They’re lying in one of Whitespire’s rooftop gardens. They’ve been spending a lot of their time here lately, here or other various meadows, terraces, glens and wide sunny courtyards thanks to Eliot’s recent post-Monster aversion to enclosed spaces. Q thinks that Eliot would even sleep outside at night if given the option, but they’re smack dab in the middle of Fillory’s rainy season and Eliot’s body is still healing. Even if they dragged a canopied bed outside he’d still worry about Eliot catching a chill, so instead they’ve come to a compromise where Q lets Eliot throw open every window in their rooms and the doors to their balcony at night and Q can bank up the fires in both fireplaces and pile their bed high with quilts and coddle Eliot a bit. He also knows that Margo has placed extra guards on the grounds below their rooms and up on the ramparts above, just in case, but he hasn’t mentioned it and if Eliot has noticed he hasn’t said anything either. He and Margo are like that sometimes.
Today it’s just the three of them, Eliot, Margo and Q. Julia is back on Earth, helping Kady take the next steps forward with her Hedge revolution along with Alice, Penny 23 and a very reluctant Marina. Q knows inevitably he and Eliot will join them, but for now they’ve been given a brief reprieve from plotting and danger to let Eliot’s body and his magic heal while High King Margo retook her throne alongside High Queen Fen and tries to get the kingdom back in order. It’s a rare sunny day today, and Q means to enjoy every moment of warmth and light, although there are large umbrellas nearby just in case the weather takes a turn. Eliot looks like a housecat, sprawling his entire length across the warm sunny grass at the center of the garden, eyes squeezed shut against the brightness and his arms reaching up every so often, stretching luxuriously, fingers just brushing against the soft petals of the flowers nearby.
They are far enough away from their ordeal with the Monster that Q doesn’t feel quite as compelled to have at least one hand touching Eliot at all times, just to make sure he’s there, but that just means he gets to reach across the few feet between them and gently lay a hand on Eliot’s stomach just for pleasure, not reassurance. Eliot, in a response that Q had anticipated, reacts by grabbing Q’s arm and dragging him in close.
“Grass stains,” Q admonishes gently, and Eliot opens his eyes just long enough to roll them.
“I know that somewhere in the past a younger version of me is feeling a frisson of horror and he doesn’t know why, but honestly Q I couldn’t give less of a fuck about our clothes right now,” Eliot says. He kisses Quentin’s forehead gently before letting his head fall back against the grass, this time closing his eyes with a slight smile on his face. Q smiles up at him too before resting his head on Eliot’s chest, happy and comfortable.
“There either needs to be considerably more of that or considerably less of it,” Margo intones from the cushioned daybed nearby where she’s lounging, drink in hand. “All this cutesy shit is making me sick. Either bone or cut it out.”
“In this castle we appreciate and respect the art of non-coital cuddling,” Eliot replies mildly.
“Okay, that’s it,” Margo says, setting down her glass and swinging her legs down to stand. “I’m going to find Josh, see if his latest batch of edibles is ready.”
“Have fun,” Quentin tells her as she pauses to lean down and ruffle Eliot’s hair and pat Q’s cheek.
“I fuckin’ will,” Margo says. “Fen and I have literally opposite tolerance levels to this shit which makes us good test subjects for when Josh is trying to figure out the right dosages for his psychedelic Fillorian baked goods apparently. A good time will be had by all.”
“A good time, or a good time?” Eliot asks, opening one eye and raising an eyebrow.
“Don’t you take that tone with me,” Margo says, pointing sharply. “I can have good times with anyone and everyone I want.”
“Seems to me that circle has been a tad more limited lately. I’m just curious about when you’re gonna make an honest woman of Fen,” Eliot says. “She did sign up to marry the High King of Fillory and I’m afraid I’ve fallen down, quite literally, on the job.”
“Oh I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually,” Margo sighs. “I mean you and I share literally everything else, might as well share a wife. And as long as he’s rich in hydroponics and magic, it’s not like Josh will object.”
“There are worse fates,” Eliot says.
“Yeah, there are,” Margo says fondly. “You two lazy fuckheads sure you don’t want to join?”
“I think my days of hallucinogens and moresomes are over, sadly,” Eliot says, although the look he shoots at Q says he’s feeling anything but. Q feels his heart swell, and it must show all over his face because Margo just mutters suit yourself and finally leaves.
“I’ve been thinking,” Eliot says, after they spend a few more minutes lazing in the sun.
“That lying in the grass is getting uncomfortable and now that Margo gave up the couch we can steal it?” Q asks.
“Well that too,” Eliot says, amusement clear in his voice. “But actually I’ve been thinking about things on a slightly more long term scale.”
“Oh?” Quentin says. When they’d gotten here Eliot had still been weak and they’d all been traumatized and Margo had simply declared that they were going to stay ‘indefinitely’. Since then Q has been taking it day by day, too relieved to have Eliot back and to watch the color return to his cheeks and see the light rekindling in his eyes to think about what might come next.
“As much as I’d like to, I don’t think we can just spend the rest of our lives lazing about the castle as ex-Kings while Margo and Fen run things for us,” Eliot starts.
“I mean, I kinda feel like we could…” Quentin says, grinning.
“Okay maybe we could, but unfortunately the newly mature me thinks we probably shouldn’t,” Eliot says. “And I’m sure you’d go stir crazy after a while once you inevitably read every book in the place.”
“That’s probably true,” Q reluctantly agrees. “So what are you thinking.”
“Well I know eventually we’ll get sucked back into all that Earth drama,” Eliot says with a sigh. He shifts his arms so he can tuck Q even closer against him, his heart beating comfortingly under Q’s hand. “I know you aren’t the type to leave your friends behind when they need help, and much as I’m loathe to admit it, neither am I.”
“Well I’ve always known that,” Quentin says.
“You have, haven’t you,” Eliot says wonderingly. Sometimes he gets like that, his expression and voice making it seem like Q is some kind of revelation, and Q holds those moments deep in his heart to keep him warm during his darkest moments. “So eventually when they need us, we’ll go back to Earth. But they haven’t called for us yet, and after everything I don’t think I’m quite ready to go back anyways.”
“So what’s the plan then?” Q asks.
“Well Fillory is a big place, and we haven’t explored even half of it,” Eliot says. “And honestly most of what we have seen of Fillory has been in the midst of some kind of life threatening quest, war or otherwise traumatizing event. I know you probably have a long list of tourist hotspots from the books you’re just dying to check out. So I figured, while we have the time maybe we could check off a few more Fillorian wonders from your list.”
“You’d really travel around Fillory with me so I can talk your ear off about everything that’s happened in the book series as we figure out if they really happened or not?” Quentin asks, unable to hide his excitement. “Because I quite literally do have a list.”
“Going on a prolonged vacation in a magical realm with you? I can’t think of anything I’d rather do more,” Eliot says.
“Honestly, if I wasn’t already in love with you, this would definitely do it,” Q says. Eliot laughs, sitting up and pulling Q with him so he can kiss him thoroughly. It has been so incredible, getting to relearn each other slowly day by day, allowing themselves to relax into the knowledge they get to spend their lives together.
“So where should we start?” Q asks finally.
“We start where we should have last time,” Eliot says with a fond, knowing grin. A grin that says this time he's embracing all that he was afraid of before and is doing this right, eyes and heart open. “Let’s go on that boating quest together.”