The chilly corridor they stumble into looks nothing like the idyllic forest scene they'd seen through the clock portal—which is typical, Quentin supposes, but he really could've used the win. He might be inclined to panic, even, except that at this point he's pretty sure he'd recognize the ornate stone architecture of Whitespire anywhere.
"Well." Eliot, having steadied himself through the portal with a hand on Quentin's shoulder, gives him a reassuring little squeeze. "The key's a liar, quelle surprise, but at least it's still Fillory."
Then a familiar voice behind them breaks in, "How in the shit did you two get here so fast?" and Eliot is gone and striding toward Margo before Quentin has managed to so much as turn around.
"We got your bunnies," Quentin says when it becomes apparent that Eliot isn't going to. He's too busy fussing over Margo, smoothing down the ruffles at the collar of her dress unnecessarily, tilting her chin up with one finger and scrutinizing her face. It's the sort of attention that has utterly confused Quentin's senses on the few occasions it's been granted to him, something in him wanting to melt into Eliot's caring hands even as his hind-brain kicks into fight or flight. But for as long as he's known them, Margo has always accepted it as her due.
She does so now, and gazes adoringly at Eliot for a long moment before flicking a dubious look back over to Quentin. "The bunnies I sent like half a second ago?"
"Uh, I don't know about that. But some bunnies yelled at us about marriage and dickwads, and we had the new key, so…"
"Yeah, no, I had just—okay, you know what? Don't give a shit. Thanks for being my knights in armour of varying quality, now help me come up with a plan."
The backstory she shares with them is clearly abbreviated and Quentin's still astonished by the sheer number of moving parts: fairies, politics, armies, spies. Eliot seems to feel similarly, looking almost impressed as the recap goes on, but when Margo finishes, looks up at him, and says plaintively, "Why do dudes keep trying to marry me, El?" the expression vanishes and he gathers her in his arms.
"Shh, Bambi, Daddy won't let that happen," he murmurs into the top of her head. Quentin feels like he should say… something about that, probably, but his brain's been spinning since Margo began her previously-on.
"Okay, so, you should marry me, then." Quentin's face goes hot as he says it, and the sensation only worsens when Margo and Eliot turn to look at him in unison. He ignores it, though; this is the solution, he knows it is. "Eliot can't, he's already got a wife and he isn't entitled to more than one of those. Plus marriage in Fillory is a big fucking deal. So if you marry me before the fairy queen can make you marry the Floater guy…"
He trails off and shrugs, awkward; they're both looking at him intently, albeit in very different ways. Eliot's got that look like he's kind of amused and fond and surprised to be feeling it, the same look he had when Quentin crowned him on that beach roughly a million years ago, and Margo's expression is calculating and serious, as though what he's said is worth the power of her, like, super scary intellect.
Each of those looks alone has historically had the power to completely disarm him. He's not really sure what to do in the face of both of them at once.
Luckily it doesn't last long. "Ah, what the hell," Margo says lightly, casting a quick grin at Eliot before turning it on Quentin. "All right, Coldwater, let's get hitched."
Margo hustles them off to a nearby room, hidden behind a tapestry as if that isn't literally the first place that anyone would look for a hidden room. She calls it the war room when she barks an order at a passing servant—"Bring Abigail to the war room!"—but to Quentin's eyes it just looks like a weirdly medieval boardroom. There's an actual flip chart in the corner, made of parchment and wood, and there's no map-table with little army guys to move around strategically at all.
"Why Abigail?" Eliot asks while Margo hoists herself up onto the edge of a huge conference table.
"That sloth has a taste for blood," she replies, and Eliot smiles and takes her hand. "So how are we gonna do this?"
Quentin has some ideas about that. Unfortunately, it appears that waiting for the planned ceremony and interrupting it is right out.
"The people on this world are stabby, Q," Margo tells him in a clipped tone. "The less publicly we humiliate them, the less likely it is that anyone will get stabby at us."
Quentin wants to protest, but he cuts himself off. Even he knows that's sound logic. "Fine," he mutters instead.
Margo shoots a smirking half-glance at Eliot. "He wanted to do the thing."
"What thing, I just thought—"
"Hmm, no." Eliot releases Margo's hand only to idly stroke her knee. "You absolutely wanted to do the thing. It's cute, really, if highly impractical."
Which, fine, isn't untrue, but they don't have to be jerks about it. "Like you've never wanted to object at a wedding," he says, defensive even to his own ears.
Rafe chooses that moment to arrive from behind the tapestry, Abigail carefully in tow. Quentin could propose to him just then.
"Your Most Royal Majesties. King Quentin." Rafe bows solemnly to each of them in turn, and Abigail screeches a brief screech. "How might Her Royal Slowness be of service?"
"Don't wig out," Margo says immediately, which is not how Quentin would start this conversation at all. "King Quentin and I need to tie the knot, lickety-split."
Rafe's eyebrows rise the slightest bit, but otherwise his expression of polite interest doesn't change. "Begging your gracious pardon, my High Queen. Tie the…?"
"Get married," Eliot translates. His tone is level and bored, like this is a totally normal day in Fillory. "Fast."
That gets a whole blink out of Rafe. Abigail screeches again, louder, and Rafe turns to her, stroking a knuckle along her side. "With utmost respect, Her Languidness wishes to know why you intend to jeopardize the future of the entire kingdom?"
Eliot's expression tightens visibly despite Rafe's mild tone—or, Quentin amends, maybe because of it, it really is unsettling how he does that. After a pause so brief as to be barely noticeable, Margo says, "Because we're in love."
She holds out an imperious hand to Quentin, and the conviction in her voice is more or less selling it so he swallows down his protest and tries not to look too awkward as he takes her hand. Margo yanks him in closer, more violently than he thinks is really necessary, and somehow manages to glare at him even as the rest of her face smiles.
The way she's arranged their hands leaves him holding her fingers, her own palm facing down like he's supposed to kiss her knuckles. Hesitantly, Quentin does. She's even got on a big ring with some kind of amber stone in it, like she's the Godfather or something.
"We're sorry we didn't tell you sooner," Margo continues smoothly. When Quentin releases her hand she lays it on his arm in a proprietary sort of way. "We've been keeping it very hush-hush, you know, what with the Beast and the Wellspring and now magic being gone. Everyone had so many things on their minds already. But when I learned that the Stone Queen wants me to marry her son…"
"Of course," Rafe says with something resembling actual human feeling, "that is another matter entirely." Quentin isn't sure that it is, but Abigail squawks once and Rafe smiles gently at her. "Abigail has quite the soft spot for love matches, you know."
Margo's expression doesn't change, exactly, but for the briefest instant it seems to freeze on her face, and her nails dig painfully into Quentin's arm. Then she tilts her head sideways and lays her free hand over her heart. "I'm so glad we agree," she tells Abigail softly. "I've always thought that you and I must be kindred spirits."
There's another ear-splitting screech, followed by an equally ear-splitting conversation between Abigail and Rafe. Both Eliot and Margo look on with matching expressions, some kind of hopeful/respectful hybrid gaze that Quentin's suddenly positive they've practiced, though when Eliot catches Quentin looking he spares a brief glance that makes his eyes seem to twinkle. Like an anime character. It's ridiculous, but then, so is everything he's drawn to in Eliot; that's life.
Finally Rafe says, "Abigail would recommend performing the ceremony now, given the circumstances. High King Eliot may act as witness and Abigail was ordained some decades back. Mostly in case some disaster were to ever befall an acting Pickwick during the royal nuptials, of course, but Her Most Intentional Slowness advises against summoning Tick's services in this particular case."
"I couldn't agree more," Margo says evenly, which is how Quentin winds up marrying his best friend's best friend in a drafty boardroom made of stone, presided over by a talking sloth.
Alice enters his mind once, and then only briefly, as Margo recites her absurdly elaborate vows under the tutelage of Abigail-via-Rafe. She'll be hurt, he thinks, and the thought ushers in a sharp, familiar stab of guilt—but then, Alice wants nothing to do with him. It's weird now, she said. And didn't Eliot tell him, right before this started, that he needs to get over her?
Then it's his turn to vow never to usurp Margo's throne, conspire to usurp her throne, or by inaction allow her throne to be usurped. And after that, soon enough, Margo's tongue is in his mouth and Eliot is whistling a very un-regal wolf whistle, and there's no space left in Quentin's brain for exes of any kind.
"All right," Eliot says, dragging Quentin into his bedchamber. He releases Quentin's hand and heads for the cartoonishly large wardrobe in the corner. "High Queen Bambi and I need to go talk to these Floater people, whoever they are. I can hardly be wearing Earth clothes while I play the contrite diplomat."
A garment hits Quentin in the face. It turns out to be a vest. "Am I playing diplomat too?"
Eliot's answering scoff is a relief, but also a little insulting. "God no. But you're Mr. High Queen Bambi now, and she'll shank both of us if I let you wander around the castle in ratty jeans right after she slapped a ring on it. She has a reputation to uphold."
"Mean," Quentin says with no real feeling behind it. He holds the vest up and scrutinizes it more closely. It's kind of nice, actually, more understated than most of Eliot's usual clothes, and less asymmetrical or whatever. But more importantly— "El? How is this in my size?"
"It's in your size because I had it made in your size." Eliot tosses him a pair of slacks, dark blue to match the vest, and when Quentin holds them against himself they, too, appear to be Quentin length and not Eliot length. "I love you and all, Q, but I've been dying to give you a movie makeover since the day we met, and you know how I like to be prepared."
The tips of Quentin's ears burn abruptly hot and he stares at the floor, confused and pleased. Eliot's never made a secret of hating how he dresses but the idea of him thinking about Quentin, even when Quentin's not there—of him poring over fabrics, maybe, and assessing different cuts and buttons and embellishments, deciding what will look best, to his eye, on Quentin's body…
It's touching. Honestly, it's a lot of things.
Eliot tugs the vest and slacks out of Quentin's hands, interrupting his little thought-spiral. When he looks up Eliot is smoothing the fabric out with an air of great exasperation. There are neat piles of clothes laid out on the bed, for him and Eliot both, and Eliot has what looks like a cravat slung over one shoulder and Quentin's crown dangling from his arm.
"Head in the game, Q," he says, laying a familiar hand at the juncture of Quentin's shoulder and neck. He squeezes once and releases. "Get your ass dressed."
They do get their asses dressed. Quentin even manages not to trip over his pants or fuck up any of the buttons on the garments Eliot selected for him. He's fiddling with his cufflinks, which appear to be made of actual dung beetle gold, when Eliot swoops back into his space with a tiny jar of something in one hand.
"Pomade," he says in answer to a question that nobody asked. Eliot gathers some up on his fingers, closes the jar and tosses it on the bed, and then works the stuff into his hands. "There are spells for hairstyles, by the way, but please never use them."
"How come?" Quentin holds himself as still as possible while Eliot fusses with his hair. He's standing close enough now that Quentin has to look way up to see his face.
"Because whoever wrote them had no taste whatsoever. The men's styles are especially offensive, everything is very skater boy circa '03, so it's all spikes and… hmm. Turn your head to the left."
When Quentin does so, Eliot's fingers run through the hair just above his hairline, so light it's borderline ticklish. Then he gestures to Quentin's right and it happens again on the other side.
"Anyway, it's terrible and I don't know why, it is truly not that difficult to account for the uncertainty of ever-shifting trends when you lay out the circumstances for that sort of spellwork. Done."
He steps aside just far enough to allow Quentin to look in the mirror on the far wall. As it turns out, Eliot's done good work. Quentin's not really sure what he did, exactly, but his reflection looks nice all the same. His hair is off his face, slicked back a little but not in the greasy loan shark way, and the effect of the whole look, head to toe, is: Quentin, But On Purpose.
Then Eliot snaps his fingers, retrieves the crown from the bed beside them, and places it carefully atop Quentin's head. Quentin's always felt kind of silly wearing it, because it just doesn't suit him like it does Eliot or Margo or even Alice. He's too fidgety and awkward to be royalty. But on this version of him, this version in the mirror with Eliot by his side, the crown kind of looks like it belongs.
"Okay, I guess you're good at that," Quentin tells Eliot instead of putting words to any of the other things. Eliot beams.
"I know. I'm a genius."
He presses a light kiss to Quentin's temple. It's casual and friendly, but he lingers for a beat in the same way that he might with Margo, just long enough for Quentin's brain to do the thing. For a moment, with Eliot right up in his space, every thought in Quentin's brain merges and morphs into one gigantic interrobang.
Then Eliot steps away and heads for the hall. "By the way," he calls over his shoulder, "Tick's gonna be here soon, it's your job to tell him we fucked up his wedding. Bye!"
He's gone before Quentin can formulate a single response. Quentin fucking hates him.
So, yes, telling Tick that he took part in sabotaging something he'd planned was kind of terrifying. And yes, Quentin did accidentally admit that it was his idea, and for a quick second he was pretty sure that he was about to be defenestrated, but he'd backed away from the window as casually as he could and the defenestration didn't actually happen, so he's counting that as a win.
Tick is still smiling murderously at him when Eliot and Margo finally bother to return, though.
"Your Majesties," Tick says, swivelling to face them. It's such a huge relief to have him spread some of that energy around it actually makes Quentin a little dizzy. "High Queen Margo. May I offer my congratulations?"
"Not necessary, Tick, but thanks," Margo says breezily, her heels click-clicking as she approaches at Quentin's side. "We're very happy, of course."
She's standing kind of close to Quentin—like, closer than normal—so he takes what he hopes is the hint and wraps his arm around her waist. She tucks herself into his side and doesn't try to cause him pain at all, so he's pretty sure he got it right.
"Of course. And our esteemed guests? How happy are they?"
Eliot winces a little, but he covers it up briskly. "Just fine. Disappointed, of course, but they understand the dilemma. Bigamy is a universal no-no, you know?"
"No," Tick says, sounding faintly confused but powering through. "But that's wonderful to hear. We will of course need to continue many of today's festivities as planned so as not to disappoint them further."
"Yeah, no, I don't think so." Margo rests her head on Quentin's shoulder, because it turns out she's kind of at the perfect height to do that. It feels nice. For a second the voice in his brain screaming RUN RUN RUN chills out a little. "I'm pretty tired from the festivities already. You think you can entertain them yourselves for the night? You and Rafe make a good team."
Mentioning Rafe is a mistake. Even Quentin can see that. Tick's expression darkens immediately, although he's still, somehow, smiling. "Oh, certainly, Your Majesty! We could bring in the Royal Ursine Ballet and a few local jesters and pray that everyone forgets that we promised them a wedding."
Eliot, who has sidled out of Tick's line of sight, widens his eyes in warning. Quentin looks helplessly back, trying not to make a face. Unfortunately, Margo only sighs. "Honestly? I'm tired. I get that the Floaters and the Lorians and all of our royal subjects and their talking dogs or who-the-fuck-ever want a party, but they can party without me. I got married today. I want a bottle of red, a bath, and a nap, maybe all at the same time, we'll see how it goes."
"Be that as it may," Tick says in a tone so bright it strikes genuine fear into Quentin's heart, "if you don't wish to have King Quentin assassinated and your marriage swiftly annulled, then I would suggest, at the very least, consummating the union post-haste."
Eliot snorts, the fucking traitor, and then attempts quickly to compose himself. Quentin can still see him fighting back a smirk, though. He tries the whole unimpressed, one-eyebrow-up thing, just to let Eliot know how unsubtle he is, but that only makes it worse: Eliot spins around to face away from them all and holds one hand up to his mouth. His shoulders shake silently. Margo mutters a curse under her breath.
"And tell me, Tick, if I say that I dragged the nerd-king back to my bed and my royal pussy made him see three separate gods, how are any of those consent-hating sons of cocks gonna know otherwise?" There's a silence, the charged sort of silence that happens whenever Tick is trying to phrase something extra-delicately, and abruptly Margo's fingers clutch at the back of Quentin's vest. "Wait. Do not fucking tell me that this is some of that misogynistic, medieval-ass peeping tom bullshit."
"Some of… oh! Oh no, Your Majesty, that would be barbaric. A High Queen does not simply allow hordes of strangers into her bedchamber!" Thank god for that, thinks Quentin, who hadn't even realized that sex with Margo under the entire court's judgmental eyes might be on the table. "No, the High Queen chooses her witness, of course, and only members of the court who have a, hm, vested interest in the outcome may stand outside the chamber and listen in."
A strangled noise comes from Eliot's direction. From behind it looks like he might be having convulsions. Irritably Quentin asks, "You okay over there, El?" and Eliot waves a hand and coughs.
Margo ignores them both. "They may listen in?"
"Yes, Your Queenliness. How else might they ensure that both parties have reached their climax?"
Tossing her hands in the air, Margo tilts her head up to look at Quentin, clearly having identified him as her only ally in this corridor. Her eyes are wide and impossibly expressive. "How else might they ensure we've both reached our climax, Q?"
"We could always do a sex ritual," Quentin says, unable to stop himself. "Make sure that things start exploding every time someone, um, climaxes."
For an instant Quentin could swear that he sees Margo smile, tiny and genuine, but it's gone the moment Tick says, "Unfortunately, that—"
"Jesus, Tick, he was joking," Margo snaps. "Fine. Fuck it. When do you need us to do this? Now?"
For a second Quentin pictures Margo dragging him into the nearest janitorial closet and shoving him violently against a wall. It's an involuntary and distressingly vivid image. But Tick says again, "Oh no. There are several hours of festivities remaining today alone. Not the precise festivities we had planned, of course, before this highly royal coup, but—"
"This evening following the feast should do quite nicely. It's customary, and our esteemed guests from the formerly-Floating Mountain will certainly expect to be fed before the bedding."
Margo looks up at Quentin again with an exasperated shrug that says, Well, there it is. Quentin offers, "I mean, um, I am getting kind of hungry. Makes sense to like, keep our strength up or whatever."
"All the better to penetrate the royal pole-hole," Tick says knowingly, and Eliot collapses to the flagstone floor in hysterics.
The feast is delicious, as it turns out. That doesn't make up for the actual hundreds of eyes on Quentin while he eats his roast pig, but it's an okay start. Though he could definitely do with the designated Floating Mountain table looking a little less murderous.
At least the wine is great. Quentin drains half of his goblet in one go, but then frowns, reconsidering, when a servant promptly steps forward to fill it again. He says, "Should I be trying to keep my wits about me?"
Margo looks over. It's noisy as fuck in the reception hall, whoever designed it definitely not having been a genius with acoustics, but Tick seated him close enough to Margo—at her left hand, of course, Eliot having long since claimed the spot at her right—that they can at least still mostly converse. "Keep your what?"
"My—shit." Quentin catches himself halfway to taking another gulp and forcibly sets his goblet down. "My wits. Like, in case someone tries to, uh, come at me?"
"Yeah, no, I heard you, I just didn't think that people said shit like that in real life." Margo looks him up and down. She, he notes, has barely had anything to drink. "Don't worry your shaggy little head about it, Q, I can take these Floater pricks. They won't get close enough to stab you."
"Oh. Thanks. I—"
"Plus I'm pretty sure that no-scope with a crossbow is way more their style than anything you'll actually see coming."
She pats his cheek once, like a reassurance. Decisively, Quentin pushes his goblet a little further out of his reach.
Eliot takes this break in their conversation to lean over and say something in Margo's ear. Whatever it is makes Margo go tense for a moment—not much, not nearly enough to be visible to their enormous audience, but Quentin's sitting right beside her. And also, he thinks, surprising himself in the process: he knows her.
From between the rows of banquet tables closest to Quentin, a man approaches. A super handsome one. At Quentin's side Margo deliberately relaxes, and for a quick second after he puts together what's probably about to happen, Quentin's just relieved that he's not likely to have to talk to this guy.
"Ess," Margo says when the guy reaches their table. Her tone is all pleasant.
"High Queen Margo." There are no bows or scrapes or even any respectful nods. Ess, or whoever he is, casts a quick and disdainful look Quentin's way. Quentin tries very hard not to slouch into his fancy chair. "You really are just full of surprises."
"You're not wrong."
"What is it that they say on Earth? Third time's the charm? It didn't work with me and now it won't work with Prince Micah, so you're sealing the deal with some mediocre Earth boy?"
"Wait." Quentin knows he should probably defend himself, at least for appearance's sake, but he's sort of distracted by the puzzle piece that just fell into place. "You were going to marry him?"
"Ancient history," Margo says dismissively, but she's cut off by Ess saying, "Oh, she didn't tell you? I rocked your wife's world."
"Oh, honey." The tone of Margo's voice reminds Quentin forcibly of the way his great aunts from the south say bless your heart. "Don't flatter yourself. You laid there like a dead fish while I did all the work."
Ignoring this, Ess says to Quentin, "You know, I find it fascinating that she never told you that she came a virgin to my bed."
Eliot makes a strange noise that's just barely pretending not to be a laugh. Quentin's so glad for him that he's having such an amusing day. He raises his eyebrows at Eliot over Margo's head.
"Sorry." Eliot coughs once, then takes a dignified sip of wine. "It's just still very funny."
With an eyeroll, Quentin turns back to Ess. He waits, pretty patiently even, but it turns out Ess isn't planning to actually make his point. "Um. Okay?"
"So you're not worried at all that your new bride made love to another man—"
Eliot coughs again.
"—and never told you about it?"
Jesus. This guy's a dick. "No? That's kind of… like, no. I'm not."
"Not everyone in my life is a possessive fuckboy," Margo puts in sweetly, "and no one at this table has anything else to say to you. Just wish us well and skedaddle, all right?"
Ess tries to stare Margo down, even though literally anyone who knows Margo could tell him that there's no winning that battle. Finally he dips his head a little and says, "Of course. High Queen Margo, King Quentin, Loria wishes you a prosperous union. High King Eliot, my father sends his personal greetings."
"I'll just bet he does," Eliot replies. "Buh-bye."
As soon as Ess is out of earshot, Quentin says, "What a creep."
"Right? Dodged a fucking bullet on that one. Honestly, he couldn't even make me come, never trust a straight guy who brags that much about his dick." Margo cuts a sideways look at Quentin. "Not bad on the eyes, though, when you don't have to listen to the shit he's saying."
"Oh, definitely." Quentin's not sure if Margo's smirk is because he agreed, or because he agreed so fervently. Maybe both. "That kind of makes it worse. He's like, offensively attractive."
"You haven't met his dad," Eliot puts in dreamily.
Quentin definitely needs to ask for that story at some point, but Tick appears across the table mere moments later, in the same spot Ess had just vacated.
"Your Majesties. The feast is going splendidly. The royal guard has a few spies mingling throughout the room, and I'm so happy to tell you that we seem to have staved off the worst of our guests' vengeful tendencies. All that's left now are the speeches."
Horrified, Quentin stares at him. Of course there are fucking speeches, he thinks. Eliot, on the other hand, only sighs as if greatly put-upon.
"I'll do it. I've always excelled at a monologue. Also, High Queen Margo did declare war the last time you gave her that kind of platform."
He shifts to stand, but Tick holds up a quelling hand. "While I appreciate the initiative, Your Kingliness, custom does dictate that the royal bride and groom each speak on their own behalves. So that the common folk may be reassured that their lives will not be rent asunder by a royal divorce for at least a year or two, you understand."
"It's fine, El. I got this." Margo stands with the sort of smooth grace that Quentin will never, ever be able to replicate. "I'm probably not gonna start a war this time. Relax."
Then she claps together so loudly it makes Quentin jump. It makes about half of the people in the row of tables nearest them jump, too.
"Listen up," she calls, and god can she project her voice. The room falls quickly silent, save for a few stray scraping sounds from people still eating and thinking they're being sneaky about it. "Thanks for coming here to eat and drink and celebrate my wedding. I know it's not the wedding you thought you were gonna celebrate, but hey, life's weird sometimes. I'm sure you're all aware of that."
A few people chuckle. And the speech, as Margo gets going, is… fine. It's largely about Fillory and its future, with some kind of metaphor about putting up a unified front. There's a lot of finer details about economics and stuff that Quentin doesn't really get, but he only catches Eliot wincing at her words once.
Margo is, Quentin remembers, as he's remembered during every conversation he's had with her for the last three years, really fucking smart. He's pretty sure he's never going to reach a point where he's not at least a little awed by her.
As she starts winding down, Margo tosses a quick glance over her shoulder at Quentin. Then she tells her subjects, "I know most of you don't know King Quentin, at least not like you know High King Eliot and me. Honestly, maybe that's a good thing. But I can promise you that there's no child of Earth who loves Fillory as much as he does. And I can tell you that he's kind and brave, and yes, super dorky, but only because he cares more than most people can even imagine. He inspires me to care more, and now it looks like I've tied him down so maybe all of you sons of witches will be lucky enough to catch some of that too. Now drink up!"
Quentin thinks he might be about to cry. He doesn't look at Margo as she reclaims her seat because he's pretty sure he will cry if he does that. Instead he stares at the table until the polite applause dies down.
It lapses into an expectant silence, so when he's reasonably certain he's gotten his feelings under control, Quentin gets to his feet.
"Um, hi." He stares at the hangings on the back wall of the room, because that makes it a little easier to pretend he's not addressing a genuinely huge audience. "I'll keep mine brief so that you can all get back to the food and this really amazing wine. Like High Queen Margo said… most of you probably have no idea who I am. So I could say whatever I want about, um, Fillory and your lives and stuff, but I'm kind of guessing that most of you don't really care."
The speeches are meant to reassure them, Tick said. Quentin can't retroactively make himself into a good monarch, if there even is such a thing, but he can reassure them that he's not about to divorce Margo, at least.
"So. I met High Queen Margo a few years ago and found her completely terrifying." There are a few scattered laughs, not all of them overtly awkward. Quentin smiles a little and tries not to tug his sleeves down over his hands. "Um, and I thought she was way too cool to even talk to me, which was probably true, but I guess no one told her that because she did talk to me. And she was—is—amazingly smart and insightful and just, like, so capable at everything she does. And I think you're super lucky to have her as your High Queen, just like I'm super lucky to know her. Um, so please nobody clue her in that she's too cool for me."
The laugh he gets this time is bigger and more genuine, so Quentin quits before he can ruin it and drops back into his chair. He kind of feels like someone snuck up behind him while he was talking and hyposprayed him with a mixture of espresso and Adderall, but when Margo kicks his ankle gently he manages to look up and smile at her.
Margo's rarely good with sincere human emotions so she's not going to say anything, but Quentin hopes she knows that he meant it. He hopes Eliot knows it, too, and that he's part of it, that Quentin's shitty life is much less shitty for knowing both of them.
The speeches must really be the end of it because Tick steps forward again mere moments later to usher them out of the hall. He leads the three of them down the corridors and past whispering servants, single-file like some bizarre sex-conga line, and Quentin's getting so burnt out on being scrutinized that it's nothing but an immense relief when Tick ushers them all into Margo's room, assures them the Floaters will be escorted to the corridor outside momentarily, and then bids them to "Have fun!" and slams the door on them.
Eliot makes a bee-line for the bed and flops onto his stomach on the foot of it, wrapping his arms around one of Margo's gigantic cushions. Margo yanks her shoes off, tosses her crown onto her enormous vanity, and hops up at the head of the bed, crossing her legs under her dress like she absolutely does not give a shit if anyone sees her underwear. Which, hey, more power to her or whatever.
Quentin doesn't join them immediately. He scans the room and starts freeing himself from the buttons on his vest and shirt, trying to think.
"How's this gonna work?" he asks when Margo raises an eyebrow at him. "Like, do we just jump on the bed and make a lot of noise, or…?"
Margo shrugs. "That's what I figured. This bed rocks like crazy, listen." She shifts back and forth a few times and sure enough, the headboard starts clacking against the wall, shockingly loud. Quentin immediately pictures the Stone Queen and her surprisingly hot son sitting against the other side of that wall, imagining what they might be doing together. He shoves the thought away as hard as he can and focuses on getting his vest off without ruining it.
Eliot, apparently, has other thoughts. "Mmm, that feels nice," he says quietly, probably so their audience can't hear him. His eyes are closed and his head is pillowed on the cushion like he might fall asleep. "Don't start anything you're not prepared to finish, Bambi."
"I kinda need to save the nerd from an arrow in the throat, El." She tries to kick at him but her leg won't reach; it's a huge bed and she's tiny without her shoes.
"How very butch and sexy of you," Eliot murmurs, which makes Margo beam.
"Obviously. And get over here already, Coldwater. You're not gonna be much help standing in the middle of my room like that, much as I like the idea of having my own Queen's Guard."
She gestures to the middle of the bed, the open space in the middle between herself and Eliot, so he discards the vest—over the back of a chair, he doesn't have that active a death wish—and joins them. Quentin shuffles across the bed until he's seated with his back against the cool stone wall. That alone is enough to make the bed move again, and for some ungodly reason the resounding thump thump against the wall makes him blush.
Then Margo gives him an assessing look, tosses her head back, and moans like a porn star, and Quentin has to muffle a laugh into his arm. It's wildly unsexy, and the grin Margo gives him when he has himself under control again tells him that she knows it.
"They're gonna think you're faking it," he whispers. "Like, faking orgasms."
She shrugs. "Like none of them ever have. Come on, Q, show me what you got."
Emboldened by the wine, and Margo's grin, and the tiny smile on Eliot's face, Quentin tries his own exaggerated moan. He almost starts laughing at the tail end of it but he catches himself, and Margo joins in with more porn noises.
After a few rounds of this, Eliot opens his eyes. "That's not even what you sound like in the throes of ecstasy. Either of you," he adds, tossing an unimpressed look Quentin's way as well. It's a shock, suddenly, to hear Eliot make reference to the whole… thing, to acknowledge it after all this time. And Quentin really must have his wires crossed where Margo and Eliot are concerned, because somehow that shock makes him bold instead of shy.
"Yeah," he agrees, grinning a little when Eliot's eyes cut back toward him. "With her it's more of a—"
Lowering his voice some more, because he kind of is invested in not being assassinated as part of a nefarious fairy plot, he makes a sort of breathy, gasping noise, mimicking as best he can the hazy memory of Margo's voice in his ear as she clenched down around his fingers. It's not a very good facsimile, but something of it must ring true because Eliot scrunches his face up like he's trying not to laugh out loud.
"Okay," Margo mutters, but the amusement on her face puts the lie to her irritable tone. "I'm not sure how either of you could even remember anything from that night, because I sure fucking don't, but whatever."
"I mostly remember little bits and pieces," Quentin admits, tucking his hair behind one ear. Eliot's pomade is losing its hold and he's sure it's a mess. "Like, that, and kissing both of you, and then I think I ate you out?"
Margo makes a little face, like she's maybe dubious about that. "Definitely don't remember."
"He did," Eliot puts in. He's rolled over onto his side now, one elbow propped on the cushion to support his head. "I remember it too. He was very enthusiastic about it."
Quentin laughs, awkward, and he can feel his shoulders hunching up a little, all on their own. But it's more embarrassment than discomfort, really. He's sure he was enthusiastic about it. He kind of gets like that, and Margo and Eliot are both upsettingly hot so like, sue him.
"Huh." Margo gives Quentin another assessing look. As she does so, she asks Eliot, "Was he good?"
"For you? I mean, I'm pretty sure you came twice before anyone even got inside you, so I would presume so."
And that's just… like, Quentin's whole body is on fire, and he can't quite manage to look at either of them suddenly, but again, it's not a bad feeling. He feels pleased with himself. He wishes, as he stares at the hangings on the opposite wall, that he could remember more of it.
After a moment Eliot nudges his foot gently against Quentin's leg. It makes Quentin smile a little, though still not directly at either of them. Eliot adds, "Which is why I think it's absurd to be faking having sex when you could be actually having sex, but what do I know?"
"He doesn't want to, El," Margo says. She uses this stupid, long-suffering voice, and finally Quentin does look at her.
"Did you ask him?" He sounds a little more incredulous than he actually means to, but come on. "He's sitting right here."
Margo smiles slowly, one of those rare, sincere Margo smiles, and at the other end of the bed Eliot's voice says, delighted, "Yeah, Margo, did you ask him?"
"Shut the fuck up," Margo replies even as she crawls across the bed.
Kissing her is a lot like Quentin remembered, which is to say, actually kind of mind-blowing. He'd liked that he didn't have to be one thing with her, and that he could push a little without her expecting him to be, like, in charge and super manly and impassive or whatever. He likes that now too, how Margo winds her hand tight in his hair when he pushes up on his knees, and matches him bite for bite.
"It's not a fight, children," Eliot says lazily behind him and Quentin breaks away, trying not to laugh too loudly.
"No?" He glances over his shoulder. Eliot's smiling at them, at both of them together, sitting fully upright for the first time since the whole bedding-whatever started. "You gonna show us how it's done, then?"
Eliot's eyes crinkle at the corners, but he tilts his head like he has to consider it anyway. "If you insist," he says, still in that hushed voice, and then he's behind Quentin, wrapping one arm tight around Quentin's ribcage and making Quentin crane his neck to kiss Eliot over his own shoulder.
God, the scrape of stubble against his skin feels so nice, at least in the moment. He always forgets that. Quentin tries to turn around, to get his hands on Eliot or at least ease some of the strain in his neck, but Eliot's arm around him is like an iron bar. When Quentin shoves at it, it only gets tighter. When he squirms a little, Eliot presses up tighter against him and makes a happy sound—and, fuck, he's hard already, Quentin can feel him hard against his lower back and it doesn't exactly make him want to squirm less.
"Eliot," he says, faintly embarrassed by how whiny his voice sounds. Eliot hums another content hum and starts pressing kisses to Quentin's shoulder, through the thin fabric of the shirt that Eliot chose for him. Quentin shoots Margo a look that she only raises her eyebrows at. "Yes, fine, you're super tall and attractive, we've established that, would you—"
Eliot interrupts him with a sharp bite to his shoulder. It makes Quentin's toes curl, what the fuck. He's suddenly so glad that neither of them can see his feet with the way he's kneeling.
"Have we?" Eliot asks. He rests his chin on the top of Quentin's head. The hand not currently holding Quentin in place just sort of… drifts its way down to Quentin's belt. "Established that?"
The question seems to be directed at Margo, but she only shrugs. Her skirt is all rucked up from how she sat back after Eliot grabbed him and she's got one hand on her own knee, idly sweeping her thumb against her skin in a way that makes it very difficult for Quentin to think. It distracts him for a moment from Eliot opening his belt buckle with one hand, and—
And did Eliot have that belt made with the hope of being able to do this? Of being able to slide it slowly through his belt loops while he holds Quentin firmly in place? Fuck, Quentin cannot think about that right now.
"If you think that wasn't established a long time ago," Quentin says, a little snappish from all of the sexual panic, "you were not paying attention. Now if you won't let me touch you, will you please let me go so that I can go down on Margo, because I'm dying here."
Margo raises her eyebrows at Eliot. "Was he this mouthy the first time around?"
"I don't remember." Eliot's tone is regretful. He's got the button fly on Quentin's slacks mostly open now, and he shifts behind Quentin, forcing him up on his knees a bit more until the hard line of Eliot's dick is pressed right up against his ass.
"Fuck," Quentin breathes when Eliot lets him go, but he's on a mission. He drops onto his hands and knees to kiss Margo again.
For a long moment Margo indulges him, shifting to make room for him between her legs and kissing him, and kissing him, hard and hungry and so demanding. Then she gets a hand on the top of his head and pulls back, saying, "Fuck up my gown and the replacement comes out of your trust fund."
The shove she gives him is lighter than he's actually expecting, but it's still, just, extremely hot. Clumsily he kisses his way down her chest and her stomach, through fabric so thick and layered and embellished he's not totally sure she can actually feel anything, but Margo leans back on her hands and tilts her hips up to meet him so he figures he must not be making too much of an idiot of himself.
When he gets there he rests his hands on the knobs of her ankles, then sweeps them up the sides of her legs, calf to knee. There's a fine layer of hair on her calves—which makes sense, it must be harder to find someone here to wax you or whatever than it is on Earth, but the sensation surprises him when it tickles his palms. That's hot, too. It had never occurred to him to wonder if he might be into that, but here he is.
Quentin kisses the inside of one of her knees, then looks up again to see her face. It's flushed, more than it was before, which makes him feel obscurely proud of himself, and her chest is rising and falling a little more quickly with her breaths.
"You really are into that, huh?" she asks.
It's a rhetorical question but Quentin smiles at her anyway. "Yeah." He maneuvers her leg so it's hooked over his shoulder, dropping onto his elbows to minimize the strain. "I had a, uh, a friend I guess, in college? With benefits or whatever?" He kisses her again, right above the knee this time, on the tender skin near his cheek. "She wasn't into, like, dating me, but she really liked it when I did this and it turned out I really liked it too, so."
Behind him Eliot makes a sad little noise, and even Margo's eyebrows knit together, so he bites the meat of her thigh to distract her. It works: she jolts.
"Okay?" he asks. It's probably not necessary, but—he likes to ask. He likes to be sure. Margo rolls her eyes and nods, so he grins at her and shoves her skirt up and bends to kiss her through her underwear.
"Oh my god," Margo mutters. She bangs her heel against Quentin's back, hard. "El, get up here."
The bed dips under them—creaks and clanks, and for a second Quentin is reminded that this is a performance, sort of—as Eliot crawls up the bed to meet her. Quentin mouths at Margo through the damp, silky fabric, finds where he's pretty sure is—
Yep. Margo hisses and rocks her hips up against his face.
"Did he even…?" Eliot asks while Quentin sucks at the fabric over Margo's clit. She laughs shakily and Quentin smiles a little, hidden down below them both.
"Nope! They're still on! Help me get this off, there's too many fucking layers. I want to see."
There's a lot of rustling and ruffling while Eliot, presumably, works at the buttons on Margo's gown. Quentin doesn't really pay attention, honestly. It's been a long time since he's gotten to do this, at least that he remembers properly—he'd been single for a while, and then Alice had been kind of embarrassed and awkward the one time he brought it up—and even like this, when he hasn't even gotten his mouth on her properly yet, the sensations are a lot. The heat, the smell of her, the taste of the sweat on her thighs, it's overwhelming in the best possible way.
He's not under the impression that he's the most talented guy around, especially when it comes to this, but in his experience enthusiasm can count for a lot. And that, he thinks, taking in the tiny movements of Margo's body as he pushes his tongue against her entrance as best he can through her ridiculous silk briefs… that he can bring to the table.
So when Eliot prods at his shoulder, laughing quietly and saying, "Q, let me just," Quentin pulls back to help him lift Margo's hips off the bed. He helps to free the swathes of fabric under her. And he lets himself watch while she and Eliot maneuver the gown over her head.
She's gorgeous, is the thing. They both are. Quentin must be a fucking mess right now, in several senses of the word, but Eliot is long and elegant and rakishly dishevelled and Margo is breathless and flushed in only her underwear, her Earth bra a soft blue that matches the briefs he's just more or less ruined. Margo's watching him with wide, impatient eyes, and Eliot is looking back and forth between them with a smile curving lopsided at the corner of his mouth.
Catching Quentin's eye, he smiles a little wider, and moves to sit behind Margo so that she's cradled between his legs. He kisses her scalp, then her temple, then the corner of her mouth, his hands working behind her back all the while. And then her bra is off and Quentin feels actually dizzy, for the second time today.
"Oh my god," he mutters. He really did mean to just get Margo's underwear off and get to it but now he can't move his eyes from where Eliot's hand rests high on Margo's stomach, just below her breasts. "Sure, why not? This is totally a thing that happens to me, more than once."
Margo kicks him in the hip. "Not that I don't love to be appreciated, Q, but weren't you in the middle of something?"
He was. He absolutely was. Quentin takes one more greedy look at Margo's hand tangled, possessive, in Eliot's hair, and then pulls her underwear off her legs and gets back to work.
She comes for the first time just from his tongue on her clit. Quentin loses himself in it again for a while, working her up steadily, listening to the soft sounds of her kissing Eliot or Eliot kissing her or both of them kissing each other, and it takes him by surprise when she gasps and clenches her thighs tight around his ears, riding his face through it.
Quentin doesn't relent until she collapses back on the bed, breathing hard, but when she does, he chances another look at the two of them. Margo's eyes are closed and her head is tipped back against Eliot's shoulder, but Eliot is watching Quentin even as he pets at Margo's hair.
There's this look on his face, this look that he gets sometimes that Quentin had thought meant nothing at all, really, except maybe that Quentin was annoying him. But Eliot says, still so quiet that Quentin can barely hear, "Bambi would never tell you this, but FYI, you look hot down there," and Quentin's ears burn. He's hard and panting and his face is half-soaked but this, somehow, is too much.
Margo laughs breathlessly. "He's all right," she allows, so Quentin dives back in for round two before they can say anything else.
Second verse, same as the brain-searing first: he gets three fingers inside of her and licks around them, between them, until he starts hearing abortive little groaning sounds from the head of the bed. Quentin curls his fingers, searching, and once he's sure he's found it—once she's rocking back up against him, squeezing him with her thighs like she doesn't even mean to—he puts his mouth back on her clit. And he keeps up the pressure on that spot inside of her. She nearly suffocates him when she comes, grabbing his hair and yanking him against her so hard he sees stars.
That should be good, probably. He's pretty sure Margo's expecting that to be it, and Eliot must be dying for someone to touch him by now. But Eliot had said—twice, he'd said, last time. And some part of Quentin wants to show up that younger, drunker version of him, who made bad decisions and then didn't even have the decency to remember them right.
So he sits back on his heels just long enough to say, "Tell me if it's too much. And you can pull my hair. Oh, and, um, there's people outside who want to hear you, right, so."
Margo does pull his hair. She does squirm and kick him and move him around. Somehow, though, it's the third thing that gets him: Margo makes a lot of noise. Quentin chases each one, tries to wring it out of her again and again when he's found it, and this time before her orgasm hits her Margo growls, "Come on, Coldwater, don't cock out on me now," in a voice that is probably going to haunt his fantasies for the rest of his life.
"Take that, you floating fucks," Margo mutters after, low and hoarse and more than a little triumphant. As he wipes his face off on a corner of the duvet, Quentin thinks, Take that, at his former self, too. Then Margo nudges him with her heel. "Q, listen, whoever that college chick was, she was a fucking moron. I'd bring you flowers and chocolates every day if it meant you wanted to do that."
"Well," Quentin says, stretching his neck and shaking out his wrist and trying not to sound too self-satisfied. "You did marry me."
He turns back to them to find Margo flat on the bed, one hand on her chest, and Eliot seated cross-legged beside her, one hand in his pants. He's stroking himself slowly and watching Quentin like he's trying to solve a puzzle.
Quentin smiles at him again, finding himself helpless to do much else, and then presses his fingertips to the hinge of his jaw. Ugh. "I'd love to blow you now, El, but my jaw is killing me."
"That's fine," Eliot murmurs. He removes his hand from his pants. It's very difficult not to stare at the way the fabric stretches over him. "I still have that memory from last time."
Reaching out for Quentin as he shuffles up the bed, Eliot makes a little affirmative sound. "It's pretty clear. I think because you surprised me so much. I really wasn't expecting you to just faceplant onto my dick."
Quentin snorts. He has no memory of Eliot's dick in his mouth, but he knows himself, and he knows himself drunk, and he knows that's probably not that huge an exaggeration. "I told you," he says as he lifts his arms for Eliot to pull his half-buttoned shirt over his head, "you weren't paying attention."
"Ándale," Margo says beside them with yet another kick to Quentin's leg, then grins lazily at the looks they give her. "What? Stop flirting and get to the good stuff, I wanna commit this to my spank bank before I pass out."
"So demanding." As usual, Eliot sounds besotted. Then he leans close to Quentin's ear, says, "You heard the woman," and kisses him.
Quentin winds up in Eliot's lap and he thinks, suddenly, that he remembers this too: kissing Eliot from this angle and feeling the scratchy linen of Eliot's shirt against his bare skin. Holding Eliot's face like this. Together they get Eliot's stupid cravat off, his shirt undone, and Quentin sits back on his thighs.
"You gonna fuck me this time?" He knows they didn't do that last time, and he knows equally that he would have wanted to. Had wanted to. Eliot muffles a groan into his shoulder but it sounds more mournful than, like, horny or whatever.
"I want to. But Fillory doesn't do condoms, other than these horrifying goat bladder things, and I don't—unless, Bambi, do you—?"
"Please. I used 'em all up when those hot trapeze artists rolled through town last month." At Eliot's glare, Margo rolls her eyes. "What? They were bendy and I had no way of knowing that I was gonna get married and then my husband was gonna want you to fuck him 'til he cried."
Eliot sighs. "We'll both have to work on that lack of vision. Sorry, Q, no condoms on the whole godfucked planet. It's unfair, I know."
For a wild instant Quentin wants to say that it doesn't matter, that Eliot should fuck him bare; that plenty of Fillorians have done it before them; that he shouldn't want that, but he's been so hard for so long now and he can feel Eliot up against him through multiple layers of clothes and he does, he wants it.
Instead he says, "Next time," and shifts back far enough to pull Eliot's dick out.
The way Eliot jerks into his hand is gratifying, as is the way he presses his face against Quentin's collarbone to muffle any sounds he makes. Quentin threads his other hand loosely in Eliot's hair, feeling oddly protective—Eliot is usually so buttoned up, all the time, even when he's literally not buttoned up at all—and looks at Margo.
She's got her arms behind her head now and her grin when she sees him is lecherous. "Don't forget about our audience," she says, and either she saw Eliot's hand moving or she's literally clairvoyant when it comes to Eliot and/or sex, because a moment later Eliot's hand is in Quentin's pants, then on him, and Quentin's making a truly mortifying noise.
It's fine, though. Margo didn't have to bother. Literally never once in Quentin's life has he had a problem with being too quiet.
It's all very messy and sticky and wonderful, in the end. Frantic, too; it doesn't last much longer, which Quentin thinks is fine when someone on the bed has already come three times. As Eliot presses a final, crushing kiss to Quentin's mouth, Quentin thinks that he probably gave their witnesses a good show.
"Okay," Margo says finally, cutting into the post-coital haze. "Normally I'd cast one of those spells, but as you may know, magic is fucked. El, gimme the things in the drawer."
Eliot hands her something that turns out to be some fancy branded wet wipes, and like, Quentin's not totally sure how Margo can be all stocked up on those and have no condoms at all, but he's not about to ask. Between the three of them they more or less get cleaned up, though Quentin doesn't think he's very helpful, given that at least half of the bones in his body seem to have melted.
"Oh, that's nice," Quentin says appreciatively, reveling in the feeling of skin with no dried come on it at all. With one more brief kiss to Quentin's temple, Eliot rolls him off of his lap and onto the mattress where he lands on his back between Eliot and Margo. And hey, there's even half of a pillow under his head. "Thank you."
"Uh-huh." With an ostentatious sigh, Margo finds her way off of the bed to snuff out the candles. "You're both just gonna pass out now, aren't you."
"I might," agrees Quentin, who finds that his eyes are already closed.
Someone—Eliot, he's pretty sure, from the context clues—pats Quentin's stomach lazily. Then a pair of hands free Quentin's legs from their pants-prison, which he just kind of lets happen. "Let the man sleep, Bambi, he did more work than both of us combined."
Quentin points blindly in Eliot's direction. "What he said."
"Whatever." There's a pause, followed by some creaks and clanks as Margo gets back onto the bed. "So, next time, huh?"
It takes longer than it should for Quentin to figure out what she's talking about. In his defense, he's definitely still rocking the afterglow. When he cracks open one eye Margo is looking over his head at Eliot, but a moment later she meets his eyes again. "I mean. Again, you married me. And you're a package deal, so…"
Margo rolls her eyes, but she also smiles, so whatever the wrong answer to that question was he's pretty sure that wasn't it.
"Roll over," she says, shoving at his shoulder until he ends up on his side facing Eliot. Then she snuggles in behind him and wraps an arm around his waist. "Ugh, this whole fucking bed is wet spots, this sucks. Anyway, lesson one, Coldwater: I'm the big spoon."
"That's fine," he replies vaguely. Then someone's hand is in his hair again, stroking gently, and that's the last thing he recalls before he sleeps.
He wakes in the morning with Eliot's arm around him and Eliot's face in his neck. It's not a new happening, really; Eliot's a cuddly dude. The cozy, content feeling in Quentin's stomach is sort of novel, though. So is Margo crouched down at the side of the bed when he opens his eyes.
When she sees that he's awake she waves the key in his face and says, "Good," way too loudly for what must be the buttcrack of dawn. Eliot mumbles a protest and curls around Quentin tighter. "Get up, bitches, a keyhole just popped up in the wall and I have no idea how long it's gonna last."
That gets them up. Quentin and Eliot throw some clothes on haphazardly, although Margo definitely took the time to make herself look super good before she got around to waking them up, because she's a jerk. Quentin's pretty sure he's ended up with one of Eliot's shirts, given how far past his waist it hangs, but whatever. The keyholes can be volatile.
And because they can be volatile, he says, "Are we all sure? These things don't always take you where you think."
"I know." Eliot steps in behind him and rests his chin on Quentin's head. His presence is warm and comforting at Quentin's back. "I accidentally became a cannibal and then saw my dad last time, remember? But the fate of all magic waits for no man."
"Yeah, I'm not passing this up," Margo agrees. "Fillory can rule itself for a day or two. Tick needs a break from us all anyway. Shall we?"
Quentin looks at them both, then nods. Margo waggles her eyebrows at him and, with a flourish, puts the key in the lock and turns.
A door appears and swings open. Again they see an idyllic forest. Margo says, "Ladies first!" and barrels through it.
Eliot shrugs and retrieves the key from the lock before gesturing for Quentin to pass through. "As a wise man once said, YOLO," he offers, which is an extremely annoying thing to say but also not totally wrong.
On an impulse, Quentin takes Eliot's hand. He follows Margo through the door, towing Eliot behind him, and the first thing he feels is magic in the air.