My contraband phone buzzes against my cheek through my pillow. It wakes me, and I’m not sure what time it is, but it’s still dark so it must be night. One glance across the room confirms that Baz isn’t back from wherever he went (the Catacombs, I’m sure). I wonder briefly how long it will be until he gets back. It must be pretty late, judging by what I can see out the window; he’s always back before this time of night. Maybe he was spotted, or something happened.
Yawning, my hand fumbles under the pillow for my phone as it vibrates again and reminds me why I’m even awake in the first place. The light is blindingly painful, and I squeeze my eyes shut and try to blindly adjust the level. It’s just past three in the morning. Who the fuck is texting me at three in the morning?
I have two text notifications from an unknown number.
(3:12) Hello my love..
(3:14) Ohno i mean my rival
… What the fuck?
I must have reread them a good five times already, sleepily puzzling over who might have gotten my number to send these, when I remember I can easily just ask.
(3:16) who is this?? how did you get my number?
There’s no response for several minutes, and I nearly fall back asleep with my phone in my hand when it buzzes again.
(3:25) Oh fuck you’re awake soryr
(3:26) that doesn’t answer my question mate
(3:26) who are you?
(3:27) Nobbody go to sleep
I roll my eyes and save the number under the name “Nobbody.” I’m not going to pretend I don’t make typos, but there are so many in these texts that it makes me wonder if this person is drunk or something. It’s only now that I’m more awake that I really register what they’d said in the first few messages.
(3:28) wait a minute
(3:28) you called me love i think i deserve to know
(3:29) Dont you kknow how to read
(3:30) I CLEARLY said “rival””
(3:30) the message is still right there??
(3:31) you DO realize you can’t delete it by sending another, right?
(3:31) Fcuck off Snow Im drunk
… Oh. There’s only one person I can think of who still calls me Snow. There’s definitely only one person who calls me Snow and considers me his rival. And there’s only one person I can think of that would text me for the first time, drunk at half past three in the morning, because there’s no way he’d text me in any other situation.
(3:33) baz? hello??
(3:34) dammit baz where are you??
This time when I hit send, it doesn’t deliver like the rest. Instead, I get an error message that I’m trying to send a message to a number that has either been disconnected or has blocked mine.
I’m already climbing out of bed before I realize what I’m doing, tugging my shoes onto bare feet and a crumpled jumper from the floor over my head. I must look like I’ve lost it, tripping down the stairs and out of Mummers before the crack of dawn. It’s hard to see, and I don’t have time to focus on casting something--not that I think it would actually work, honestly. It doesn’t matter; I’ve been to the Catacombs enough times at night to navigate just fine anyway.
I hear him before anything else. I’d recognize the thudding of his running even without the stone walls of the Catacomb reverberating them all around me. I’ll blame the alcohol in my belly for the fact that I don’t even try to get up from where I’m slumped against the wall, for not trying to hide from him. I just take another burning swig from the flask and wish I was dead enough to stop my heart from pounding. I’m such an idiot.
Snow rounds the corner into the room, leaning against the stone archway of the door and panting. His forehead shines with sweat. He must have run straight here without a second thought, reckless moron that he is. I hate that about him. I love that about him.
“Baz,” he wheezes. “What the fuck?”
“So nice of you to join us,” I roll my eyes, pretending I’m not terrified for the fight that’s probably about to happen. He hasn’t drawn his sword. At least, not yet.
“What are you doing down here? It’s a school night, for fuck’s sake, why are you drunk?”
I shrug. I know why I’m here. After all, I’ve spent this anniversary with her every year since I came to Watford. The alcohol is a more recent addition, though.
“Dammit, Baz, why are you always so difficult?” He huffs it to himself more than anything. I try to stand, but the room shifts around me, and I fall back against the wall with a wince. “Hey,” he says, stepping closer.
He smells good. Maybe I said that out loud, because he snorts, and then there are warm hands on my arms, steadying me.
“Come on, idiot,” Snow murmurs, and it’s so gentle, and I’m not really sure what I’m feeling but it’s making my head spin more than the alcohol. I thought he was here to fight me, to ridicule me for the stupid, thoughtless thing I said, but he’s not doing anything like that. He’s just slipping an arm around me, beneath mine so he can support my weight, and walking me towards the exit. “We have class tomorrow. Let’s get you to bed.”
Why is he doing this?
I don’t know why I’m doing this.
Okay, maybe I do. But I don’t want to think about this just now. I just want to get him home.
We make it back to Mummers in silence. He’s shivering by the end of the walk, though, in his thin jumper, and I lean in closer. I doubt I’m doing anything to help, but he doesn’t push me away. The stairs are a challenge, though, and he finally gives up on trying to help me walk up them in favor of guiding my arms around his neck and lifting me.
(He’s surprisingly strong. I’m sure if I’d known he could do this, I never would have stopped thinking about it.)
My nose is pressing against his neck. He smells so good.
“Baz,” he murmurs, panting with the effort, and now is not the time to dwell on how it sounds. “You okay? Does it hurt?”
“I, uh. My necklace--”
I realize I can feel the chain beneath my cheek, but the cross itself isn’t touching me. Even if it was, I already feel like I’m on fire. “No. ‘M fine.”
He doesn’t move to put me down until we’re at our door. I resist the urge to squeeze my arms around him, a silent plea to let this moment last. I do, however, open the door with a quick open sesame. He snorts something about how even drunk Baz can still spell like normal.
“‘Course I can,” I mumble into his shoulder. “Alcohol’s s’pposed to affect your prick, not your magic.”
“Baz!” He sputters, and I can practically feel the flush rise to his cheeks. Maybe it’s the closeness, although it could also be the vampirism. I wonder if he can feel my heart racing. I wonder if he can feel my smile against his neck.
I’m set down on my bed, and I reluctantly let go of Snow. “Thanks,” I say, but he waves a hand.
“I couldn’t very well leave you there.” There’s no ‘could I?’ following his words--even with the person he has every reason to hate most in this world, he’s too much of a fucking hero to leave me behind in my sorry state. My stomach churns with the embarrassment I’ve been pushing down since he found me. “... Do you want to talk about it?”
“What is there to say?” I sigh. He fidgets for a moment, seemingly unsatisfied with my answer, before digging through my football bag for the water bottle I keep inside. Snow uncaps it and presses it into my hands.
“Drink,” he says, and I do. Leaning back against my desk, he yawns his way through his words. “You don’t have to tell me why you were down there, it’s not my business right now.” (Maybe he already knows. He’s perceptive about the weirdest things.) “But I do want to know what this was about,” Snow finishes, and reaches for something on his own desk. It’s his phone. I groan and scrub a hand over my face.
“Listen,” I start. “It was... I got your number from Agatha and…” I don’t really know what to say now. “I just… why did you come find me?”
“Because I was worried about you,” he says immediately, softly, and I feel like the wind’s been knocked out of my lungs. He stands there, looking expectantly at me, but for once I can’t make the words come out. Finally he sighs, defeated. “... It’s fine. Just… Let’s just go to bed.”
As Snow makes to walk back to his own bed, I feel a pull in my gut, an unpleasant twist, and I’m reaching out, off the bed, for his wrist. But I miss, and find myself grasping at air and leaning too far, losing my balance and pitching towards the floor. I can hear Snow’s yelp, but the impact doesn’t come. Instead, I’m frozen--no, I’m floating, my face a foot from the ground and moving no closer.
“Shit,” Snow breathes out, sounding as astounded as I feel. “Don’t scare me like that, you prick.” The room is thick with the smell of smoke and magic and adrenaline. His feet appear in my view, and then his arms are slipping around me for the second time tonight, and I’ve either died or this is a very, very good dream. I can feel his pulse pounding from where we’re in contact, and I swallow thickly.
“... Thanks,” I mumble again for the second time tonight, and then, “Sorry.”
“‘S alright,” Snow pulls me up, and my body follows easily, still floating. He grunts as the spell (if that’s even what it was, since he never actually said anything) starts to wear off, and I’m back to lying in my bed, hair askew and breathing ragged and eyes squeezed shut. I feel a bit nauseous, like my stomach is in my throat. When I’m able to open them again, Snow’s still here, still leaning over me, and his brow is furrowed. “What was that all about?”
“I just…” I craft my magic with words every day. Why is this so hard? “Don’t go.”
(He bites his bottom lip. It’s horribly distracting.)
“Please,” I urge, and he sighs.
“Yeah, alright. Scoot.”
I wriggle backward, towards the wall, and he sits at the edge of my bed. His feet dangle off the edge, and I reach for the knee closest to me. Snow tenses a bit, but I pull his leg up to stretch out in front of him, and he seems to get the message. He gets more comfortable and I turn on my side to face him. He’s looking at me, and I know there’s no way either of us are going to get to sleep like this, if he’s waiting for me to fall asleep to go back to his own bed.
As I’m lost in thought, gazing into the distance just beyond his face, I feel his fingers brush my forehead lightly, and my hair being gently combed back into place. I blink at him, surprised, and his lips quirk into a sheepish little smile.
I want to kiss him.
I really, really want to kiss him.
I wonder what he’s thinking. My hand is in his hair, and I just sort of… keep it there. My fingers rub against his scalp gently, and his eyes flutter shut. He has really long eyelashes. Baz has always been unfairly beautiful, and he’s a vampire, and maybe those two things are linked. But right now, he looks soft and nonthreatening.
He’s just a boy. A lost, lonely boy, hurting.
I don’t want him to hurt like that. I want to see him smile. I want to make him smile, I realize, and it surprises me. But, then again, I’ve always been sort of… obsessed with him. That’s what Penny might say, anyway. Maybe she’s right. My mind flits back to his texts from before, and I wonder if it means he feels the same way.
Do I? Love Baz, I mean?
“Snow,” I whisper. He looks lost in thought, and doesn’t answer. “ Snow. ”
“What are you thinking about?”
My breath catches in my throat. He’s looking at me earnestly, cheeks reddening a bit as he registers what he just said. “Er, I mean--”
“--not, like, anything bad, I just--”
(Works like a charm. He shuts up immediately.)
I feel ridiculously sober all of a sudden, and I raise a hand, slowly, and place it over his fingers in my hair. Softly grasping his, I pull our hands back down to rest between us, and slide mine back until it’s just barely touching his. “It’s alright. I don’t mind.”
“No. I really don’t.”
“... Cool,” he smiles a bit at me, and I can see his shoulders relax. Wordlessly, he stretches himself out, rests his head on the pillow beside me. He’s close enough I can feel his breath puffing against my face, just barely. I don’t mind. His eyes are closed, and our fingers are still touching.
I think I could stay like this forever. I wish I could.
“You should sleep, Baz,” Snow says. His eyes are still shut.
After a few beats, one of his eyes peeks open. Even in the dark, they’re still so bright. “The sun’s going to be up soon.”
“I know.” I don’t want this moment to end.
He swallows loud enough that I can hear it, and opens both eyes to look at me. His fingers curl around mine. “... Did you mean it?”
I don’t have to ask what he’s referring to. “... Yeah.”
“Oh,” he breathes. “I didn’t know.”
“I didn’t want you to.”
“What changed?” It’s a fair question. I give it a moment to mull it over.
“I was tired of pretending to hate you.”
(I don’t hate you. I love you. Do you know that?)
He must. He must, because he smiles, eyes crinkling at the corners, and it’s like the very sun is rising in our room hours before the actual morning. He’s beaming. He’s radiant. I love him.
And so, when he tips his head forward, I meet him halfway. I’m an opened tap, pouring years of pining and heartache and need into a single kiss, a determined press of lips in the dark. Our hands are clasped, Snow’s knees bumping against mine, and the sigh he lets out against my mouth is the most important sound I’ve ever heard.
He’s good at this, I note. Snow’s propped up over me, and I’m on my back, arms around his neck, savoring the feeling in a different way this time.
I think I could stay like this forever.
Maybe, just maybe, I can.