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my mouth (your lips) your hands (my hips)

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“How'd your student orientation thing go?” Margo asks, as she twirls in Eliot's arms. The party they've organized for the returning students is hopping and there's a soft warm glow of pride in her chest over it. “Was Casey as hopeless as you were afraid he'd be?”

Eliot throws her into a deep dip and kisses her cheek before answering.

“Definitely hopeless,” Eliot says. “But very sweet. And his name is Quentin.”

“Oooh, you like him enough to care about his name? You'll have to introduce us so that I can tell you if I think he's worth screwing.” Margo slid her hand along Eliot's arm and added, “I met a couple of prospective first-years, too. Total Fillory dorks. Maybe boyfriend and girlfriend, but that wasn't the vibe I got.”

“Bangable?” Eliot asks.

“Yeah, I think so,” Margo says, after a moment of consideration.

“As a pair?”

“Naughty,” Margo teases but she grins at him, too. “It's a possibility.”

“Names?”

Margo waves her hand breezily. “I told them I'd learn their names if they were still around tomorrow.”

“I'm sure they appreciated that comment,” Eliot says, definitely laughing at her.

“Totally bitched me out about it. It was cute,” she says. “I'm gonna try to bang at least one of them, if they stay. You gonna try to bang Quentin?”

“I will successfully fuck the living daylights out of him, thank you,” Eliot says, mock-offended.

The next morning, she finds the two dorks chilling by Woof Fountain, chattering away excitedly about magic school and comparing it to all the fictional ones they've read about. They're both still kinda obviously nerdy, in a way that Margo has carefully made certain she never presents as, but they're also pretty adorable.

So, she crashes their breakfast, sliding in between them and saying, “I guess you two aren't total failures after all, huh?” and companionably wrapping her arm around the girl's shoulder. The girl blinks at her, surprised, but doesn't push her away.

“You're that... girl from yesterday who wouldn't tell us her name,” she says, with a noticeable pause. The boy startles at Margo's sudden nearness. It's hilarious on him, all wide eyes and long hair falling into his face.

“That's me,” Margo agrees cheerfully. “Congrats on surviving the first of many trials at Brakebills. Let's hope the next one doesn't set you on fire or boil your brain!”

“Surviving? Boil our...?” the boy asks, and his face is practically giving her anxiety right now, and it's a good thing she hadn't chosen him to wrap herself around. She gets the impression he might have startled himself into an early grave. “Um? Jules, maybe this isn't actually-”

“She's kidding,” Jules says. She gives Margo an uncertain look. “You are... kidding?”

“I have never made a joke in my life,” Margo says, gravely. But she can only hold it for a second before giggling. “So, you two lovebirds looking forward to screwing around with sex magic? Couples often find it hard to resist.” She lifts her eyebrows up in an exaggerated motion.

“Oh, we're not-” Jules makes a little distasteful face that wrinkles up her nose. The boy looks vaguely resigned about it, which tells the entire story of their relationship right there. “I do have a boyfriend, but he's not- I don't think he can do magic.”

And her voice gets soft when she mentions the boyfriend, so Margo crosses her off the list of potential targets, turning her smiles towards and fluttering her lashes at the boy, who still looks a bit nervous.

“You probably won't die,” Margo says, and though her voice is still more mocking than reassuring, he does look like he finds some comfort in her words. “I can mentor you and make sure of it.”

The boy blinks for a moment, realizes that she's staring right at him and asks, “Um. Me?”

“Jules seems competent enough not to need me,” Margo says. “You, though, are definitely a hot mess. Let mama take care of you.”

“Uh. Wow. That is- flattering? But I- um. I already- you don't-” But there's a hot flush across his cheeks despite his protests.

“Some guy already offered to be Q's mentor,” Jules says. “And, no offense, but he was a lot nicer than you.”

Margo leans herself against Q's body and-

Wait.

“Q?” she asks. “Is that, like, a nickname based on a cue ball or like-”

“It's short for Quentin,” he tells her with what is, honestly, a very nice smile. He seems unaware that he has changed the entire playing field. Some guy, huh? A lot nicer than her, huh? Fuck that right up the ass. She's fucking nice. She's nice for days. She is the motherfucking queen of niceness.

“You can have more than one mentor,” Margo says. Is it true? Maybe? It's not like student-to-student mentorship is an official title or anything. She leans over to whisper in his ear. “I promise you I will teach you things about magic that'll knock your goddamn socks off.”

“I mean... I guess it can't hurt to have two?” Does he always seem this constantly startled? He'd been like this yesterday, too, though he has less of a mouth on him today.

Jules sighs heavily and stands. “Catch up with you later, Q. Um- hey, I still don't know your name?”

Margo spares her a look up and down. “Margo Hanson. Pleasure to meet you, Jules. I'm sure we'll see a lot of each other.”

“Can't wait.” Her tone is as dry as the desert, which Margo kinda has to respect. “Try not to get so lost in her eyes that you miss your first class, Q.” And, with that, she leaves.

“I like your friend,” Margo says, which makes Quentin scrunch his face at her, like he's trying to decide whether or not he believes her. She puts her hand on his knee, to see his reaction. He looks down at it uncertainly, like she's just presented him with an unsolvable math problem, so she takes it off again. It's hard to judge exactly how syrupy-sweet she should be to get him to prefer her over Eliot. “But I like you better.”

He definitely doesn't believe her. Well, she has one weapon left at her disposal that she knows for a fact El doesn't have.

“I heard the two of you yesterday, you know. Talking about Fillory.” She doesn't touch him this time, but trails her hand just above his arm like she might touch him at any moment. His face closes down a little, since she hadn't fessed up to her own reading habits in that convo, so- “And I have to agree with you about Jane. Even though she gets the most narrative time, her story does get overshadowed by Martin's in the third book and it pissed me the fuck off.”

And... motherfucking checkmate. His eyes light up.

Is it unfair of her to try to win the game before Eliot even knows they're competing?

Probably.

Would Eliot do the same to her?

Absolutely.

So Margo talks to Quentin for maybe half an hour about the Fillory books, and by the time she's helping him gather up all his belongings and getting him headed in the right direction for his introductory class, he's relaxed enough that she can tuck her hand inside his elbow and steer him along.

And when she leaves him at the door, she pops up onto the balls of her feet to place a soft kiss on his cheek that leaves him red-faced and startled again.

Back at the Cottage after her own morning class, she kicks back on the sofa with a cocktail and smiles up at the ceiling. She bets it'll be less than a week before she coaxes Quentin into her bed. And maybe he'll even be good. But if he isn't, what matters most is that she's gonna beat out El.

“You're in a cheerful mood.”

It's Eliot, so she beams at him beatifically.

Ecstatic,” she says. “I made a lot of progress with my little first-year.”

“Me too,” Eliot confesses and she-

-blinks.

“You did?” Maybe he just meant the initial mentorship conversation they'd had, before Margo had talked to him.

Eliot practically floats down to sit next to her, his long arm extending along the back of the couch as he lets out a pleased sigh. “Mmmhmm. Just got back from seeing him. He's settling in now, I think, because he wasn't so much like a camera-shy rabbit today. Jesus, Bambi. He's gonna make the best noises when he gets fucked. I can tell.”

“When you say that you saw him,” Margo prompts. She nudges him with her knee. “You mean...?”

“I mean about five minutes ago,” Eliot says. He lifts up his head and squints at her. “You're acting very strangely about this. I promise, even if he moans like a porn star, he won't replace you in my heart.”

“That's sweet,” she says, distracted. “What exactly did he say that made you feel he was into you?”

“Bambi?”

And, okay, looks like it's confession time.

“So, turns out, funny story. Fillory dork is Quentin.” Margo laughs airily. Eliot narrows his eyes. “Isn't that so funny, El?”

“Hilarious.” Eliot wraps his arm around her shoulders and tugs her in tight. “I seem to remember that you had two options? How about you go for the girl Fillory dork – who I'm guessing is Julia – and I'll go for Quentin.”

“Yeah, that's gonna be a hard pass,” Margo says, pressing a firm kiss to El's temple and bouncing up off the couch. “Jules has a boyfriend which- I mean, I'm sure I could woo her away in time but, that seems like work. Quentin, though... I'll have him eating out of my hand by the end of the week.”

“Oh, will you?” Eliot relaxes into the couch, but his eyes are sharp. “I think that'll be difficult for you to pull off while he's busy on his knees for me.”

“You think you can win against me on this one?” Margo puts her hands on her hips, cocks her head to the side. “I am gonna kick your ass so hard, you'll still have bruises ten years from now.”

“Sure, tell yourself that,” Eliot says, and his smugness makes Margo want to kick him in the shins. “But I know a natural bottom when I see one, darling.”

“You think I can't top like a boss when I need to?” Margo stands even taller. “Oh, it is on, you dickwad. This is motherfucking war.”

 


 

 

“This has been such a strange day,” Quentin says, lying with his head off the edge of his bed.

“You don't need to say it out loud.” Penny sighs. “Seriously, I don't get how your friend has such great natural wards and you're just-”

Quentin squints at him, trying to make out his face. Penny is- blustering and definitely thought Quentin was a total nerd for liking 'kids' books', but he's been a little nicer to Quentin since realizing Julia is his best friend. It's... not a totally unfamiliar occurrence.

“Ugh, I hope I'm not that shallow,” Penny says, arguing with Quentin's thoughts, which doesn't seem particularly fair. “Life isn't fair.”

“Yeah, well, I had no clue magic existed before yesterday-” Desperately hoped? Sure. Actually had a clue? No. “-so maybe give me a minute to learn how wards work before you hate me for not having any.”

Penny sighs again, which seems to be his main form of self-expression, and comes over and sits next to Quentin on his bed. “Look, chances are good that Julia's right, you know? Those two second-years you keep thinking about... dude, I doubt either of them is seriously interested. They're probably fucking with you.”

“Probably,” Quentin agrees, feeling wistful. He's never really been the kind of guy to inspire deep feelings in others. You're cute enough, he remembers John saying, but please stop trying to talk to me when we're around other people, okay? I have a reputation.

“I wish you'd stop thinking so loudly,” Penny moans. “Your thoughts are fucking depressing, dude.”

“Then teach me how to ward them,” Quentin says, because it's easier than cringing at the idea that Penny had heard that.

Penny looks conflicted about it then- “Yeah, okay. I guess that's fair.”

Penny is still teaching him to 'clear his mind' and 'close his thoughts' – both of which are bafflingly hard to do – when Julia pops her head into their room. She looks frazzled.

Penny's attention immediately shifts over to her which, again, is not unfamiliar. Honestly, it'd been so much weirder that- that Eliot and Margo had paid more attention to him when Julia had been right there, too.

“Hey, Jules,” Quentin says, not getting up from the bed.

“Hi, Julia.” Penny does get up from his bed, wiping his hands off on his pants. She has a boyfriend, Quentin thinks at him, deliberately and loudly. His name is James and they've been dating for almost four years.

Penny gives no indication he heard a thing.

“Oh, hi, Penny. You don't mind if I crash here to bitch about my roommate with Q for a while, do you?” Julia drifts over to Quentin's bed and hops on it with a bounce, laying down next to him, her hair a dark cloud floating off the edge of the bed.

“Always welcome,” Penny says. He goes over to his bedside table, picks up a pack of cigarettes. “You okay if I smoke in here or should I go outside?”

“You can if you share,” Quentin says. Penny blinks as if he's half-forgotten Quentin is still in the room. Quentin rolls his eyes and holds out his hand for a cigarette. “Do you have a light?”

“Oooh, I learned a trick for that,” Julia says excitedly, and she burns his fingers, but it works, which is pretty impressive for their first official day as magic students. So – Penny sits on his own bed and smokes quietly, while Julia shares a cigarette with Quentin and tells him about how annoying her roommate is, which mostly centers around how Julia is internally freaking out over how intimidatingly cool her roommate is, honestly. And the tail end of it, she asks, a little hesitantly. “Did that Margo girl find you again?”

“That Margo girl,” Quentin repeats, amused. “No. I haven't seen her since breakfast. Um. I did see- uh. Eliot. I ran into him after we got out of class.”

“Literally zero hot older students have offered to mentor me,” Julia says. “Did I forget to shower or something? Be honest, Q, do I stink right now?”

“You reek to the high heavens,” he tells her cheerfully, handing back the cigarette. “It's a shock I can stand to be this close to you, honestly.” He laughs and now he's thinking about- about the way Eliot had smelled, something inviting that had made Quentin want to lean closer so that he could- “Eliot. Um. He invited me to a party at, uh- he called it the 'physical cottage', which I'm hoping isn't a euphemism. But he said I could bring friends if I wanted. You wanna come? It's tonight.”

Guiltily, after a beat, Quentin adds, “Um. You can come too,” in Penny's general direction.

“Your wards are not good enough for me to put myself through that,” Penny says, with a snort. “But. You know. Have fun or whatever. I hope no one's pulling a She's All That on you.”

“Wow, was that genuine concern?” Quentin asks and Penny immediately makes a disgusted face but doesn't, like, deny it. “What about you, Jules? Gonna keep me company?”

“If I say 'no', will you actually still go? To a party? By yourself?” Her voice gets increasingly disbelieving as she goes on.

“I might,” Quentin says, which honestly is a bit of a surprise even as he says it. “I mean. If Eliot really does want to be my mentor, I should probably show up?”

“Okay, then I'm definitely going with you,” Julia says, looping her arm in his. “Let's stop by my room, so I can get changed.”

 


 

Officially, Eliot is tending the bar.

Unofficially, he's keeping a careful watch on the door to make certain Margo won't be able to swoop in on Quentin if – when – he arrives.

Margo has declared herself the hostess of this impromptu shindig, of course, and is glam'd up in a glittering ruby top with a black micro-mini and six-inch heels that could probably kill a man. He just needs to make sure Quentin isn't that man.

Eliot hands a Manhattan to a third-year he may have fucked in Ibiza last year but who, honestly, pales now compared to the thought of Quentin. It may have started as a healthy, casual desire to hear Quentin screaming his name but now- now, it's a fucking battle to the death, no survivors allowed. There is not a chance in hell that Margo sees that boy naked before Eliot does. Over his dead goddamn body.

“Are you feeling okay?” Todd – ugh, Todd – asks, with the concerned pout of his. “You look-”

“Amazing? Glorious? Like a breathtaking work of art?”

“I was gonna say 'nauseous'? But- yeah, of course! You look great!” And Todd gives him a double thumbs-up of encouragement and – it's a genuine human tragedy. That's what it is.

But then the metaphorical clouds part, and a ray of hope enters-

Which is to say, Quentin walks in.

He's with that friend of his – 'my best friend Julia'. She's dressed up for the party in a semi-appropriate way. Quentin-

-is not. Still, no matter. With luck, he won't be wearing those clothes for long anyway.

Eliot abandons the bar without a second glance, making a bee-line for his target, and gleefully noticing Margo is distracted in the far corner, dancing with some third-year boy whose name Eliot can't bother to remember right now.

“Quentin. Julia.” Eliot infuses his voice with nearly equal enthusiasm for both names. “I'm so glad you decided to come. How'd your first day of classes go?”

He puts a hand in the center of Quentin's back, maneuvers them all away from the swaying horde and towards the couches, emptying one of them with an impatient hand gesture. He settles Quentin down on the cushions and fixes a look of rapt attention on his face as he curls up next to him. It's- not terribly hard, honestly. Quentin is a certified nerd and Eliot has always found it rather charming to hear a cute boy ramble on about dragons or spaceships or wizards. And Quentin himself is particularly captivating, completely focused in the moment and illustrating each point with his strong, expressive hands.

“I'm pretty excited about what we're going to learn,” Julia says. She sits carefully on Quentin's other side and she's studying Eliot, forehead slightly wrinkled. He gets the impression that she finds him... confusing, which he'll take for now.

“She can already light a cigarette,” Quentin offers and, at Eliot's encouraging smile, he continues, going on about what they'd seen in the rest of their classes that day. What had stood out most, it seemed, had been a girl, Alice, being called up to the front of a class and demonstrating a nifty bit of physical magic to mold a glass ball into a horse and have it gallop around. Quentin is extremely impressed, even now, hours later.

Well, Eliot can certainly do better than that.

While he thinks about something more intricate, he motions with a lazy finger and floats over a bottle of wine and three glasses, pouring them all a drink in mid-air and then hovering them until Julia and Quentin actually reached out to take them.

Quentin has just plucked his glass from the air, delighted, when Margo arrives, like the footsteps of doom.

“Q! Jules! This is such a lovely surprise,” she gushes, laying it on way too thick, in Eliot's opinion. But then, from the depths of her bosom, she tugs out a sparkly little necklace and says, oh-so-innocently, “Look what I found tucked away in my jewelry box.” It's a tiny golden clock charm and it makes both Quentin and Julia gasp, though Julia looks around afterwards, like she's afraid someone might judge her for caring.

“It looks just like the cover on the first edition,” Quentin says, half-standing, reaching towards the charm but then yanking his hand away again when he realizes how close he is to Margo's tits. “That's- uh. Wow.” He collapses back down between Eliot and Julia, his wine dangerously close to spilling over, and all his attention on Margo.

“I could use somewhere to sit,” she trills happily, giving Quentin those big doe-eyes that had inspired Eliot's nickname for her and that he'd trusted her never to use to undermine him.

“There are plenty of places to sit. At other sofas,” Eliot points out. “This one is full.”

“Yeah, but Q and I never finished our talk about the flying forest,” she says, sticking out her lower lip. “So, if some kind gentleman were to offer his lap?”

Eyes wide, Quentin says, “Um. Yeah. Okay?” but looks startled as hell when Margo takes him up on it, perching herself on his knee, her back to Eliot. In response, he scoots closer to Quentin, stretches his arm along the back of the couch and leans so that he can at least see her profile and keep an eye on her.

“Mentors are- uh. Really hands-on at Brakebills,” Quentin says, and his hand not holding his wine glass is flexing and clenching into a fist. That's definitely a point to Bambi.

“I just believe so much in the importance of learning,” Eliot says. He hears Margo snort incredulously and, through a heroic effort, ignores her. “I do want to thank you for coming to my party,” he adds, lowering his voice and playing with the ends of Quentin's hair, which earns him an uncertain blink. “Forgive me for saying this, but you don't seem like the partying sort?”

“Not. Not normally. Not unless Jules is forcing me.”

Right now, Julia looks like she's trapped between laughter and fainting, sitting on the very edge of the couch and looking pretty much anywhere except at the three of them.

“I appreciate you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone for me,” Eliot says, daringly. He's about seventy-thirty on whether or not Quentin's ever been dicked down before, but he's running about ninety percent sure Quentin would fucking love it. Quentin's flush at Eliot's words tempts him to push the percentage even higher.

“Yeah, this is a great time for new experiences,” Margo chimes in, leaning down towards Quentin to give him a better look down her top which is- definitely cheating, like she's been doing the entire time. Maybe Eliot should have worn chaps.

Ugh, no. Not even for a good cause.

He... accidentally gives her a telekinetic shove and she wobbles on Quentin's knee before she catches herself, shooting him a poisonous look over her shoulder. His reaction backfires on him, though, as it turns out that Quentin's response to seeing Margo almost fall is to reach up to brace her, his hand low on her back. He looks flustered about it for a moment, but when Margo doesn't try to move, he relaxes again, leaves his hand where it is.

Well, fuck.

“Okay, I'm going to- go,” Julia says abruptly, standing up jerkily. “Meet some new people. Mingle. You good here? Q?” Quentin makes a half-strangled sound in the back of his throat that she must interpret as a 'yes', because she leaves to join the general throng. In quite a hurry.

“If you're feeling overwhelmed by the crowd, we can go up to my room and chat about Fillory,” Margo offers, playing with that clock charm again. “And Eliot can get back to impressing his other guests.”

Oh no, she isn't going to win that easily.

“Actually, Quentin, after hearing you talk about it, I've been thinking of re-reading the books myself,” Eliot says, and Margo's betrayed glare warms his heart. “I read them when I was younger but barely remember a thing. You can help jog my memory.”

And so, Eliot ends up spending his night lying chastely on Margo's bed, listening to Margo and Quentin talk and talk and talk about the inner workings of Fillory. He remembers enough vague outlines to toss out a sentence or two, but mostly listens. It's actually a fairly nice evening, but it does mean that neither of them see Quentin with any of his clothes off that night, though he does fall asleep about three hours into the conversation, which is kind of adorable.

“Okay,” Margo admits, from where she's lounging on the other side of Quentin. “This may take longer than a week. Especially if you keep pussy-blocking me, you douche.”

“Turnabout is fair play,” Eliot says, peaceably. He tucks a lock of Quentin's hair back behind his ear. “I suppose it won't kill me if it takes longer than a week. He is awfully cute, Bambi.”

“Not that cute.” But her eyes are soft when she says it. “But, you know, he's growing on me. And I'll definitely get something up his ass before you do.”

“You're terrible,” Eliot says, interrupting himself with a yawn. “I wonder if the party survived without us.” Quentin, all nerdy and mousey and, well, sarcastic and charming in his own very specific way, is obviously already tarnishing their hard-won reputations. Last year, when those reputations had been brand-new and fragile, he thinks the idea would have bothered him more. “We did disappear on everyone. Bad form for the second party of the year.”

“Last night's big opening bash mattered more,” Margo says. “And everyone was pretty drunk by the time Q and his friend showed up. Anyway, as long as you still think I'm the baddest bitch you know, I could give a fuck what everyone else believes.”

“Mmm, same,” Eliot says, his throat a little tight. He swallows, then adds, “But I'm still going to fucking destroy you and dance on your bones.”

“Ha, just try it,” Margo retorts. “I'll make you cry like the first time you had your pubes waxed.”

“Nasty,” Eliot says, approvingly.

About an hour later, Quentin startles himself awake again, which is... an interesting process. First, his nose twitches. Then, his hands bat out like he's fighting someone but, like, with no force behind them. His feet kick and his whole body shivers and then he finally opens his eyes, looking very confused.

“Um. Hi?” His post-nap voice is smaller and more shy than it was before, and he bites nervously at his lower lip.

“Hey there, little Q,” Margo coos, running a finger up his shirtsleeve. Quentin blinks at her some more but doesn't pull away. “I missed you.”

“The room was definitely a lot more boring while you were out,” Eliot says, reaching forward and resting his hand on Quentin's sock-covered ankle.

Quentin's eyes shift suspiciously between them. His ankle flexes under Eliot's hand. “Um.”

Eliot wants so badly to make a more obvious move, but anything he tries, Margo will block instantly. He needs to get Quentin alone to really make it clear what he wants. His fingers tap restlessly as he thinks.

“I should probably get back to my dorm,” Quentin says, but he sounds hilariously unenthused by the prospect.

“You can sleep here if you want,” Margo says. “I only bite with permission.”

Quentin is more awake by now, but still mostly looks bewildered by their flirting.

“Don't frighten the boy,” Eliot says, reflexively. “So, Quentin, what's in your dorm that you don't want to go back to?”

“My roommate reads minds,” Quentin says. “He's not- ugh. He's not, like, a terrible person or anything but I-” His face effectively communicates how little he likes the idea of anyone reading his mind. Quentin is- a bit of a fussy, anxious guy. So. Eliot gets it, maybe.

“I can teach you some fairly reliable wards,” Eliot says. “If you're interested.”

“Oh, please, you ward with the consistency of a drunken hyena,” Margo says. “Let me teach you, Q. I have a much more delicate, refined touch than this lumbering giraffe.”

Eliot scoffs. Loudly. “Delicate and refined? You? Spare me. You cast like a gorilla playing the piano for the first time.”

“Um,” Quentin says. “This seems like a- uh. A long-running argument? I should probably let you. Talk in private.”

He sort of... sidles away from Margo and falls off the side of the bed. Gets up after lying there a moment.

“Thanks for, uh. Inviting me? And listening to me- listening to me about Fillory?” Quentin says, while backing away towards the door. “Have a good talk!” And he darts off, briefly impacting his shoulder against the doorframe in what looks like a very painful way.

“Yeah,” Eliot sighs. “It's gonna take longer than a week.”

 


 

Quentin slinks back to his room around four in the morning. He feels oddly like he's just done a walk of shame, even though no sex had happened at any point. He really wants to talk to someone about his weird fucking night, but he hadn't seen Julia when he'd crept back out of the 'physical cottage' and he doesn't want to wake up Penny, so.

It's just him and his own thoughts trying to figure this out.

Item One: Eliot was assigned to greet him and show him to his test. This possibly explains why Eliot offered to be his mentor? And Eliot is probably just the sort of person who communicates through touch which is... honestly practically a foreign language for Quentin. So, that's Eliot explained.

Item Two: Margo is a little more difficult but... she is a fan of Fillory. It's probably hard for her to find other fans, especially since she's, well, sharp-tongued and intimidatingly beautiful, so there's plenty of idiots out there who would assume she can't love nerdy shit.

Item Three: Margo and Eliot obviously have some kind of rivalry going on? He thinks that's probably what the flirting with him was. What he thought was flirting was just. A weird way of using him as an intermediary for their own antagonistic relationship.

Quentin studies his conclusion and can't poke any immediate holes in it.

It certainly makes more sense than two people who look like Eliot and Margo genuinely being interested in openly flirting with him. So, that's a relief.

Maybe disappointing, too, but mostly a relief. He has enough to deal with now that he's going to fucking magic grad school, holy shit.

So, he goes to class and it's way more actual work than he expected literal magic to be.

Julia seems to take to it like a duck to water which... tracks. The girl he'd noticed in class that first day, Alice Quinn, also seems like a natural. Penny is good but hates doing homework or behaving as though he cares more than the bare minimum, so he's always just skating by during class. And Julia's roommate Kady prefers communicating solely in grunts. At least with him. From what Julia says, she does manage the occasional conversation when Quentin isn't in the room.

But it's Eliot and Margo who are Quentin's life-savers. They each take their self-appointed duties as his mentors very seriously, though their methods are... not similar at all. Eliot is laid-back and will watch Quentin make several mistakes before gently pointing out exactly what he's doing wrong and then offering him a drink to relax him. Margo will literally grab his hands and push his fingers into the right positions, while muttering to herself about it not being that hard and why is Quentin so dense all the time.

Usually, he sees Eliot out on the back patio, while Margo inevitably drags him up to her room, because she thinks more clearly up there. Both of them are- are extremely touch-orientated while teaching, in a way that Quentin isn't really used to but, on the other hand, magic requires a lot of finger movements, so it's probably not that strange for mentors to offer hand massages.

Probably.

There have been a few occasions, so far, where Eliot was already teaching Quentin and refused to let Margo drag him away and those got... pretty tense. Not to the point of raising voices, but neither of them actually needed to be loud in order to be incredibly scathing. Margo has a foul mouth when she wants to, while Eliot is capable of getting positively shakespearian in his insults.

But they're both pretty charming when they're alone with him. So much so that he's glad he already knows not to take them seriously, since otherwise, he'd be in danger of developing a crush or two.

Thus goes most of his extremely busy first few weeks, puttering along in what seems to be his new normal.

Right up until the Saturday when Julia pops by his dorm, an odd tone in her voice as she says, “Um, Q? I saw Margo and Eliot kissing out on the lawn today.”

Quentin, who has been trying to focus on his coursework which is – of course – actually really fucking hard for him, because nothing is ever allowed to be easy, snorts and says, “Uh-huh. And I saw Penny making out with Alice.”

“Did you?” she asks, a little sharply, as she drops down next to him on the bed. “Are- are Penny and Alice a thing?”

“No, of course, not,” Quentin says. “Just like Eliot and Margo aren't. They hate each other.”

“His mouth was either on her mouth or right next to it,” Julia says, flatly, and her voice is serious enough that he looks up. “And, uh- I asked around? After I saw them together? Apparently, they're actually inseparable. Been best friends since last year.”

“I almost never see them together,” Quentin argues. “And any time I do, they're fighting.”

“Okay, yeah, but they were one hundred percent kissing today. Or, at least, there was definitely a kiss,” she corrects herself. “I only saw one kiss. But they were also holding hands? Which you usually don't do with people you hate.”

“Weird,” Quentin says. He's honestly not sure how to process this. No one has ever, actually, technically said that Margo and Eliot dislike each other. He's just kinda assumed from how they constantly took potshots at each other. “I wonder why they fight so much.”

He gathers up his books.

“Where are you going?” Julia asks, but she sounds like she probably already knows. “I thought you were working on the homework for Sunderland? We can work on it together.”

“Um, well, it's tough? So, I'm going to go find one of my mentors and see if I can get some help,” Quentin says. She grimaces and he rolls his eyes. “What? I'm not gonna make any assumptions. They've been really nice-”

“-to you-”

“-yes, to me, so I'm gonna actually talk to them and see why they act like they hate each other when they're around me.” Quentin stuffs his books into his messenger bag. “And if you're right and Margo has, like, some diabolical plan to humiliate me-”

“-I never used the word 'diabolical'-”

“At least I'll know,” he finishes up. “We're years away from high school, Jules. You can stop trying to protect me.”

 


 

 

The alarm spell that Margo has tucked around the perimeter of the Cottage buzzes in her head and she bounces up from the couch, jostling Eliot as she does.

“Hey,” Eliot objects, but lazily.

“Thirsty,” Margo explains and she heads vaguely in the direction of the bar until El isn't paying attention anymore and then redirects to where her spell told her Coldwater crossed the threshold. She almost can't believe that Eliot hasn't picked up on her spellwork yet but, hey, gift horses and mouths.

She opens the door half a second after Quentin knocks, grabs him by the wrist.

“Look at you! You're so overwhelmed, poor thing,” she says. She tugs on his arm and he doesn't move. “Let's get you settled down and go over your work.”

“I'm- uh. Actually here about something else?” His tendons feel tight under her fingers. She raises a questioning eyebrow as he glances around the common room. “Oh, good. Eliot's here.”

“You're here for Eliot?” Margo tries to keep any obvious disappointment out of her voice.

“I wanted to talk to, um. To both of you,” he says. Normally, he seems to want to avoid being around both of them at the same time – they do tend to get a smidge competitive, she supposes – so this is a twist. Still, it's not as much of a blow to her chances as it would be if he wanted to see El alone.

“Want a drink?” she asks, as she tugs again, this time towards the bar. Quentin goes with her and watches her make him a gin and tonic. “Not as fancy as one of Eliot's overdecorated monstrosities, but you seem to like simple things, too.”

“Are you insulting my taste in front of Quentin?” Eliot calls from where he's lounging. “That is a dangerous road to go down from a woman who I've seen match stripes with polka-dots.”

“It was ironic and you know that, you pretentious bastard.”

Quentin sips at his drink. This is normally when he tries to duck uncomfortably out of the conversation, but he's wrinkling his face up and studying them carefully this time. “You know each other really well,” he says, and his voice is strangely flat.

“I mean, Eliot's the best,” Margo says but, no, wrong message to send. Quentin can't be thinking Eliot's the best. He needs to be thinking she's the best. “You know. If you like overgrown dandies with no work ethic and a drinking problem.”

“Classy re-direct,” Eliot says, with a snort. “Very subtle. As you can see, Q, Margo suffers from extreme delusions of grandeur and can't handle anyone else getting positive attention for more than a millisecond. It's tragic.”

“Uh-huh.” Quentin wanders over to the chair facing Eliot's couch and sits on it. Not one to be left out of things, Margo comes over to lean over the back of the chair so she can keep an eye on both Quentin and on Eliot's face. Quentin looks the way he does when he finally figures out the right way to hold his hands for a tut which is... odd in the context of having a conversation. “I mean... you really know each other. You're friends.”

“I mean, yes?” Eliot's voice swings up in confusion. “Bambi is, I suppose, the least-awful person at the school. Apart from you, of course.”

“Of course,” Quentin repeats. “Um. You fight a lot. For being friends.”

Margo purses her lips together for a moment. Had she and Eliot never-? Was this the first time that-?

Oh. Huh.

“Well, we're competitive bitches,” she says, almost absent-mindedly, as she goes back over the times when she's been in the same room as both Quentin and Eliot and- okay, yeah. They've groused and poked and bitched at each other the entire time, every time, until Quentin got so awkward about it that he would literally run out of the room. “But he's my- best friend or whatever, yeah.”

Quentin downs the rest of his drink. “Right,” he says. “Best friends. 'Bambi'. Competitive. Okay.”

Eliot straightens up a bit on the couch, eyes fixed on Quentin. “Is everything all right, Q? We weren't- we weren't trying to keep it a secret that we're friends. I'm sorry if we gave that impression.”

“What exactly have you been competing over?” Quentin's voice is, again, very lacking in inflection. “Because, um. You've been fighting every time I've seen you together?”

Margo locks eyes with Eliot and- shit. That's- okay, the truth would actually be kind of an asshole thing to say, honestly? We both wanted to bang you and so we've been tearing each other down to see who could get you naked first? Not exactly smooth. On the other hand, she's seen plenty of teen movies in her time, and if they lie to him, she just knows they're in for a horribly overwrought dramedy of a third act that involves a painful revealing of the truth. So.

“You're cute,” she says, going for a light and casual 'we're all friends here' tone. “We both wanted to be your intro-to-Brakebills. Got a little heated over it, I suppose.”

“Yeah, okay.” Quentin says and she can't- can't read his voice at all. He puts his glass down and he gets up and-

“You don't have to go-” she says and he-

“Yeah, well, I'm not gonna fuck anyone here today, so I guess I better. Um. Go do my actual work.”

His voice isn't- harsh or anything, but she still takes a step back.

He walks out.

“You weren't much help there,” she says to Eliot, who is sitting with his arms propped up and dangling between his knees now. “You kinda left me out to dry.”

“Oh, that situation was not getting any better,” Eliot says. “Give him a hot minute to vent to his friends about what assholes we are, okay?”

Margo plops down into the chair Quentin abandoned and curls up in it. “I mean. We're both really fucking gorgeous. He doesn't need to act offended we want to bang him.”

Eliot fiddles with his glass. “I don't think that's what was bothering him.”

“Oh, are you suddenly one of the psychic kids now? Do we have to move all your shit to their stinky-ass house?” Margo picks up Quentin's empty glass and sighs. “El. If you tell me that you think we should apologize to him for thinking he's cute enough to screw-”

“You can do whatever you want,” Eliot says. “I'm not allergic to the occasional 'I'm sorry'.”

“Because you still want to fuck him or-”

“Bambi, not right now, okay?” Eliot looks down and gives off a do-not-touch vibe that she remembers well from the start of first year, before they'd taken down enough of their walls around each other to start to be real friends.

“Do you want me to go?” she asks, in a small voice, and she's much too relieved when he shakes his head. Even more when he beckons her over. She goes to him on the couch and sits next to him, leaning her head against his shoulder. After a moment, he wraps his arm around her, and they sit together for a while.

 




Julia isn't still in Quentin's room when he gets back, which is a relief because he's not ready to talk about this yet. He's not even entirely sure what he thinks about this or how he feels, so trying to explain it to someone else would be a nightmare.

Penny is there which is... complicated. Quentin's wards are a lot better now, thanks to Eliot and Margo, so he doesn't bother Penny the way he did when they first started rooming together, but Penny does still think of him as a boring nerd, so... it's complicated.

“Hey,” Penny says, without looking up from his own work.

“Hey.” Quentin unslings his bag onto his bed. Collapses onto it with a heavy sigh.

There's a long silence, where he can faintly hear Penny whispering to himself as he practices spells. It's peaceful, almost. Quentin thinks about pulling out one of his Fillory books, to maybe make himself feel better but-

-ugh, all he can think of now are the conversations he's been having with Margo, about Fillory. She used to dream about being an Ambassador to the Outer Islands, and it had been sweet and cute to imagine little kid-her, reading the same books as him and having the same daydreams. Now, it's... confusing and weird.

“Hey, your wards are getting messy,” Penny says. “I'm not getting any details, but- thought you should know.”

“Sorry,” Quentin says. He tries to think more quietly.

A couple of hours later, he looks up at a knock against his doorframe, expecting Julia, probably.

His brain freezes a little when he sees Eliot, leaning his long body against the frame and looking at him... sympathetically. Eliot looks... serious and maybe kind of sad. Maybe? Eliot's eyes flick over, to where Penny is, then back at Quentin.

“Can we talk alone for a minute?”

Quentin shrugs and gets up. He feels graceless and clumsy, so close to Eliot, now that he's not certain what any of his conversations with Eliot had actually meant. But he follows.

Eliot takes him down to a little patio behind the first-year dorms. Pulls out a cigarette and offers it to him. Quentin shakes his head, and Eliot lights it for himself, with an effortless flick of magic. They sit there for a bit, Eliot smoking and Quentin just trying not to let his legs shake too much under the patio table.

“There are two things I wanted to start with,” Eliot says, tapping out some ash. “First. I'm sorry. We made you feel like shit and- even if we never meant to, we did. So. That's the first thing. The second thing is... we weren't making fun of you or setting you up for a fall. The flirting was real.”

“Okay,” Quentin says, maybe too quickly. He's not sure. “I mean it's- you know, whatever. Um. The thing is- ah, you said-” His hands are trying to tuck his hair back without his permission, so he yanks them down and presses them flat against the table. “Um. If I'd- if I'd slept with you or- or with Margo. That first. That first day. Or at that party. Would you have talked to me again? Afterwards? Would you have still- um. Still been my mentor after that?”

He can't quite look at Eliot. Not his face. He looks at Eliot's hands instead, elegant, with long fingers, moving restlessly as he holds his cigarette.

“I don't know,” Eliot says.

It's mostly what Quentin has been expecting but it still-

It still kinda sucks to hear.

“Yeah, okay,” he says. Just nonsense words to fill the silence. “Okay.”

He really hopes he doesn't cry.

“There was this thing that Margo and I did, last year,” Eliot says. “We'd pick out a cute student that caught our eye and we'd compete to fuck him. Usually 'him'. But everyone involved knew it was just- just sex. We all had fun and no one got hurt.”

“That you know of.”

“Yeah, I guess that's true,” Eliot says, more softly. “I'm sorry we didn't make things clear, at the start of this. But you aren't- look, Margo and I didn't make anything up. She really does love that book series of yours. She's thrilled to have someone to talk to about Fillory. And I- I like listening to you. That wasn't fake. I do still think you're cute, Quentin. If you wanna fuck, I would be up for it. But... honestly, I'd rather be your friend than have a one-time hook-up.”

Quentin watches Eliot's fingers, slender but strong and-

And.

“So if we- uh. Even if we did have sex now, you wouldn't- wouldn't ghost me afterwards?” Quentin asks. His fingers start tapping on the table. He straightens them to make them stop. “We'd- um. We'd still be friends?”

“I promise,” Eliot says. And he sounds sincere.

And- and-

Quentin wants him to prove it.

“Okay, yeah,” he says. He forces his eyes up, and Eliot is- is staring right at him. Probably has been the whole time. “Fuck me. And- and be my friend. After.”

Eliot's eyes widen and he blinks, uncertainly.

He stubs out his cigarette.

Holds out his hand.

Quentin takes it.

 


 

Eliot takes Quentin back up to his dorm room because he is not taking the risk of going all the way to the Cottage and possibly running into Margo.

Which is mostly for Quentin's comfort, and only a tiny bit for Eliot.

Quentin's roommate is still up there but when he sees Eliot tugging Quentin in by his wrist, he gets the message loud and clear and after a strangled “Hey, Coldwater - make good choices!” and a tight grimace, the roommate clears out, headed- somewhere else.

Eliot doesn't really care where.

“I've been dying to see what you look like under these things,” Eliot says, flicking his fingers against the sleeve of Quentin's shirt. He feels shaky, but the only thing in his system is a couple of cocktails. And the thought of fucking Quentin. Finally, finally, finally. He tugs at the collar of the open button-down that Quentin is wearing over his actual shirt and – okay, Eliot doesn't have much room to talk shit about layering, but the sooner he can yank all this useless fabric off Quentin and get to skin, the better. “I can kiss you, right?”

Quentin nods, eyes wide and mouth slightly open, so Eliot goes for it. Wraps his hand around the back of Quentin's neck and leans down and licks right into Q's mouth. Backs off to press tiny kisses to his lips and the corners of his mouth. Quentin kisses him back clumsily, maybe a little rusty at it, but he relaxes into it, lets Eliot take the lead.

Eliot had only glanced at the room, but he has a fairly good spatial memory, and when he pushes Quentin back in the direction he thinks the bed is, he's not surprised when Quentin makes a startled noise as his legs hit the mattress and he sits down abruptly. Eliot stands between his legs, cups his face, thinks about-

“Have you been fucked before?” He's not entirely sure what he hopes Quentin's answer will be.

Quentin blinks up at him for a moment, then says, “Um. Not with, like, an actual dick?”

“Meaning?”

“A girlfriend-” Quentin makes a face. “Secret girlfriend, I guess. She didn't want Julia to know. Um. She would- uh. Peg me? And there was- um. A guy back in high school who. I gave him blowjobs and he liked to finger me while I- uh. While I jerked off? But we never actually- um. Fucked.” A secret girlfriend. And a 'guy in high school', carefully not labeled a boyfriend.

Eliot thinks about that as he pets at Quentin's shoulders, thinks about how easily and quickly Quentin had realized Margo was talking about sex, back during their big blow-out.

Be my friend, after.

“Should we- uh. Should we lock the door?” Quentin sounds... nervous, maybe worried. That his friend Julia might walk in on him? Eliot brushes Q's soft hair back, tucks it behind his ears and strokes over the thin skin there.

“I can lock the door and blank out the room so that sound doesn't get out,” Eliot says. He rubs a thumb over Quentin's mouth and adds, “I don't mind if someone hears. I bet you make amazing noises.” A deep flush floods across Quentin's cheeks and Eliot traces it with his fingers. “But if you'd be more comfortable with a ward up, I can do that.”

Quentin bites down on his mouth and Eliot can see his hands twisting up into fists and-

“We probably should,” he says, reluctantly, and there's definitely a hint of an unexplored desire hiding in those words but- for now. Eliot locks the door telekinetically and then creates the silencing ward inside the space of the room. Quentin watches his hands carefully, studying for later. His eyes dart down Eliot's body and he asks, “Do you want me to blow you, before you- ah. Before you fuck me?”

Eliot cups the side of Quentin's face, smiles when Quentin leans into it. “Not right now. Daddy isn't gonna have any issues getting hard enough to fuck you.” Quentin brings in a sharp quivering breath. “Do you have any preferences about position?”

“I don't have-” Quentin huffs out a breath. “Um. Julia's friend would. She liked me on my back for it? But she was-” His mouth twists and there is- definitely a land mine here that Eliot needs to know about before he even gets close to Quentin's ass.

“Why did she like it?” He strokes at Quentin's neck again, which makes him sigh a little. “Is it something I should avoid doing? You don't sound thrilled about whatever it was she liked.”

His nose wrinkles up. “Um. She- she- I guess she wasn't that nice?”

“Physically or verbally?” Eliot asks, and he turns his caress of Q's shoulders into something of a light, gentle massage.

“Both?” Quentin's voice pitches up in tone, like he's not sure he's allowed to say it. “She just- uh. She liked that I wasn't hard, I guess, and she would talk about it and. Um. Smack my dick around? That part didn't hurt, not really, so. I don't know if that- uh. If that counts as not being. Nice.”

“It counts,” Eliot says, and he tucks away all of those words away to unpack later, when he has the time and the emotional energy to deal with how they're making him feel. “Well, I'm definitely planning on getting you hard before I fuck you, baby, so you don't have to worry about any of that.”

Hands and knees, then, to keep it different from his memories. And make really fucking sure he's turned on while he's getting screwed.

He yanks off Quentin's button-down and tosses it onto the floor. Pushes Quentin back onto the bed and climbs into his lap. Gets in some serious kisses, because Quentin- Quentin melts under them, kisses back eagerly, like he's afraid it could go away any second. He slips his hand under the collar of Quentin's other shirt, but doesn't try to pull it off yet. Slow and sweet is the way to go with Quentin. He's pretty sure of that now.

Eliot tilts up Quentin's head up, runs his thumb along the trembling column of his neck. Q's pulse flutters under his fingertips, a runaway train.

And Quentin is definitely getting hard now. Eliot rolls his hips, lets Quentin feel that he's stiff, too. “Ready for your shirt to come off?”

“Uh-” Quentin swallows and Eliot feels it against his palm. “You first?”

“We can make that happen,” Eliot says. “Hold my hips? Brace me.”

Quentin's hands land low on his waist, sliding a little under his trousers to touch skin. Eliot leans back, stretches his arms up as he does, and Quentin's grip tightens to keep him safely in place. He unbuttons his vest. Unbuttons the first button, flashing Quentin a teasing look that makes him bite his lip. He's not wearing a tie today, which he really regrets right now, because he'd be able to loop it around Q's neck, tug him close for another kiss...

He undoes another button instead, rocks his hips against Quentin's.

Eliot's never technically done a strip tease or a lap dance, but he understands the concepts well enough to do an approximation. He puts on a show for Q, leans in to brush a kiss against his mouth every now and then, keeps his body moving against Quentin's, and slowly, slowly takes off his vest and drops it on the floor. He'll worry about wrinkles later.

Quentin watches with blatant fascination and Eliot is- is relatively certain Quentin's never had this done to him, either. After Eliot unbuttons the very top of his shirt, he slips his hand inside, cups his own throat, and as he continues down the line of buttons, he pushes his shirt open, pinches his nipple hard to make himself gasp and enjoy how Quentin licks at his lower lip hungrily. Eliot reaches out, palms the back of Quentin's head. “You wanna suck? You can. Use your teeth a little.”

He guides Quentin's mouth to his chest and Quentin just fucking goes for it- licks at Eliot's pec and latches onto his nipple with his teeth, sucking and tugging, and each yank jolts right down to Eliot's dick.

“That's a good boy,” Eliot says, petting through Quentin's silky hair, then tugging at it, to see how Quentin reacts. Grins to himself when Quentin tries to buck up against him on the bed. “You are making daddy very happy right now, baby. You can even be rougher if you want.”

And so Quentin fucking bites him on the pec, and Eliot's body straightens up in delighted shock.

When he relaxes, Quentin is licking at the bite mark, making these adorable tiny worried noises. “You're doing wonderful,” Eliot coos, reassuringly. “That felt real good. You have such a lovely mouth.”

Quentin smiles at him, wide and almost dazed – definitely wider than he's ever see Q smile before – and Eliot makes a mental bookmark to think about that later, too.

“You should be more naked,” Quentin tells him, and there's a blush bright on his cheeks but he sounds gloriously bossy and determined about it.

“Then take my shirt off,” Eliot says, flicks his finger against Quentin's own shirt. “And yours?”

Quentin sets to the rest of Eliot's buttons while Eliot drapes his hands over Quentin's shoulders and plays with his hair. Quentin gets distracted easily, reaching up to brush his knuckles across Eliot's nipples again or stroke over his chest hair or lick and bite at his skin as it gets exposed. He pushes impatiently at Eliot's hands when it's time to shove his shirt off his shoulders and Eliot laughs at him, but only a little. His own shirt, he takes care of quickly, yanking it up and over his head and throwing it away like it's garbage.

Eliot smooths his hands over Quentin's shoulders, broader and stronger than they seemed under those clothes of his. He tweaks a nipple, which makes Quentin let out a small yelp that he looks horrifically embarrassed about a second later. He soothes it, gently, and Quentin reacts better to that, eyes getting dreamy again. Quentin's chest is flushed, too, which is an enchanting discovery. Eliot presses his mouth against every inch of heated skin, spending some extra time lapping at Quentin's nipples, which are already tight and twitching under his tongue. Quentin's hands pet at his sides, in an almost repetitive, calming way.

It's been too long since he kissed Q, so Eliot fixes that, mouths up the side of his neck, licks at his jaw and chin, and then presses his tongue between Quentin's eager, open lips, loving how it makes Quentin's fingers flex against his skin. He slides his hand into Quentin's hair so that he can tug him back, look at his startled wide eyes and trembling mouth. “I want my hands all over you, baby. I'm thinking a massage. You want that?”

Quentin just- blinks at him, for a while, like he's trying to process the idea. “Um. I guess?”

“It's a good way to relax your body,” Eliot explains. “It'll make it easier for you to stay turned on while you get fucked.”

“Oh.” Quentin takes that in. “That sounds- okay, yeah.”

Regretfully, Eliot gets off of Quentin's lap and takes a look at what he has to work with for their bed situation.

He's already – blessedly – forgotten how cheap and thin the pillows are in the dorms that the first-years get shoved into before they get assigned their discipline. He expands and softens the pillows with a quick set of tuts and places one in the middle of the bed. “Luckily, magic fixes so many of life's little problems,” he says, cheerfully. “Okay, babe, let's get your pants off.”

First, they have to get his shoes and socks off, which Eliot takes as a good cue to shed his own, trying to toss them in the approximate direction of the rest of his clothes.

Quentin pokes at the pillow. “Is this gonna stick?”

“Until I undo the spell,” Eliot says. “Pants, Q. Take off your pants.”

Impatiently, he reaches forward and tugs Quentin to him, unbuttoning and unzipping and yanking them down. He leaves Quentin's boxes on. He can work around those for now. He motions for Quentin to sit on the bed so that he can pull his pants the rest of the way off and throw them aside.

“Up. Lie down on your front. Pillow under your hips.”

Quentin stares at him a moment, then scrambles up on the bed, nearly slipping off. He lies down and- and clearly has never had a massage before, because he has no idea what to do with his hands, keeps moving them around. Not that this is going to be a real massage, but still.

“You can relax,” Eliot says, gently. “This part is just supposed to feel good.”

“I feel. Good. Already,” Quentin says, face smashed against his other pillow. “You could just fuck me now. Or whatever.”

“I'll fuck you when I'm ready and not a damn second earlier,” Eliot says, and Quentin shivers which is- okay, that's nice. He rubs his hand along the line of Q's back. Quentin has a lot of strength under his clothes, but not much inclination to use it. Eliot can sympathize. He uses clothes to hide, too, just in a different way. “I'm gonna conjure up some massage oil, if you wanna watch me do the tuts.”

Quentin props himself up on his elbows so that he can look over his shoulder.

It is- really cute, the way Quentin loves magic. Eliot has never loved magic like that.

Eliot makes a show of the spell, and Quentin watches his hands eagerly. “I'm gonna do a similar spell when I get you ready,” Eliot says, and Quentin's gaze snaps to his face. “Slightly different consistency in the oil. We'll see if you can spot it in the tuts.”

Quentin nods, lays his head back down on the pillow, wrapping his arms around it in a hug.

Hs skin is already soft and smooth but, fuck, even with all the kissing and teasing, his muscles are tense. Eliot glides his hands along, firm but soothing. Any masseuse would laugh at this being called a massage, but Quentin doesn't know any better, and he does relax under Eliot's hands, slowly but surely. When Eliot feels like the time is right, he delicately tugs Quentin's boxes over the curve of his ass, presses his fingers into it now that he can finally see how pert and perfect it is.

He urges Quentin to lift up his hips, slides one hand down the front so that he can gently cup Q's dick – semi-hard, still – and protect it while he pulls the boxers down. He tugs them all the way off and then spends time on Quentin's legs, caressing and rubbing as he makes his way back up to his ass. He pulls the cheeks apart, takes a look at the tight pink furl of Quentin's asshole. He rubs a thumb over it, watches Quentin twitch in response.

Eliot slides his hands up along Quentin's back, rubs his shoulders. “You wanna see the lube spell, baby?”

Quentin nods into the pillow, but slips a little as he tries to get himself back up on his elbows to watch. Eliot bites back a smile. His boy is getting good and relaxed. Eliot gives another gentle stroke to Q's shoulders, then pulls his hands back so that Quentin can see him do the tuts for the lubrication spell. Quentin's eyes narrow as he studies Eliot's hands.

“It protects, too,” Eliot says, brushing his knuckles across the meat of Q's ass. “But we can use a condom, if you want. I know you haven't fucked using magic before, so I don't want you to feel unsafe.”

Quentin's mouth twists a bit, as he thinks about it. “You used Popper #39, which is used in healing spells,” he says, as if to himself. “And the Circumstances would account for- um.” His forehead wrinkles and he whispers a couple of other things too quietly for Eliot to hear. Then his expression clears and he says, “Uh. Yeah. I mean, it seems legit and I-” He gives kind of a half-shrug. “I mean. Since we're just doing this once, I feel like- I kinda want the full, um. Experience.”

Oh, right.

They're doing this to prove to Quentin that they can be friends afterwards. That Eliot isn't going to just drop him once he's gotten into his pants.

It's not that Eliot had forgotten that, exactly. Just.

“I'm a great experience,” he says, with a bright smile. “You'll want to give a rave review, I promise.”

To prove his point, he spreads open Quentin's ass, leans down and licks against his hole. Quentin makes a strangled gasping sound and collapses back onto his pillow. Eliot presses a slick finger against Quentin, teases him. Quentin twitches against him and Eliot can see the effort he's putting into making himself relax, like he's not expecting Eliot to do any of the work for him. Even if Quentin hadn't told him, it would be clear he'd been fucked before. But by someone who had bullied their way inside, who had cared more about seeing Quentin quiver and flinch than whether or not he was having fun.

Eliot thinks he wouldn't like Julia's friend much at all, if he met her in real life.

So, he slows down even more, fucking makes out with Quentin's asshole like Quentin really will be leaving a review afterwards. Keeps his fingers away for now, just licks and sucks and presses soft kisses against the puckered skin. And he was right, so right, about the sounds that Q would make during sex. He starts out soft, trying to hide away in the pillow, but the deeper Eliot's tongue goes, the less Q can control himself and he's whimpering and grunting and making all those wonderful noises. If he were paying attention to himself, he'd probably be embarrassed, but Eliot has him caught up, distracted in the feeling.

Once Quentin is actively trying to shove back onto his mouth, that's when Eliot brushes a finger across his hole, and it opens up for him so much easier now, with so much less obvious effort by Quentin. He just holds his finger there a moment, lets Quentin push back onto it, let Q fuck himself.

“So desperate, baby,” Eliot says, because he can't help it. Quentin's hips stutter, then he rocks faster, trying to get Eliot's finger deeper. He pulls his hand away and Quentin pushes helplessly against the air. “Are you hard for me?”

He slides his hand between Quentin's legs, cradling his balls for a moment before continuing on, stroking his fingers up the heavy shaft. Quentin is hard, swollen and eager, the tip of his cock beaded with precome. Ideally, he wants Q to come while Eliot is fucking him, though that can be- tricky, sometimes, in practice.

Quentin rocks against his hand and Eliot allows it for a while because, fuck, the noises he makes. Then he slips his hand away again, grabs at Quentin's hips to pull him away from the pillow.

“Can you stay up on your knees?” he asks, petting Quentin's ass. “Watching you hump the pillow is very cute, but I don't want you to come before I fuck you.”

The only verbal response he gets is a weak moan, but Quentin doesn't collapse back down immediately when Eliot stops holding him up, so he takes it as a win. He spreads Quentin's asscheeks wide again with both thumbs, licks at him with the broad flat of his tongue, then pushes two fingers inside.

Quentin is very relaxed now, because they slid right in.

He fucks them in as far as they'll go.

Eliot still needs to- to stretch Quentin, because even relaxed, he needs to be more open for El's cock not to feel on the bad side of too much but, first, he takes a moment just to enjoy himself. Quentin is tight around his fingers but not tense, and he's so warm and satin-smooth that Eliot pets at the inside of him, to feel him. Licks at the place his fingers disappear into Q.

Then he- he pulls his fingers out and tugs Quentin's hips backwards so that he's sitting back on his heels, with the pillow closer to his chest than his stomach. It's a little awkward and it won't last while Eliot's actually fucking Q, but it'll keep his dick away from any contact while Eliot finger-fucks him.

Eliot has done- has done a masterful job of ignoring his own cock pressing hard against the seam of his pants, but the situation is becoming... acute. So, before he gets back into it, he shimmies out of the rest of his clothes, jerking his dick once or twice when he has it free, then lets it hang heavy between his legs. Quentin has been... so good, staying right where Eliot put him, with his hands drawn up into tight fists.

“Hey there, pretty boy,” Eliot says, making his voice sweet, almost cloying. “You need something, baby? You look like you're waiting for someone.”

He rests his hand on Quentin's ass. Rubs it 'round in gentle circles. He's not sure whether or not Quentin is actually in a place, right now, to join the conversation. But if he is, then he wants Q to have the space to do it. Quentin takes a few shuddering breaths that move his whole body.

El...” Quentin says it in a whine, long and drawn out. “Jesus, Eliot. I- fuck.”

“Hmm, 'Eliot, I fuck' is not an entirely inaccurate summary,” Eliot says.

Quentin snorts.

Asshole.”

“Also fairly relevant,” Eliot says, thumbing the asshole in question and watching Quentin jerk into his touch. “You're good at this, baby.”

“You are such a dick,” Quentin pants out, and it takes him a little while, but it is a full sentence. “Just- ah, just fuck me already.”

“Tsk-tsk, now I seem to remember saying something earlier,” Eliot says, and Quentin lets out a frustrated groan. “What was it I said?” When Quentin doesn't say anything, Eliot gives him a light smack, right on the tempting curve of his ass. “What was it I said, baby?”

“Ahh, you- you wouldn't fuck me until- uh. Until you were ready,” Quentin says, rebellious and sullen and it's... it's darling. Eliot wants to wrap this moment up and keep it in his pocket forever. “But I'm ready now.”

“It takes two to tango, baby,” Eliot says, rubbing his fingers over the place he'd smacked Q. It had been light enough that it hadn't even gone pink but oh, he wishes he had. “You haven't even screamed for me yet.”

Quentin huffs out a bratty little laugh. “I don't- uh. I don't scream during sex.” His voice is haughty and certain and Eliot absolutely must prove him wrong now.

He slides one hand over to lie flat and heavy across the dip of Quentin's back, pushes those two fingers back inside. And- lovely, lovely boy. Quentin's body isn't just relaxed anymore, it's welcoming, clinging tightly to him. He doubts Little Miss Pegging bothered to do any actual exploration, though maybe High School Boy did. Still, he thinks Q would have mentioned it, if someone had tripped his prostate before now.

When Eliot does find it, Quentin bites back on a gasp, his body shaking with the effort.

So, it's gonna be like that, huh?

Never let it be said that Eliot doesn't rise to a challenge.

He's not heavy-handed about it – his primary goal is still to stretch Quentin out for his dick – but he makes a point of rubbing against Q's prostate on each slide in and out, and he can see how much Quentin is liking it. But the fucker refuses to raise his voice.

“I had no idea you were such a brat,” Eliot says, trying to sound scolding instead of thrilled. “You are so much work, baby.”

And Quentin – delightful asshole that he is – laughs. It's broken a bit by his attempts to hold back his whimpers and moans but, yes, it's a real laugh that makes his chest shake. Eliot presses a kiss to the curve of Quentin's ass, nips at the skin, keeps steadily fucking him with his fingers. Eliot fucked – honestly, he's not sure how many – a lot of other students last year. Quentin is- by a devastatingly large margin, his favorite.

He goes as long as he can, and Quentin keeps swallowing down any sound louder than Eliot's own voice.

“Fine,” he says, because his fingers are cramping and Quentin is shiver-shaking with each thrust. “God, fine. You win.” Quentin's laugh has turned into something of a giggle and Eliot bites down on his own laughter. “I'll fuck you now. You impossible stubborn little thing.”

He has to wrap his hands around his dick, get it slicked up with lube again, because he spent so long with his fingers in Q's ass that it feels too dry now, to stick right inside. Eliot shakes his head, smiles to himself, pats Quentin's ass affectionately. He presses the head of his cock against Quentin's hole and- he can practically feel it clutching at him already.

“Ready, baby?” Eliot asks again, just to be a dick. Before Quentin can do more than grouse incoherently, he pushes in, slow but inexorable. Q is loose enough, relaxed enough, he knows it, he knows it, and he's right, fuck, he slides in as easy as breathing. Glides with colors sparking at the edges of his vision, until his hips are pressed tight-tight against Quentin's perfect ass.

He doesn't have to ask Quentin if this is better than Pegging Girl.

He doesn't have to ask.

Eliot presses his body down against Quentin's, rocks his hips slightly, whispers in his ear, “Mmm, any better than the last time you got fucked?”

There's a mumble, so Eliot leans closer, presses a kiss to Quentin's cheek.

“What was that?”

“...you know it is, you fucking asshole...” but the words are soft and fond and laced with the hint of a needy whine.

Eliot gathers up Quentin's wayward hands, holds them against the small of his back and admires the way it makes him arch against the sheets. Quentin's hands are- strong and muscular, but Eliot can still press his wrists in place with one hand, if he stretches. Then he can put his other hand between Quentin's shoulder blades and push down as he pumps his hips, and Quentin moans for him, though he tries to bite down on it.

It's not the best position – Eliot can't get any real force into his thrusts this way – but fuck, Quentin looks pretty. And he's not in a hurry. Jesus, he's not in any fucking hurry.

“How close are you to coming?” Eliot asks, and Quentin's answer comes half-choked off into a whimper. “Oh, I should slow down more? Thanks for letting me know, baby.”

Quentin bucks against him and his wrists tense and twist in Eliot's hand. He pants against the bed and grinds out, “Harder. Harder, you selfish fuck.”

“I mean, it's just tough to hear when you're being so quiet,” Eliot says, flattening his hand out over Quentin's back to hold him still. “Have you thought of. Speaking up?”

“Oh, my god, you dickhead, just fuck me,” Quentin says, his voice finally getting loud enough that they're getting some use out of those silencing wards. “Fuck me before I fucking die of old age.” And his voice gets louder and more high-pitched, almost shrill. It's amazing. And Quentin can't go anywhere, not with half of Eliot's weight bearing down on his shoulders and back. “Oh, my god, Eliot! Christ! Fucking move!”

“Well,” Eliot says, feeling profoundly satisfied. “You only had to ask.”

He releases Quentin's hands, grabs onto his hips, and gives him a hard, deep thrust like he's been begging for and, in response, Quentin grunts like El just punched him in the stomach, scrabbling to clutch at the sheets. His ass twitches and clings to Eliot's dick and it's-

-it's good, it's so good. Maybe he can- can talk Quentin into going again, tomorrow maybe. He just- this absolutely cannot be the only time he fucks Q. Not when Q takes it so well, like he was born to have a cock in his ass. Eliot tilts Quentin's hips, slams into him so hard he fucking bounces off him, and Quentin is yanking at the sheets and trying his best to shove back just as hard.

He needs to- to make sure Quentin comes.

There is nothing more important in the world right now than Q coming while Eliot fucks him. Nothing.

He braces with one hand, gropes under Quentin to find his dick. Smiles when he feels how stiff Q is. Pegging Girl can take her bad screwing etiquette and jump off a goddamned cliff. “You gonna come for me, baby?” he croons, half-tugging at Q's cock and half letting his thrusting do it for him. “You gonna mess up your bed? Gonna have to clean it up before your roomie comes back in, smells the sex all over-”

“You dick,” Quentin says, half-sobs, as he comes into Eliot's hand. And, yeah, that's a big checkmark for his little Q being a closet exhibitionist. Eliot keeps jerking as Quentin's cock spurts and dribbles all over the sheets. He smears his hand up Quentin's stomach, getting him good and messy, then pushes him down against the bed.

Quentin shivers under him as Eliot chases his own orgasm, letting out tiny moans and whimpers when Eliot rubs past his prostate. Coming inside Q is- a lot. His ass takes it so well, quivering and trembling around his dick as it empties into him. Eliot keeps bucking, a little, as he comes, because Quentin is just so lovely around him.

“Oh fuck me,” Quentin moans, as Eliot pulls out, which-

“Your timing is off, babe,” he points out, and he gets a flailing hand smacking at his arm as a reprimand. “Just saying. That part already happened.”

He shifts over and – gracefully – collapses next to Quentin, on his side, so that he can look at Q's post-orgasm face which is... ridiculous, honestly. His cheeks are red and he's panting like he just finished a marathon and his hair is a fucking bird's nest.

Eliot kinda already wants to fuck him again.

Instead, he reaches over and pets at Quentin's hair while he comes down. It takes a while, Quentin's face still smashed into the pillow, and his whole body heaving as he breathes.

Finally, though, Quentin props himself up on his elbows and says, in an unenthused voice, “Ugh. I really am going to have to wash these sheets before Penny gets back.”

“You aren't,” Eliot says, fondly. “Magic, remember?” And he does a series of cleaning tuts and watches Quentin's face brighten up in joy as the mess vanishes. “So. Are you feeling any better?”

Quentin rolls onto his side, facing Eliot. “I- uh.” His face is unexpectedly serious. “I guess I am. But- um. You don't-” His mouth twists and his eyes are focused on Eliot's chin. “You don't really still have to- uh. Be my friend. That's not- um. I get that I can't actually trade sex for- for friendship. I was just. Mad. Or whatever. I understand if- uh.”

Jesus.

Eliot cups the side of Quentin's face, which makes him stop talking. He rubs his thumb along Quentin's cheekbone.

“We're friends,” he promises. It makes something twist in his stomach but that's- that's not the important thing here. “I'm not gonna pretend I don't know you when we're around other people, okay? We're friends and we fucked, but we're still friends.”

“You barely know me,” Quentin says, soft and small and vulnerable. “You don't have to-”

“Well, I bond fast,” Eliot says, injecting as much breezy nonchalance into his voice as he can manage. “When you think about it, time is an illusion, isn't it?” He strokes through Q's hair. “I won't ghost you, okay?”

“Okay,” Quentin breathes.

They lay there for a while longer, and Eliot keeps petting through Quentin's hair, soothing.

“I should probably get dressed and let Penny back in,” Quentin says. He doesn't actually get up. “If- do you think he's out there somewhere?”

“I honestly don't care,” Eliot says. Quentin's hair is so fucking touchable. “He's definitely not a physical kid, so I don't have to think about him.”

“That is... really cold, Eliot,” Quentin tells him, but his mouth is twitching, trying to avoid a smile. “Have a heart, will you?”

“Too much work,” Eliot says. “And much too stressful.”

“Uh-huh.” Quentin watches him with soft eyes. Then he groans and rolls away, onto his back. Makes a face like he regrets that particular choice. Rests his hand on his stomach and stares up at the ceiling. “I need to talk to Margo, don't I?”

“She said she's not planning on apologizing,” Eliot says, by way of a warning.

“Yeah, I don't really get the 'sorry' vibe from her,” Quentin says. He doesn't sound too bothered. “But, like you said earlier, she doesn't have a lot of people to talk to Fillory about, so.” He sort of implies a shrug without actually moving. “She'd still be my friend too, right?”

There's subtext in Quentin's question that Eliot is absolutely certain he's too fucked-out to pick up on, so he says, eloquently, “Huh?”

“I should get dressed,” Quentin says, and he falls out of the bed. Picks himself up again, wincing.

“Oh, you mean now,” Eliot says. “You're leaving right now to go talk to Margo.”

Quentin gets dressed, piece by piece. Gets stuck in his shirt for a bit before he manages to yank it over his head. Falls over while he's putting on his shoes. Eliot just- watches. All he really wants to do is tug Quentin up close to him all naked and sweet-smelling and take a nice long nap together but that's... not in the cards, so he just watches.

“Um. I guess you can stay here?” Quentin says, distracted. “While I talk to Margo. It'll probably take a while? If she still wants to, I mean. I came kinda hard, so-”

“Oh,” Eliot says. He feels like an idiot. “You're going to- to go ask Margo if she wants to screw.”

“I mean, yeah?” Quentin says, in a tone that implies 'of course'.

“Because you want to get it out of the way and focus on the friendship,” Eliot says. For clarification. “Like with us.”

“Yeah,” Quentin agrees, obviously relieved that he and Eliot are on the same page.

Eliot starfishes against Quentin's bed, taking up every inch of real estate possible. “You know, a couple of those times when Margo and I chased the same boy, we both ended up in bed with him.” He can feel Quentin looking at him. “So, yeah. Have- have fun. I'm cool to... to crash here for a while, though? You wrung me out, baby.”

“Yeah.” It's softer this time, and he feels Quentin's hand against his forehead. “You can crash here while I go talk to Margo. Um. You should cover up though.” And he feels Quentin flip a sheet to cover his dick. Or, well, most of it. “If you're still here when I come back, maybe we can go over that homework I have for Sunderland.”

“Sounds great,” Eliot says. He closes his eyes and feigns going to sleep. Listens as Quentin walks away, unlocks the door. Leaves Eliot alone.

Well.

Fuck.

 




Quentin feels...

…different? God, how weird and cliché is that, to say that getting fucked literally changed his life? But it's not just the ache in his ass, which El's clean-up spell did nothing to fix. He also doesn't think- no, he knows for a fact, that he's never had sex that good before. Not even close.

And, maybe, the idea is hitting him that there are people who want to fuck him and then actually also want to be his friend afterwards? That's an even more pathetic thought than the first one. But he's never had that before, so- so yeah. He bites down on his lip, thinks of the sound that El had made when he'd-

“Oh, fuck you very much, Coldwater. I'm never getting that washed out of my brain.”

Quentin blinks himself out of the thought, puts his hands on his hips and glares at Penny, slumped in a chair in the entrance hall on the way of their dorms. “I'm not taking the blame for that. It's not like you didn't know what we were doing in there.”

“Well, it's not like I was expecting you and your shitty wards!” Penny throws up his hands. “Why isn't fucking Waugh doing the walk of shame out of here? Is he- is he still in our room? Please tell me he's not still in our room.”

“He's still naked,” Quentin says, just to twist the knife. Penny flinches, dramatically. “You know, if you were dying to get a peek.”

“Not everyone wants to fuck Waugh,” Penny says. “Please tell me you understand that.” Then he sighs. “Quentin. I don't think that was an example of you... making good choices. I just had to say it out loud. At some point.”

“Jules will probably agree with you,” Quentin says. He gazes off at the doorway. Julia would agree even more if she knew where Quentin was going next.

“Oh, seriously? Come on, now I've gotta think about that, too?”

“Not my fault!” Quentin jogs off, out the door and in the direction of the Cottage.

“Yes, yes, it fucking is!”

Penny's voice fades as Quentin gets some distance. He kinda regrets the jogging, though. He slows down, tries to rub at his butt as discretely as possible. Funny, when Heather had been pegging him, it had hurt during, but this aches a lot more afterwards instead.

When he creeps into the cottage, he doesn't see many people around. He definitely doesn't see Margo. He stands near the stairs, indecisive. Barging into her room feels weird. Rude, maybe? Especially if it turns out she isn't there.

“Oh, hey, are you looking for Eliot and Margo?”

Quentin pivots to face the voice. It's coming from a dark-haired boy that he vaguely recalls seeing flit around. Tad? Or, no- “Todd? Um, yeah. I needed to talk to Margo.”

“She sulked off to her room a while ago,” Todd says. He leans against the wall. “I guess she and Eliot had a fight and they made up but then he bailed on her? That's what Mark said, anyway.”

Quentin has no idea who Mark is.

“Um, yeah. That's what I wanted to talk to her about. She was sulking?” It's hard to picture Margo sulking for real.

“I know, normally she just yells,” Todd says. “Did Eliot send you as a go-between? You're their... um. Project, right?”

And, okay, wow. He doesn't have to wonder what the rest of the physical kids think of him, apparently.

“That's me,” he says, because there's really no point in not. Plus, he's literally here to see if Margo still wants to fuck him after knowing Eliot got there first so, really, it's not like he has any kind of moral ground to stand on. “The group project. You have a bar, right?” He doesn't wait for the answer; he knows they have one and he knows where it is.

He goes there and looks underneath, grabs- fuck it, he grabs some vodka.

“Eliot really doesn't like it when people touch his things,” Todd says, alarmed.

Quentin waves a dismissive hand. “Yeah, well, Eliot will deal with it.”

Todd trails behind him up the stairs, then mutters, “Okay, your funeral,” and peaces out.

Quentin stands outside Margo's door for a minute, then knocks.

“Unless it's Eliot, fuck off!” she yells.

Jesus, he's such a fucking idiot for not realizing they were friends. He swings open the door, leans against the doorframe.

Margo doesn't see him right away. She's sitting at her little desk, brushing her hair, which looks fine already. She breathes a heavy sigh, puts down her brush, glances over her shoulder and says, “El, I-”

Freezes when she sees it's him. For a moment, she looks... remorseful, maybe? But it's gone in a second, so it was probably just his imagination. Her chin tilts up and her eyebrow lifts.

“I'm not fucking groveling for thinking you're cute enough to screw,” she says. She turns back around, looks at herself in the mirror. “So, if you're here for an apology, you should leave.”

“Eliot said you probably wouldn't,” Quentin takes a step into the room and lifts the bottle. “But maybe you wanna get drunk and see what happens?”

She stands up, turns around and leans back against her desk. “Is that a- are you hitting on me, Coldwater?”

“Do you still think I'm, uh. 'cute enough to screw' if Eliot already screwed me?” Quentin asks, coming closer. Her eyes narrow and she studies him. “Because, um. Eliot won the- the competition. So, if that's all you cared about, then I guess that's all we need to say to each other.”

“What happened with you and Eliot?” she asks, and her voice is softer than he expected.

“You want the details?” He opens the bottle with shaking fingers, gulps some of it down and shivers when it hits him. “I mean, he fucked me. Pretty straight-forward. I could draw you a diagram if you want.”

“Maybe later,” she says. She holds out her hand. He gives her the bottle but, instead of drinking from it, she puts it on the desk behind her with a quiet clunk. “Quentin. I'm not great at- squishy bullshit feelings. I don't really want to be. But we're, you know.” She hesitates.

“Friends?” Quentin offers.

“I mean, I guess if we have to put a label on it,” she says. “You could use. That one. It's as good as any. Seriously, though, Eliot- you know what he's like-”

Does he?

“-so excuse me for wanting more detail than 'open ass; insert dick'.” She folds her arms over each other, levels a steady gaze at him. “Spill. You know you want to. You're, like, made of feelings.”

Yeah, that's him, all right. Bullseye, right to the fucking target. Quentin Coldwater: messy wreck of stupid feelings.

“Eliot said if we screwed, it didn't change anything else,” he says, with a shrug. “We'll still be- be friends. So, you know. We decided why not go for it?” Boldly, with 'cute enough to screw' on fucking repeat in his brain, he reaches out and brushes his knuckles against her arm. “He said that you two ended up in bed together a couple of times. And you're still- whatever you are. So why the fuck not?”

“He said that.” Margo drops her arms, straightens up from her lean against the desk, and his hand brushes against her breasts for the briefest of moments before he snatches his hand back, flushing. “Eliot said those words.”

The doubt in her voice makes him bristle, a little.

“Jesus, Margo, if you don't want me now that it doesn't win your stupid game, just fucking say that,” Quentin snaps, taking a step back. It had seemed like such a smart idea, back in his dorm. Just go to Margo, make the same things clear to her that Eliot had made clear to him. Get everything sorted out. But Quentin wasn't Eliot – not like he didn't fucking already know that – so he'd fucked it all up. “Don't fucking hide behind Eliot.”

“Who's fucking hiding?” Margo takes a step forward, heels clicking on the floor. “How dare you. After El and I took you under our goddamn wings-”

“-right, yeah, your big project.” And his voice cracks which is- horrifically embarrassing but Margo doesn't- doesn't back down because of it, just tilts her head slightly. He reaches forward and cups her face and, fuck, his hands are shaking still, he doesn't get how Eliot made this so easy, and he tugs her towards him clumsily. Stands there like an idiot, with his mouth an inch away from hers, not willing to take the plunge if she doesn't-

She kisses him.

Oh, thank christ, she fucking kisses him.

He kisses back, frantic. He steps into her and they bump backwards against the desk and, okay, that's easy to fix. Quentin slides his hands under her, pulls her up to sit and now he can push closer, in between her legs and press his whole body up against hers.

There's a sharp clink, then liquid sloshing harshly, as Margo's hand knocks over the vodka bottle. Margo tastes like alcohol, but not vodka. She's been drinking up here alone, then, since Eliot left- left to come talk to him

To come fuck him.

Quentin breaks the kiss, breathes against her skin, whispers, “Is this okay? Are you okay?” as he pets trembling fingers down the sides of her shirt.

“I'm always fan-fucking-tastic,” she says, taking his chin in her hand and tilting his face towards hers. “I assume El got you off. You gonna be able to get it up for me?”

He takes in a steadying breath, rocks his hips against hers. “Yeah, I got it covered, thanks.”

Quentin pulls her in for another kiss because that- that makes sense, that feels good. Because if he doesn't, he's not sure what to do with all the feelings sparking through him. Made of feelings, he thinks. Cute enough to screw.

Maybe it won't be like with Eliot, maybe she won't still want to be around him, after, not in public.

Only one way to find out.

He slides his fingers into her hair, which is- thick and glorious and he uses it as an anchor to press her against him more tightly. Kisses up the line of her jaw and licks under her ear, asks, “Naked – can I? Can I see you?”

“Tit for tat,” she says back, her hands ghosting up and under his shirt, nails scraping against his skin and making him shudder. “You wanna see me with my clothes off? You go first, Coldwater.”

Yeah, okay. That's fair. He backs away from kissing her, shrugs off his button-down, reaches down to yank off his shirt-

-fuck, gets caught up in it as he tries to pull it over his head, and he hears her laugh, feels her fingers press against his stomach and she says, low and mocking, “Take your time. No rush.”

He can feel himself flushing all over, embarrassed and too hot, and her fingertips trace the lines of heat all over his chest where he gets blotchy and red. He finally manages to get his fucking shirt off and throw it down on the floor and her face is bright and amused.

“Your turn,” he manages to spit out, breathless. Her legs wrap around him, yank him tight against her, her skirt bunching up around her waist. His hips roll against hers, involuntary, wanting-wanting-wanting. He puts his hands near the bottom of her shirt, which he thinks – does it have both buttons and a zipper? It does. Shiny buttons down the front and a zipper along the left side. He thumbs the tab of the zipper, feeling bemused.

“Oh, no, honey. You are not helping me with this,” Margo says, still chuckling. “You'd tear my skin off by accident.”

He blushes harder, slides his hands down to her hips, over the tight fabric of her skirt, out of the way as she unzips and lifts her arms and... and shimmies the top up and over her head. Her breasts are still in a black lacy bra, but it's partially see-through, and he wants to... He rubs his thumbs over her hips, glides his hands up over her skin, soft and smooth. “I learned-uh. Eliot taught me a spell. For, um. For protection, but I don't know if it-”

“I've been angling to bang you for weeks now,” Margo says, and she braces her hands back on the desk. “Trust me, I'm prepared.”

She looks like she might start laughing again any minute so- clumsily, desperately- Quentin kisses her, hands circling around to her back, tugging at her bra and undoing it. He yanks her up against him so that he can works the straps off, kisses down her throat, nips at the upper curve of her breasts.

“That's right,” she says, thoughtful, and her hands are gentle on his shoulders. “El likes it when his boys go rough on his tits, doesn't he? Did you leave marks, honey? He likes that, too.”

Quentin breathes out against her skin, unsteady and dizzy and why can't he fucking make her stop thinking about Eliot? He kisses the slope of her breast again, more softly, nuzzles down to the nipple, licks at it and sucks.

“Mmm, yeah, mama likes that,” she purrs and what is with this thing she and Eliot have, anyway? Why do they both- she yanks on his hair, hard, then soothes her hand through, cooing at him. “There we go. Are you a good boy, Coldwater? Or are you a naughty boy?”

“I don't wanna play games,” he says, pressing his heated cheek against her skin. “Can't we just fuck?”

She tugs on his hair again, pulls him away so that his face tilts up towards her. “But I like games. Jesus, your face is red. Do you have any blood left for your dick?”

As an answer, he rocks against her, presses his painfully-hard cock against the heat of her pussy that he can still manage to feel through three layers of cloth. She flexes up against him, her legs tightening around his ass and making it ache again.

“Besides, you're the one who came to me still limping from how hard my best friend fucked you,” she says, with an edge to her voice. “I'm not sure you have any room to complain about games.”

It is- fuck, so fucking unfair of her to- when they were the ones who-

“Then make me forget him,” he says, instead, because he's not going to get his- his messy feelings all over her. “Unless you think you can't manage that.” Her hand tightens in his hair until it hurts, and he bucks against her without meaning to.

There- he recognizes that look in her eyes. He hadn't know what it had meant, had thought it was that she didn't like Eliot, but he knows now that it's the light of- of competition, of getting there first. Or harder and better, maybe, in this case.

“I'll make you forget your own goddamn name,” she growls, yanking him down for a kiss. She bites at his mouth and it stings and he thinks he might even be bleeding and-

“Prove it,” he says against her mouth, because if she wants to play games so badly, then he can- he can. “Do you want- the bed or- or right here?”

He remembers, dimly, that he hasn't shut the door into the hallway. There are people, down in the common room. Todd, and some others whose names he doesn't know.

If it doesn't bother Margo, he won't let it bother him.

Her hands are on his waistline, tugging his pants open. He hears her mutter to herself, under her breath, yanking and sounding irritable and then- then his pants and boxers are gone and-

“Jesus, are you gonna fucking make me walk out of here with my cock hanging out?”

But her hand is on his dick now, and she's not being gentle about it. Her hands are small but strong, and doing all sorts of fancy things with fingers that make him feel- why are you so dense, Coldwater?- the words come back to him with a burst of shame, because it's so fucking obvious, looking back, that she hadn't been complaining about his spellwork.

“Don't get your balls in a twist,” Margo says, the lazy tone of her voice at odds with the brisk, harsh touch of her hand. “I'll give you something to wear on your walk of shame. Something you can keep as a souvenir.” She laughs, low and throaty. “A trophy.” She yanks him even closer, using his dick like a leash, and he buries his burning face against her shoulder.

She presses the head of his dick against her panties, and he can feel the wet heat of her pussy just on the other side. Slides it up, so that he rubs up against her soft stomach. She reaches around him, grabs at his ass, yanks at him, exposes him to the air and- fuck, fuck the door is open right behind him.

“Shame El cleaned you up,” she says, her fingers pressing against him, his muscles twitching uncontrollably. He gasps, ruts up against her skin. “It would have been kind of fun to stick my fingers in while you were still wet from him.” He strokes her back, shaking and helpless.

They've been loud. There isn't a ward on her room, he doesn't think, because- because when he left his dorm, he'd been able to feel the buzz of magic slide over his skin as he left the room, and he didn't feel that coming in here. And the door is open.

“Can I- can I fuck you now?” He can barely get the words out. Her fingers press right at where he remembers Eliot pushing into him, and his ass clenches and spasms and he only just manages to stop himself from- from asking her to please do it, shove her fingers in, do it hard. As if she heard his thoughts, a curious fingertip breaches the ring of muscle and slips inside. He feels sore and dry and tense and it takes everything he has not to- to hump back onto her hand.

She laughs again, pulling her finger out, and he jerks at the sound of it, cock twitching against her stomach. “Is that what you want?” She says something else, a phrase he recognizes from Eliot, and when her finger presses against him again, it's slick and smooth and slides right inside. “You wanna fuck or be fucked, honey?”

“Please,” he whispers against her skin, flushed and humiliated and aching. “Please, Margo.”

His ass is- fuck, loose from what Eliot had done, and she plays around for a few aching minutes. One finger at first, circling around the rim and dipping inside. Then she slides two in, finds that place that Eliot had – his prostate, Quentin remembers from his- his own research – and he can't help it, fucks himself back against her hand.

As soon as he does, she pulls her fingers out, smacks his ass once with the flat of her hand, hard enough to make him shudder. “I shouldn't let you fuck me. You haven't earned it,” she says, but she's touching his dick again. “So, you know, don't think this is for you. This is for me.”

Margo doesn't take her panties off. She just- just tugs them to the side, guides his dick to her pussy, and his hips twitch, and he's inside her, shallow, just his cockhead. She's wet- so wet- and burning hot, and he has to hold still and take deep, gulping breaths, just to keep himself from coming as soon as he's inside.

She wraps her hands around his shoulders, lifts herself off the desk, her legs tightening against his back, until he's as far in as he can go. He flails out to get some purchase as she pulls herself up against his body, his hand thumping against the mirror. “Shouldn't be surprised you're making me do all the work,” she says, and she sounds disappointed and he mouths at her breast apologetically, licks to try to find her nipple. Her hips presses against his. “And you're definitely smaller than the last dick I had in me.”

“Sorry,” he breathes against her skin. Flinches when he hears his own voice. He hadn't meant to-

“Well, you can't help it,” she says, petting the back of his neck. “How about we figure out a way for you to make it up to me?”

He holds himself up against the mirror, tentatively strokes the dip of her lower back with his other hand. She smells like Eliot, when he's this close, and he wonders if they share body lotion or- or something. “I'm not- I don't really know what to do,” and there's a relief there, in actually admitting that to someone, that he's had sex but he's not sure how to make it good. Because Margo might – will probably – make fun of him for it, but she also might- might tell him what he should be doing.

“I can tell.” Her hips are still working against his, and her voice is- mostly kind. “Okay, that hand of yours isn't doing any good on my back. Bring it around to my cunt. Find my clit and touch me there.”

That's a- a lot to try to remember. Quentin does his best, holding himself up with one hand and slipping the other one between their bodies. He fumbles against her skirt, manages to press his fingers against the wet heat of her slit.

“Higher,” she tells him, impatiently. “Harder. I've gotten better friction from my goddamn pillow, Coldwater. Put some effort into it. If you come before I do, you won't be fucking happy about it.”

She says that, but she's- relentless, fucking up against him so hard that it jolts him, her heels digging into his skin and her fingers gripping his shoulders so tightly he thinks he might bruise. He rubs where she tells him, hard and fast, bites down on his swollen lip to distract himself from how Margo feels around his dick.

Quentin sways, his hand sliding against the mirror.

Margo feels so amazing and he can't-

He can't.

When he comes, his knees buckle, and he lands on the floor with a harsh thump that reignites the lingering pain in his ass. His left knee cracks against the leg of the desk, and it hurts but beyond the physical sting, he- “I couldn't- couldn't hold on,” he says, shame pooling in the center of his stomach.

“Put your hand back where it belongs,” she tells him, and her voice is sharp but he deserves it. She unwraps her legs from his back and – fuck, at least he'd taken the brunt of the fall, not her -- she straddles him. His cock is still inside her, but he can feel himself softening, and he shivers when she rocks her hips.

He rubs at her clit and he doesn't need to brace himself anymore, so he uses his other hand to tease her nipples while he kisses and sucks at the curves of her breasts. He doesn't feel relaxed or relieved, like he should after coming, still feels keyed up and anxious.

“That's it,” she coaxes, and she circles and works her hips against him, and it- it's so much, as her pussy clings at his dick, trying to keep him inside, every little movement too-too much against oversensitive skin. He tells her that, in a tiny voice. She strokes through his hair. Says, “Well, that's your own fault, isn't it?”

“Yeah,” he agrees, almost voiceless, pressing his mouth against her skin. “Yeah.”

She tightens around him, that ache sharpening, and he yelps out, high-pitched and pathetic – then she's touching his wrist and she says, “Okay, honey, I'm pulling off now.”

Margo looks a fuckton more relaxed and- right, yeah, of course. She had to push and yank him into place to make it work, but she got what she wanted out of it, in the end.

She tugs her skirt back down, reaches over and picks up her bra and top, starts putting herself back together while Quentin sits on the floor and watches her. “Um. Margo, do you have silencing wards on your room?”

“Only when I bother to put them up,” she says, not looking up from where she's yanking her bra into place. “And since I wasn't expecting company – or, well, not that kind of company – we gave the Cottage quite the little show back there. If anyone was paying attention.”

Quentin draws his knees up under himself. Now that Margo's almost dressed, he feels weird about being naked. “Um. What did you do to my pants? Are you really gonna- uh.”

“Your pants are fine,” she says, and she rolls her middle finger over her pointer finger, and his pants pop out of the air and land on his face. He pulls them off, flushing again. “No, I wasn't really gonna make you walk back without them, Q. I'm a bitch but I'm not that bitch.”

“Yeah,” he says. “Okay. Thanks.”

It takes him a bit to get off the floor, especially since Margo just leans back and watches and doesn't lift a finger to help.

He puts his pants on first. Margo didn't bring back his boxers from wherever she'd banished them but that's- fine. He has others. It's only after he's half-dressed that he finally dares to glance behind at the open doorway. No one in sight.

“So, are we good now?” Margo asks and it's-

It's such a surprising question. Or maybe the way she asks it is what startles him. Like- like he's the reason they did all that.

“Uh,” he manages. Tries to stall for time. “I don't know?”

“Seriously?” Margo sighs and looks up at the ceiling, like she's asking for strength. “Coldwater... go back to your dorm. Drink some water. Sleep. And, ugh. Fine. Whatever. I'm not sorry for screwing you but I guess I'm sorry for- I don't know. Hurting your feelings?”

“Wow, Margo.” Quentin picks up his shirt and wrestles it over his head. “I really felt the sincerity.”

“Go sit on a dick,” she says, reflexively, but then she grins. “Oh, too late, huh?” Then she gives his face a critical look. “Shit, I did a number on that mouth of yours.”

“I think you left bruises on my shoulders, too,” Quentin says, reaching up and rubbing over the dim ache, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “You have a pretty strong grip.”

“Magician's hands.” She holds them up, wiggles her fingers. “Yours are coming along, so don't get jealous.”

“Margo, I... we're good,” he says. And he's not sure if it's true or not, but he'll make it true.

“Okay, then get going. I need to brush my hair all over again now.” She waves him away with impatient hands.

Going back out into the hallway is- well, no one is out there and all the doors are shut, so it's kind of anti-climatic, honestly. Quentin rests his hand on the bannister as he drifts down the stairs. He's left the vodka in Margo's room, but she'll probably get better use out of it than he would, anyway. He tells himself, as he walks down each step, that he's not gonna look into the common room when he reaches the ground floor. He's just gonna walk out the door.

He looks. Of course, he looks.

There's a handful of students chattering together, Todd among them, and they fall silent when he glances over and he wonders if they heard. Wonders if any them had come up and watched.

His skin feels hot all over, too tight.

He takes in a quick breath, goes out the door.

Quentin doesn't go back to the dorms right away. He wanders a bit, even though all the walking makes his ass twinge. He keeps licking at his mouth and being surprised at how it stings. They left fingerprints all over him. He walks until it starts to get dark out, then turns his feet in the direction of his dormitory.

Penny isn't still in the entrance hall. Maybe he went for dinner. Maybe he went up and kicked Eliot out of their room.

Quentin goes to Julia's room, knocks on the door, waits a bit, pushes it open.

Julia isn't there but her roommate is. At first, it seems like Kady is just going to grunt a greeting and ignore him, like normal, then she takes a second look at him, and her eyes widen.

“Christ, Coldwater. Who rode you hard and put you away wet?”

Quentin gives kind of a helpless half-shrug. Goes over and collapses on Julia's bed. Face-down, because that seems like a better idea.

He feels Kady sit next to him, gingerly put her hand at the small of his back. It's kind of a huge gesture for her to make towards him, so he does his best not to stiffen up and pull away. “If you- need to talk about some shit- I guess I can listen until Wicker gets back.”

“I'm fine,” he mumbles into Julia's pillow.

“Yeah, you look... fine,” Kady says. “Loving life, obviously.”

“You can be funny when you bother to talk,” Quentin tells her. “You never talk in class. Or outside it, really.”

“Most people are too boring to talk to.” She shifts on the bed, her hand moving away. “I mean, you and Wicker talk about kids' fantasy books. Not super-interesting when we actually have magic in real life. If I'm gonna bother to read a book, I want it to have, you know, at least some soft-core porn in it.”

“Flawless logic,” Quentin says, and he even mostly means it. He presses his face against the pillow.

“Are you falling asleep on me, Coldwater?” she asks, sounding more amused than indignant.

He closes his eyes and lets time float away from him and only opens them again when he feels a hand – familiar and dear and trusted – brushing over his shoulders, encouraging him to roll over onto his back. He winces a little as he does, squints up at Julia's face. “Hey, Jules.”

“Hey. Shove over so I can get on my own bed, dummy.” And Julia climbs up next to him and snuggles in. “I'm guessing the talk with Eliot and Margo didn't go well? It's been a while since I found you hiding out in my bed. Like, pre-Brakebills, a while.”

“Do you remember Heather?” Quentin asks, and Julia's nose wrinkles and her forehead creases.

“Um, yeah. Sure?” Julia props herself up on her elbow and gives him a closer look. “I haven't thought about her in months. She moved to- uh... to London, I think, after graduation. We kinda lost touch.”

“Yeah, it was London.” She'd told him about it, the last time she'd fucked him. She'd smacked him on the thigh and joked what a shame it was she couldn't pack him up in her bags and take him with her. But, of course, that would have meant telling Julia. Or anyone, really. “We were dating. Kind of.”

“You never said. She never said.” Julia sounds... beyond shocked. That's probably something he should find insulting, but that seems like it would take up too much energy to care about, right now. “I didn't think you even liked each other.”

“Yeah,” Quentin says. Stares up at the ceiling. Thinks about telling her about the first time Heather had kissed him, helping him clean up after a party. How she'd gone icy cold afterwards and made him promise not to tell anyone. Or about when she'd pulled out her strap-on and how much it had hurt when she'd jammed it up in him and how she'd rolled her eyes at him and called him a wimp who couldn't handle a little rough sex. “I guess she thought it would be weird.”

“It is kinda weird,” Julia says. “We were only really friends because she did that work-study with James. Did you two even have anything in common?”

“Not much,” Quentin admits. She'd liked his card tricks at first, but she'd gotten bored with them pretty quickly. She never got tired of the sex, at least, but he- he hadn't liked it. They'd had tons of sex, she'd fucked him so many times, and he'd never really liked it. How had he not realized that before?

“Everything before Brakebills feels so far away now,” Julia says. Then, “I broke up with James. On the phone, which is- such a coward's way out.”

“I'm sorry.” And he reaches over and tugs her down into a hug. “I know how much you- did you think about- about telling him?”

She laughs a little. Then she cries, pressing her face against his chest. He cups the back of her head, gently, then smooths his hand down her back. Months ago, a lifetime ago, there might have been a tiny asshole part of him that would have been relieved to hear she was single again, but now... now he just hurts for her.

After she cries herself out, she goes and grabs water for both of them.

Kady has long-since retreated to her own bed, earphones firmly on and blasting some random song from, like, the eighties or something, but when Julia comes back with three bottles of water, she takes one greedily, and chugs half of it down straight off.

“Yeah, you're welcome,” Julia says to her, sitting back down on her own bed and handing Quentin a bottle. “You didn't say how things went. With Margo and Eliot. You went off on that tangent about Heather instead. Do I- uh. Do I need to punch Margo?”

“What?”

Julia's hand touches his mouth, hesitantly, where it's scabbed over. “Did she hit you or-”

And that is- that is so completely not what-

Quentin giggles, high-pitched and hysterical, slams his palm over his face just to stop the noise. Julia looks even more concerned now. And he doesn't want her to try to hurt Margo because that seems like it could go so badly for everyone, so-

Well. Not unless you mean with her face.”

“You kissed Margo? Or- did you have sex with Margo?” Julia's face is, again, almost insultingly incredulous. “Today? Just now? Is that where you were for, like, eight hours? Wait. No. Uh. Start from the beginning. You left the dorms to go to the physical cottage-”

It feels like. Like a lifetime ago, honestly.

“Yeah. So, the reason-” He almost has to think back to remember why. “Um. They both wanted to- uh. Have sex with me?” He can't even blame Julia for how disbelieving she looks. He can't really believe it either. “I guess they have- um. Pretty strong competitive streaks, so it started off as just, you know, a little thing. And kinda snowballed as they tried to-. They didn't even realize how much they were fighting in front of me.”

It's funny, actually, in retrospect. Right?

“Did they make you pick?” Julia asks, brushing his hair out of his face. “Must have been weird for you, having a guy say he wants to fuck you.”

“What do you mean?” Quentin frowns at her, confused.

“I mean. Because you're straight?”

Quentin blinks at her for a long moment.

“Um. I'm... not?” He was, like, ninety percent certain he'd told her this, before. “We've literally talked about how we'd both sleep with Zac Efron?”

“Celebrities don't count. Do they?” Julia looks horrifically conflicted, maybe because of all the times she's sighed over how beautiful Mila Kunis was. So. She obviously needs some time to process that on her own for a while. She seems to realize that, too, as she asks, faintly, “Wait, but you did sleep with Margo? You said that's where your cut lip came from.”

“I mean. Not just with Margo.” Because he can talk about it, that's part of the fucking point. They'd been openly chasing him and they'd gotten him and he was allowed to talk about it. Eliot hadn't cared whether or not Penny knew and Margo hadn't cared whether or not the entire physical discipline knew. Even if he never got anything else, even if they did just- just ignore him tomorrow, they couldn't pretend they hadn't ever wanted him.

And he thinks- he thinks he believes Eliot when he says that he won't- won't start ignoring Quentin now. And if Margo is as good a friend of Eliot's as Quentin is beginning to believe she is, that means Margo won't ignore him either.

“Wow.” Julia flops onto her back dramatically. “Was it... good? It seems like they went kind of... rough on you? For a first time.”

“I've had rougher,” he says, and he can feel Julia's eyes practically burning a hole in the side of his face. “But. Yeah. It was-”

He hesitates. Licks at his lip.

“It was pretty intense.” He'd felt – exposed and raw and seen. In a way he wasn't sure he'd ever been before. Even now, he feels like- like the scab on his lip does, like too much pressure would break it all open again. “But- uh. You don't need to punch anyone, I promise.”

“I would, you know,” she tells him. Reaches over and grabs his hand with hers. “If you wanted me to, I would.”

“Thanks, Jules.”