He was barely alive.
Simon blatantly stared at the unmoving body on the hospital bed. Baz always had been pale, a bit lifeless, he was a vampire after all (which was true until proven otherwise). But there still had been life. The black hair artfully framing his face, the sneer curled up on his lips, the faint rosy cheeks after Baz’ returned from the catacombs (most likely feeding on rats). But now there was nothing, no facial expression, skin almost translucent. So unalive, so not Baz.
It was late in the night, and aside from the nurse bustling through some books, Simon was the only one in the infirmary. He wouldn’t have been here if he hadn’t been so obsessed over Baz, even after calling it a truce. Simon had just woken up, noticed that Baz hadn’t returned yet and he had panicked a little.
Baz would have ‘kindly’ pointed out that Simon hadn’t been panicking a little. And maybe he was right, perhaps he had panicked, but Baz might as well have been dead. Everyone involving with him was in danger, Penny, Agatha, Baz. And Baz, as a grown-up guy, could look after himself. But he was always back on time, always when Simon woke up, Baz would be lying on the other bed, asleep. And when he wasn’t there, Simon had put on some clothes and left the room in search one stupid Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch.
“Snow,” the nurse whispered. “You should go to bed. I’ve tried Flower gleam and glow on Pitch, but aside from healing a few bruises, nothing changed. This will have to wait till I get to the library in the morning.”
She looked genuinely apologetic, which made Simon feel guilty. After all, he had been pounding on her door in the middle of the night, carrying an almost dead Baz. She had reacted reasonably well to the situation, in her flower-print nightgown and fluffy slippers. On the other hand, they were teenagers with access to magic.
Simon nodded. “I’m sorry for waking you up.”
The nurse flashed him a tired smile and sad eyes as if she pitied him.
“I can’t blame you, Pitch is your roommate. You must be worried sick.”
Simon wanted to point out that they weren’t friends, that Baz had tried to kill him several times. That they were enemies, but at that moment he decided to stay quiet, keeping that information to himself. Baz wasn’t his enemy, not now with the truce, and addition to that, Baz could use some moral support.
“‘night, ma’am,” Simon said politely, reluctantly leaving the room.
“Goodnight Snow,” the nurse said back.
A ‘good luck’ was added, but after a solid shake of his head, Simon filed it away as imagination. Baz was going to be the death of him.
Simon was in the middle of his Latin class, without Baz, when the nurse knocked on the door and whisked him away. He hadn’t been sad to pack up his stuff and wishing his teacher goodbye, he hadn’t been able to focus anyway. It was like when Baz hadn’t been to school for the first six weeks, only now Baz was lying on the brink of death and Simon didn’t have to fear he was plotting something.
“As his roommate, I assume you’re close to Pitch?” the nurse asked, not even slowing down her brisk walk.
Despite that she was a short woman, Simon struggled to keep up. This resulting in him sounding a little out of breath as if he just had run an entire marathon. “We...” he said shallowly. “We aren’t the best of friends – he never really like me.”
The nurse pursed her lips together. “That wasn’t the answer I was hoping for,” she admitted, finally slowing down her pace. “But on the other hand, there is the saying ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’. Just must know him well enough.”
Simon winced, ignoring the tug of his heartstrings. He was glad the nurse wasn’t waving around her wand because otherwise, Simon would have had an armful of Baz. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer worked wonderfully if you wanted to summon your worst enemy, which in his case was Baz. And it often worked too well, as the first time Simon had been knocked over by a nearly naked, freshly showered Baz. This had led to confusing dreams he mentioned to nobody, not even Penny.
Thankfully the nurse didn’t ask any more questions, nor did she actually cast the spells that would involve him, Baz, and his rivalry with Baz. Simon was glad that the rest of the walk to the infirmary dull but uneventful.
It was the second time Simon entered the infirmary, and there were still as many people inside. He, the nurse, and Baz.
He felt his stomach drop as he took in Baz. He looked so pale, so unalive – it made Simon wonder if vampires were actually dead. Because an awake Baz seemed very much alive, breathing, eating, living.
“The good news is, I’ve figured out what’s going on,” the nurse said, plopping down in a visitors’ chair with a heavy sigh. “The bad news is that it has one cure, and it isn’t a spell or potion.”
Simon wished Penny was there because she would explain it. He, however, didn’t. It was curable, but there wasn’t a spell or a potion for it. What else was left? Artefacts? The Mage must have one, especially with all the raids he has been doing for ancient texts and objects.
Distracting himself, Simon let his gaze wander over the room. He was surprised that his gaze was drawn to Baz. Okay, he wasn’t surprised, he never left Baz out of his sight. But usually Baz was plotting Simon’s downfall, now he was slowly dying.
Baz was dying, and Simon was worried – more worried than he should be. Baz always tried to make his life miserable, so why shouldn’t Simon be happy that Baz wasn’t annoying him?
Because Simon didn’t hate him. Because Simon wanted to see him alive again. The sneer, the faint rosy cheeks, the body language. More alive than a vampire should be.
“How can we cure him?” Simon asked.
A wry smile curled on her lips. “True love’s kiss. Like in that Amy Adams song, I have been dreaming of a true love’s kiss.”
Simon shivered as his lips tingled a little. He wondered who would be his true love’s kiss. Weeks ago, it would have been Agatha, but now. Now she wasn’t his beautiful fairytale ending, and honestly, she never was. He didn’t love her like he should – she wouldn’t wake up from his true love’s kiss.
“But what if he doesn’t have a ‘true love’?” Simon said, sitting down on the bed next to Baz’s.
The nurse grimaced. “It wouldn’t have worked if he didn’t have one – there is somewhere here at Watford who can kiss him awake.”
“So you’re saying that Baz is cursed?” Penny whispered during tea-time.
The rumours had spread, unsurprisingly, and everyone knew that Baz was cursed with a spell. Cursed and that the nurse didn’t know how to fix it.
“Yes, I mean, everyone knows it by now,” Simon answered, voice muffled by the scone he popped in his mouth.
Penny narrowed her eyes, trying to figure him out. She knew that he knew more than she knew. If that made any sense. It was Penelope, she made little sense.
“Simon,” she said. “Do you by any chance know more?”
Grimacing, and not because his scone was sour cherry flavoured, Simon looked at the back of some fifth-year student. Everything not to meet Penny’s gaze, as she could read him like an open book.
Frightened of the consequences that would come if he ignored Penny, Simon sighed and met her gaze. “True love’s kiss.”
Penny blinked. “True love’s kiss,” she parroted. “As in the fairytales true love’s kiss?”
Looking around nervously, hoping that nobody was listening, Simon nodded. “Yes, as in the fairytales,” he said. “The nurse was quoting: ‘I’ve been dreaming of a true love’s kiss’ to explain the cure. The only way to break the curse is for Baz’s true love to kiss him.”
Simon licked his lips, ignoring the tingling of his lips. He should stop spelling out that spell, or be around people who cast it. It made him long for his own true love.
“Baz has a true love?” Penny asked. “Who could it even be? And what if he doesn’t have one? How can we be so sure?”
“Yes, I don’t know and no,” Simon answered, paying more attention to his food than Penny. “The curse wouldn’t have worked if there wasn’t a true love close-by. School is close-by.”
Penny looked stunned.
They ate and drank in silence for a bit. Simon was too busy stirring his tea and Penelope had a thoughtful look on her face.
“Who do you think it could be?” Penny asked slowly. “Baz’s true love,” she added as if Baz hadn’t been the subject the whole time.
Simon shrugged. “I don’t know,” he repeated.
“But you should know – he’s your roommate.”
Disappointment gazed Penny’s features. “Simon, you’re obsessed with Baz. If someone knows who he romantically likes, it would be you.”
It was true that if someone knew, it would have been Simon (he wasn’t obsessed with Baz, just extremely cautious. The guy had pushed him off the stairs before). And, in all fairness, he already had thought about it, but he didn’t like his answer.
“Obsessed is a bit over the top,” Simon said. “And the only one I can think off is…”
Simon swallowed, hoping that Penelope took pity on him. She didn’t.
“Agatha,” Penny said. “Of course, he did flirt with her, right?” she asked as if she didn’t know already.
Nodding soberly, Simon, for once, lost his appetite. Of course, Baz liked Agatha, and Agatha liked Baz. Simon couldn’t blame her; Baz would be a much better boyfriend than he ever had been. Plus, they would make beautiful babies, both fair, Agatha’s beautiful blond hair, Baz’s pitch (ha!) black hair that looked equally soft. And not to mention Baz’s endless grey eyes – Simon seriously wondered how Baz was still single. He was everything a girl could look for, handsome, smart, he had this serious bad boy vibe going on, and his family was filthy rich. The only cons were the fact Baz was a vampire (unconfirmed but still—) and that he was a jerk.
Simon nearly choked on his scone he reluctantly had stuffed in his mouth when his thoughts finally sunk in. Since when did he consider Baz handsome? He wasn’t even into guys. Or was he? If so, Baz would be a poor choice as a love interest, with the whole rivalry and trying to kill each other things going on.
Agatha wasn’t Baz’s true love.
Simon had suggested Agatha to the nurse, and she had taken her aside to talk to her and explain the situation. Agatha had tried and hoped, but nothing had changed. Baz was still lifeless. She had been sad, but she had accepted it pretty quickly. After all, there never had anything beyond flirting and longing on Agatha’s side.
It did little to improve Simon’s mood. Of course, he was happy that his ex-girlfriend wasn’t the true love of his roommate, but he didn’t like Baz like this. He preferred seeing Baz plotting an evil plan to kill Simon, or just sneer at him and being annoyed with him and call him ‘Snow’ instead of ‘Simon’. All of that beat this, the quietness, the uncertainty. Because the first time Baz had been gone, Simon couldn’t have done anything about it. He had been worried, but there was little he could have done. Now he could do something, but he didn’t know what and it made it even worse.
Simon was sitting in the visitor’s chair next to Baz’s bed. The rest of the infirmary was empty, it was getting close to curfew after all.
“I still don’t like you,” Simon said, though his actions told differently. He held one of Baz’s cold hands in his own, stroking his thumb over the knuckles. It was soothing for whatever reason. “But I would like it if you could just wake up,” he said. “I like you more when I can keep an eye on you.”
No response, of course. The nurse came out of her office and hushed Simon out of the room, mentioning that Baz would be there tomorrow. She was smiling at him fondly, though he didn’t understand why. Did she seriously think he actually cared about Baz?
Simon didn’t dare to visit Baz when Baz’s family was visiting. They frightened him, and the Mage and the Grimm-Pitch family didn’t really get along well. (That was an understatement). That, however, didn’t stop him from occasionally checking the infirmary, hoping that the family just left so he could revisit Baz, sitting in his default chair.
Why he had a default place next to Baz’s bed puzzled him, but Simon supposed he took the saying ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ serious. (Penny said he was worried – Simon said he was cautious. Only time would tell).
It was after dinner that Baz’s family left, giving Simon an entire evening to sit next to Baz, keep an eye on him and do some homework. Despite that his roommate was in a cursed sleep and Simon might as well be the next victim, Penny had insisted that he at least did his homework.
Offering the nurse a polite nod, which was returned with a brilliant smile, Simon sat down on the visitor’s chair next to Baz’s bed. Baz was still. His face is paler than usual, his breathing barely there. There wasn’t a hint of colour on his skin – he was as white as a sheet.
“I always thought you looked like a vampire,” Simon said, taking Baz’s cold hand in his own warm one. “But now you actually look like one. Maybe because you haven’t been able to drink blood – though the nurse said your body just stops doing anything. You don’t need food or water.”
Baz was as responsive as he had been the whole week, so Simon let go of his hand and actually started on his homework.
Homework didn’t last long. He got distracted by playing with Baz’s fingers, they were so long but not smooth and soft. They were worn, callouses had formed in the place his wand rested. He wasn’t so perfect after all – he was stuck with imperfections like a normal human being.
Someone coughed loudly – didn’t they know this was an infirmary? – and Simon let Baz’s hand go as if it burned him.
Simon looked at the newcomer. He hadn’t expected anyone, Baz’s family had left a while ago, and nobody else really visited. Yes, Baz’s friends visited sometimes, but Simon knew they would skip out tonight in favour of studying for tomorrow’s test. Which he should be doing too but he didn’t care that much about his grades.
A scary looking woman was leaning against the doorframe. She looked a lot like Baz, she could almost have been his mum. But Simon knew Baz’s mum was dead, he had seen her ghost with his own two eyes. So this must be Fiona, Baz’s aunt and the person who tried to kill him the fifth year. Which was the last time Baz tried to kill him. Merlin, Baz had grown soft over the previous two years.
“Snow?” the woman said, looking equally impressed as amused. “Spending some time with my cousin, I see.”
Getting up, Simon tried to make himself look as threatening and tall as possible. She didn’t scare him (she did).
“I’m just keeping an eye on him,” Simon said. “In case this is all an attempt to kill me.”
Fiona scoffed. “Please, I wouldn’t mind seeing you dead, but I would never risk Baz’s life for that.”
That was… reassuring?
“He isn’t going to die,” Simon protested. “The nurse said it herself. He will be in a coma till his true love kisses him, whoever that might be.”
“True love’s kiss?” Fiona said, looking genuinely surprised. “Some bloke has to kiss him to wake him up, that’s all? I thought he was cursed into a deep slumber that would require some ancient, obscure, magic to break.”
Ignoring the tingle on his lips, again, Simon was surprised by how well Fiona took it all. He wouldn’t have been happy if Penny would have been cursed with the same curse, it would suck, and he would do anything to get her to wake up, even if it meant flying Micah in from America.
But Fiona was happy that only some bloke had to kiss Baz for the curse to be—
“Wait, he’s gay?” Simon asked, feeling his jaw drop.
Fiona grinned and nodded. “Yup, he prefers a bloke over a bird, though I thought you from all people would’ve known, being his roommate and all.”
Simon looked away from Fiona, focussing all his attention on Baz. He didn’t mind Baz being gay – sexualities never bothered him – what bothered him was the fact that he never noticed Baz’s attraction to men. Was there anyone Baz liked? He never talked about other men, and he only flirted with Agatha.
“I didn’t know,” Simon said, guilt hanging heavy in his stomach. “I thought he liked Agatha.”
“Wellbelove? Are you kidding – he hates her,” Fiona started to cackle loudly.
Simon wasn’t bothered by it, unable to tear his gaze away from Baz. He had no idea why he kept looking at Baz. They had been roommates for over seven years, Simon knew exactly how Baz looked. Yet, he was looking at him in a different light, which was silly. The fact that Baz was gay shouldn’t have changed anything.
Fiona stopped cackling, and the room lapsed into silence, a silence that Simon relished in. He was creepily staring at his roommate and enemy, and it was the rightest thing he had done in a while. Talking about some Twilight level of creepy.
“I see he’s in good hands,” Fiona said, breaking the silence, startling Simon. “Don’t break his heart, Snow. Or I will personally break yours.”
Simon turned around in alarm in time to see Fiona leaving the room, closing the door behind her with a soft click.
What did she mean, ‘break his heart’. Simon wasn’t Baz’s true love, that wouldn’t make any sense. Baz hated him, tried to kill him multiple times. And he tried to steal Simon’s girlfriend, though, in retrospect, Baz being gay made the whole thing a bit odd. Why would Baz be so happy with him and Agatha splitting if he wasn’t interested in Agatha?
Oh. Oh. No fucking way, he couldn’t—
Baz was gay. He liked men. The only guy he ever talked about was Simon, and Simon had caught him staring and blushing a few times. And if he wasn’t interested in Agatha, the only advantage he had from Simon’s break-up with her was that Simon was available. Or, which was more likely, he was just happy that Simon had lost his girlfriend.
A girlfriend he was going to lose sooner or later, considering that his relationship with Agatha wasn’t going well anyway. So maybe, maybe Baz actually did—
“There is no way that I’m your true love,” Simon whispered, licking his lips to sooth the tingly feeling.
This happened each time someone mentioned true love’s kiss around him. The first time it was the nurse, the second time himself, then Fiona and the fourth time he, again. And aside from the words, they all had three things in common. He, Baz and true love’s kiss.
“For fuck’s sake,” Simon muttered under his breath, getting up to get a height advantage. “I swear, Pitch. If this a ploy all along, I will kill you.”
With a swooping heart and sweating hands, Simon leaned down and pressed his lips lightly to Baz’s.
Despite that Baz’s lips were cold, Simon only felt warmth. His body was vibrating, nerves were fluttering gently, and his heart was knocking against his ribcage. He was kissing his rival, the guy who tried to kill him, a vampire. But also, he was kissing Baz, smart, handsome Baz who had stopped trying to kill him years ago. Who had lost his mother. Who became a vampire without even wanting to? Who was rooming with the guy he had a crush on. (Still undecided).
Merlin, Simon didn’t mind kissing Baz, at all.
After twenty seconds, Simon withdrew. He wished to continue, but he needed to breathe and kissing a ‘corpse’ was a bit awkward. The kiss could be a lot better if it were returned. If Baz would even want that. It was most likely getting to Simon’s head.
A sharp inhale broke Simon out of his thoughts, and he looked at Baz’s face.
His lips were parted, moving a little as he was breathing. Big gulps of air, as if he had drowned. His eyes fluttered open, a beautiful shade of grey was watching him. First with confusion, and then with surprise.
“Snow,” Baz croaked. “What?”
Ignoring the nerves jumping in his throat, Simon sat on the edge of Baz’s bed and offered him a hesitant smile.
“You were cursed. True love’s kiss, from that Amy Adam’s movie,” Simon explained, repeating what the nurse had told him. He hoped that Baz wouldn’t freak out and tried to curse him.
Baz was gaping at him. It was weird to see him display a different emotion then annoyance or hatred. Confusion looked good on him, though Simon supposed that everything looked good on him. It was still hard to believe that Simon had made amends with the fact he was romantically attracted to Baz. But maybe it was for the best. It made his feelings towards Baz a lot clearer and more sensical. Sensical. Words. Great.
“Then why I am awake?”
Simon shrugged, hoping that Baz would figure it out himself. Maybe he wouldn’t question it and just be happy the curse was broken. It would break Simon’s heart a little, but he couldn’t blame Baz. After all, why would Baz like him? They were enemies, and being Baz’s true love wasn’t saying anything. After all, there was a thin line between love and hatred.
Realisation finally dawned upon Baz, who looked at Simon with disbelief and panic. “Please tell me that you aren’t my true love.”
Forcing a smile on his face, Simon shrugged. “Okay, I’m not your true love.”
“But you’re lying, aren’t you?” Baz asked. He looked so young like he was actually eighteen and just a confused teenager.
To his surprise, Baz started to smile a little. His eyes were bright, and he looked so alive. Simon liked this look on Baz’s face.
“You kissed me and actually broke a true love curse,” Baz said. “Aleister Crowley, you kissed me, willingly.”
Baz met his gaze and Simon felt like drowning. “Why did you kiss me? You hate me.”
“I thought so too, but considering that I spend most of my time sitting here, holding your hand and worrying, I think my feelings aren’t entirely hatred,” Simon admitted, taking Baz’s hand without thinking. “Your aunt Fiona mentioned you were gay, and suddenly things started to make more sense. Each time someone mentioned True love’s kiss, and I was thinking about you, my lips tingled. Adding two-and-two together, I realised what it might mean, so I tried to kiss you and hoping to wake you up.”
Baz looked lost for a while, before a small grin formed on his lips. A smile that was going to kill Simon sooner or later.
“So you were mentally singing I’ve been dreaming about a true love’s kiss while swooping down and kissing an unconscious guy – you know what consent is, right?” Baz teased.
The grin smoothed out a bit, and a faint hint of surprise crossed his handsome features (Simon – he hasn’t confessed his love to you yet, stop making this romantic!).
“Doesn’t have to be mentally,” Simon offered, hoping that he didn’t look too flustered. “I’m willing to sing it to you.”
Baz groaned. “Crowley no,” he said. “Please don’t sing – your vocal talent leaves a lot to be desired.”
Simon bit his bottom lip to stop his smile from appearing too big and too bright.
“For someone who gotten kissed without consent, you look pretty okay with it to me,” Simon said, hoping that he steered the conversation in the right direction.
Baz grew a little flustered. “Snow, seriously? I haven’t cursed you to London and back – you just woke me up with a true love’s kiss. Can’t you realise I like you, even if I don’t want to?”
Simon was smiling like an idiot, he was aware of that, but he was so happy he could burst. They were going to need a lot of talking because they have been enemies for over seven years, but for now, it was fine. For now, Simon was happy he had sort out his feelings for Baz, at least a little, and as long as Baz smiled at him like that—
“Can I kiss you again?” Simon asked, squeezing Baz’s hand.
Baz looked at him owlishly. “In a moment,” he said. He moved around, slowly and sluggishly, but eventually, Baz managed to sit on his bed.
“Now it’s fine,” Baz said. “I don’t like to be shorter than you, Snow,” he teased.
Simon grinned. “Just call me Simon,” he whispered, leaning in to press his lips against Baz’s.
They were still cold, but they were much more alive. The whole kiss was bustling with life, lips moving against each other, nose bumping a little. Simon was still holding Baz’s hand, and the other one made his way into his hair. Baz’s hair was soft, and a little dirty (he has been in a coma for a week-or-so. It’s a miracle that he didn’t have a morning breath). Baz’s other hand had cupped Simon’s face, gently and caring.
“Snow, you’re killing me,” Baz whispered as they broke apart.
“I have been doing that for over seven years,” Simon answered, stealing a kiss. “I only changed up my methods.”
Baz snorted. “You’re not smooth.”
Simon shrugged, feeling his face grow flustered. “It’s not like you’re doing better – I thought you hated me.”
“I do hate you,” Baz said, and Simon felt his heart sink. “Hate you for making me like you.”
“You’re a jerk,” Simon said, hitting Baz lightly on his arm. “We also have a test tomorrow.”
Baz grew pale, maybe even a bit greyish. “Are you serious?” he said, faint panic laced between his words. “Bunce can’t pass me – I’ve worked hard to stay ahead of her.”
Simon chuckled at Baz’s distress, but it didn’t beat away the fondness he held for him. Alestair Crowley, he liked Baz way too much.
“So you’re saying that, despite the fact that you have been in a magical coma for a week, you want to pull an all-nighter to score higher on the test than Penny?”
Admitting defeat, Simon picked up his neglected textbook and notes and dropped them on Baz’s lap.
“I still have to study myself, so we can pull an all-nighter and get you ready for that test.”
A soft smile graced Baz’s lips as he ran his thumb down the spine of the book, as if it was some ancient relic, or as if it held a lot of value.
Crowley – it might be hard to believe considering Baz is a vampire and vampires are dead – but Baz looked more alive than Simon ever had witnessed. And being alive suited him well.