Jane walks through the forest of Brakebills. She already has an idea of what to expect, but that doesn’t stop the nausea when she sees the corpse. Well, corpses, but she’s only interested in one of them. She needs to know what happened here: they must learn from their failures.
She kneels beside Eliot’s body and analyzes it. She identifies the cause of death easily: blood loss. On his chest, there is a gaping wound. Jane dips her fingers on the blood and draws a sigil over Eliot’s forehead. This is the quickest way to find out how they lost this time.
Once she does the spell, Eliot’s last minutes of life are hers.
Jane sees the group being attacked. They run with some sort of plan in mind. Quentin talks about meeting Penny in the forest. Eliot takes the lead and Alice the rear. They aren’t fast enough. Eliot sees Penny at the same time Alice screams.
There is no time to get them all out of Brakebills and Eliot knows it. He tightens his grip on Margo’s wrist. It only takes him a second to make his decision. He throws her in Penny’s direction and yells: “Go, now!”
Eliot turns back to see the exact moment in which Alice falls to the ground. Martin focus his attention on Quentin: he advances purposely. They try to fight, but Martin is too strong and soon both boys are dead. Jane can fill the gaps: Penny didn’t return (therefore, the lack of a fourth body). She shakes her head and gets on her feet.
The High King’s life could have been saved, if he hadn’t prioritized Margo’s. This is not the first time that relationship brings more problems that solutions. Jane takes out her pocket watch: some changes must be done.
She rewinds time farther than she had done before. Jane knows in which point she must interfere: The Trials. Jane distracts Margo enough to force Eliot to pick another person to be his partner for the last test. Once her job is done, she leaves the scene and lets time run its course.
Jane has no idea what she set on motion.
Adam (Eliot's new partner) decides to share one particular secret. He tells everyone about Eliot’s involvement in Logan’s death. It takes one hour for their class to know the whole story. Strangely, it’s not the secret they know, but the one they don’t know what causes more damage. The thing is you can’t share the secret that unbinds the ropes, but the others are free game. That means, killing someone isn’t (or at least, Eliot doesn’t see it as) the worst he has done.
Eliot thinks his classmates are being hypocrites; surely they have their own wrongdoings. But that doesn’t matter, because only Eliot’s secret is out in the open.
“Who is that?” Quentin raises his voice to be heard over the sound of music. Margo follows his gaze until it lands on a tall figure.
“He’s Eliot”, she scrunches her nose. “And I don’t recommend it”.
“What?” He feels his cheeks heat up and tries to hide behind his hair. Margo chuckles.
“You’re so obvious, Q”, she looks back at Eliot. “Sure, he’s hot, but not worth the trouble”.
“Who are you and what did you do with the real Margo?” Quentin’s joke is met with silence. When he turns to see Margo’s face, he finds an unreadable expression. “Jesus, I don’t plan to marry him, I just—”
“Forget about Eliot”, she cuts him. “Better, tell me more about that blondie”.
“Alice?” This time, Quentin rolls his eyes. “I told you, she only wants my help with a spell”.
They are ready to begin with the invocation, when the door opens abruptly. Quentin looks up and finds Eliot on the entrance. He looks tall and imposing, maybe it has to do with the fact that Quentin is seated on the floor.
“You shouldn’t be here”. Eliot’s voice is deeper than Q imagined (not that he has been thinking about it).
“Neither do you”, Julia snaps back.
With three strides, Eliot is by their side. He sweeps his gaze over the items that are scattered on the floor. Quentin hopes the other doesn’t discover what they pretended to do. By the way in which Eliot sighs, he does.
“If you don’t mind”, Alice begins, “we are in the middle of something”.
Eliot snaps his fingers and the book Alice is holding catches on fire. She drops it immediately.
“What the fuck, man?” Penny stands up, ready to punch him.
“You’re welcome”. Eliot turns and leaves the room.
Oddly enough, Quentin does feel the need to thank Eliot. He was feeling uneasy about the invocation. Unfortunately, his friends don’t share the sentiment. At his right, Alice is cursing under her breath, next to her, Julia is looking at the ashes and Penny is still tense.
Quentin knocks the door, but there’s no reply. Is evident nobody is going to open. He tries to use a spell to unlock, but it only make sparks fly. God, he doesn’t have any idea of what to do. Quentin slides down to the ground. He decides to wait for help. Perhaps, Alice will have a better idea.
He hears footsteps and then a voice says.
“What are you waiting for?” When Q looks up, he finds Eliot resting against a pillar. After seeing Quentin’s confused look, Eliot explains. “Open the door”.
“I don’t know how”. He feels a little ashamed to confess his lack of knowledge. It reminds him, he doesn’t actually have a discipline. Eliot doesn’t make fun of that fact, thought, Q is sure he knows it.
“Find one”. There is something in Eliot’s tone that makes the words sound like an order.
Quentin gets the impression there isn't a correct way to do it. He remembers the fire spell Eliot used. Quentin has practiced the motions, he can’t produce fire to a grand scale, but if he put his fingers close to the wood, probably he could burn the handle. And that’s what he does.
The first face Quentin spots upon entering the Cottage is Margo’s.
“Finally!” She is smiling in a condescending way. The smile vanishes when she sees Eliot. “Did you open it?”
“If I have done it, there would be no door left”. He bumps her shoulder and disappears towards the stairs.
“I don’t understand why you are so interested in him”, Julia comments.
Quentin shrugs. He doesn’t understand either. Margo keeps warning Q about Eliot, but she doesn’t explain anything. And from the few interactions he has had with the taller man, Quentin can't see what he should be wary about.
“He helped us”.
“You mean when he burned Alice's book”.
“Yes, when he stopped us from opening a portal to God knows where”.
"I give you that" Julia concedes. Alice had confessed them; she wasn’t sure about the spell. After a beat, Julia adds: “Actually, I heard some rumors about him”.
“It’s probably not true, but…” She lowers the volume of her voice. “They said he’s been practicing battle magic”.
“Isn’t that illegal?”
“That’s why I think it’s just rumors. If he were doing that, he will be expelled”.
Quentin thinks about it.
Eliot has been in Brakebills too long to simply alter his memories. They wouldn’t apply the same method they use in the entrance exam. No, this will require more precision. Probably, they will call the specialist. She would erase the knowledge learnt on Brakebills, but not the fact that magic is real.
He would have to live knowing magic is real, but without being able to use it. Quentin can’t think of a more awful way to live.
Quentin is surprised when he finds Eliot and Margo talking in the living room. He sits beside Todd and voices his concerns.
“I thought they couldn’t stand the other”.
“That’s for sure”.
“Then what is this?”
“Welters”. Todd proceeds to explain the tournament. Every year, Eliot and Margo make a sort of truce to participate on the same team. He summarizes the situation with the next sentence. “They like to win”.
Quentin is a bit surprised when Margo calls him to join the conversation. He considers turning down the invitation. After all, the participation is not obligatory, and he’s not at his best. However, this is the opportunity Q was waiting to get closer to Eliot. So, he marches toward them and listens to their plan.
Margo takes the role of captain. She sets training schedules for everyone. It includes time for the theoretical aspect and for the practical. Quentin’s activities rarely overlap with Eliot’s. Usually, his time on the library is spent in Alice’s company and the outdoors with Margo.
He and Margo have been practicing some spells. After not seeing any improvement, Margo has given Q some time to cool down. His legs lead him to the terrace where he finds Eliot.
“Still no progress?” The other man asks.
Quentin shakes his head. “I’m not good enough to do it”.
“Magic doesn’t come from talent”. There is a rueful smile on Eliot’s face. “It comes from pain”.
Eliot’s words make Quentin understand why Margo chose him to be on the team. His father’s condition it’s common knowledge. She thinks that Q has the necessary incentive to master the spells.
“Why it can’t run on something else?”
Eliot doesn’t respond. Instead, he offers some advice. “Use your pain; burn it as fuel to break the world that has tried to break you”.
The ball lands on the middle square. Margo and Alice look back at him: there is some concern on their faces. The motives of their worry differ. On one hand, Margo cares about the outcome of the game and, on the other, Alice fears for Q’s wellbeing.
Quentin meets Eliot’s eyes. The other inclines his head lightly and that’s all the reassurance Q needs to step up. He put his fingers in position, just like he practiced with Eliot. On the roof of the stadium a small black hole begins to form. It grows and grows, and, for a moment, Q thinks it’s too much. Like the pain he can’t handle.
And then he remembers Eliot’s words. Break the world that has tried to break you.
He stabilizes the black hole and manages to clean the board. He gives his team the victory.
Later, when everyone is celebrating, Quentin finds Eliot and thanks him. Eliot is taken aback by Q’s gratefulness. And Q swears he sees Eliot smile sincerely. But it’s so fleeting that perhaps he hallucinated it. Eliot composes himself and with a note of resignation, he says: “It was good while it lasted”.
Quentin spends the next days trying to understand Eliot ominous phrase. He believes Eliot was making reference to the end of the truce. After the party, Margo puts some distance between her and Eliot. However, that doesn’t mean Quentin has to do the same.
He plans to make his point clear by still going to their usual study session on Saturday. He doesn’t get to make his move, because he finds himself in the middle of The Trials.
Briefly, Quentin wonders if Eliot was referring to this. Does he think Q is going to fail? Quentin dismisses the thought when Eliot practically gives him a hint to solve the second test. He wants Q here.
Quentin passes the trials. He also completes his stay with Mayakovsky, not with flying colors, but he makes it to the end. At his return to Brakebills, Margo receives him with a cocktail. She leads Q to the terrace for a quick talk.
“Thanks, Margo, but actually I was looking for someone”.
“I know who that is”. This time she doesn’t sound irritated, just tired. “There is something you need to know first”.
Margo finally explains a few things about Eliot.
In retrospective, Eliot’s isolation makes sense. After hearing what Margo has to say, Quentin goes in Eliot search. Quentin finds him on the garden close to the library. He walks to him and says:
“I know your secret”. As soon as the words leave Quentin’s mouth Eliot's face closes off. He’s preparing for the rejection.
“I guess this is the part in which you don’t speak to me again”. Eliot states, his voice sounds oddly impassive.
That’s what everyone does, Quentin can tell. And that’s exactly what Eliot is dreading. It was good while it lasted. All this time, Eliot has been thinking this thing between them had an expiration date.
Quentin looks Eliot in the eye and says:
“No, this is the part where I apologize”.
“You’re really something else, Quentin Coldwater”. Eliot laughs. It’s a bit strained, but at least, is better than the blank look. “Why would you apologize?”
“Nobody should be sharing someone else's secrets”.
Understanting flashes through Eliot features. The ritual spell from the third trial was supposed to bring people together. But once in a while it had the opposite effect.
After a moment of silence, Eliot speaks again.
“It’s truth. I killed him”. Eliot doesn’t break the eye contact. He wants to see every single of Quentin’s reactions to his confession. “I was 14. He was— He beat me up. And there was this bus coming. I barely thought the thought. Logan Kinear died instantly, and I discovered I was telekinetic”.
Quentin takes a moment to process the information.
“It was an accident”. This story is so different from the one Margo told him. Sure the facts are the same, but the entire context sheds a different light. There is no way Eliot hasn’t heard what they said, so Q asks: “Why did you never correct them?”
Something hardens in Eliot’s eyes. Quentin recognizes the emotion immediately. He sees in the mirror, when he reproaches for his broken brain. There in Eliot's eyes is the same contempt with Quentin beats himself up, especially concerning things he has no control over.
“In the end it was me who do it”. Eliot says plainly. “Besides, they already made up their mind. There was no point”.
“Thank you for telling me. I want to say—”
“If you’re trying to tell me it gets better, please don’t”.
“No, that would be, uhm, no. I just. I’m here. You’re not by yourself anymore, El”. The nickname slips, but Q doesn’t have time to second guess because a tender smile blossoms on Eliot’s face. “If you would have me, that's it”. This time Quentin does get flustered. “I didn’t mean that way. Not because I don’t fancy you. I certainly do. God, I probably should shut up”.
“For the record, I also find you very pleasing to the eye”.
When Quentin gets the courage to look at the other again, Eliot is grinning.
“What happens now?” Quentin asks.
“Well, I think a date is in order. But before, what if I kiss you, would you find that acceptable?”
“I find it very acceptable”.
Eliot cups Quentin’s face and brings their lips together.
This timeline teaches Jane two things.
The first: Quentin Coldwater keeps coming no matter the circumstances. Before this time, Jane wondered why Quentin always was ready to fight. But, now, she knows the answer. Quentin genuinely cares: about Fillory, about his companions. And the most important, he cares about Eliot.
The second: it's in Eliot’s nature to get attached. And to protect those who he consideres ‘his people’.
Sadly, Martin also found about this last one. And he used it to bring their downfall.
Jane closes his eyes and recalls the events.
She sees Quentin convincing everyone to help Eliot. How he brings the group together to fight ‘the Beast’. She sees Eliot standing between them and Martin. She sees Eliot using his last breath to hold Quentin’s hand before Martin—
Jane holds her watch firmly.
It's time she starts to use those constants to their advantage.