Eliot’s wings that day were bright green. Next to the brilliant gold of his clothes he looked not unlike a parrot. A very tall and very handsome parrot, Quentin thought, but a parrot all the same.
Quentin told him this—leaving out the tall and handsome part—and Eliot laughed. “I wouldn’t mind a cockatoo.”
Quentin smiled. “I should have seen that coming.”
Eliot waggled his brows. “So. What’s on the agenda for the Kings of Fillory today?”
Eliot outstretched his vibrant feathers. His wingspan must have been twenty feet from one tip to the other. He fluttered them delicately, reaching them high toward the ceiling before folding them tightly against his body again.
“Can you not do that while we’re talking,” Quentin said. “It’s distracting.”
Eliot smirked. “I need to stretch them. You don’t want me getting a cramp, do you?”
“Eliot. They’re magic wings. That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Okay, well, maybe I just like it when I know you can’t keep your eyes off of me.”
Oh. Quentin swallowed and ducked his head, blushing a little. “Yeah, well, uh—” Quentin rubbed at the back of his neck. “We should, um—”
Eliot laughed softly. “Relax, Q. I’m fucking with you. Come on. Agenda. Hit me. Margo’s going to kill us if we let her kingdom fall apart while she’s away.”
Quentin did his best to compose himself and read off the scroll in front of him. Something about a magic hurricane ravaging the outer islands. Eliot stretched out his wings again. Quentin could see them glinting like emeralds in the periphery of his vision.
Eliot’s wings beat once and rustled the parchment of the scroll. “Q.”
“You want to touch them, don’t you?”
Quentin swallowed, chanced a glance up at Eliot’s smirking face before fixing his eyes back on the table. “I don’t want to touch your magic wings, Eliot.”
“All you have to do is ask, you know.”
Quentin took a shuddering breath and began to roll up the scroll. “We should really see about getting some relief to—”
“Q. You’re blushing.”
Quentin resisted the urge to hide his face behind his hands. “I am not.”
“Would you just come over here and stop being weird.”
Quentin looked up at him now. “I’m not being weird.”
Eliot shrugged. “Fine. I guess I’ll just take my soft, majestic, feathery—”
“Fine!” Quentin hadn’t meant to shout. His face was burning up now. He was going to crawl under the table and never come out again. “Fine,” he said quieter this time. “I... want to touch them. Who wouldn’t? It’s not because they’re… Stop looking at me like that, El. You’re basically like a pegasus. Or a hippogriff.”
“I thought you said I was a parrot.”
“Okay, okay.” Eliot pushed back from the table. “Come on. Come to daddy.”
Quentin somehow blushed even harder. “And you say I’m being weird?”
Eliot didn’t respond. Quentin’s chair scraped loudly against the floor as he pushed back from the table and got to his feet. They met in the center of the room. Eliot unfurled his wings like twin sails and Quentin’s heart took flight. He couldn’t fight the trembling of his hand when he reached out for them.
“Will you be able to feel it when I touch them?” Quentin asked, pausing just short of one of the smaller, fluffier feathers near Eliot’s shoulder.
“It’s sort of like having my hair touched. They’re not technically real but they’re still… connected to me.”
Quentin gazed into Eliot’s eyes for a long moment, his hand still hovering just over the spot where it so desperately wanted to connect. He turned his eyes away and forced himself to focus. This wasn’t about Eliot. It was about the magic. That’s why he’d thought about hardly anything else for weeks on end since Eliot first fluttered into the throne room with rainbow-colored wings attached to his back. It was the spell. No one could blame him for being curious. He was a magician after all.
Quentin let his fingers close around the feather. It was like goose down if goose down were bright green and enchanted as shit. He could actually feel the magic pulsing in his hand.
“Oh,” he said, and then moved his hand higher to get ahold of one of the longer, stiffer feathers. “How does it feel?”
“It feels… nice.” Eliot’s voice was so soft it made Quentin’s knees turn to water.
Quentin ran one feather through his hand and then another. He was mesmerized, until Eliot let out a happy little sound and brought him back to reality.
Quentin resisted the urge to pull his hand away. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. Remember, we’re not making this weird.”
“I mean, it’s a little weird, El. It’s objectively weird that you have wings.”
Eliot fluttered his feathers gently. “I think my wings are fucking spectacular.”
Quentin met Eliot’s eyes, still stroking along the expanse of one wing as far as his hand could reach. “You know, they really are.”