it. There needs to be some kind of bar to entry, or they’d be wasting resources on muggles with big ideas and no skills.

Eliot’s always prided himself on the fact that his coven turns out higher caliber of witches because he teaches better than most half-baked hedge leaders, but even he has bowed to this time-honored and necessary tradition. At least he never locks people in freezers, fuck you Marina you absolute psychopath.

If maybe Eliot’s new-member screening test is a passingly similar to the Brakebills entrance exams, fucking sue him, he’s classically trained. All similarities to Brakebills stop there. He’s not gonna wiped any of these kids memories. They can stumble back out into the world and find less discerning hedges to take them on.

Half the crowd give up before they’re even halfway through the booklet. One attractive but meatheaded quarterback type gripes at Eliot that “there’s too much fucking math.” Eliot blinks at him sweetly and sips his iced coffee, holding out his hand for QB’s booklet.

The last page of the booklet is where the trick comes in, because of course a simple straight-forward test wouldn’t tell Eliot everything he needs to know about his potential little hedges. The ones who make it to the last page have the genetic and intellectual aptitude for magic, well enough, and if they don’t make it through the rest of the test he’ll send them on to specific covens where they’ll be a better fit. Only three make it that far in this batch, a determined asian girl with a killer cyberpunk aesthetic who’s got to be 19 if she’s a day, a woman in her 40s with rich dark skin and rainbow dreadlocks, and nervy little nerd in a sweater who’s maybe a year or two younger than Eliot.

Cyberpunk taps out first. “This spell is impossible,” she hisses, slapping the booklet down on the table in front of Eliot. Her arms cross over her chest, all teenage defiance, and Eliot grins at her. He sends her out with Harriet’s contact info, because she seems like the type who would enjoy some hacking mixed in with her magic.

It takes another 10 minutes for rainbow dreads to give up. “I guess this isn’t for me,” she says with a sigh, handing the booklet back to Eliot. She seems resigned, and Eliot does feel bad turning her away. He’s had a good vibe about her.

“You should meet my friend Joaquin, he runs a coven in Queens that I think you might fit well with,” Eliot says, and gives her card with the seal of his coven. It’ll let her skip the most grueling parts of their entrance exam, at least.

Which just leaves the Nervy Nerd. Honestly, Eliot hadn’t expected him to get through the first half of the booklet, but he’s the only one left, hair all akimbo from running his hands through it as he mutters to himself. Eliot watches him over the eco-friendly sippy lid of his iced coffee for a full 15 minutes before taking pity on the kid. He stands up, smoothing his hand down his vest and tie to straighten himself out, before walking over to the kid’s table. Nervy Nerd startles as Eliot pulls out the chair across from him, spinning it around so he can straddle it and drape himself artfully over the back.

“What’s your name, kid?”

“Um– Quentin? Quentin. Quentin Coldwater.”

“Quentin Coldwater?” Eliot repeats, slightly incredulous, because wow, what a name. “I’m Eliot.”

“Yeah, I know. I mean– I researched. Before I came, it was all over the forums that you’re group’s the– I mean. Coven? This coven’s the highest caliber, so I figured go big or go home, right? I mean I went to Columbia, you don’t go Ivy if you’re not overly ambitious with no sense of self-preservation and–”

He looks like he’s about to have an aneurysm. So Eliot takes pity on him again, reaching forward to pick up the booklet he’s been working on. The last page is covered in notes, clearly trying to reason his way through the impossible spell based information given for the other, easier spells at the front of the booklet. Eliot smiles to himself, flipping it closed and looking at Quentin.

“So how’d you find out about magic, Quentin?” Eliot asks, watching as Quentin starts to fidget.

“My, uh- my best friend went to this grad program, I guess? And I think I– I was having flashes of memories about it, but I thought it was um– A bad reaction to meds or something, I don’t know. Fucking grad school, everyone starts to hallucinate a little, right?” He gives a little awkward laugh, looking at Eliot sideways, and honestly, he’s really fucking cute, this shouldn’t be allowed.

“You tested at Brakebills?” Eliot wonders, hands flicking through the motions of Milchester 25, index fingers and thumbs forming a little screen of magic for him to look through, scanning over Quentin’s head. “Yeah, the memory patch is way worn down. You’ve been picking at this for a while, haven’t you?”

“You know about Brakebills?” Quentin asks, clearly sidetracked from his story for the moment.

“Yes, little nerd. I’m a graduate, class of 2017.”

“Oh. Well– Julia wasn’t very careful with her shit when she came to visit me, my last year at Columbia. I found one of her books. Since then I’ve just been digging on the internet, trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not.” He gives a little half-shrug, picking at the corner of the booklet. “I can’t figure out this last spell, though. So I guess I’m out too.”

“Oh, no, you’re definitely in,” Eliot says, feeling a little self-satisfied flare at the look of surprise and elation on Quentin’s face. “Even I don’t know the answer to this last spell. Call it my on-going post-grad research project. Talent and intelligence only get you so far with this coven, and that’s what this last question is testing. Will you stick with a problem, even when it seems impossible?”

“Yes,” Quentin says, eagerly, and oh, he’s really fucking cute. Eliot’s maybe in trouble. “I don’t give up easily, I promise.”

“I believe you,” Eliot says, grinning, and holds out his hand. “First lesson: don’t puzzle through something for hours without asking for help anymore. This coven is about collaboration. I mostly teach, but the higher level witches here work on their own areas of interest as well. We’ve all got things to offer each other. That’s how it works.”

Quentin takes the offered hand, and Eliot flicks out his left in a tut, turning Quentin’s right arm over with their joined hands so he can see the new tattoo on his forearm. “Welcome to the coven, Quentin Coldwater.”
__

What Quentin may lack in raw talent, he does indeed make up for in perseverance. Eliot’s never met someone who loved magic so much, honestly loved it, pure and simple. Quentin could and did spend hours breaking down spells, finding their components and what made them work. He’s more academically minded than a lot of the hedges Eliot’s trained, which makes sense for someone with an Ivy League masters degree. It’s nice, having someone to talk to about spell theory, when most of the baby hedges just want cantrip after cantrip.

It’s not the only reason Eliot’s finding himself drawn to his new little witch, but he takes positions of power seriously these days. It had only taken one-miscaluclated fuck to see what being careless with his dick could do to wreck his coven, and at this point he’d just invested too much. That doesn’t change the fact that Eliot likes Quentin, really likes him, enjoys his excited babbling and the creative way he approached problems. More than once, Eliot finds himself wondering why Brakebills would ever turn him away, when his approach to magic so clearly fit into that framework. He wonders if Quentin remembers, if he dug that much up out of his memory patch.

Friday nights weren’t overly popular hedge study nights, but Eliot isn’t surprised at all when he wanders past the library to see Quentin sitting, feet up under him on a couch, nose buried in a book. Indulging his own listless fantasies, Eliot stops in the doorway, leaning against the frame with his hands in his pockets. Quentin’s absorbed enough not to notice him, and Eliot watches him for just long enough that’s probably not creepy. He really is very lovely, in his own awkward way.

“You know that you’re not going to be quizzed, right?”

Quentin looks up, blinking owlishly like he’s barely been aware of the passage of time, muchless that anyone else might be in the building. He still smiles, a little, when he sees Eliot. It tugs the corners of his mouth into sweet little dimples, and Eliot’s stomach swoops unhelpfully. “I’m trying to learn to read Japanese kanji, so. I think the quiz is basically ‘can I do this spell’ and right now the answer is no.”

“What spell?” Eliot asks, curious, pushing off the door frame and wandering into the room to look at the papers spread out on the table in front of Quentin. Frowning, Eliot scans over the notes then glances up at Quentin, who’s looking a little nervous. “Why are you trying to bottle up your emotions? Literally bottle them up.”

“Hania said it might make doing more complicated spells easier.”

Eliot only manages to avoid grinding his teeth through sheer force of will. “I’m going to have to talk to her about that. It’s really dangerous to do, Q, I wouldn’t recommend it except in life or death circumstances. And if you’re facing life or death circumstances, I would hope you’d come talk to me about it.”

“I would,” Quentin confirms, big brown eyes all earnest, then his mouth gives a weird little twist. “‘Q’. That’s what my family calls me. And Julia.”

“Your Brakebills friend?” Eliot fills in, sliding to sit on the other end of the couch. The library is mostly deserted, only Mei working away at a table in the corner, and Eliot knows she’s here because her husband and children are in China for the weekend. He’ll check in with her later. Right now, there’s no where he has to be, no where he wants to be other than talking to Quentin.

“Yeah. My, uh–” Quentin starts, and then looks nervously over at Eliot. “My dad died, a year ago next Tuesday. I thought, maybe. Not– not feeling it might be nice.”

“You do feel it,” Eliot says bluntly, because that’s a dangerous game to play. “You get maybe an hour or two reprieve, but then you have to swallow down two hours with of hurt in one mouthful. It fucks you up, and it’s worse the worse you feel.”

“Oh,” Quentin says dully, picking at the book in his lap. “Yeah, that makes sense.”

“I’m sorry, Q,” Eliot says, softly, because while he may not have a father he would be devastated to lose, but he has family, in his own way. “If there’s anything I can do, let me know, please.”

“Yeah,” Quentin agrees, and then looks up. “I um. My brain breaks? Sometimes. I’ve been in the hospital a couple times, and like– on meds, and stuff. My dad was usually the person who– helped me, with stuff, I guess. So it’s gonna be extra shitty, I guess, because he’s going to be the person I want to talk to about shit. And, well.”

“So come in to the safehouse. There’s always work to do, and even if you just sit in the corner and stare into space, no one’s going to bother you. At least you’re not going to be alone, here.”

Quentin gives him a soft smile, and it’s real, despite the heaviness. “I never feel alone here. I wonder, sometimes, if it would have been like that at Brakebills.”

“How much do you remember?” Eliot asks, because hell, he’s not one to pass on a chance to satisfy his curiosity.

“More, the longer I’m here,” Quentin admits, squinting into the distance, clearly picking at that patch on his memory. “I remember the entrance exam, and being... yelled at, until magic exploded out of me. I remember talking to someone– and them telling me to go there I’d have to go off my meds. I think when I refused, they decided not to take me.”

“That’s bullshit,” Eliot hisses, and Quentin looks mildly startled by the vehemence of Eliot’s reaction. “Henry fucking Fogg and his ‘magic comes from pain’ garbage can suck my whole cock, honestly. I was a semi-functioning alcoholic by the time I got out of that fucking place, with what you might politely call some substance use problems on top of it. It didn’t make me a better Magician, and it nearly killed me.”

“Jesus,” Quentin mutters, but there’s no judgement in his eyes when he looks at Eliot. He sets his book aside, turning to tuck sideways into the corner of the couch so he can look at Eliot more fully. “How’d you end up leading a coven?”

“It’s not a happy story,” Eliot says, quietly, because it’s not, and he rarely tells it to his witches. But Quentin just scoots forward, knees folded to his chest, until his sock-clad toes worm under Eliot’s thigh. He crosses his arms on his knees and rests his chin on them, big brown eyes fixed on Eliot. Jesus, you’re dangerous, he thinks, you and your big fucking heart.

“It can’t be too bad, given everything I’ve seen here.”

Eliot sighs, reluctant, but Quentin’s earnest interest is hard to turn away from. “When I left Brakebills, I was directionless. Like a lot of schools, they don’t really do a lot towards helping you figure out how to apply what you’ve learned to the real world. But it’s like... extra bad, because magic, right? How the fuck do you get a job in magic? They pretty much rely on alumni mentors to help out, and no one wanted to take me on. So I had debt and a cocaine habit and no future to speak of.”

“That genuinely sucks,” Quentin says, sympathetic and serious, and Eliot’s hapless heart gives a little wiggle.

“Yeah, well. It didn’t take me long to realize that what I did have was– spells. Magic. It’s surprisingly easy to sell spells for drug money, and there’s Hedge covens all over city absolutely starving for spells.” Eliot waves a hand, dismissive, and Quentin frowns. “It worked for a little while, and by ‘worked’ I mostly mean I fell into a holding pattern. Then I got on the wrong side of the wrong coven, tried to cheat them for more money for less magic, because that’s what you do when you’re a junkie. And they nearly killed me, left me half dead in an ally in Harlem.”

“Jesus, El,” Quentin whispers, and Eliot’s stomach swoops happily at the nickname. He can feel Q’s toes wiggling under his thigh, and he lists towards Q a little, drawn to him.

“My friend Margo found me.”

“Margo– Is that Em?” Quentin asks, because he’s smart enough to put the pieces together. ‘M’ was how the coven knew her, their spell supplier, travelling around the world hunting magic.

“Yeah,” Eliot agrees, smiling fondly. “She was working as an event planner, and was about three minutes away from murdering her entire staff. She got me back on my feet, and then slapped some sense into me, and we realized how truly lacking the market is for any higher-tier non-traditional magical education. We had the training, we could share what we knew... make a coven of our own. Except Margo doesn’t exactly have the best temperament for it. She kept trying to start turf wars.”

“Is that why we don’t work with Marina’s coven?” Quentin asks, amused and Eliot scowls.

“We don’t work with Marina’s coven because she’s a sadistic little witch. But yeah, I mean, she and Margo didn’t exactly get along well–” Quentin starts laughing, and Eliot pauses for a moment, just to watch him. He’s so lovely, and Eliot’s in so much trouble. “Anyway. Margo’s out traveling internationally, chasing the very boundaries of magical knowledge. And I’m... mostly here, unless she needs me. Sorting through what she finds, learning and teaching. I’ve learned so much about magic that Brakebills never taught me.”

Eliot can hear the genuine excitement edging into his own voice, and he’d usually be kind of embarrassed about it, when he put so much effort in to not seeming to care about things. Except Quentin... Quentin loved the things he loved unapologetically. He carried battered copies of Fillory and Further around in his bag and made Dungeons & Dragons references constantly, and had a hard-on for magic like the world’s never seen. If anyone in this safehouse would appreciate Eliot’s excitement, it’s Q.

“I don’t think that’s a sad story,” Quentin says softly, tipping his head onto his arms again. The right one has two new hedge tattoos on it, because Quentin’s studying really is paying off. Eliot wants to press his thumb into the ink, feel Quentin’s skin warm under his touch. “I think you’re a survivor, and that somebody loves you. I don’t think that’s sad at all.”

Eliot swallows, a little stund. “I don’t think that would be most people’s take-aways.”

“Well, most people would probably have said I should have gone off my meds and gone to Brakebills. I think I made the right choice, in the long run.” He reaches out, hooking his pinkie finger through Eliot’s. “Most people are dumb.”

Eliot, who’s maybe mellowed a little in the past few years, but still holds walls up against the world so thick he can barely see through them, feels a crack. A little spreading spiderweb fissure, a chink in the armor, starting where Quentin’s finger is hooked through his.

Oh, my little witch, he thinks, heart turning over when Q smiles at him, soft in the corner of his mouth, you are so, so dangerous and you don’t even know it.
__

Eliot’s mirror-conferencing with Margo when the girl slips under his wards.

Their safehouse isn’t the mostly heavily-guarded of all the covens in New York, because he’s what you might call fairly libral when it came to letting hedges from other covens in. It kept people from trying to steal his shit, if he was willing to rent it to them, and well. Money and favors were the currency of the realm. You still had to be a hedge to get under the wards though, and they’re air fucking tight against everyone else, as far as Eliot knows.

Margo’s in the middle of the desert somewhere in Oman, chasing some ancient Sumarian spell she’s gotten wind of. The limitations of traveling light means she can’t translate old Arabic very well, however, so he’s in the process of pouring through dictionaries when Freida sticks her head into his office.

“Are you expecting a visitor?” She asks, and Eliot’s hackles immediately go up.

“No.” It’s a simple movement of his hands to reach out into the wards, to feel the place near the back door where one of the spell’s circumstances has been poked and prodded just enough. It’s a clever twist rewriting the spell to from ‘only hedges’ to ‘only magic users,’ Eliot might be impressed if he wasn’t pissed about it. “I’ve got to go, Bambi, someone’s Ocean’s 11’d us.”

“Kill them slowly!” Margo calls cheerfully from the mirror, but Eliot’s already out of the room.

He doesn’t even need a locator spell to find the little sneak, because there’s clearly a commotion coming from the common space near the kitchen. Eliot books it down the stairs of their two-story building, Freida on his heels.

It’s 6 o’clock on a weekday, and the safehouse is full of Eliot’s coven, people he’s handpicked and trained for up to three years. They part for him like the sea, folding in behind him like his own little army. It’s never stopped feeling exhilarating, that these powerful, intelligent people choose to follow him. It’s his reason, every day, to wake up and decide to deserve their trust. And part of that means keeping them safe from outsiders.

The common room is chaos when he gets there, but it’s easy to spot the outsider. She’s a girl about his age, long light brown hair and determined expression where she’s staring down a solid wall of Mei and Leelah and Aaron, clearly standing between her and–

Quentin.

Eliot’s anger flares, hot and bright, and he can feel the magic crackling on his fingertips as he steps through the doorway.

“What,” he says, voice measured, as he steps into the room. His coven falls in around him, and everything goes dead silent as he speaks. “– are you doing in my safe house, Magician?”

The girl, who’s clearly got more brains then common sense tips her chin up definiantly. “You’re Eliot Waugh.”

“Oh well done, very well reasoned, you get extra credit for doing your research. What are you doing in my safehouse.” His voice goes resonant, and it’s been a while since he’s been this close to the wildness of finding magic he doesn’t consciously know about, but all he can see is his coven standing between Quentin and this outsider.

“I’m here to free my friend. Let him go.”

This statement is so jarring that it actually manages to derail Eliot’s anger for a moment. He stops, a handful of feet behind Quentin, trying to parse together her meaning. Even Mei and Leelah seem thrown by it, falling to the side as they twist around to look at the rest of the coven.

Quentin gets there first. “Free me? Jules, I’m not trapped here, they’re not keeping me here.”

“I’ve barely seen you for months.”

“And I barely saw you for years,” Quentin hisses back. “I’m here because I choose to be, because I feel– s-safe here.” His voice stutters out on the last word, and Eliot wants to go to him, slide his arm around Quentin possessively and hiss at this Magicians to back off. He doesn’t, because there’s clearly some personal drama going on and he’s not an animal, but he doesn’t back away either.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t know how dangerous hedge covens are. You’re brainwashed or– have you been taking your meds?” She steps towards them, and Quentin flinches away

“Fuck you,” Quentin bites out, and Eliot’s anger flairs back to life. “How dare you use that against me, Julia. I know what I’m doing.

“Are you sure you really do, because–” she steps forward, hand coming out to grasp Quentin’s wrist, tug at him a little.

Eliot moves on instinct, fans his fingers out in a shield, which ripples to life between them, pushing them apart. Quentin stumbles back, away from Julia, drawn into Eliot’s side.

“You don’t,” Eliot says coldly in that same calm measured tone, while Quentin shrinks back into him. “–get to come into my coven and start harassing my witches.”

“That’s– battle magic. They don’t teach that at Brakebills.” The brown haired girl is started to look nervous, and she’s reaching out again, can’t get through the shield but reaching for Q anyway. “Come on, Quentin, it’s not safe.”

“Oh, there’s so much they don’t teach at Brakebills,” Eliot muses and it’s gratifying how Quentin’s sinking even further into his side. “You’re not listening to me. You don’t get to come into my safe house and start trying to take what’s mine.”

“He’s not yours,” the girl hisses, and she’s got spark, oh, Eliot can see that. Maybe not a master magician, maybe not yet, but she’s got more raw power in her than Quentin does. Maybe more than Eliot does, but she’s limited by the constraints of her classical training. Eliot’s moved beyond them. “Come on, Q, you’re better than this.”

“I’m not,” Quentin says softly, and Eliot’s heart hurts, just for a moment, and then Quentin’s straightening up. His stunned silence is wearing off, and he’s squaring up, still leaning back into Eliot’s side but Eliot can feel the power in him. Quentin’s magic has a particular feel to it, meant to repair rather than to break, but Eliot knows him capable of so much more than mending. “Brakebills isn’t better than us. You’re not better than me because someone handed you magic on a plate and I’ve had to work for it.”

“So you’re turning tricks for a few little spells and you think that’s what magic is,” the girl bites out, and Quentin flinches, curling closer to Eliot’s side, like Eliot can protect him from this. Eliot, who’s sold magic for money and been asked for more than that, wants to scrape the words right out of her mouth.

“It’s not like that,” Quentin says definiantly, and oh, he’s not seeking protection, he’s trying to give it. He’s trying to shelter Eliot. Oh, sweet little witch.

“It’s really not,” Eliot taunts, and slides his hand into Quentin’s hair, can feel him shiver with it. “My little volunteer tomato, he’s so eager. If I made him suck my dick for every spell he wants, I’d start to chaffe.”

Julia looks like she’s about to spit fire, and honestly Eliot kind of feels the same. The only thing holding him back is the warm little weight of Q against his side, the soft hair under his palm. They’ve never been this close before, fuck, Eliot’s going to be jerking off to this memory for months.

“Do you even have a discipline?” Julia asks, grasping at straws.

“Mending,” Quentin says, surely, and he’s not moving out of Eliot’s hold at all, just settling in to him. “Minor mendings. But it’s more complicated than just... a discipline in the way Brakebills teaches. It’s the kind of magic you draw, and where it comes from.”

“How do you–” Julia’s eyes flick between them, and Eliot can see the curiosity growing in her, draining her anger. “What do you mean, the kind of magic?”

“You took a couple classes and you think you know what magic is?” Eliot mocks, and maybe he’s being needlessly antagonistic, but he can’t get past the feeling of this stranger breaking into his home and trying to take something important from him. “I took the same classes you did, and I’m learning every single day. Do you know about the Library of the Neitherlands?”

“I– No,” Julia says, looking at Eliot with distrustful curiosity. “What’s that?”

“The people deciding what magical knowledge is safe for consumption, and for whom,” Eliot explains, icily, and there’s a murmur rippling through the gathered coven. “But we get around their restrictions because we go straight to the source.”

“How?”

“Hard work,” Quentin replies, and Eliot feels a rush of pride, at how far Q’s come. “Cooperation. We teach each other. Julia, this coven isn’t dangerous, they’re my family.

“I was your family, once,” Julia says, softly, and just for a second outer layer of her shell cracks. Eliot can feel the shift in Quentin’s posture, softening. Oh, but of course, Eliot knows he’s missed her. Missed her the same way Eliot misses Margo every day, the way you never really get over it when someone takes a piece of yourself with them when they leave.

When Quentin pulls away, tentatively steps forward, Eliot lets him go. He scoops up a notebook off the table, looking to Eliot for permission, because he’s a good little witch. When Eliot nods, he holds it out to her. “Look, see this spell? It’s still being translated, but–”

“I’ve never seen magic like this before,” Julia says, and there’s the same thrill of excitement in her Eliot’s seen so often in Q.

“It’s divine magic, not mechanical magic.”

“Divine as in, what, God?”

“Gods,” Quentin corrects. “Jules, there’s so much to learn.

Eliot, who can read the fucking room, whatever else you want to say about him, sighs. “You should show her the spell from the entrance exam,” he says, reluctant, and the look that Quentin gives him is just... gratitude, pure gratitude. Eliot smiles, and it’s definitely stiff and forced, but he manages it, for Q.
__

Quentin finds him later, where Eliot’s hold up in his office. He doesn’t live at the safehouse, because Jesus, talk about unhealthy work habits, but he spends enough time in this office that sometimes it feels like he might as well. He mostly handles wanting to drink by throwing himself into work, these days, and where better to do that, really? So he’s giving himself a migraine translating Arabic into Ancient Arabic and then again into Sumarian when Quentin knocks softly on the doorframe.

“Q, hey,” he greets, setting his notebook aside, trying to blink the ghosts of written figures out of his eyes. “Did she crack the puzzle?”

“No, but she’s– intrigued. She wants to come back.”

“Do you want her to?” Eliot asks, because somehow that’s more important than his usual policy towards Magicians, even if maybe it shouldn't be. If Quentin wants her to never get in again, Eliot will invent new wards until something keeps her out. If he wants her to come back, well...

“I– Yeah, I think so. If you don’t– I mean, she’s really smart, her discipline was apparently just knowledge, whatever the fuck that means. I think she could help us. But I mean. It’s your coven.”

Eliot hums. “Yes, but I prefer to be loved than fear.” Quentin rolls his eyes, but he’s smiling a little, pushing off of the doorway to walk up to Eliot’s desk. Eliot can feel the edges of his headache starting to recede already. “If you want her to come back, we can make it happen. With permission, and by appointment. No more fucking with my wards, there’s other people besides her out there who could have used that loophole.”

“Yeah, totally. I’ll– I’ll text her, let her know. We can make a plan. Thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank me,” he says, dismissively, looking back down at the notebook on the desk so he doesn’t have to keep looking at Quentin’s earnest fucking face.

“I do, I think. El,” Quentin says softly, and Eliot back looks up at him, powerless to stop himself. “You protected me.

“She wasn’t going to hurt you.”

“You didn’t know that. I didn’t know that, really. You said– you said I was yours, and you protected me.”

“Oh,” Eliot says, weakly, because well. Yeah. “I did do that, didn’t I?”

“Yeah.” Quentin fidgets, moving papers around on the edge of the desk, and he’s blushing, a little. Eliot feels a slow spread of heat through him, and he leans back in his chair. Years of running this coven have taught him how to casually present power, and he does it now, draping his forearms lazily across the arms of the chair.

“Did you like it?” He asks, bluntly, because sometimes there was something to be said for not beating around the bush. “Being claimed like that?”

“I– Yeah, it felt nice. Safe.” Q’s eyes dart around Eliot’s office before landing on him. Eliot smiles slightly, acknowledgement, and Quentin unspools a little more. “Like how I always feel here but better. More.”

Oh, sweetheart.

“ I meant what I said earlier, I’m never going to let someone come in here and suck my dick for spells, or protection, or... anything else like that.” Eliot flicks a hand out, dismissive, and hides his own anxiety under bravado. “But if you– want to, just because you... like me? Or something, that’s a different story.”

“I think I want to,” Quentin says softly, eyes hot and fixed on Eliot. “I definitely like you.”

“Well, then that’s a different story.”

Q smiles, dimple tugging at the corner of his mouth, and Eliot wants to kiss him suddenly so badly it’s overwhelming. The air between them stretches tight, and he watches Quentin’s eyes flicker to his mouth, and then drag down obviously over his crotch, where Eliot’s sitting with his legs just a little spread in his desk chair.

Suddenly concerned he may have been overly specific, Eliot says carefully “It’s not just blowjobs on the table, Q. I wasn’t– you don’t have to do that, for me. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”

“I know,” Quentin says fondly, and he’s circling around the desk, and then clambering up into Eliot’s lap because he’s braver than Eliot’s ever been. “I kind of want to do what you want me to do, though.”

“I want to kiss you,” Eliot says, helpless, because it’s all he can think about. Quentin smiles and tilts his face, offering. Eliot, heart pounding in his throat, cups Quetin’s face in his hands and takes.

Kissing Q is as good as Eliot’s ever dared to hope it would be. He’s warm and yielding and soft in all the right ways, yet wiry and masculine and sharp enough to make excitement flare in Eliot’s gut. He’s got a couple days stubble going on and it scrapes against Eliot’s lips, a sharp little thrill. But oh, his mouth is soft, it’s so soft, warm and wet and open for Eliot. He kisses like he’s starving, helpless hands flailing until they settle on Eliots shoulders, fuck. Settling his weight into Eliot, Quentin’s a perfect little lapful, the exact right height to kiss and kiss and kiss.

They gasp into each other’s mouths, and when Eliot slides his hand across the perfect curve of Quentin’s lower back, Q moans into his mouth.

“You’re mine,” Eliot whispers against his mouth, and feels Quentin writhe against him. “My favorite little witch, I’m not gonna let anything happen to you.”

Eliot,” Quentin sobs, and he’s tilting back so his fingers have space to start scrabbling at Eliot’s belt. Fuck, the door is still open.

Eliot reaches for telekinesis like a fifth limb, slides the door closed and flicks the lock easy as breathing. That’s not going to stop anyone else in the coven from hearing them, but Eliot– can’t super remember why he would care about that, right now. Quentin’s managed to get his belt undone, and is working on his fly with the singlemind determination Eliot’s seen applied to spells before. It’s kind of thrilling, to be the focus of it.

“Fuck, I want your mouth,” Eliot babbles, because he does, and he can tell Q likes it, likes when he talks. “I want you between my knees as I sit here at my fucking desk, Quentin.”

“Jesus,” Quentin pants, and he’s wriggling out of Eliot’s lap, falling to his knees, oh sweet fuck. “I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve thought about this.”

“You– think about blowing me at my desk?” Eliot stutters out, because that was just too much to process, really. Quentin nods, and the low-flaring heat in Eliot’s groin burns brighter. “That’s so hot, little one. You down there so I can– fuck– take the edge off while I’m working.”

El,” Quentin whines, and trying to work the edges of Eliot’s fly down enough to get at him.

He can’t really reach like this, needs Eliot’s help to get his cock free. It springs out, mostly hard already, and the look in Quentin’s eyes is hungry. Eliot cups his cheek, mostly just an affectionate touch, but oh, Q leans into him, nuzzling his face into Eliot’s palm. Oh, sweet little one, I understand.

Carefully, Eliot cradles the back of Quentin’s head with one hand and grips his cock with the other. He gives it a couple of lazy pumps, because it feels good and Quentin watching feels better, then he’s tilting his cock down, gently feeding it into Q’s soft wet mouth.

It’s spine meltingly good, Quentin’s submissive but he’s not passive, he’s just– waiting on instruction. When Eliot’s hand tightens on his neck, guiding, and Quentin goes, all perfect heat and suction. He’s careful with his teeth and sloppy with everything else, which is honestly perfect, nothing more Eliot could ask for in a blowjob. And when Eliot holds him still, carefully lifts his hips to fuck in, just a little, Quentin takes it. Moans, eyes rolling back in his head, he takes it and he loves it.

“Mine,” Eliot whispers, brushing his thumb against the corner of Quentin’s mouth, where it’s stretched around Eliot’s cock. Fuck, the sight alone. “You’re mine, little one, aren’t you?”

Quentin tries to nod, doesn’t really work with a mouth full of dick, but Eliot would give him an A for effort. Pleasure curls through him, and he could probably draw it out, ride the edge for a while and work Q’s mouth until his jaw and knees are sore. But he doesn’t want to right now, he wants to come and get Quentin back in his lap, so he files that thought away for another day and cradles the back of Quentin’s head.

“I want to come in your mouth, sweetheart, is that okay?” Eliot asks, because yeah, that’s never a fun surprise, but Quentin just moans, pushing down further onto Eliot’s cock. Eliot chooses to interpret that as a resounding yes.

Orgasm crests like a wave, washing through Eliot like an expended spell, leaving tingles behind in his fingertips and nipples and kiss-bitten lips. Oh, it’s good, it’s the best Eliot’s had in a while, a long sweet ripple of pleasure and Quentin works him through it.

Q pulls off, only coughing a little as he swallows, which is honestly impressive. Eliot feels boneless, but he tugs enough to at Quentin’s shoulder to get the message across along with a mutter “Come here.”

Quentin does. Climbs back into Eliot’s lap and sinks into him, and when they kiss again it tastes sharp and earthy between them, and Eliot doesn’t care. He wants to kiss Quentin all over, his pretty mouth and his soft neck and his heaving chest, but that’s involved, and mostly Eliot wants to hold him close and make him come. I want to do what you want, Quentin had said, and fuck, he was so dangerous, this sweet brittle boy.

“You did so good, little one,” Eliot whispers against Q’s mouth, and feels his whole body shiver where they’re all pressed together. “I’m gonna take care of you now.”

“Because– Because I’m yours?” Quentin asks, stuttering, and oh. Sweetheart.

“Yes. Because your mine.”

The soft little sound Quentin makes when Eliot gets his cock out will be burned into Eliot’s brain for the rest of his life. Quentin’s needy and clingy, wriggling in Eliot’s lap until Eliot gets a hand on his neck, and then he goes pliant. He lets Eliot work his cock over with one practiced fist, until he’s panting into Eliot’s mouth and practically begging to come.

Please,” Quentin whines, and Eliot feels the last of his walls crumble away in the face of this naked trust.

“I’ve got you, little one, you can let go.”

Quentin does.

What luck that there’s a box of tissues within reach, that Eliot can wipe his hand off and then touch, pet Q’s back and his neck, and his face and his hair while he shivers in Eliot’s arms. It’d be better in a bed, where Eliot could wrap him in a blanket and smother him with affection until the tremors died away, but this was still good. Better than good.

This was life changing.

“I–” Quentin starts, eventually, and his voice is wrecked. He clears it, then starts again. “I didn’t come in here to get in your pants, believe it or not.”

Caught off guard, Eliot laughs, look down at where Q’s tucked in against his neck as best he can. “Oh?”

“Yeah, that just kinda happened,” Quentin says, and he sounds exhausted, and satisfied.

“How do you feel?” Eliot asks, because checking in is important. Many things are important, water and calories and some honey, maybe, for Quentin’s throat. But none of those are more important than holding him, in this moment, so Eliot keeps doing that.

“I feel good,” Quentin says, softly, and nuzzles his nose against Eliot’s neck. “Really good. Safe. Protected.”

Fuck.

“Good,” Eliot replies, like that could possibly encompass the enormity of what he’s feeling. “I’m glad. I want you to feel those things.”

Quentin hums, and tilts his face up for a kiss, which Eliot gives. Sweet, and soft, with the bite of stubble, oh, Eliot is going to get addicted to this.

“Can we do it again, sometime?” Quentin asks, and apparently Eliot’s not alone in that sentiment.

“Yeah, little one. We can do it again. Maybe in a bed, next time.”

Quentin hums, then shoots Eliot a mischievous look. “Or against a wall next to a bed.”

“Jesus,” Eliot laughs, because Quentin’s literally going to melt his brain. “You’re so much trouble, you know that?”

“Your trouble, though,” Quentin murmurs, and there’s something tentative about it, a question to the statement.

“Yeah,” Eliot agrees, tipping his cheek down to rest on Q’s head. “My trouble.”