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A Room Just for Two

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SIMON

Eight weeks into the term, but this is the first night that Baz is back. Man, it was a long eight weeks. I tried my best, but no amount of sneaking around, or threatening Dev and Niall, or brainstorming with a reluctant Penny helped me get any closer to finding Baz. No amount of worry or stress or fear that he’d pop out at any moment helped.

I admit it. I was freaked out.

And then the tosser just waltzes back in like nothing ever happened. He won’t talk about it. I’m not as thick as he says—I can tell he lost weight and that something’s up with his leg.

Things are just as bad between us as ever. He snarled, I taunted him with the cross I wear, the whole thing. Then he skulked out. Fed up with me—or hungry for rats, I don’t know.

I managed to doze off, but when he slid back in at some point, I woke up. And like always, as if nothing happened, as if he hadn’t been gone for weeks, he moved around the room like he could see it all perfectly clear. Got his clothes, cleaned up in the bathroom, got into bed. The scent of his fancy soaps was overwhelming—like it was a scent I had been craving, but didn’t realize. Like roast beef and sour cherry scones on the first day of classes.

Now I’m awake, hazy with weeks of poor sleep, but drunk on cedar and bergamot and the sound of Baz’s breathing. I’m staring up at the ceiling. Really deliberately. Because I don’t want to get caught staring at him.

I want to, though—stare at him. To remind myself that he really is back. Baz is here, in the bed just a few centimeters away. It’s not just scent and sound filling in the space that was painfully, creepily empty for eight long weeks—it’s actually him.

It’s just as creepy that I want to look at him so badly, innit? So I don’t. I glare at the ceiling and try not to think about anything.

What would he say to me, if he knew he’s the only thing I’ve been able to think about lately? Like, more than usual?

If only you were so obsessed with something worthwhile, like your studies.”

Shouldn’t the Chosen One be more preoccupied with saving the World of Mages?”

Your numerous fantasies about me are unsettling, Snow.”

None of that’s quite right. I don’t know what he’d say, really. But I know he’d have that sneer of his.

Fuck, I’m not supposed to be thinking about him—

 


 

My thoughts keep cycling. I dunno for how long. Long enough that Baz’s breathing has changed a few times. Not asleep. Light sleep. Deep sleep. And now....

“Nn—”

I can’t help it. I look at him, as if I haven’t been using all my willpower for the past Merlin-knows-how-many hours trying not to do just that.

After having glowered into the darkness of the room for so long, my eyes are pretty well adjusted. Still, there’s only so much you can make out when there’s not a lot of light to help. I can tell Baz is on his back, and he looks pretty stiff, clutching the sheets. I can see him toss his head to the side, and he unleashes another sound.

Baz and I are both pretty familiar with nightmares. Two or three a semester is kind of the norm for us. In the beginning, in our first year, I remember trying to comfort him when he had a nightmare. (And trying to get comfort from him in return.) (It didn’t work.) Baz snarled and said he’d rather let the merwolves claim him. (Still not sure why he hates them so much.)

So we never bothered each other when we woke up with nightmares. I would just squeeze my pillow and try to calm down (by the middle of second year, I was strong enough to make sure I wouldn’t cry—I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction). And if Baz woke up with one, he would usually sneak out of the room, probably off to suck some poor creature dry as a way of comfort.

After seven years of it, I would have thought I’d be totally hardened to Baz having nightmares by now. There’s something about tonight, though. Maybe because I haven’t seen him in so long. Maybe because I’m still all jumbled up on having no idea where he was or why he’s limping or why I care so much.

And there’s something about the way he’s so rigid, arms clamped to his sides, tearing at the sheets, like he’s trapped by something. And there’s definitely something about the noises he’s making, more like whimpers than anything I’ve ever heard from him. He usually grunts and snarls in his dreams, voice low and threatening, even when we were just prepubescent kids.

I can’t listen to the whimpering. It’s too pained, and it does weird things to my stomach. It freaks me out that something could torture him so much to make him sound like that, involuntarily or not.

I should get up and wake him. Though I'm pretty sure he’ll spell me into oblivion if I try, Anathema be dammed, so maybe that’s not the best idea. I could call out to him. I should call out to him—

I do call out, but it’s actually a startled yell when all of a sudden Baz unleashes this wild, strangled sound, and then is bolting upright in bed.

“B—” I’m too surprised, I can’t even get his name out. I all but jump up into a sitting position too. Then I’m hissing and covering my eyes as Baz spells an orb of light into the room. I didn’t even see him grab his wand.

“B-Baz, it’s okay—”

He whips his head around the room, like he’s trying to figure out where he is. He’s panting so hard, it makes me feel breathless.

“You’re at Watford. You’re okay. Baz. Baz, it’s okay, it was a nightmare, it’s just me.” I’m babbling. I feel frazzled. I’ve never seen him so twigged out.

He jerks his head towards me so fast I get dizzy. His eyes are wide and terrified. My stomach lurches. Then I see him start to sag, just a little, shoulders curling down and forward.

“You’re okay—”

“Shut up, Snow.”

His voice is strained, and I hate it. (And he’s got that weird thing going on where it sounds like his mouth is too full. I can see his cheeks kind of puffed out.) (Baz being a vampire is the least of my concerns right now, though.)

I do shut up, giving him a minute to catch his breath. He slumps more, so I do too. I know what he’s going through. It’s exhausting recovering from a nightmare. It’s like it’s leaking out of you, draining the life out of all your cells in the process. (I wonder if that’s what tapped out mages feel like—I never feel tapped out, I can’t really imagine it.)

Baz leans back against his headboard, and his breathing mostly evens out. It’s still a bit shallow, but it’s better.

“Stop staring at me.”

He’s not looking my way at all, just staring off at the other side of the room, but I bet it’s his stupid vampire senses that can tell I’m looking at him. Or, well, maybe it’s just really obvious.

“All right, Baz…?”

“I said shut up.” Baz sounds drained and tired, so it’s not really threatening at all. Even so, I grunt at him.

“That was a hell of a nightmare.”

Baz looks at me now, dragging his gaze over to me. He gives me the most sour sneer.

I smile a little at him, trying to lighten the mood, or look comforting, or something. I don’t really know much about comforting. (Or smiling at him.) Penny and Agatha never really need it, or if they do, I’m not very good at giving it. But I know I would like to be comforted if I just woke up as terrified as he was. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Baz scoffs and extinguishes the orb of light. Now it’s super dark again, and I can’t see anything. I can hear him rustling around though, so I’m pretty sure he's gonna leave.

“C’mon, you can stay, I’ll be quiet—”

“Obviously not.”

The door opens and slams shut and I groan noisily into the empty room.

 

Chapter Text

 

BAZ

I’m still tired and hungry, and even after the two weeks of resting at home, I’m thinking I might always be. I tried to feed well in the Catacombs last night. The darkness caused something to snap in me, and I needed to flee. Merlin and Morgana, how disgraceful. I know those Catacombs like I know the patterns of the moles along Snow’s face, but it was too much for me.

Snow is too much for me, too. His concern over that horrid night terror was too sincere. While I fancy myself very well practiced in hiding my feelings for him, there was just too much in his eyes last night—too much what, I’m not really sure. It was like pity, but worse. I couldn’t stay.

I also couldn’t go back to the Catacombs. I merely paced around the grounds until I was too tired and my leg too numb to continue. I had to go back. I would never be able to make it through classes the next day if I didn’t get at least a little bit more sleep, and I'm behind enough as it is.

When I slipped back into our room for the second time that night, Snow was properly asleep. Simple idiot, he probably drifted back off immediately.

 

Though apparently I did, too, because it feels like only moments later that Snow is clomping about the room, getting ready for his sinfully early breakfast run.

I pull my covers over my head, pride be dammed, and try to ignore him.

I just can’t deal with him this morning.

 


 

I do my best to ignore Snow. I try to find the rhythm again in our clumsy dance around each other. I make sure I’m not there on the days I suspect he’ll be napping before dinner. I stay buried in my bed while he storms about in the mornings. I come back from the Catacombs late (forcing myself to become accustomed to them again).

He tries—the glorious disaster—to strike up a conversation with me. He’s always struggling around the words, more than usual, like he desperately has something to say. I won’t let him get a sentence out. I either end all of his stuttering with something as cruel as I can manage, or I leave him to sputter nonsense at my retreating back.

I spend more than a week like this with him. I’m only just starting to feel human—no, never human—like myself again. As much like myself as I’ve ever really known, at least. I’m only just starting to feel like I can handle full eye contact with those unremarkable blues of his. I’m only just starting to feel like I won’t absolutely crumble if he shows me pity.

I am not, however, remotely prepared for the first real conversation I have with Snow since returning:

He tells me about the Veil lifting. About the Visiting. About my mother who came for me, waited for me. My mother who I’ll never see again (and maybe that's for the best, because I am most certainly not prepared to think about what she’d say if she did see me—saw what I’ve become). My mother who kissed Simon Snow for me.

I want to cry. I want to spell the room into insanity and have a right panic attack and howl into the night.

I do none of those things. I grip my hands tight and work my jaw and form an oath with Snow to avenge my mother’s murder.

And none of this helps me sleep any better.

 


 

The coffin is small, tight, stale. Then smoky. Burnt. Suffocating. Hot. So fucking hot.

I beat against the lid, screaming, and I think the lid is giving away—but no, someone’s opening it. Saving me?

It’s her.

It’s my mother. Looming over me.

I call out for her, try to reach for her. There’s fire all around. It’s coming from her. Blue, thick flames.

I should have lit you up first.”

 

I’m scrambling, up right, screaming and kicking at the sheets that have gotten tangled around me, trapping me, trapping me—

“Baz!”

I snatch up my wand with hands that are trembling so hard they don’t feel like my own. I spell up an orb of light—I still can’t trust myself with fire—and my voice is so raw and breathless, I'm surprised the spell even works.

“It’s me, you’re at Watford, you’re okay!”

I stare at Simon Snow, who is halfway lurched out of his bed. He probably wanted to grab me. Crowley, I must have been screaming in my sleep. It’s a good thing he didn’t—I would have likely wailed on him and gotten myself sucked from the room for good.

“Baz…you’re okay.”

He’s looking at me with wide eyes, searching my face. I can only stare and breathe—breathe air that isn’t thick with smoke, or stale from too many weeks of recycling it. I stare and take comfort in the only thing that kept me going those six weeks.

Bronze and blue and all his constellations.

“It’s just me. You’re okay.”

I groan and pinch the bridge of my nose. “Wonderful, now you’re a broken record, Snow. Shouldn’t you be getting more eloquent with age?”

Snow grunts, but when I glance at him again he seems more relaxed. He positions himself more casually on the edge of his bed, legs hanging off.

“Shouldn’t you be mellowing out into less of an arse?”

I roll my eyes and dip my head back against my headboard. “I have. You’re just becoming increasingly needy.”

“Somehow I don’t think I’m the needy one right now.” He says it with a humoured lilt in his voice, and I want to bite his mouth. At least that’s a standard fare kind of thought. I’m calming down.

“Go back to sleep, Snow.”

“If you want to talk about—”

“If I wanted to talk about it, I wouldn’t be telling you to go to sleep.”

Snow grunts again. “Look, Baz—”

“Don’t make me have to leave the room just to shut you up.” I put out the light, even though I’m not ready for the darkness yet. I’m also not ready for more pity from Snow, and that’s more pressing for the moment.

“Joke’s on you,” Snow says, “I’d complain to your pillow if you left.”

I smirk into the darkness, damn him. “Is that how you whiled away your weeks, waiting for my return?” Somehow, it’s easier to talk to him in the darkness, despite the way it still feels like it’s creeping up on me at the edges. I slip back down into my bed properly, and by the sound of it, Snow does too.

“Oh yeah, for sure. And casting every finding spell I could think of.” Snow settles back into his bed, curling up on his side, facing me. He can’t see me watch him.

“It was surely a short list.”

Snow huffs through his nose in what I can only surmise is begrudged amusement. “Are you going to be able to fall back to sleep?”

“Yes.” No. “Be quiet.”

“Okay.” He pauses a moment. “Good night, Baz.”

He hasn’t said those words to me since first year. I gave him hell for it then. I’m so terribly frazzled that I turn my face into my pillow and weep soundlessly until I’m back asleep.

 

Chapter Text

 

SIMON

Things are kind of weird between me and Baz now. I don’t really get where we stand, but I’m also trying not to think about it too much. He doesn’t act any differently when we’re outside of our room, but inside....

We’re in the middle of a truce. It kind of feels like more. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re friends or anything—I don’t know if we could ever get there. He’s in the room more often though, so that’s a good sign. Must mean he’s feeling more comfortable. And honestly, it makes me more comfortable too. It’s easier to keep tabs on him.

Part of me keeps thinking he’s going to disappear again. He still won’t tell me what happened. He’s gained back some of the weight he lost and doesn’t look quite as exhausted, but he’s still got that limp. I can tell he’s trying to hide it, moving slower than usual. It’s pretty crushing to see him on the sidelines of the football pitch.

He’s getting way more nightmares than usual though, so all the obvious signs aside, something definitely happened to him. He never used to call out in his sleep, or wake up so fucking terrified, or have to spell up some light like that. I wonder why he doesn’t just use his flames—which I’m grateful for, he’s flammable after all—or spell on the lights. Sometimes I spell on the lights without even meaning to after I have a nightmare.

It’s only been two days since his last one. I haven’t been sleeping all that great either, despite being comforted by his presence—which I’m not going to think about right now (or ever). The sounds of Baz’s breath and the scents of his soaps only soothe me so much. I’m doing all right keeping it together, but I’m starting to feel pretty frayed. A lot’s going on. More than usual. I should talk to Penny. I should talk to Penny about a lot of things.

Tonight, like the previous two times, his groaning wakes me. I sit up, preparing myself for when he suddenly startles himself awake. I squint at him in the darkness, trying to see.

“Baz,” I try. “Baz, wake up. It’s just a dream.”

He’s squirming, on his back, clutching the sheets and whimpering. It’s still painful to witness.

“Baz, it’s me. C’mon. Wake up.” I get out from under my covers and swing my legs over the side of my bed. I’m still afraid to approach him, though. I don’t know if the Anathema would react for an accidental blow. (Or worse, a curse.) (I wouldn’t put it past him to cast one that fast.) I don’t want to risk it.

“…no…,” he moans.

“Baz, Baz, it’s me. It’s Simon Snow. Come on. Wake up, yeah? Come on back.”

“S...no....”

Is he saying my name? Calling for help? Or maybe it’s not a nightmare, and he’s happily dreaming away about ending me once and for all.

He whimpers, and I immediately feel guilty for even considering it. And come to think of it, he’s chattering, isn’t he…?

I push myself off my bed. I can’t just sit by. I start to head for the window—he’s definitely shivering and chattering—but I give the foot of his bed a good shake first. “Baz, wake up!”

He yells and bolts up, and Merlin’s beard, I yell too.

“Okay, okay!” I rush for the far wall in case he tries something. “It’s me!”

Baz’s light is spelled up in an instant. He looks as bad as the other nights, except now his teeth are chattering like crazy, and I can absolutely see fangs glinting in the light that I’m certain are not my imagination. I gulp and hurriedly close the window.

“All right, Baz?”

He gasps heavily, like the room doesn’t have enough air for him.

“Duh…hnn…dandy.” I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard him struggle with his words.

“Just breathe.” I gingerly approach the foot of his bed. I can see sweat along his forehead, and his pyjama top is stuck to his chest. Maybe not cold then, maybe feverish, or just that scared. (I don’t want to think about Baz being that scared.)

Either way, I think I’ll keep the window shut for a little while. Unless he pisses me off.

 

 

BAZ

Snow approaches my bed like I’m some kind of wild animal. Sweating and sneering and huddling and chattering all probably have something to do with it.

I duck my head down and pull up my knees, resting my forehead on them. I try to calm my breathing, my heart rate, so that my fangs recede.

“These are bad ones, Baz.”

He never used to say my name so much. But he also never used to care when I had nightmares. He never used to give me rather friendly smiles. We never used to have a truce, an oath, between us.

“I hadn’t noticed.” It’s practically a wheeze. “Thank you for the edification.”

I can perfectly picture the face he’s making at me right now: chin jutted out just so, brow furrowed. What I cannot picture is why my mattress suddenly dips.

I bring up my head to see Snow has tucked one leg onto my bed, half-straddling the edge of my mattress, his other foot firmly planted on the floor. Comfortable, but also like he could bolt any minute. I hope he does.

“What are you doing? Go away.”

“I really think you should talk about it.”

“You are not allowed to sit on my bed.”

“You don’t necessarily have to talk to me,” he continues, as if I didn’t even speak. “But you should talk to someone.”

“Thank you for your sage psychological advice. Now get off my bed.” My fangs are gone, so I feel free to snarl. My chattering has mostly subsided, too.

“Baz....” Snow leans in. I lean back. He’s looking at me with those too-kind eyes. I don’t deserve those eyes. I don’t want his pity. “What happened to you? Why were you gone?”

I sigh and hang my head back down and hug my knees. It’s pathetic, and I’m too tired to care.

“It’s none of your business.”

“You’re my roommate. And you’re scaring the shit out of me. It’s definitely my business.”

I peer at him again, wanting to give him a good, hard scowl. I can’t quite drum it up. His expression is too soft.

Snow’s so painfully handsome in this light. (In any light.) (In no light—so that only I can see.) I’m crumbling. Curse him.

“Not tonight.” It’s too close to a concession.

“So you’ll tell me tomorrow then?”

“I didn’t say that.”

Snow screws up his mouth into what could only be called a pout, and I wonder if maybe I’ve died the rest of the way.

“I really think it will help, Baz.”

“Get the fuck off my bed.”

Snow sighs noisily. “I thought you were going to be a lot nicer now that we have a truce!”

“Simply because we have a truce, doesn’t mean I’ll stop being antagonistic towards you, Snow.”

Simon grins, one of his quirky, crooked ones, where I know he’s more amused than he thinks he ought to show. “I’m pretty sure you’d keep being antagonistic to me even if we were married.”

I very nearly drop my wand onto the mattress, only just catching it in time.

I’m hopeless.

Snow’s got on this damnable smirk. I sneer at him as best I can manage, then promptly dismiss the light. (Though not without the briefest of final reverence for the blush on Snow’s cheeks. Leave it to Snow to embarrass himself with his own foolish words.)

“Go to sleep, Snow,” I snap. I shift back down into my bed, making sure to knee him on my way in.

“Right, right.” He pushes himself off my bed, and the rush of cool air where his warmth just occupied is so stark I nearly suck in a breath of surprise.

I watch him in the dark, watch him stumble back towards his own bed, his eyes useless in this light unlike mine. (The space between our beds is nearly negligible, and yet the buffoon still manages to fumble about.) I watch him crawl in and try not to lament his warmth getting further away.

“Good night, Baz.”

His voice is far too playful. It gives me gooseflesh.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

SIMON

We both got into bed well over an hour ago—maybe longer—but all I’ve been doing is tossing and turning. I’m trying to be quiet about it. I don’t want Baz to get on my case.

We fought today. Over Agatha. Who broke up with me. Who broke up with me because she likes Baz better. Baz! The villain! The vampire!

I kind of lost it. I almost went off. Not on Agatha, snakes no, but on Baz. He was so flippant about the whole thing. Like he couldn’t even be bothered with her now that it had gotten between us once and for all. Like suddenly she wasn’t good enough. She is good enough!

Not that I want them together!

Merlin, I don’t know what I want. I’m just mad.

“On Chomsky’s grave, Snow, I will throw you into the moat if you keep it up.”

I growl and kick a leg out futilely. There’s nothing to kick but sheets. “Well sorry!

I can’t really see much, but I hear Baz roll over. “What’s got your pants all doused in petrol? It smells like a fucking forest fire in here.”

“What do you think?” I’m sitting up suddenly, trying to glare daggers at him. I can only kind of guess where his head is, and I know the prick can see me clearly—it doesn’t quite have the same effect if I’m glaring at his chin or something.

“If this is about Wellbelove—”

“Of course it’s about her!”

I can hear Baz sneer. “I already told you that I’m not after your precious girl, ex or otherwise.”

“That’s worse, Baz! Can’t you see how that’s worse?”

“No, I really can’t.” Now he’s sitting up too, and I think he’s about to leave. He doesn’t. I don’t know what that means. “What exactly is it you want, Snow?”

“I don’t know!” I kick again before flopping back heavily onto my bed with a loud grunt.

I can feel Baz peering at me. Is he letting me sort out my thoughts before mocking me again? How chivalrous.

“I just can’t stop…thinking,” I confess into the darkness.

“I know it’s a novel concept, but I assure you that it’s a common occurrence for most people, and there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

I throw my pillow at him. There’s no real aggression behind it, I’m too tired for it. The sound of his indignant grunt is really satisfying.

“I just don’t get why you’d try to get between Agatha and me.”

“I told you. To mess with you.”

“You really don’t have any interest in her?” It’s mind-boggling. She’s gorgeous. Smart. Rich. She’s everything Baz should want in a girlfriend. They’d be picture-fucking-perfect—if Baz can even show up in pictures.

“None at all.”

I groan, not the least bit comforted. “Give me back my pillow.”

“Absolutely not.” Baz is holding it, I can tell that much. He rolls away from me with it.

“Hey!”

“It’s not my fault you’re so short-sighted. I’m not giving it back.”

“First you steal my girl, then my pillow!”

Baz huffs out a sigh. “I did neither of those things. All of this is on you, Snow.”

I hate it, but I flinch when he suddenly sits up. I do too, because otherwise it feels like he’s looking down on me. (More than usual.)

“If Wellbelove wasn’t happy with you—which she very clearly was not, ask anyone, ask Bunce—then whether you had my involvement or not, it wouldn’t have mattered. She wants something different. She’s as bad as you. She doesn’t know what she wants. But it isn’t you. And it most assuredly isn’t me. And you don’t actually want her, either.”

I roll over to smash my face into my pillow-less bed. “And you’re so much wiser?” I complain into the mattress. “You know exactly what you want?”

“Yes.”

I growl loudly and push myself up again. “And it’s not Agatha?”

I yelp as my pillow comes crashing back into my face.

“I am going to say this once, Snow,” Baz growls, voice low and menacing all of a sudden. “Do not make me repeat myself.”

“O-okay…?” What is this?

“I am not interested in Agatha Wellbelove. I am not interested in Penelope Bunce. I am not interested in any girl at Watford.”

I bristle. “What, you’re too good for them?” Now that he put the stupid thought into my head, he and Penny wouldn’t make a half-bad couple either. They’ve been getting on really well during this whole find-Natasha-Pitch’s-murderer thing we’ve got going on—

“I’m gay, you fucking numpty.”

My eyes have gotten somewhat adjusted in the dark. I can faintly see him there, sitting ramrod straight in his bed, fingers tightly clenched in his sheets. I just stare at him. For too long.

Suddenly, he’s sighing and moving. It knocks me out of my stupor.

“W-wait! You don’t—Baz, you don’t have to run away.”

Now he’s bristling. “I’m not running away.”

He definitely is. “I’m not gonna freak out about you being gay.” I don’t think I am, at least. It sure did feel like my brain fell into my stomach when he said it, though.

“I don’t want to watch all the gears turn painfully slowly in your head, Snow.”

“No, no, it’s—I get it. It’s fine, Baz.”

“I’m glad it’s fine. I’m glad to have your approval.

I groan and pull at my hair. “I mean—! Don’t twist it around on me!”

Baz hesitates, and then slowly drags himself back towards his bed. I’m so relieved I let out a big long sigh and flop back into my bed—onto my pillow.

“I didn’t know…,” I say to the ceiling.

“Obviously.” Baz tucks himself back in and rolls away from me.

“How long have you known?”

“I don’t know, Snow. How long have you known you’re straight?”

I jut out my chin thoughtfully. “I’ve never thought about it at all.”

“See. You just know.”

“No, I mean—I never....” I pull at my hair again. “I don’t even know if I am.”

I can almost feel how still Baz gets at that. Which is probably impossible—just my imagination.

“Hey, do you think—”

“I am not suddenly your gay best friend, and I am absolutely not going to hold your hand through your poorly-timed sexual identity crisis.”

“You’re such a fucking twat.” I roll over huffily, away from him.

We’re both quiet, sulking, backs facing each other. It’s like we’re eleven again. Like this was just some stupid spat over homework, and not that he just blew my fucking mind.

 

 

BAZ

Merlin.

Morgana.

Methuselah.

Fuck.

 

 

SIMON

Now I really can’t sleep.

I roll over again and stare at his back. Maybe this is why he uses all those nice smelling products. (That’s what gay blokes do, right?) (I realize I have very little knowledge about gay blokes at all.)

I also realize that my pillow kind of smells like all of those products. Because I threw it at him. Because he held it. Baz held my pillow. Like a petulant, nightmarish, childish jerk—

I sigh. Everything’s so confusing with him. Every time I get another piece to his puzzle, the image just gets fuzzier and fuzzier.

I breathe in cedar and bergamot. (That’s what I think it is, at least. That’s what the labels on some of his products say.) (I’ve sniffed them before, but Baz’s scent isn’t quite the same.) It’s too faint, there isn’t enough of it—enough for what, I don’t know. I don’t think about it.

“I don’t, um....”

Baz doesn’t move. I can tell by his breathing he’s not sleeping yet, though.

“I don’t want you to think that I’m gonna…I don’t know. Think differently about you now.”

He doesn’t say anything. I can’t figure out if I’m agitated or upset. He’s so fucking prickly. What if he thinks I’m gonna be an arse about it? What if I am being an arse about it? I don’t think I am. But I feel like I understand things even less than usual lately.

“Baz…?”

“Shut up.”

“I’m glad you told me.”

“Fuck off.”

“I’m not gonna bug you about the Agatha stuff anymore.”

“Go. To. Sleep.”

“I’m still mad you messed with her emotions just to get to me. But…you’re probably right that I’m not what she wants.”

“....”

“Turns out I’m pretty terrible boyfriend material.”

“This surprises no one, Snow. You’re terrible at everything.”

“You know, I thought we were bonding for a second.”

Baz rolls over to stare at me. “You spouting a soliloquy at my back is hardly bonding. Crowley, it’s no wonder you lost your girl.” I flinch. “Even Bunce is more socially aware than that.”

“Sorry I wasn’t properly socialized,” I growl.

Baz pauses for a long moment where I just glower at him. “I suppose having me as a roommate for seven years didn’t offer much help in that regard.”

I blink at him in surprise. “What does that mean?”

“It’s not as though you got the standard roommate bonding experience.”

“It’s not too late.”

“We’re not suddenly friends, Snow.”

“We could be.”

“You can’t be friends with your sworn enemy.”

“The only thing I’ve sworn is an oath. With you.”

Baz is quiet again, just staring at me. This whole thing (everything tonight) (everything every night since he got back) is so weirdly delicate. I don’t do great with delicate things. I only know how to growl and swing a sword. I don’t have the finesse Baz has—not that he’s ever delicate. But I feel like he could be, if he wanted to. I bet he’s secretly great with animals. (When he isn’t draining them.)

“Go to sleep,” he says eventually. It sounds soft, like he can feel the fragility between us too.

“I don’t know if I can.”

“I will spell you still if you keep tossing and turning.”

“Ugh, yeah, all right.” I huff and fluff and try to get comfortable. “Good night, Baz.”

He’s quiet. He never says it back. I never used to say it at all. That’s not the kind of relationship we have anymore though, whether Baz wants to admit that or not.

This time, I do sleep. I think it’s the best I’ve slept since end of seventh year. 

Chapter Text

 

BAZ

I whimper myself awake. Before I can really even put the pieces together, I’m sitting up and spelling up a soft orb of light. I still can’t handle the darkness when I wake up like this. Though the nightmares are getting easier. My mother only showed up in the one—everything else seems tame in comparison.

I look over at Snow, who is groaning and groggily coming over to flop onto my bed like he’s decided he’s now invited to do.

“I’m fine.” I’m panting. “Go back to your bed.”

“I’ll sit with you until you’re actually fine.”

I peer at Snow. He looks like hell.

“You look like hell.”

Snow chuckles weakly and gives a big, sluggish shrug. “I feel worse.”

“I keep waking you with all of this.” I clench my jaw a moment. “I apologize.”

Snow gives me this tired, crooked, beautiful grin. “An apology from you? To me? I think that belongs in The Record.”

I scoff. “Go to bed.”

“I’ve been having trouble lately,” he says suddenly, softer. “Sleeping.”

“I noticed.” I feel compelled to make my voice softer, too.

“It’s not just you. Having trouble in general. I think I was in the middle of a nightmare too, or at least the start of one. Been getting them more often lately.”

I frown and shift the light just so, wanting to see his face better. A mess of bronze curls glint in the light, sticking up everywhere. His eyes are red around the rims and purple underneath.

“I was looking forward to sleeping a lot better once you got back.” Snow rubs at his curls, looking sheepish.

“Can’t sleep without me now?” I sneer, but my voice is still soft, and it’s all far too gentle of me.

“Not really.” He admits it so easily. I flush—I fed well before bed tonight.

I don’t know what to say to that. He swallows, and I watch his Adam’s apple bob.

“Well.” I lick my lips and lean back, tearing my eyes from his throat. “At the risk of suggesting something beyond your skill level, I think you ought to read a book until you fall asleep. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Snow grunts softly and tugs at his hair more. “Yeah. I guess.” He drowsily leans forward in my direction, and for a moment I think he’s going to tip right onto me. He stops himself in time and gives me another one of those sheepish looks.

“You ever going to tell me where you were?”

“It wasn’t on my list.”

“You have a list of things to tell me?”

“Hm. No. Actually, I have a list of things not to tell you.” I curl my lip into something playful at him. The predictable git, he blusters.

Ba—az.

It’s a whine. Simon Snow is full on whining my name, and it ought to be absolutely awful, yet it makes me want to flip him over and press open-mouthed kisses wherever he’d let me. (Nowhere.) (There’s nowhere he’d let me.)

I clear my throat. “Away with you, if you’re going to whine.”

“Not away with me if I don’t?” He beams, far too proud of himself.

I nudge him with my leg. “Away with you anyway!”

Snow laughs. It’s brash and too loud for these late hours. And comforting. It’s such a classically him sound, a sound I’m used to hearing from across the dining hall or rippling out of him during class when it shouldn’t be. It’s an unabashed laugh that I’ve never elicited from him.

I hate that he thinks I’m only teasing now, not threatening. (I am—teasing. But I don’t want him to know that.)

Despite him talking me in circles, he pushes himself off my bed. “Which book do you want?”

“What?”

He heads for my desk and drags his fingers along the spines of books I have lining the back of it, against the wall. “Which book?”

“Political Science.”

Ugh. Just some light reading before bed, is it?” He grabs up the textbook and hands it to me. I take it and occupy myself with turning the pages. I still have some catching up in this class to do anyway.

He collects a book from his own desk, and if I didn’t know the Watford library better, I’d assume it was some kind of comic book. I wonder if Snow likes comic books. I wonder if he spends his summers catching up on issues he’s fallen behind on, while the rest of us get ahead in our studies. I wonder if they even have books of any sorts for him at the homes.

I wonder if he’ll ever not occupy my every thought.

 


 

He’s quiet a long while. I haven’t heard a page turn in some time. I glance over. He’s fallen asleep with a copy of The Record on his chest. That’s not light reading either, Snow—though my chest is blossoming with knowing he’s taking this search for mother’s murderer so seriously.

I set my textbook down onto my bedside table and push myself from my bed, quietly. If I don’t remove that book from him, he’ll knock it off at some point and startle the seven hells out of both of us.

I carefully pluck the book from him and set it back on his desk. I consider pulling his covers over him properly, but he’s always so warm, so there’s really no point. Besides, I get to look at him better like this.

I realize the window isn’t open.

I wonder when he stopped opening it.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

BAZ

I sneak back into our room as quietly as possible. I’m not exactly trying to avoid Snow, no more than usual, but I’m feeling far too soft on him today, so I stayed in the Catacombs a touch longer tonight—besides, I felt like spending some time with my mother.

He was a mess in classes today. Exceedingly so. It’s understandable when he has bags under his eyes when we have our oddly-reoccurring late night chats. It’s another thing when he still looks punched throughout the day. I did my best to not mock him—I was rather worried he might burst into tears if I did, and the thought of that hasn’t been a welcome one since third year.

This also meant that I felt far too compelled to comfort him. I wanted to pull him aside, away from the exasperated teachers, and Dev and Niall’s snickering (I taught them well—it’s my own fault), and Penny’s gentle patronizing (it’s good for him, usually); I wanted to bring him to our room, and lay his head down in my lap, and enchant the air with a lullaby, and pet his gorgeous curls until he finally could drift off....

I could not be more gone on him.

So I kept my distance, lest I suddenly found my fingers between his, and my lips against his ear, offering sweet nothings to ease his tired soul.

It’s well past midnight when I slip back into our room. Possibly later. I’m as quiet as I can be, but I still hear Snow roll over in his bed. When I look at him, he’s peering at me in the darkness.

“I’m awake, it’s okay,” he says, voice far too soft. “You don’t have to skulk around.”

I exhale through my nose and straighten up. “Go to sleep.”

“Trying…,” he mumbles. I collect up my pyjamas and close myself into the bathroom before I say anything else.

I take my time changing. Maybe he’ll have dozed off by the time I return.

No such luck, of course. Simon Snow is sitting on my bed, in his now too-familiar pose—one leg on, one leg off. I approach him with a huff.

“What are you doing?” I hiss at him.

“Can we talk?”

I push through too many feelings and slip under my covers, rolled on my side away from him. “No. Go to sleep.”

“I can’t....”

His voice is so low and tired, it weakens what bit of resolve I have against him today. I tsk at him and sit up.

“You should go see the nurse. She can surely spell you out of this insomnia you’ve been plagued with lately.”

Snow shakes his head, curls limply bouncing. Even his hair seems tired. “It’s not so much insomnia. It’s just every time I close my eyes, I worry about stuff, or I see stuff I don’t want to see.”

“I believe that’s exactly insomnia, Snow.”

“Yeah?” He rubs a hand into his hair. “There’s just too much to think about lately.” He turns narrowed eyes to me quickly. “Don’t.”

I hold up a hand, innocent. It would be too easy of a jab, and I’m far from in the mood for it.

Snow looks relieved I didn’t go for him. He sags. “It’s just…everything’s different suddenly. Agatha and me broke up. You and I aren’t enemies anymore—”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

“—I can’t figure out what the Mage is thinking at all. It feels like everything’s bubbling to the surface. Like things are picking up with the Humdrum too. And with the Old Families. And. And everything. And now we’ve got this Scooby-Do murder mystery pact between us and Penny. And you won’t—I just....” Snow shakes his head again. “It’s just a lot.”

I want to ask him to elaborate. (I won’t what, Snow.) But I don’t know if I can handle the answer right now.

“You’re burnt out,” I say slowly. It comes out too tender, too caring.

Snow offers me a tired tilt of his lips at that. They’re chapped. “I haven’t even worried about going off in a while. Too tired to go off.”

“I’ve noticed. My sensitive nose thanks you.”

Snow smiles a bit more. “Why’s it so sensitive?”

“Because I’m a Pitch, and all of my sensibilities are refined.”

He chuckles, and it’s such a tired sound. I nearly grab him, to pull him into my arms until everything’s all right. (Things will never be all right.) (Not for both of us.)

He falls quiet, looking off at the floor with unfocused eyes. I nudge him with my knee because I can’t stand to see it.

When Snow looks at me again, he seems more like himself. His crooked smile reaches his eyes this time. I swear they sparkle.

“Thanks, Baz.”

“Don’t thank me. That’s the last thing I want.”

He puts his hand on my thigh, just above my knee, and gives it a squeeze. I tense immediately, severely. He looks as embarrassed as I feel and gives a stiff pat there instead before awkwardly standing up. “Right then. Good night.”

I only lie down once I’m finished watching him crawl back into bed and curl up into his tight ball. He’s facing me. I don’t mind that he knows I’m watching him, not tonight.

I think he manages to sleep. I do, too. 

Chapter Text

SIMON

I roll over, not really awake, just hanging out somewhere between dreams. I think it was a nightmare actually, but not a bad one. The kind where you wake up a little muddled, until it comes back to you later in the day and gives you chills. There’s been a lot of those lately.

There’s brightness past my eyelids, and I can’t help but be confused. There’s no way it’s morning yet, right?

I crack open an eye, and yeah, it’s still definitely the middle of the night. The light is coming from the soft orb hovering near Baz. It’s almost a familiar sight by now, but the kind that makes your heart leap into your chest, rather than offer comfort for its familiarity. I sit up, probably too quickly, though the concern for Baz slips away before it can really settle in. He’s sitting up, with a book, and he looks completely calm.

His head angles towards me, brows lifted, causing the light to cast a wicked shadow along his face, making him look like more of a villain than usual. It’s not daunting anymore. I wonder when that happened.

“You can go back to sleep,” he says, his voice with that softness I only get to hear in times like these. At three in the morning, when he’s worn and scared and needs me—someone, but is too proud to say it.

“Are you all right?”

“I’m reading.”

“You had a nightmare though.” It’s a question, really. He doesn’t look like he had a nightmare, but why else would he be up—and talking to me in that voice?

“I did. But it’s over, and I’m fine now. Go to sleep, Snow.” He looks back at his book, as if that can dismiss me.

“I’m sorry,” I say, tossing off my covers and crossing the small space between our beds. “I didn’t notice.”

The light does nothing to hide the way Baz’s eyes flicker over to me, following my movements as I tuck one leg on his bed, the other hanging off. My usual position for him on nights like this. He’s watching me with an intensity, but pretends he isn’t, quickly looking back at his book.

“You are not my keeper nor my protector,” he says coolly. “It’s not your concern, Snow.”

“I wish I was.” He looks at me, surprised, both eyebrows up. I’m surprised too. “I mean!” I’m blustering immediately. “I wish I could protect you, uh, and everyone, you know? I wish I could stop the nightmares and actually help you. What good’s all this power if I can’t do anything?”

Baz works his jaw and looks down again. I don’t know if I’ve always been able to notice when he does that jaw thing, but it feels like he does it pretty often lately.

“You do.” He won’t take his eyes off his book. “Knowing…someone is there helps.” Baz doesn’t usually pause between his words. It makes me feel like he’s maybe not as fine as he’s saying he is. Or maybe it’s killing him to have to admit that I’m helping, at least a little.

“You should have woken me.” I lean in towards him a bit, trying to coax him into looking at me. With his head angled down towards the book, the shadows cast on his face are worse, and I can’t see his expression at all. Not that he’s all that expressive of a guy—but I’m getting better at reading him.

“Why would I do that?”

“You just said it helps, yeah? I sit here, and we talk, and you can forget about it faster.” I rub a hand into the front of my hair, pulling. “I can’t believe I didn’t wake up this time.”

Baz turns the page of his book. How is he reading and talking at the same time? Penny can do that too. “It wasn’t that bad. I didn’t make a big show of it this time like you always do.”

I smirk at him. And I wish he’d look at me to see it. Instead, I have to settle for nudging his knee with my own. His long legs are stretched out past my body, not giving me a lot of room to be perched here. “If I had a big showy nightmare again, would you come sit on my bed?”

“No.”

“Merlin, Baz!”

I see something in his expression shift, but he’s still looking down. “I’d let you come sit here though.”

My heart does something weird. I don’t know what to think about that. I probably shouldn’t think about it at all.

 

 

BAZ

Snow is quiet in response. Was that too much? Surely not. It’s hardly the nicest thing I’ve confessed in these late hours, like we’re in a liminal space where Snow is not the Mage’s Heir and I am not a Pitch and it’s okay if I show my reverence for him.

I can’t hazard to look at him. It’s impossible to focus on any of the words in this book, but I can’t let him have all my attention—I’m too frayed still.

To be frank, I didn’t know what to do when Snow didn’t wake from my nightmare. It was pathetic of me. I breathed heavily into the night, taking whatever comfort I could from his sleeping form, waiting, waiting, for him to get up and join me. Merely watching him sleep isn’t enough anymore. He’s slowly ruining me.

The silence has passed too long. I don’t know what to do. Was that really too much to say? I battle with the idea of looking up at him, curious about his expression right now. I should come up with something dismissive to say—even a simple ‘go back to bed’ would suffice.

Before I can do anything, Snow’s fingers are suddenly in my field of vision, splaying across the surface of my book. There’s a freckle on the inside of his left ring finger that I’ve never noticed before tonight. I’m all too overwhelmed with the discovery. I want to place a ring there, covering it, letting it be a secret that only I know.

Crowley, I’m in deep.

I sigh, trying to imbue it with agitation, though it comes out far too whimsical. I try not to grimace and instead lift my head to look at him, afraid of the expression I might see.

Snow is smiling at me. It’s that look I’ve been mistaking for pity. Now, I know it’s empathy. He’s thick as a numpty sometimes, but when he’s feeling empathetic towards someone, it rolls off him in waves, wrapping you up in a quiet, comforting blanket of his care—if you'll let it. He’s shite with words, but they’re not necessary when he’s wafting like this. It’s not at all like the haze of smoke that used to surround him when we talked.

“You look like total shit,” he says. Morgana and Methuselah, the indignant scoff that comes out of me unbidden…! He laughs. “Wake me next time, Baz.”

“That’s foolish.”

“Why?”

“You’re already performing abysmally in your courses, I won’t be held responsible for your further decline due to interrupted sleep on my account.”

Snow grunts and rolls his eyes, this big, dramatic eye roll, and it makes me want to shove him right onto the floor. (And then tackle him.) The sod. “You should help me study if you’re so concerned about my grades. Make me smart, smarty-pants.”

“Believe it or not, Snow, some things are beyond even my abilities.”

He shoves my knee again, with his hand, far harder this time, and, fuck, I laugh. His face absolutely lights up at that. It doesn’t seem like such a bad slip, if I get that expression in response.

“Really, Snow,” I huff to cover my amusement, though I allow myself to continue to smile faintly. I push back my hair. “Go to bed.”

“Only if you’re ready to go back to sleep.”

“I’ll read a little longer.”

Snow’s moving then, and I can’t help but feel faintly disappointed. Not that he should stay. He really should go back to bed. Still, it would be nice if—Crowley, what is he doing?

“Shove over.” Snow is trying to wedge his body onto the bed, to sit up alongside me. I stiffen at the contact as he very openly knocks his hip into my side to make me move. (It kind of hurts—that’s my bad leg.) (That’s the least of my concerns.)

“Wh-what are you—?” I clamp my mouth shut before I can make more of a fool of myself.

“I’ll sit with you until you’re ready to sleep. Make room.” He pushes again, and I relent mindlessly, scooting across the bed to give him room. (I shouldn’t.)

“You don’t need to do this.”

Snow just gives a big shrug and settles in next to me. Our shoulders and hips are touching. He dips his head back against my headboard the way I do. It’s incredibly difficult to not stare at his long neck. At his outrageous Adam’s apple. At that mole I want to kiss.

I snap my attention to my book. Fine. I’ll allow this.

For a few minutes.

“You have to take that dammed cross off,” I say with as much flippancy as I can manage. “It’s garish.” The effects of the nightmare haven’t entirely faded away, and I feel too jittery with him near me—the static the cross creates in my jaw is making all of this worse. I’m not entirely certain I feel sane enough to not bite him, but I’ve held back everything else this long.

Snow fumbles, hurriedly yanking off the bloody thing. He makes wide, innocent eye contact with me as he chucks it to the other side of the room.

I give him a small sneer, without any real venom, and look back at my book.

Yes. Fine. I can do this.

For a few minutes.

 

 

SIMON

I wake up with a wicked crick in my neck and feeling like my spine is all twisted. I’m not really sure why yet. I blink and feel groggy.

I try to shift, and that’s when I realize it.

I’m still in Baz’s bed. We’re leaning against each other, mostly slouched down. I’m above his covers, thank snakes, but this is still borderline snuggling.

I don’t think about it.

I don’t really get a chance to, honestly. The second I try to move, Baz groans softly (I’m never unhearing that) and pushes his face into my shoulder more.

I gulp. I need to get off of his bed before he wakes up and sets me on fire.

Now that I’ve disturbed him, he’s trying to get comfortable again. He pushes his face against me more, into the crook of my neck, and for some reason I actually move my head to accommodate him.

“Snow....”

My heart’s off to the races.

(I don’t think about it.)

I’m trapped. If I move, he’ll slide off and kill me. If I don’t move, he’ll wake up and then kill me for taking advantage of the situation or something.

I don’t know! I don’t know! What do I do? Other than just enj—

Baz noses in against my neck, and I think I’m going to die. Maybe this is all an elaborate plot. Maybe this is how he’s decided to off me.

I can’t dwell on it too long, because suddenly he goes perfectly still—too still.

Fuck. He’s awake.

Suddenly, he’s scrambling back from me, and I’m so startled by it that I nearly fall off his bed. He’s glaring at me with the most incensed, wild eyes I’ve ever seen from him—and the guy’s tried to kill me multiple times.

“H-hi there.” My voice practically comes out like a squeak. “Looks like we fell asleep.” I slowly ease back, trying to get off his bed before he can retaliate.

Baz snarls. “Get. Out.”

“I’m getting!” I nearly trip standing up, but I manage it. I back away from his bed, afraid to take my eyes off him. He’s almost (almost) not all that intimidating, with how stupid and cute his bed hair looks—

“It’s um, it’s still early! I’ll just—I’m gonna—gonna use the—” I rub my neck and back up towards the bathroom. “Then you can—”

Baz growls and snatches up his wand.

“Anathema!” I yell and duck into the bathroom.

 


 

I can’t make eye contact with Baz at all once I leave the bathroom. He does a good job of ignoring me, too. He holes himself up in there and takes his morning shower. I sit heavily on my bed and try not to think about the feel of his cold nose against my neck, or the way he said my name in his sleep. (I really, really try.)

I get dressed, but I’m kind of dazed, and I half find myself waiting for him to come out. I honestly think it would be a comfort, to see him all put back together. Not in crumpled pyjamas and loose bed-head and all red-faced.

We haven’t been acting any differently once we leave this room, aside from not glaring at each other across the Dining Hall as much. Other than that, he mostly ignores me. Penny, too. I can tell they get on well, but I guess old habits die hard, and Baz doesn’t want his reputation to suffer or whatever. So he mostly still acts like we’re just in his way, even though Penny and I try to smile at him now and then.

I think we should really get past that. We’ve been pretty open with each other lately. And we just slept in the same bed. Not in like a, I don’t know, any kind of meaningful way—I think. But still. I think two blokes leaning against each other all night is at least a sign of something.

Baz is predictably composed when he exits. It doesn’t actually make me feel any better after all. Instead I just want to push my hands into his hair and mess it up again. (That’s a new thought.) (Actually, it isn’t.)

He drags his gaze up and down me, lip curling in disapproval. Like nothing happened this morning between us.

“What are you still doing here?”

“I, uh, I thought maybe we could walk to breakfast together.”

“Absolutely not.”

Merlin, is it really so bad to be seen with me?” Suddenly, I don’t even know what the conversation is.

“My minions would never understand it, and I don’t need Wellbelove bugging her eyes out at us more than she already does.”

“She does not—”

Baz sighs heavily and leans against his desk. “Go to breakfast, Snow.”

I growl and pull at my hair. “Fine! You’re impossible to befriend!” I snatch up my bag, angrier than I feel like I have a right being.

“That’s the idea.”

 

 

Chapter Text

BAZ

It’s utterly childish, but I’m back to trying to avoid Snow again ever since that awkward morning where we woke up next to each other in my bed. Ignoring him, however, is proving entirely futile and very much a waste of energy. I’m not about to muck up the investigation into Nicodemus and my mother’s murder just to avoid Snow’s puppy dog eyes every time I snub him.

I merely try to stay out of our bedroom when I think he’ll be there without Bunce. I manage it for two days—they feel like an eternity.

It’s all for naught though as I fight my way out of another nightmare and find Snow already perched on my bed. I don’t need to spell up the orb of light to see the concern in his eyes, but I do it anyway because the dark is still too much right after these wretched coffin night terrors.

“You’re with me, Baz, you’re okay.”

I must have not been thrashing about too much, because Snow’s closer than ever, and his hands are on my shoulders. Either that, or he’s gotten rather overly confident that I won’t retaliate upon being startled awake.

“Snow....”

“I’m here.”

I grunt, a very Snow-like sound. I tiredly—shakily—bat his hands away as I sit up fully. He leans back some, but not entirely, peering at me with those empathetic eyes that bore into my cold heart.

“I’m fine....” I’m not. “Go back to bed.”

“You know,” he says, with a soft, warm tone, “for someone who’s top of the class, you sure don’t catch on quick that I’m not about to leave just because you tell me to.”

I roll my eyes at him. “Yes, of course, you’re the Mage’s lapdog, no one else’s.”

He flinches, and I try not to in return. “Merlin, you’re an arse…,” he growls under his breath.

There’s a list of things Snow and I can’t talk about. The Mage is number one on the list. Feelings used to be number one, but that’s been bumped down quite a bit—lately, it seems it would be bumped off entirely, if Snow got his way.

I push a hand through my hair, tucking it back and behind my ear. “It’s a redeeming quality, in the right light.”

Snow frowns at me, and then tilts his head to the side, and does that thing with his chin where he juts it out thoughtfully. I want to lick it. “In this light, I like you a lot better when you’re too twigged out to be a jerk.”

“I’m very sorry that my trauma is not so severe as to perpetually render me your damsel in distress.” I give him a good, hard sneer. The kind I haven’t been able to muster up since that first night back.

Snow growls and serves the mattress a weak, agitated punch. Good. That’s fine. He’s been getting too cozy with me anyway. I let him stew.

Except he’s not stewing. He just sort of stares off and looks increasingly distressed. The light from the orb is causing the crease between his brow to look even more severe. It’s not the same crease he gets when he’s mad. It’s the one he gets when he’s hurting, the one I always want to rub away with the pad of my thumb before kissing the corner of his mouth.

Crowley....

“Snow,” I say, before I mean to, before I know what I’m going to say at all. Probably something stupid. “Don’t make me say it.”

Snow’s eyes dart to me, too quick and eager. “Say what?”

“My appreciation for your company during my numerous night terrors is supposed to go unsaid. Actions speak louder than words, and all that.”

Snow just stares at me, mouth hanging more than usual. “What actions?” he eventually sputters.

I huff indignantly. “Letting you sit on my bed,” I begin, counting on my fingers with my wand, “forming a truce, rarely harassing you in class,”—he rolls his eyes—“being cordial with Bunce, confiding in you.”

First of all,” he harrumphs, so exaggerated that his hair bounces, “you’re only doing those things because of the truce, because we’re helping you find out who killed your mum.” He snaps his hand up to stop me from speaking the second he sees my lips part again. “And second of all, you haven’t confided in me the slightest.”

“That’s objectively untrue.”

“When? Where?”

“I told you I wouldn’t say it twice.”

Snow glowers at me handsomely. I see his chin jut out again, and he pushes at his bottom lip with his tongue, angry and thoughtful. Then, I see it dawn on him.

I’m reminded of that ridiculous belt-buckle mage, Gareth, and his ludicrously inelegant magic—it’s like everything is in stop-motion: Snow’s eyebrows raise, climbing higher and higher in starts, while a bright red flush blossoms across his cheeks and nose and ears.

“Th-the gay stuff.”

My eyes nearly roll in the back of my head as I pull the most disdainful scowl of my life. “Aleister Crowley, Snow! Make it sound as weird as possible, why don’t you?”

“S-sorry! I didn’t—! Um, I didn’t mean—!” He’s blustering, and while I rather like that under normal circumstances, I’m less interested when the topic at hand is my attraction to boys. (The idiotic, blustering type who keeps sitting on my bed and saying the most wonderful, asinine things.) Snow shifts, fidgeting. “It’s not weird,” he finally gets out. “It’s cool. I mean. It’s cool that you, um, that you know that? Uh. About yourself?”

“We’re not doing this,” I interject, too fast. I’ve been trying very hard to ignore that conversation from the other night. The one where Snow just oh-so-casually dropped that he may or may not be as straight as the world would believe, as if that doesn’t completely turn my entire world upside down. “I don’t want to hear it.”

“You’re such a prick.”

“Yes, well, you are what you eat, now get off my bed and go back to sleep.”

Snow sputters out a confused laugh that builds into the rich, unabashed sound that I so yearn to hear. If I could make him laugh like that every day, I’d leave everything else behind. Fuck the Humdrum, fuck the Old Families, fuck all of it. I’d give anything to have a life where Simon Snow can spend too-tender evenings with me, laughing like the world has never hurt him, all because I made a terribly uncouth dick munching joke.

I love him.

And he might not be straight.

 

SIMON

I can’t believe Baz just made a gay joke. I dunno when we got into this wacky Tales of the Unexpected version of our relationship where he feels comfortable enough making a gay joke, but Merlin, I love it.

He’s none of the things I’ve spent so many years thinking he was. (Except vampire. He’s definitely a vampire.) He’s not straight and not after Agatha. He’s not a total fucking villain (just, you know, maybe a bit of one). He’s not incapable of being funny, or light-hearted, or kind.

Fuck, he’s so kind sometimes. Not in the way someone is when that’s one of their defining features or anything, fuck no; but like, in this secret, quiet way, where he just looks at me real gentle like, or says I could come to him if I have a nightmare, or tells me I look like hell with this glint in his eyes like he’s worried about me.

Is it new? Or has that always been there, and I'm only now noticing?

I think I’d like to know more about him.

I definitely would like to know why he was gone and why he has crazy nightmares and why he’s still limping.

“Tell me one more thing, and I’ll believe you’re actually appreciative,” I say. He raises an eyebrow at me—looks like my boldness has surprised both of us.

“I couldn’t give a rat’s tail if you believe me or not.”

Ba—az.”

“Don’t make that hideous sound,” he groans. “It’s an affront to my ears.”

“Then just tell me.”

Baz sighs and leans back. “Tell you what.”

“Where were you? What happened to you while you were gone?”

“That’s two things. Even you can count that high.”

I shove his leg playfully—but because I’m actually pretty dumb after all, I immediately forget that’s his bad leg. He hisses at me. Oops.

“Why are you so hellbent on knowing? Unless it has to do with food, you have zero concept of what you want, Snow. Why the fixation?”

“I dunno…,” I admit. “At first, I kind of thought you were plotting something, keeping secrets, you know. But now…I’m just worried, I guess.” My eyes flick to Baz’s injured hip—and then jaw, where I can see his muscles working. “Something happened to you. I want to know what it was.”

“You knowing won’t stop it from having happened.”

“Yeah. I know that.”

“You couldn’t have helped.”

“Maybe.”

Baz only huffs in response.

“Why won’t you tell me?”

I figure he’ll say something flippant, like how it’s none of my business (but we’ve been over that already), or say I’m being annoying, or just straight up leave. Instead, he pulls at the hem of his pyjama sleeve. He looks so unsure of himself. It’s disarming, making it hard for me to breathe.

“It’s embarrassing, frankly.”

I try not to look too eager. “I do embarrassing shit all the time.”

“Yes, and that’s not something I like to emulate.”

I squirm—I’m so close to getting an answer from him, I can almost taste it. Actually, I think that’s my magic, excitedly bubbling up. “Who better to tell an embarrassing secret to, than the guy who’s always mucking stuff up? If anyone’s gonna understand, it’s me, yeah?”

Baz sighs and tilts back his chin so that he can peer down his nose at me. “You’re insufferable.”

“Some people consider that charming.”

Baz smirks. “I suppose some might.” My pulse picks up. “Fine. I’ll tell you. But only so you’ll let it drop and let me go back to sleep.”

Unable to contain my excitement, I tuck up both legs onto his bed and settle in for a story. Baz sneers, but it’s pretty tame. He looks so tired....

“I was kidnapped,” he says plainly. His expression is blank. He looks down at his nails. Like this isn’t fucking crazy. “We’re not sure why. There was a ransom note, but no explanation or demands otherwise. My Aunt Fiona eventually found me and got us out of there.”

My mouth is hanging open, and I’m definitely gawking. “You’re really gonna nonchalantly say you were kidnapped?”

Baz rolls his eyes. “How would you prefer I say it? By crying and clinging to you and lamenting that you weren’t my knight in shining armor?”

I unleash a wild growl and pull at my hair with both hands. “Holy shit, Baz! Holy fucking shit!”

“Yes, well, there, now you know.” Baz knees me hard as he lays back down in his bed. “Sweet dreams.”

“Who was it?” I press. There’s no way I’m letting this drop! I scramble up onto my knees, barely resisting crawling on him for answers. “Where did they keep you?”

“Go to sleep,” he bites out while extinguishing the light.

Baz!”

Baz groans and swats at me. “You’re going to wake everyone up, be quiet!”

“Tell me!”

He grunts a curse that I don’t even catch. “It was numpties, all right?” he hisses. “And they kept me in a fucking coffin. Are you satisfied now?”

I start blustering, I can’t help it. And suddenly he’s sitting up, and we’re way too close, and he’s glaring at me. I can’t see him well in the freshly dark room, but it’s like I can feel that it’s not his usual dark glaring. There’s fear and shame practically wafting off of him, like how my magic is anxiously wafting off of me.

“Baz—”

“So there’s two of my deep, dark secrets, Snow. I’m gay, and I was kidnapped by numpties. Want another one? Yes, I’m a vampire. Yes, that’s why they thought they were so smart to put me in a coffin. No, they weren’t smart enough to think I need food and blood, and it was literal torture. And yes, now I get night terrors about being trapped back in that bloody coffin, hurt and starving, or worse, being lit on fire in it. So there. You’ve got what you wanted.” He’s breathless, trembling, and I’m too shocked to even do anything about it. “Happy now, Snow?”

Fuck,” I gasp.

Baz’s whole body sags as a harsh exhale rips out of him. He rubs his hands over his face. I wish I could see him better. I wish I had any idea what to say to any of that.

Sorry you were kidnapped. Sorry I didn’t help. Sorry about all the shit I give you about being a vampire. Sorry about everything, because all I’m good for is fucking things up and going off.

“Knock it off,” Baz groans tiredly.

“What—?”

“You’re freaking out and making the room stink.” For a second, I think he’s reaching out to touch me, but it never comes. “I’m supposed to be the one who’s upset right now.”

“I won’t tell anyone,” I blurt out.

“You better not. I’ll dismember you and let the Anathema take me.” He sighs and shifts back into his bed again.

“I won’t make any more shitty comments about you being a vampire—”

“Go to sleep.”

“—And I’ll help you figure out who kidnapped you, too.”

Baz sighs. “Snow?”

“Y-yeah.”

“Shut. The fuck. Up.”

An uneasy chuckle falls out of me, and I can feel my magic slowly trickling off. “I’m glad you told me.”

“I’m going to spell you mute.”

I push myself off his bed and chew on my lip. I have no idea what else to say. My head is swimming. Leaving it like this doesn’t feel right, though. He just…he just told me everything. Trusted me with everything. I can’t get my head around it. It feels wrong to go back to my own bed and act like this wasn’t life altering for both of us.

So much of everything these past few weeks with him have been life-altering.

I touch his shoulder, because I’m useless and don’t know what else to do. I’m not good at touching. He flinches.

“We’re gonna figure all of this out, Baz. You, me, and Penny. They’re gonna pay.”

I can hear Baz inhale, readying himself to say something. I hold my breath, don’t lift my hand, don’t move a muscle—I give him the chance to figure out what he wants to say. It’s excruciating. (I think I get everyone’s exasperation with how I struggle to speak a bit better now.)

Nothing comes. He just exhales eventually and rolls away from my touch.

I drag myself back to my own bed, but I can’t sleep for the rest of the night.

 


 

When Baz gets up in the morning, I’m just lying on my back, staring up at the ceiling. I feel too drained to move.

I listen to him collect his clothes. I listen to the soft sounds of the shower. I listen to the long quiet of when he’s getting dressed and doing his hair. I listen to him ready his bag for the day.

Still, somehow he surprises me, and I nearly jump out of my skin when he’s suddenly at my side, peering over me. He’s got one eyebrow cocked.

“Are you dead?”

“N-no.”

“Then why aren’t you at breakfast already?”

“Tired.”

Baz moves away. I watch him slide his shoes on and sling his bag over his shoulder. “Bunce has likely sent a search party for you by now.”

I chuckle a bit at that and finally push myself up into a sitting position. “You’re probably right.”

“I usually am.” Baz gives me a long, quiet look that I can’t read. “You know, I thought you would sleep better, with everything out in the open. Or are you scared now?”

I haul myself out of bed and stretch. “Hard to sleep when you’ve been told your roommate was kidnapped and tortured,” I say with a grimace.

Baz is sucking at one of his fangs—he usually only does that when he’s studying and doesn't know I'm watching. He must think I’m twigged out about the vampire stuff, but we both know I’ve always known. Somehow, it seems even less like a big deal, now that he’s admitted it.

“Let’s meet with Penny today, okay?” I suggest, before he can bring anything else up. “We should probably tell her.”

“We’re not telling her.”

“It could relate to the case!”

Baz puffs himself up, sneering at me. “Over my undead body.”

“Oh,” I laugh. “Can we make jokes about it now?”

“I can, you can’t.” He adjusts his bag and is trying to look huffy, but I can see the relief in his eyes and the faintest tug of a smile at the corner of his lips. I stare. It looks good on him.

“This explains why you’re so fit.”

Baz blinks at me, one eyebrow crawling impossibly high. I can feel my face and neck flush.

“Uh, haha, because, you know, dark creatures are pretty fit, yeah?”

“You think dark creatures are fit?”

“Sure! Like, uh, like sirens, and goblins.”

“You think goblins are fit?”

I flail. “Have you not seen a goblin?! They look like movie stars!”

Baz laughs. He actually laughs. And I must be really fucking tired, because my knees feel wobbly. Thankfully, he distracts me from that with the most pressing issue to date: he glances at his watch and says, “there’s only fifteen minutes left to breakfast.”

I practically launch myself at the bathroom and manage to smash my toes against the foot of his bed in the process. Even over my agonized cursing, I can hear him cackle all the way down the stairs of the tower.

 

Chapter Text

 

BAZ

I’m awake the second I hear Snow’s strangled whimper. He must be having a nightmare. I suppose that’s better than not sleeping at all. I wonder if I should wake him, pull him from whatever has its clutches in him, save him the way he’s always trying to save me.

I don’t have the chance. He’s suddenly bolting upright, sucking in a terrified squeal of air like something deep within the pits of his body is trying to vacuum the room up.

“Snow, it’s okay—”

He whips his head to me. Even in the dark, I can see his eyes are wide and wet. I shift, without thinking, sitting up, pulling my covers back. I need to go to him—

He’s at my bed in an instant. Trembling, he dives under my pulled back covers, as if his own bed burned him, as if I pulled my covers back as an invitation to a place that is safer and cooler. And, well, it is—safe and cool. But I don’t know what to do with Simon Snow in my bed. None of my various fantasies of him diving into my bed involved him shaking and on the verge of tears. (Maybe they did.)

I look down at him, huddled at the very edge of my mattress, cheek smashed into my pillow. I’m unable to hold back from reaching for him—I want to brush his limp curls away from his sweaty forehead.

“Don’t touch me!”

I freeze, blood going a type of cold I didn’t think was possible, didn’t think it could get colder. So cold that it feels like time has stopped within me, everything narrowing into a terrifying moment of Snow barking at me not to touch him as if the mere idea of it were the most painful thing in the world.

I’ve been an idiot, letting myself get too close to him, letting myself think I could casually touch him and feel his hair and brush away his tears, letting myself think we could be anything other than—

“It...he....” He gasps and ducks his head down into his shoulders, like he wants to hide in the shell of his body. “The...I didn’t...I guess I never told you, but...he can.... The Humdrum can....”

He’s frazzled, breathless. His shaky attempts at speech are one stop short of sobs. And here I am spiraling, feeling bad for myself. I’m a proper arse.

“Spit it out, Snow.”

He just breathes for a moment—screws his eyes shut and breathes. Then, he tries again. “The Humdrum can summon me. And anyone I touch. I was touching Penny. That day in the Wavering Wood. You and Agatha. You saw. He got us. He pulled us both. I don’t—Baz....

Ah....

Finally, I slip back down into my covers, resting on my side, facing Simon Snow, sharing a pillow with Simon Snow. I wrap the covers around him and don’t let it hurt me this time when he jolts at my touch as I press back his hair. He shudders, and I know it’s in a good way, because he leans into the coolness of my fingers along his burning forehead. I can’t even revel in it—he’s too scared, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’ll be set aflame by all this.

“Let him try.” I use my soft voice with Snow now. No, even softer. Not weak, like the one I’ve used with him all the nights where the situation was reversed. This voice is strong, steady, brazen—but still so soft. Powerful and gentle for him. That’s what I give him now.

“You can’t use magic on him, Baz.” Simon looks at me with eyes like a startled deer. They’re still wet. I let my touch move down his face, wiping away the tears that leaked out. The ones from his other eye must be soaking into my pillow. I don’t know how I feel about that. I withdraw my hand.

“You know how to fight. And you’ll have my smarts. I’m assuming it was Bunce who saved your hides last time, too.”

Simon exhales. It’s not quite a laugh, but it’s something. “Yeah, she did. I....” He frowns. “I couldn’t do anything. Baz....” He looks panicked anew. “It fucking terrifies me,” he says so softly, as if he doesn’t want the Humdrum to hear it—as if he doesn’t want anyone to hear it. Especially not me, his enemy. And yet he says it anyway, confiding in me. The disastrous, gorgeous fool is telling his enemy his deepest fears.

The Humdrum is a shared enemy, though. Everyone wants him gone—everyone wants the Chosen One to succeed in at least that much. And here the prodigal son is now, crying into his lesser-enemy’s pillow, desperate for the help and companionship that the Mage never seems to give him. He has Bunce, but other than her, no one is fighting this battle with him. The Mage and his band of merry idiots are too busy confiscating books and locking mages in towers. When they should be focused on the greatest threat the World of Mages has ever known, and stand by Simon’s side.

And I’m not much better, am I?

I’ve been so focused on despising the Mage, maintaining my loyalty to the Old Families, searching for my mother’s murderer, and concealing my feelings for Snow. I’ve been so focused on needling him, because hate is better than nothing. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own problems, while Simon Snow tosses and turns all night in fear that the Humdrum will whisk him away while everyone’s sleeping.

The worst part is that even if the Humdrum attacked in broad daylight right on the Great Lawn, there still might not be anyone at Simon’s side.

And yet he's always at mine.

The realization curls its icy fingers around my heart. I set my jaw.

“I’ll be right there with you. I’ll do my part. I’ll protect you.” Like he’s been trying to protect everyone. Like he’s been trying to protect me all these nights. It’s the least I can do for him. He has no idea how much I would do for him.

Simon’s hand comes up, then stills, hovering above the mattress, halfway between us. His eyes are on my chest. I put my hand over his and make him bring it the rest of the way. I feel his fingers twitch with apprehension, but leave it to him not to dwell too long; he curls his fingers into the front of my pyjama shirt, clutching to it like a lifeline. I’m absolutely positive he can feel the hammering of my heart.

“Baz....”

I’m a helpless, lovestruck fool. The way he says my name feels far too close to the reverence with which I want to say his. I can’t stop myself from pressing his hand closer to my chest. I curl my fingers around his wrist. I don’t mean to find his pulse, but it’s there. It’s thudding, quick. I remind myself it’s because he’s terrified. His eyes flutter shut, and I want to kiss his wet lashes.

“I’ll protect you.” I tell it to him again. And I’ll continue telling it to him, if he wants me to. “But don’t forget that you’re more capable than I usually give you credit for, Miracle Boy. You’re Simon fucking Snow. You won’t rest until you’ve protected all of us.”

Simon has a smile that I hate. It’s a weak smile, shuddering and open to release pained breaths. “Wow…I must really be a mess. I’m hallucinating you buttering me up.”

“You’re not a scone, Snow. Pitches don’t do empty flattery.”

He looks at me with eyes that are so much calmer, so much drier. He looks at me like he can really see me for the first time tonight. Though I wonder how much he can, in the dark like this. I wonder if he can see how soft and loving my gaze must surely be.

“Hey, Baz…?” I feel the mattress shift as his body slowly unwinds. He scoots closer so that he’s no longer teetering along the edge of my bed. (My bed!)

“What.” My voice sounds too strained.

His fingers loosen in my shirt, and I worry he’s going to pull away. He doesn’t. He lets his hand rest fully, finding a comfortable spot high on my chest, touch gently curved over my collarbone, one hot finger lightly brushing the exposed skin at the dip of my throat. I can’t breathe.

“Are we friends yet?”

I release a sound that is supposed to be a dry laugh, but it comes out stuttering and flustered. I hate the sound, until Snow smiles, and then it’s not so bad. “This certainly isn’t something enemies would do.”

“I don’t know if this is something friends would do either.” He looks cheeky now, the bastard. I can feel no part of my body other than where his hand is thawing me away, threatening to melt me into more of a puddle of longing than I already am.

I clear my throat. “I will concede that we are friends.”

“At least there’s that.”

I can’t. I can’t ask him what he means. It feels too fragile. He’s in my bed, sharing my pillow, getting his tears and sweat on it (Merlin and Morgana, I wonder how long his scent will last if I don’t clean the sheets for a while) (which is disgusting—Snow makes me disgusting), his breath on my face, his fingers searing against my pulse. I’m good with words, but I can’t trust myself with them right now. I’ll ask too much, or rebel with callousness, or confess my love. So I must stay quiet. I mustn’t ask him what he means, what he wants this to be.

I don’t think he has any idea what he wants this to be.

But I do allow myself to shift my legs until our knees bump. And I allow my hand to drop from his wrist where his pulse feels too much like mine, and I allow myself to place my hand high up on his side instead. And when he shifts closer in return, I allow myself to press that hand along him, across his back, holding him loosely.

He smiles, crooked and boyish, while he worries at his lip with his teeth. He closes his eyes and ducks his head down towards me.

“Good night, Baz.”

Good night, Snow.

 

 

SIMON

I wake up at my usual time—my internal clock is consistent with this sort of thing. I don't wanna be late for breakfast, after all. (Not like yesterday. Which was awful. They were almost out of scones, and there was no butter left.) (Which I didn’t even think was possible, without me there eating half of it.) But this morning is different. I'm in no rush to jump out of the bed. Because I'm in Baz's bed, and this time he's awake, I can feel it—which means he isn't going to freak out and threaten a hex on me again. (I don't think so, at least.) He’s…letting this happen.

I'm not quite sure how we got like this, but I'm kind of strewn across him, our limbs all jumbled together. My fingers are pushed up under his shirt (only a little) at the dip of his waist. His skin there is warm. I figure it's from my too-hot hands, so I move them, curious. Sure enough, his skin elsewhere is refreshingly cool.

“You're testing my patience, Snow,” Baz hisses. It startles me, honestly. Like I forgot I was pretty much feeling up Baz of all people. Not that he's innocent either, because his hand is on my hip—

And the wanker just pinched me hard enough to make me yelp!

My eyes fly open. This time, I get to actually look at morning Baz, rather than leaping out of the bed in a flash—despite, you know, getting pinched. He's glaring grumpily at the ceiling and his hair is everywhere.

“Morning to you, too,” I grunt.

I have no idea what we are anymore. Whatever it is, it's pretty fucking nice if I get to wake up to cuddles that manage to cool me down, and a Baz who would quicker pinch me than break my nose.

Why is he doing any of this? Helping me with my sleeping problems, letting me help him, telling me so much about himself—telling me he’ll help me fight the Humdrum? Why is he being so fucking decent?

Usually, I would assume it was some elaborate plot. But now, even thinking about how suspicious I’ve always been of him makes me feel guilty. (Not that he hasn’t deserved it sometimes.) (I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for the chimera thing.) (And whatever the fuck it was he did to Philippa Stainton.)

Still....

Could we have had this all along?

What would that have been like?

I’m distracted by Baz trying to untangle our bodies.

“Oi, careful—” I angle my head back in time to just miss getting elbowed by him.

“Did I almost hit you?” Baz says with that prissy tone he sometimes gets. “Pity.” He gets himself free of me and the sheets and drags himself out of the bed.

“You'd regret it if the Anathema kicked in,” I point out. I roll into the cool spot where Baz’s body was and sigh contentedly.

“The Anathema doesn't trigger for accidentally hitting your roommate if they're in the same bloody bed as you.”

He's really leaning into the bitchy voice this morning, but I don't mind. I peer at the way his hair is sticking up all over the place, while he's turned away from me and busy pulling out his clothes for the day. I don't usually get to see his hair like that. I'm either out the door before he gets up, or he runs his fingers through it before even getting out of bed. (Merlin forbid if someone saw him imperfect.) So even though he sounds all pissy, I know his guard is down. I don't know what to think about that, so I don't.

“How do you know that?”

“Because you kneed me in the gut so hard last night, I woke up coughing.”

“No way!” I push myself up onto my elbows and gawk at him.

“I'm sure I have the bruise to prove it,” he says, but waves a hand to dismiss it. (Do vampires bruise?) “It doesn't matter. I'm merely relieved you slept at all.” He looks at me then, a silent question in his clear grey eyes.

I nod. “Yeah. Guess I must have, since that didn't wake me up.” I smile sheepishly at him. “Sorry bout that. And, uh, thanks.”

 

 

BAZ

It’s true—I am relieved he seems to have slept well. My own sleep was fitful at first, with Simon Snow so close and yet so far. The second I felt him doze off, I released him and rolled away. I’m not sure how long I slept for, but Snow’s soft whimpers pulled me back from my light sleep quickly.

I immediately found myself facing him again, pressing my fingers gently, urgently into his hair.

“It’s all right,” I whispered to him. “I’m there. Penny is there. You’re safe.” I could feel his body begin to unwind, his breaths evening out. “I’m there,” I continued to murmur. “You’re all right, Simon. I’ve got you.”

I continued to offer comfort with sleepy words and fingers through his heavenly curls. I continued even after he was clearly peacefully sleeping once more. I wouldn’t roll away again. I fell asleep peacefully too.

And the graceless clot kneed me in the gut shortly thereafter.

I didn’t mind, really.

 

 

SIMON

Baz turns away again. “Don't mention it.”

“You probably mean that literally.”

“Most assuredly.” He tucks his clothes under his arm and heads for the bathroom.

“Ah, wait, wait!” I scramble out of the bed. “Lemme use it fast.”

Baz scowls but allows me to hurriedly scoot past him. (I extra have to pee now that I'm vertical.)

I make quick work of it, and when I open the bathroom door, Baz moves to slip past me. I surprise him by leaning in the doorway, blocking him. He arches an eyebrow at me.

“What now, Snow?”

“Come to breakfast with me.”

Baz full on sneers. He hasn't done that in a while. (I kind of missed it.) (Which is weird.) “No. Move.”

“Baz, come on,” I groan.

He keeps sneering and his eyes flick around like he's plotting a way to get past me. I know that plotting look. I know all his plotting mannerisms. “You're going to be late for your scone scoffing session, Snow.”

“Nice alliteration, mate.” I grin as he rolls his eyes.

“I'm surprised you even know that word.”

Baz straightens up to his full height, and usually that might make me feel a certain way, but his messy hair and the line that a pillow crease pressed into his cheek are kind of ruining his menacing look. (He must have slept well too, I realize.) (Other than getting kneed in the stomach, that is.)

“Get out of my way and go stuff your face, you animal. Don't make me go get my wand.”

“I'll move if you promise to come to breakfast with me.” I'm really pushing it, and I know it. I don't care. I'm still grinning.

Baz exhales harshly. He angles his head and scowls. “What is this? What do you want?”

“Uh.” I blink. “To go to breakfast with you. I said that.”

Baz shakes his head. “Past that. Why? What do you actually want, Snow?”

That throws me. I don't get what he means at all. What do I want? I'm telling him exactly what I want. I frown at him—up at him.

Past what? Past breakfast? Past today?

“We're friends now,” I finally get out. “I want us to act like it.” My answer doesn’t quite satisfy the way I'm feeling. And from the way Baz’s frown deepens, it doesn't seem to be the answer he wants, either. But I'm blustering, and I needed to say something.

I feel like I need to say more, but I have no idea what that would be. Baz is working his jaw and giving me this look. It's this squinty kind of glare I've seen him chew on before delivering a particularly low blow and striding off with his victory.

I steel myself for it.

When Baz’s voice comes, it's low and icy. “Your smugness this morning is astounding.” His expression goes totally flat, not even bothering to scowl at me anymore. “And unearned. I'm not some foe you've vanquished. I'm not a trophy. You don't get to waltz around with me draped over you as evidence that you’ve bested another dark creature.”

Whatever it was I thought Baz was going to say, it definitely wasn't this. I can't handle all this emotional whiplash. It's stressful and weird and fucking annoying.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” I snarl. My skin is tingling. Baz’s expression stays blank, but I see his nostrils twitch. “I'm not like you, prick. I'm not over-analyzing every interaction with everybody. M’not always plotting and manipulating people. I don't see my friends as minions, you pretentious wanker. I like to spend time with my friends. Like normal fucking people! Not—not Normal, just—fuck!”

I seethe and push my hands into my hair. I smell like smoke. Don't do this. Don't freak out. It doesn't have to be like this—

“Snow.”

I whip my head up to glare at him. Baz’s face is drawn and tight. He looks pained. I don't care.

“What?” I say, and it comes out pretty soft. Without meaning for it to, all my agitation at him rushes out of me like an emptied balloon, and I'm just left feeling disappointed. In both of us.

He peers straight ahead, right over the top of my head. “If you're late to breakfast two days in a row, people are going think I've been poisoning you.” I bluster out an incoherent sound, but he keeps going. “We can discuss this another time.”

“When?” I press, even though this sucks and I'm wiped.

He still won't look at me. “To be determined.”

When?”

Baz flicks his eyes back down to me then, and he curls his lip. “You can't just growl the same things at me over and over and expect me to cave. Drop it. Go to breakfast. Spend time with your real friends.”

I groan noisily, but we both know I'm giving up. I slump and he shifts aside. We move past each other, and it feels like bitter defeat even though I can't figure out why. Can't even figure out how it turned into a battle to start with.

He's managing to make me feel a type of stupid I've never felt before. I didn't think there was any type of stupid Baz hasn't already made me feel, but here we are.

I start picking out my uniform for the day and try to tamper the confusing swirl of thoughts in my head. None of them are solid enough to grasp a hold of even if I wanted.

“Snow.”

I give him a withering glare over my shoulder. “What?”

Baz is hovering in the bathroom doorway, staring at the clothes he’s holding. “Let’s have Bunce up for a meeting this evening.”

Tension seeps out of my body. I release the death grip I didn’t realize I’d had on my school shirt (it was kind of wrinkled anyway).

“All right. Yeah. Yeah, let’s do that.”

Baz’s eyes find mine then. I try to smile. He nods once and then closes himself up in the bathroom.

I feel better. He’s not simply being an arsehole for the sake of it—waking up in bed together threw both of us for a loop, didn’t it? He’s confused too. I could see it in his face, even from across the room. I could see it in the line of his shoulders, and the way his thumb rubbed over the fabric of his neatly folded uniform, smoothing away invisible creases.

I smooth my own out and start getting dressed. Things will be better later. I know I’ll definitely feel better once I eat, and once I talk to Penny, too. We’ll have her over, and we’ll hopefully make some progress on the case, and then maybe Baz will be feeling friendly enough to even hang out with us a bit.

Maybe he’ll see we really can be friends—that it doesn’t have to be complicated.

There’s nothing to think about.

 

Chapter Text

BAZ

It’s beneath me to admit it, even within my own private thoughts, but I’m scared of going back to the room tonight. I’ve been far too soft on Snow lately, to the point that Dev and Niall have noticed; what little resolve I have against confessing my undying love to Snow has been drained away to a point wherein I don’t trust a single utterance towards him any more. I’ve already told him all of my other secrets—there’s only the big one left, and I don’t think either one of us could handle it.

After waking up with Snow in my arms this morning, and all the awkward conversation after, I couldn’t even risk my usual secretive glances his way throughout the day, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to cover it with a sneer like always. I’m teetering on the edge of falling into Snow’s welcoming inferno, my body flushed with heat from the simple thought of him. I’m scared to go back into that room and risk another tender evening.

How am I ever going to rid myself of remembering the feeling of his hair between my fingers? His body heat pressed up against me all night? His mouth-breathing on my neck? His warm, rough fingers on my side? His watery eyes begging me for comfort?

It’s hopeless.

Bunce came up after dinner. I don’t think Snow told her any details, but she was certainly being more amiable towards me than usual. The two of them are doing their damnedest to integrate me into their friend group entirely. It’s getting harder and harder to push them away.

Enemies was one thing. That was easy. It broke my heart sometimes (perhaps a little, all the time), but I could do it.

A truce was difficult. A fine line between staying cruel, but not so cruel that Snow would call the whole thing off.

Friends is impossible. I will begrudgingly admit that Bunce is smart as a whip and an utter delight, and my life would be much improved to have her friendship. Befriending Simon Snow, however, is a far different story

I should have never conceded. Now the muppet thinks we’re best mates—as if that somehow explains away falling asleep in each other’s arms last night. He’s so fucking thick. And I’m so terribly gone on him.

He runs into everything headfirst, with no plan of attack (and no plan of escape either). He follows the Mage’s orders, slays dark creatures, faces down the Humdrum, dates the perfect girl, and helps his nemesis solve a murder—all because he only views himself as the Chosen One. Everything he’s ever done since the Mage collected him all those years ago has been because he thought he had to or ought to. He can’t separate the difference between that and what he actually wants.

I don’t know how to make that clear to him.

When we’re alone at the top of Mummer’s, being soft and helping each other, nothing’s the same. He’s not the Chosen One—he’s just a boy.

A boy too stupid to realize I’m in love with him (and, Merlin, have I not been subtle about it lately). A boy too stubborn, too set, too self-sacrificing to realize he’s starting down a path he might not want to take.

I walked Bunce out this evening—it’s a nice pattern we’ve found ourselves in. I keep hoping I’ll find some trick to how she infiltrates the boys’ dorms, but no such luck yet. She went her way, to the Cloisters—I went mine, to the Catacombs.

But now it’s late, and between my own night terrors and Snow’s, I haven’t gotten much sleep lately. My waking hours are more exhausting than usual too, what with all my strength spent on micro-managing my every interaction with Snow and desperately searching for my mother’s murderer (and the mastermind behind my kidnapping now, too). I can’t very well sleep in the Catacombs—the idea is disgusting, and besides that, my injured leg would never allow for a moment’s comfort on the hard floor, even with softening spells. (And, while I don’t think Mother is looking down on high somewhere, it does seem far too pathetic to have to sleep outside her grave because I’m too weak to face my own roommate.)

I drag myself back up the steps of Mummer’s House, treading quietly. It’s well past two, far later than I ever return. Hopefully Snow is asleep, and hopefully I won’t wake him upon entering, and hopefully we’ll both be graced with peaceful rest tonight. Come morning, I’ll tug my blankets over my head while he crashes about like a bull, and then I’ll ignore him all through breakfast and classes tomorrow. After that…well. Rinse and repeat, perhaps? Until I’m feeling steady enough, this morning’s intimacies far away enough, to brave spending time with him without Bunce as a buffer. The Holidays begin soon anyway. Surely I can maintain this for that long.

It’s a good plan. But, like most of my plans involving him, Simon Snow has immediately ruined it. Upon quietly opening the door to our room, I find him in my bed, arms curled around my pillow, breathing and drooling all over it, and I know I’m well and truly fucked.

I hesitate by the door, afraid to move any closer.

I should go. I should sleep on the floor of the Catacombs after all. (“Sorry, Mother, but my roommate looked far too delectable this evening. Not because I’m a vampire, but because I’m gay and hopeless. You understand, right?”)

Instead, I pick up my pyjamas and slip into the bathroom to change. Far too quickly, I find myself hovering near my bed, watching Simon Snow sleep.

I’ve watched him sleep hundreds of times by now—this is entirely different. He’s in my bed, gripping my pillow, and so painfully close. I can't even bring myself to be disgusted by the pool of saliva. My fingers jump with the desire to brush back his curls. (Again. Because I've done that now.)

“Snow,” I say far less firmly than I'd like. “Snow, wake up.” He smacks his lips, shifts, and settles back in. He looks like he doesn't have a care in the world.

I should let him sleep. With everything that's been plaguing us lately, I should let him enjoy this peaceful reprieve. It does, however, remind me of the question I should be asking: why the fuck is Simon Snow in my bed?

I feel a wave of guilt wash over me. Did he wake up with a nightmare while I was out? Did he wish I was here? Did he crawl into my bed to eke what little comfort from my pillow he could?

It's unbearable to consider. How am I supposed to continue on with pretending to hate him when he does shit like this?

I should leave. Or sleep in his bed instead. I definitely shouldn't crawl in with him.

“Snow,” I say again, more forcibly. I plant my hand on his shoulder. “Wake up.” I don't need to shake—he blinks up at me blearily right away. And then he graces me with a sleep-drunk smile that makes my stomach drop through the floor.

Baz....”

“Did you have a nightmare?”

Snow presses his face against the pillow in a groggy head shake.

“Then why are you defiling my pillow like a slovenly dog?”

Snow grunts and releases the offended pillow, propping himself up on one elbow and shrugging aggressively with the other. Short on words tonight, it seems.

“Get out of my bed, Snow.”

He stares up at me, gaze thick with sleep. Even so, there's a subtle glint in his eyes, too. “What if I don't want to?”

I clench my jaw. Damn him for that.

“You're a nightmare,” I gripe. There's so many things I should do right now, but instead I relent, because I'm endlessly weak, and I crawl into bed with him. I flip the pillow over. (Disgusting.)

“Nightmare cure,” Snow corrects. He settles back down into my bed like it's the most natural thing in the world.

“Debatable.”

“Didn't have one last night, did you?”

“That's hardly revolutionary.”

“Shut, shh, shut up.” Snow, seemingly too tired or stupid (or both) (likely both) to be embarrassed, flings an arm over my waist and tucks in too close.

I don't know what I'm thinking, allowing any of this to happen. I don't know what he's thinking. I can't fathom what he wants.

(“What If I don't want to?” he said. Which suggests he's exactly where he wants to be. That this is what he wants. And that thought is more unbearable than anything else so far.)

I'm stiff, lying on my back, unable to reciprocate—unable to breathe. But Snow is having none of it. He shoves at me, forcing me to roll onto my side away from him. I grunt, but before I can really protest, he shocks me silent by spooning up against my back. It's not too close or too tight, but it's certainly spooning just the same. I think perhaps I've died again.

“Don't sleep on your back,” he murmurs. “It's a bed, not a coffin.”

I swallow back the swell of emotion threatening to burst out of me and close my eyes.

“Night, Baz,” he says softly, breath fluttering my hair.

 

SIMON

When I wake up come morning, we’re somehow even closer together than we were when falling asleep. I’m pressed up along his back real snug like, but thank magic we’re fairly separate in the hip region. (I’m not sure what I’d do if I woke up with anyone pressed that close, forget Baz of all people.) Our ankles are tangled together, though—skin against skin where our pyjama bottoms have shifted up some.

And speaking of skin…it seems like my fingers found their way in between the buttons of Baz’s shirt at some point. I can feel the slight movements of his warm stomach, rising and falling with each shallow breath. At least he’s finally warm.

I can see a peek of his nape, just a hint of pale skin, and I wonder what temperature he is there. Warm only where I’m touching him? Or has the warmth diffused all over? Or maybe he’s extra warm there, from me breathing on his neck all night?

I probably shouldn’t be thinking about Baz’s skin.

I don’t exactly want to wake him up, but the day isn’t going to wait for us, and I refuse to be late to breakfast again. So I shift the absolute minimal amount to be able to see the clock. Perfect. Breakfast doesn’t start for a little bit yet.

As I settle back in, Baz’s shallow breathing changes: one slow, deep inhale followed by a more measured pattern. He’s awake. Right when I was thinking maybe we could stay like this a bit longer....

Maybe Baz is thinking the same thing though, because he doesn’t move. So I decide not to, either. Well…except for my fingers. I don’t mean to do it, and it takes me a long moment to even realize I’m doing it, but I’m kind of lightly petting Baz’s stomach. My finger tips are just barely circling his soft skin. And now that I have realized I’m doing it, I’m afraid to stop.

Is he this soft all over? Everywhere except his hands? I know his hands are rough and calloused. He’s probably like a cat—rough paw pads, soft and pettable everywhere else.

Cat’s have rough tongues too, don’t they? Baz definitely has a sharp tongue. Maybe that’s similar enough.

I probably shouldn’t be thinking about Baz’s tongue.

We lay like that for a while. It’s hard to tell how long really—I assume only five or ten minutes. Which is a lot longer than it seems. Like this, it seems like infinity. In a really good way.

But we can’t actually stay like this forever. I’m not sure what’s gonna happen once we get up, but just thinking about it isn’t going to do me any good. Might as well get on with it.

I grunt and shift and act like I’m just coming to. “Hey,” I say, voice rough from sleep. “Rise and shine.” I stretch back and away from Baz, unraveling us.

He grunts and shifts in return, like he just woke up, too.

“See? No nightmares last night. We found a cure.” I beam up at Baz as he pushes himself into a sitting position.

He rubs a hand over his face before giving me a withering look. “Three nights is too small a sample size for such a bold claim.”

“Are you saying we need a bigger sample size?” I'm pushing it, and he knows I know it, because I can feel the way my cheeks are all scrunched up with how big I'm grinning.

“Statistically? Yes. Realistically? Absolutely not.”

“C’mon, it's for science.”

“If I find you in my bed again, I'm throwing you out the window. See how the merwolves effect your nightmares.” Baz gets out of the bed swiftly and starts pulling out his uniform for the day.

Usually, I'd bluster or get offended, but I could tell there was no real malice behind his threat.

It all feels ridiculous. And good. Lazily waking up with him, lounging in Baz’s bed, watching him get ready for class.... Yesterday morning and now, experiencing him like this, have altered my view of him more than even the late night talks.

I could get used to this. I want to get used to this.

“Come to breakfast with me,” I say without thinking.

“No.”

“Baz, what the fuck.”

He glares at me from over his shoulder. “Have you forgotten we're supposed to be enemies?”

“Uh, yeah, because we're super fucking not, mate. Not for a while now. You said it yourself.”

Baz scowls and snatches his clothes to his chest. “No. Stop asking.”

“Wait!” I scramble up in his bed as he storms off towards the bathroom. “Why is it such a big deal to you?”

He pauses, but doesn’t turn to face me. “Why is it such a big deal to you?”

“I dunno. I just, uh....”

“Spit it out.”

“I…want this.”

I'm looking down at my hands—hands that were on Baz’s stomach only a few minutes ago.

I want this.

It feels like a revelation. Like I just woke up for the first time in years.

“You want what?” Baz’s voice feels far away. And soft. Maybe scared. Or maybe I'm scared.

“I want more mornings like this. I want this Baz, who says shitty things but with a smile and not a sneer—who lets me sleep in his bed because I'm scared of the Humdrum and my future—who tells me he'll protect me, but also wants me to grow a pair and fight for what I want.”

I feel dizzy and like it's all being pulled out of me at once—words and feelings and I dunno what.

I look over at him, wide-eyed. He's so fucking far away. He’s turned to stare at me, and he looks like I just punched him. I can't have him this far away, not now, not when I'm on the verge of something—

“I want you back in this bed, right now.”

 

 

BAZ

Forget throwing Snow out of the window, I'm going to throw myself.

“Aleister Crowley, Snow, do you hear yourself?” I feel on the edge of panic. I clutch my clothes tighter to keep my hands from shaking.

I can't do this. I can't listen to him say these things, as if he really does want me the way I want him. It's torture.

Snow’s gaze roots me into place. “Yeah, I do. Get over here.”

Whether to obey or to flee, I fear my knees will buckle if I attempt a single step. “And then what?”

He just shrugs. I scoff. A shrug isn’t going to do it. That’s not a good enough answer. Not for this. He can’t just shrug while I’m dangling off the precipice, the flames of him dancing below me, licking at my feet.

This is a nightmare.” My voice doesn’t sound like my own, clipped and hollow. I’d almost believe it hadn’t come from me, if I didn’t so clearly see the way Snow’s expression pinches up at the sound of it.

“This is a fucking waking nightmare.” I don’t want to say this. I don’t want to see the confusion and hurt contorting his face.

I flee for the bathroom, because I’m a persistent disappointment to us both, and I’m too much of a coward to face what I’ve done.

“Baz!”

I slam the door shut, locking it, and throw down my clothes. I immediately regret not having my wand—I could have spelled the room silent, so that I wouldn’t have to hear Snow yelling my name over and over.

“Baz!” He bangs on the door. “Open up, we need to talk!”

“You’re shit at talking!” I growl. I push my hands through my hair and tug. Merlin and Morgana, Basilton, get a hold of yourself—

You’re shit at talking!” he blusters back.

This is so aggressively stupid—

“Go away!” I head for the shower—maybe the sound of the water will drown him out some.

Open the door!”

There’s a crash behind me, and I’m so on edge, it nearly sends me out of my skin. I gasp and wheel around, heart pounding harder than I thought it was capable of. The door is flung open, crashed into the wall, and Snow is standing there, ruddy and wild eyed and leaking magic so much he’s glowing.

“Suh-sorry.” His eyes flick to the door, panicked. He’s panting. “I didn’t mean to—I just want to talk to you. I want to know what you meant—”

“What I meant?” I laugh, hysterical and bitter. “You’re clingy and stupid and have no concept of either of our feelings, and you just invaded my privacy by spelling open the door without a wand, and you want to know what I meant when I said this is a fucking nightmare?”

The air around Snow shimmers.

This is it. This is how I’m going to die. I always knew it would be by Snow’s hands, but I didn’t think it would be like this, in the bathroom, still in my pyjamas. I won’t make a gorgeous corpse like this—all I’ll be is ash.

“What the fuck is your problem?” he roars. He clutches the door frame with a furious grip. If he starts sparking, the old wood will catch on fire immediately.

If Snow goes off, will the Anathema even know how to react? Or will the dorm be so decimated that the spell is taken out with it?

I’d be worried for the safety of everyone else in the building, but I know they’ll all be unharmed. Even when Snow is blanking out and exploding like a supernova, he still manages to protect others.

Not me, though. This won’t be like the chimera. I won’t be safe from his blast. I’m the target this time.

I wanted this to end in a duel. I wanted to champion the Old Families’ cause, and lose spectacularly, and guarantee Snow’s safety from them—at least for a little while.

But I’m not Snow. I’m not a hero. I can’t guarantee anyone’s safety.

I’m a callous monster in more ways than one, who can’t fathom how to accept the friendship of someone so pure and beautiful and full of life. So I hurt him and hurt him, until he has no other choice.

Merlin....

I’m worse than the Mage.

I promised he wouldn’t be alone. I promised I'd be there for him. Pitches are supposed to be loyal.

I can't leave him now, thinking that he only has one person in his corner. I have a family. I have friends. Snow has nothing and no one except Bunce. And I promised him.

I don't want to die like this.

I feel a hot wave of fear and shame rush up my throat. I take a half step forward and ignore the stinging in my eyes.

“Snow—” I choke out.

No,” he snarls. “You had your chance.”

The air around him is rippling wildly. The stench of his magic is so strong, I have no doubt everyone in the building is getting drunk off it. A spark lands harmlessly on the tiled bathroom floor.

“You're gonna shut the fuck up. And I'm gonna talk, and you're gonna listen, you got it?”

I nod, fast and eager.

It’s supposed to end with his sword. It can't end in flames.

 

SIMON

Baz looks fucking terrified, and I think maybe he might start crying, and honestly? Good.

I'm not letting him avoid this any longer.

“You want to know what I want, Baz? It's not fucking this, let's start there.” I release the door frame and take a step towards him. He backs up the half-step he took, but holds his ground otherwise. “I don't want to think of you as a villain. I don't want us to fight. I want us to be friends, be close. And not just when we're holed up in this room together.”

Baz opens his mouth to say something, but is smart enough to snap it shut. I try to pull my magic back—he’s got me buzzing like a flibbertigibbet, but I don't want to go off. I meant it—I don't want to fight with him.

“And when we are in here,” I continue, “I want us to be even closer. I want to learn all about you. Almost eight fucking years with you, Baz, eight years of following you around, and I'm only just starting to figure out who you are.”

When I step forward this time, Baz does back up. The bathroom isn't that big. Still, I can tell he's plotting. Not because he's doing that thing where his eyes dart around for a moment—no, he's holding my gaze too fiercely for that—but because in my hazy peripheral vision I can see his index finger lightly tapping at his leg. Definitely plotting. He’s not just backing up, he's going to the side, trying to slowly circle around between me and the sink, probably to get closer to the door. The crafty fuck.

“I want to keep helping each other.” I step again, angling my body open so he has more room to get to the sink. His expression twitches for a second, but he moves a step anyway.

Perfect. That's where I want him, too.

“I want to figure out who hurt your mum and who kidnapped you. I want to fight the Humdrum together. I want to talk you down when you've had a nightmare. I want to be right there, to keep us both sleeping better.”

We keep shifting in small ways, until he's just close enough to the sink—

I rush him. He's a vampire, I know he can move faster than me—but he doesn't. He flinches and presses his back up to the sink, and I'm on him as quick as I can, grabbing the sink on either side of him, pinning him.

(I don't think he has his wand up his sleeve—he probably would have used it by now. He'll have to invoke the Anathema if he wants to get rid of me.) (I don't think he wants to get rid of me.)

“I want to push our beds together and keep them there.”

“Snow—”

“I want every night with you. I want you to cool me down and me to warm you up. I want to wake up to your bed-head.”

“Aleister fucking Crowley—”

“Shut up,” I growl. “I'm not done.”

I don't know how I'm not done. I don't know how I'm saying any of this. I think it's the most I've ever spoken in one go. All the words, all the wants, have bubbled up in me, spilling out of my mouth, uncontrollable like my magic. There's no stopping it now.

“I want to sit with you and Penny at meals. Fuck, Dev and Niall too, if that works out. I want my clothes to smell like you.”

Snow—”

“Shut. Up.” I lean into Baz’s space more. I watch him bite his lip. “I want you to stop hiding from me. I want you to feel comfortable around me. I want to laugh with you, make you smile. I want....”

I'm dazed and short on breath. I'm going off in a totally new way. I don't know how to get it all out. It's not enough. The list of all the things I haven't been letting myself want is too long—too impossible to say it all. I don't know how to release it.

“I want you, Baz Pitch.”

It's true, I know that now. It's always been true.

And it's still not enough.

 

BAZ

Simon’s words sear me deep. I recoil, pressing myself back against the sink harder, grimacing. He's not sparking or even glowing anymore, but I'm no less fearful of immolation. Simon Snow’s words are going to burn me alive.

“You have no idea what you're saying,” I hiss.

Snow unleashes a full on snarl. “You're a proper fucking idiot.”

The next thing I know, he's grabbing me by the collar of my pyjamas. His one hand fists at the fabric, and his other hangs tensely in the air. I can see the furious spinning of the gears in his head, eyes blazing with it.

Merlin, enduring his little speech has been the most painful experience of my life, and that's a high bar to cross. And now the fucking numpty is going to smash my face in.

“Simon, don't!” I gasp—it's a desperate choking sound. “The Anathema—”

“You still don't get it!”

And then Simon Snow does indeed smash into my face.

With his mouth.

 

SIMON

I had to kiss him. He was being thick as all get out, and I think I really might have exploded if he said one more stupid thing. My own words weren't enough, anyway.

Kissing Baz is no less of a struggle than anything else with him. He's tense and doesn't reciprocate for a heart-stopping moment—I worry I've got this all wrong—but then my head is shoved back as he pushes forward hard with his mouth.

 

BAZ

Snow growls against my mouth, the sound making lava burst up from my belly. I think I really might combust, but suddenly I don't care. Nothing matters. Because Simon Snow is kissing me.

Simon Snow is kissing me.

His hand in my shirt yanks harder, and his other hand grabs at the back of my neck. I emit a frightfully embarrassing sound.

I don't know what to do with my hands, so I clutch the sink (and frankly, I need the support to not collapse). I try to focus on the movements of my lips. Snow has practice in this, and fuck it's good.

My brain is melting away, my entire existence narrowed into the sensation of Snow’s chapped lips dragging against mine. The way he's working his jaw. The heat of his hand on my neck.

The pounding of his pulse in my ears.

The hot rush of his blood—

 

SIMON

I've got no idea how long Baz and I messily, angrily pull at each other's lips, but it's definitely not long enough, and I still want more.

I press closer until our chests are flush. I shove both my hands into his hair (Crowley, I've wanted to touch his hair for so long), and I press my tongue against his lips.

Baz gasps. It's the best sound I've ever heard. I use it as my opening, slipping my tongue inside. He full on moans, and no, fuck, that's the best sound I've ever heard.

I barely get a second to enjoy the feeling of the inside of Baz’s mouth, before he's got his fingers dug into my shoulders and is shoving me away hard. He holds me back with one strong hand and whips his head away, covering his mouth.

 

BAZ

My body is thrumming and flushed, everything crying out for more of him, but I can't. It's all too much. He doesn't have his cross on—he never put it back on after that first night in my bed. I'm pathetic and frazzled and a monster—and his tongue in my mouth was the breaking point.

“Baz.”

I squeeze my eyes shut. I have to get control over my breathing. My fangs didn't come forth, but I can feel the heralding drawing sensation in my gums. It was too close.

I wince when Simon takes my wrist to lower the arm keeping him away. He invades my space again. I open my eyes to shoot him a look that's supposed to be withering but I fear is panicked instead.

“Hey, it's okay,” he says.

He reaches for my other wrist. I let him, but only because the fangs aren't there.

The glorious fool smiles at me—this soft, glowing smile.

“It's okay.” He really does think that repeating things will bend them to his will, doesn't he? I suppose I might too, if I could spell open doors without a wand and kiss my nemesis senseless merely because I want it bad enough.

(He wants this.)

“It's not,” I protest weakly.

He moves up to kiss me again. Never in my life did I think I would have to fight against Snow kissing me.

Snow grunts when I turn my face away to rebuke him, but the courageous fuck doesn't let it discourage him. He kisses my cheek instead, then my jaw, under my ear, my neck....

I gasp his name and grip the sink anew.

“We can't—”

“Why not?”

Snow takes my face into his hands. When he kisses me this time, I can't bring myself to turn my lips away.

“I'll hurt you,” I whisper against his mouth.

“No you won't.”

“I'm a vampire.”

“S’okay.”

Short kisses, between breathy words.

“I'm always hurting you.”

“Shh.” A fuller kiss. “Baz....”

“I'm a monster.”

Simon runs his hands through my hair, gently kneading his fingers along my scalp as he goes.

“No, you're not. You're just a bloke.” Simon grins against my mouth, then pulls back because he's grinning too much. “A shitty arse of a bloke.”

I frown.

“A bloke I want to snog.” He laughs. “Merlin, I want to snog a bloke.”

He's an idiot. I tell him so.

 

 

SIMON

“You're divinely idiotic.”

The way Baz purrs it makes his words sound like the most romantic compliment in the word. And then he kisses me.

I think this is what swooning feels like.

We kiss and kiss, softer and slower than before, and this time when it gets a bit too much for him, he doesn't shove me off. He just breathes hard and angles his head away some—giving me room to explore his neck properly.

I press up against him, full on. He sags—I don't know if it's because he wants a better angle, or because his knees are buckling. (I know my knees are nearly buckling.)

I run my hands over the tense lines of his back, down his arms that are still gripping the sink, along his sides and slender hips. The skin of his neck is cool under my lips. I'm taking great satisfaction in kissing and suckling at his skin, watching colour flush to the surface. I find myself wondering again if vampires can bruise.

I can’t begin to wrap my mind around what this feels like. It’s like I’m burning up and sparking with electricity and drowning all at once.

“Right where I want you…,” I sigh against his neck. “Finally got you right where I want you.”

Baz shivers. His arms are trembling with how hard he’s leaning into his grip on the sink. He lets his head flop near my neck. I can feel his soft huffs against my skin, but no closer. He’s still holding back.

“You’re not gonna bite me, are you, Baz.” It’s not a question. I slide a hand up from his hip, along his front the entire way until I curl my reach to the back of his neck. I coax him closer. “We’re done hurting each other.”

Baz keens softly—and then, like something snapped in him, he’s pushing his face into the crook of my neck and kissing hard and breathing me in. He finally releases the bloody sink and grabs me real rough like, hands gripping my arse and yanking me to him harder.

“Speak for yourself,” he growls while dragging his front teeth lightly along my earlobe. It’s rough and gentle all at once. Every nerve-ending lights up, and I think I’m moments away from making an incredible embarrassment of myself, but I don’t care.

I let myself groan. He ravishes my neck and ear and jaw, and I’m not afraid of him at all. His lips are warm from all the snogging, but still cooler than me—I’m flushed all over. I’m so heated and dizzy, my magic starts bubbling up again. I worry I’m gonna have to be the one to break away this time (I don’t ever want to break away), but he eases up without me having to say anything. His arms loosely circle my waist, and his open-mouthed kisses turn into long, tender presses of his lips, dancing over my skin, jumping from place to place in a pattern I don’t understand.

I had no idea I could want something this much.

Baz kisses my cheek, the corner of my mouth. I kiss him proper and press against him, wrestling control in my favor again, until I’ve got him slumping more and leaning back—I practically fold him over the sink.

He groans a complaint into my mouth, even though he’s shoving his hand into my hair and clutching me closer by the shoulder.

I can feel Baz’s legs getting weak from the rough angle. I suddenly remember that he’s still got that injury—this is probably killing him. The second I ease back though, he chases my lips.

“Simon—”

Fuck that’s good.

“Right here,” I say as I lean back more. He goes after me for another kiss.

Simon....”

“How long?”

We hold each other’s faces, tracing jaws and playing through each other’s hair. He presses his forehead to mine, and I lightly nudge my nose against his.

“Baz,” I murmur, because he isn’t answering me.

He opens his eyes. If I had any doubts at all about how right this is (which I don’t), they’d definitely be gone after seeing that look in his eyes. They’re all soft, a cozy grey like a soothing summer rainstorm, pupils wide.

“How long have you wanted this?”

Baz sighs and closes his eyes again. “Too long.”

“How long?”

“You’re insufferable.” I kiss the sneer off his lips. (I can do that now.) “So long....”

“Baz.”

“Since…fifth year…maybe even the beginning.”

Merlin....

He’s wanted this all these years?

Now I get why Baz has been so cagey about us getting close. He’s been watching me venture into dangerous waters, with no concept of whether I really wanted to heed the siren’s song.

I do.

Baz’s flushed, full lips call out for me, pulling me back in. I willingly let myself drown in another kiss. He doesn’t let me drift at sea long though, pushing me off all of a sudden.

“Snow, we have to stop—”

“No fucking way,” I snarl.

Baz actually laughs, the absolute git. He grabs my jaw and shoves, giving me a wicked smirk. “Don’t give me that, you incorrigible muppet. This sink is killing my arse.” I let him nudge me back. “And more pressingly for you, we’re extremely late for breakfast. If we haven’t missed it entirely.”

 

BAZ

Snow releases a truly animalistic noise over the prospect of having missed breakfast. He pulls at his face in dismay before fleeing from the bathroom. I have no idea what I see in him. (Everything.)

As much as I'm loathe to be separated from him, it's good to have the moment to catch my breath. I'm absolutely undone—my hair is tousled, my pyjamas are crumpled, my mouth is sore, my leg is sore, my arse is sore—and I'm on fucking cloud nine. I need to get a hold of myself.

“No, it's okay!” Snow hollers from the bedroom. “We've still got a half hour! Hurry up!”

“Right, right, I'll be quick.”

I shut the door and finally take the shower I came in here for originally. I don't actually want to miss breakfast entirely—some tea and a pocketed bacon buttie would be sublime. Still, I'm not particularly good at rushing through my showers. And my thoughts keep drifting to the unfathomable whirlwind of events this morning.

I'm also stalled by the nagging concern of what awaits me once I leave this room.

I’m still a Pitch. He’s still the Mage’s Heir.

I swear only three minutes pass before Snow is banging on the door and yelling at me to hurry. Of course he can’t give me a moment’s peace to suss this out.

While I opt to ignore him, I do hurry. I dry off and dress swiftly, checking myself in the mirror. Absolutely nothing about me is outwardly changed, yet I don't recognize myself at all.

As I start to figure out how to make the shortest work possible of doing my hair, Snow is pounding the poor, abused door again.

“Leave your hair alone, you poof. There's no time!”

I yank open the door and hiss at him. “You and I have very different priorities.”

Snow beams at me. “I like your hair better down.”

I sneer. It's tempting to gel it back out of spite, but it's nigh impossible to drum up an emotion like that when my brain is short-circuiting over Snow glowing at me while giving me any sort of compliment—especially from lips still red from snogging me senseless.

“You're hardly the authority on style.” I brush past him and work at getting on my shoes.

Snow’s shoes are already on, and his clothes and bag are thrown over his body with no great care. He waits all of fifteen seconds before complaining again. “Merlin's beard, hurry up, will you?” He paces in front of the door.

“I'm not keeping you,” I point out. I take my time getting my bag together.

Snow growls at me. “You're coming to breakfast with me this time.”

I give him a long, cool look.

“Don't you give me that, Basilton Pitch.” He takes his fighting stance, jutting out his chin. (His chin that I've kissed.) (I want to kiss it again.) (Can I do that now?) (But he said it himself—I’m still a Pitch, and he’s—)

"Or you’ll do what?”

Snow starts whinging. “Baz, there’s no time! We’re gonna miss breakfast!”

I can’t help it. I want to keep teasing him. I don’t know if it’s sadism or masochism, or some disturbed combination of the two.

No. It’s self-destruction, is what it is. It’s me not wanting to let myself have something, be happy. But if it’s not just me who wants it, then....

I smirk and sling my bag on my shoulder. Snow looks uneasy as I puff myself up and stare down my nose at him.

“Ask me properly.”

Snow growls again. “Will you come to breakfast with me?” he bites out.

“No—ask me for what you really want.”

He blinks at me, mouth hanging open, the froggy idiot. Then, I see it dawn upon him, the realization darkening his cheeks and hardening his resolve.

Snow thrusts out his jaw again—and his hand.

“Will you be my boyfriend?”

It takes every last drop of my weakened resolve to not collapse into tears. Or shove him against the door for another snogging session.

I look at his hand. “You’re a self-professed terrible boyfriend,” I say, because I’m impossible and more of a fool than Snow ever has been.

Snow takes a step towards me and shoves his hand at me more aggressively. When I look at his expression though, his eyes are wide and soft.

He means this. He wants this.

“Baz…,” he says, with unfathomable patience. (I can’t believe he’s let me keep him from food this long.) “Will you let me be your terrible boyfriend?”

I swallow down the tight lump in my throat.

 

SIMON

Baz’s face pinches in that way where it looks like he wants to punch me (or maybe I’ve been reading it wrong the whole time, and it means he wants to kiss me). But he also looks like he might sick up, or wants the ground to swallow him whole, or something—it’s definitely not an expression I’ve seen on him before.

He steps closer.

I think maybe he really is going to punch me, and then maybe finish it off with a kiss. I think maybe I wouldn’t mind that. Though, really, just the kiss would be great.

(Merlin. I want to kiss him so much. I want to keep kissing him until our jaws are sore. And then more, until the shivers and heat fade away into something dull and cozy. I want to kiss him until I can completely take it for granted. I want it to be our new normal.)

Baz does neither of the things I expect him to do. He simply puts his hand in mine.

“Far be it from me to deny Simon Snow what he wants.”

My skin lights up, hairs standing on end.

I yank him close and shove a searing kiss to his cool lips. It’s a quick one. All that snogging I want will have to come later.

Right now, all I really want is to get him out of this room, with me, hand in hand, and go to breakfast.

Breakfast with Baz.

With my boyfriend.

And I’m finally getting exactly what I want.