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

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Margo adores Eliot and she holds an ever-growing fondness for Quentin.

But oh, holy shit, does she wish they would get their heads out of their asses already.

When she rolled over last night, she thought she was witnessing the energized aftermath of weepy confessions of eternal love but no.

No.

It had been the aftermath, apparently, of confessions of best friendship.

They are her favorite people in the world but, oh lord, they are as fucking clueless and helpless as day-old kittens. And it's not her job to fucking shepherd them to emotional growth and happiness. She came to Ibiza for fucking magic orgy week and she is gonna goddamn enjoy it no matter what.

Especially since there's a chance they might have to take on the Dean for El's sake once they get back.

“Even if Reilly did tell someone, Eliot is safe here for now,” Margo reassures Quentin during dinner-slash-breakfast after they all get up from their nap and her boys get her up to speed on current events. “We're not the only people on the island early and they've had to deal with attempted party crashers in the past. These days, only magicians with invites can portal in for the whole week before Encanto Oculto starts.”

Still, they do come up with the bones of a plan — assess the situation with Reilly, see if he can be reasoned with then, if not, be prepared to sneak into the Dean's back office for El's memories once they're removed.

“It's against policy to just snap them out of existence,” Margo tells them. She's learned a lot about it from an angry girl she occasionally screws who'd been tossed out and is hedging it while trying to get her memories back. She doesn't tell them that part. Quentin, she thinks, might be disappointed she isn't trying to help Marina get her memories back, and Eliot would be disappointed she's banging a hedge often enough to get life updates. And she's not sure how well 'she's a grade-A bitch who deserved to get kicked from Brakebills' would go over as a defense in either case. “Because if the situation changes and they get invited back, then they also get back their memories.”

Once they have their rough plan in place, they refocus on the week ahead. Margo is frustrated her boys didn't actually confess The Big Love when they had the perfect fucking opportunity, but it also means things haven't changed yet. She's not entirely certain what will change once the l-word gets brought out, but Eliot is already getting more monogamy-minded by the day, so Encanto Oculto might be her last week of getting to have her two favorite people in bed with her.

But for now, she can still tug Quentin towards her and remind him how much he wanted to lick her ass. He flushes and says, “yeah“ in a voice that makes it clear just how how bad he wants it. She pilfers pillows from multiple rooms this time, so that she and Quentin can both be tucked up on them, because Quentin also still really wants his spanking from El but Eliot is feeling hesitant about his telekinesis still.

She kisses Quentin to warm him up, long drugging kisses while he tugs and twists at her nipples and she wakes up his dick with soft, teasing touches. She understands better now, she thinks, about the kinds of things that might hurt him. Enough that she can stay far, far away from them.

Once she's face-down on the bed again, fully-nude this time and breasts pleasantly tender, she feels his hand on her lower back for a moment. He casts Pertrick's and — fuck, it still feels so much more amazing than any descriptions could make her believe. It's not quite as startling as when he did it on her earlier for the very first time, but it's still a fucking lot.

“Oh, honey,” she pants into the pillow. “That's-”

He kisses her wet asshole and she gasps and pushes back against him. Quentin kisses her and tongues her and puts gentle strong fingers in where she's open and willing for him. She can also feel it every time El smacks him, the way it makes him shock up against her and then redouble his efforts to please.

And he does, he does, until she's squirming back onto his face and cursing with every breath. Her cunt aches for attention but she ignores it for now, wanting more of Quentin's mouth and hands right where they already are.

“You should- ah! Fuck my ass, little Q,” she tells him, her hair getting caught in her mouth when she tries to talk. “No time like the- the present.”

He flips her over on the bed which is — really pretty hot — puts his hand on her belly just above her quivering, desperate mound. “But we didn't have a ticker-tape parade,” Quentin says and that is- what a fucking sap, to remember exactly what she'd said.

Eliot catches him from behind, runs his hands over Quentin's hips.

“Special exception,” she says. “Just this once. And maybe afterwards, you can finger me, because I do desperately want my pussy stuffed.”

“I could do that,” Eliot says which-

He doesn't appear to notice her reaction — he kisses Quentin's cheek, brushes his knuckles over Q's hard dick and clarifies, “We could fuck you at the same time.”

Which- they've double-teamed boys before, but he-

“Yeah, okay,” she says, because she doesn't want to make it weird if it doesn't already feel weird to him. “I can ride you while Q fucks me from behind?”

And Eliot looks like he genuinely thinks that's a great idea so, sure. Okay.

“I need to get stretched out if I'm gonna get fucked by your monster dick,” she points out.

He whispers something in Q's ear to make him flush and nod. Then Eliot looks down at her, eyes dark. “As my lady wishes.” It sends an unexpected zing of heat through her body.

They lie down on either side of her, do it together, their fingers getting all tangled up as they tease and stretch her. Quentin gets his mouth on her tit, licking and sucking the nipple between his lips, lightly nipping at her with his teeth. Eliot — with his stupidly-long body — kisses her mouth and neck.

She doesn't ask him if he's sure. It seems insulting somehow. But he answers anyway, tells her, “I'm in a rare mood, dearest. And, rumor has it, I'll be able to feel his dick inside you.”

“Yeah,” she confirms, breathless. She's done it before, had dicks coming from all angles — actually, she thinks the most recent time was during last year's Encanto Oculto — and they'd told her they could. They could feel it. Though people say all kinds of things, during sex.

They stretch her until they can each fit in two fingers, pulling her apart from both sides, and until she comes, shuddering, splayed out and opened up.

She climbs up on El's naked body and- fuck, the way he studies her is intense and hot. He's so present, maybe, not mindless at all in his arousal. Quentin presses up against her, puts his hands on her hips. That familiar look flashes across Eliot's face when he glances at Q — twitterpated as fuck — but then he's back with her again, a curious hand tracing over her stomach.

He's only got a semi, so Quentin says, “Oh! I can-” and ducks down to blow El until he's standing up proud and hard. He keeps his hand on El's dick after, which is probably a smart choice all-around.

Margo hesitates a moment, then Eliot blows her a kiss, as fond as ever, so she lets Quentin put him between her legs and-

“Oh, shit, hold up a second,” she gasps. “Encanto Oculto hasn't- hasn't officially kicked off, I need to-” and she does the spell against conception while awkwardly hovering over El's cock.

But then she's good and she's sliding down Eliot's cock and she says, a little dreamy, “Jesus, we joke about how big your dick is, but fucking teatime in goddamn hell, it really is like a motherfucking horse's, Christ.”

“Yes, I'm sure Jesus would appreciate being the sandwich for a conversation about dick size,” Eliot says, dryly, as if he isn't a million times more lapsed than she is. “Don't go too fast, Bambi. You can take your time.”

He doesn't have to warn her. She's not gonna rush this. She loves fucking Q, and she's enjoyed fucking all the people she's been with in the last while, but it's been some time since she had anything quite as big as El's dick inside her.

Quentin watches it all with eager eyes, gaze fixed onto where Eliot is slowly disappearing into her cunt. He slides his hand down as she moves lower, finally flattening it out and then pulling away once she sinks, fuck, all the way down.

“Wow,” Q says, the way he does when he learns a new spell or she blows his mind with metatextual analysis. He touches them both like they might pop like soap bubbles and it's cute but really not necessary.

She grabs his shoulders, yanks him over to straddle El backwards for a minute so that she can make out with him and reach down to pet at his dick. He makes a concerned little noise, probably worrying that the cleaning and lubing spells aren't enough to make his mouth kissable after going at her ass, because he settles down after she says, “You taste good; stop fretting.”

Then Margo pushes him away playfully, says, “Get behind me, foul tempter,” and gracefully collapses onto Eliot's chest once Q's out of the way. Shifting like that moves the way El's dick is angled inside her, makes her shudder.

Eliot brushes her hair out of her face, says, “You feel nice, Bambi,” in much the same way he's told her he likes her outfits — with a great deal of affection and fondness and aesthetic approval and a great lacking in the desire to bend her over and stick his dick in her.

“Right back atcha, El,” she says, and she folds her arms on his chest, leans her chin on her wrists, and gazes up at him, feeling unaccountably comfortable and soft, considering the circumstances.

Quentin moves her hair off the back of her neck and she shivers, clenching around El's cock. He kisses her, kisses a warm line down her spine, his hands softly caressing as he goes. Pulls her asscheeks apart and licks her there again, delicately, goes down further to kiss at where the base of El's dick is jammed up against her pussy.

She feels his hair against her thighs but not his mouth for a while and she thinks, based on context clues, that he's sucking on El's balls, rolling them in his fingers to make Eliot gasp and shift.

Margo's always loved the way Eliot looks when he's turned on – he's the happiest motherfucker in the world when he has a boy's hand or mouth or ass on his dick, all giggles and smiles. He's still like that with Quentin, but he also gets quiet and thoughtful at times, like a whole lot more is happening in his brain than just an orgasm. Maybe that's what love – goopy romantic love – is about. It'll be interesting to watch, anyway, once he's willing to actually open his mouth and say the words.

Quentin kisses his way back up to her ass again, really digging his face in and licking into her. He's so hungry and desperate, all the time. It's a fucking crime to take that kind of enthusiasm and-

She buries the thought, pushes back against Q's mouth.

“Fuck me already before I get bored,” she says, and Quentin laughs and kisses her harder. He cups a handful of her ass and pulls away for a moment.

“Can I?”

“Yeah, yeah,” she tells him, already tensing up in anticipation. He gives her – ah! – three sharp strikes, then digs his fingers into her hot skin.

“That felt fantastic,” Eliot comments to Quentin, she thinks, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and tugging her up a little on his dick. “Do it again, baby.”

Because he's a good boy – he's Eliot's very good boy – Quentin listens and Margo gets the benefits, wiggling and squirming and moaning on El's dick as Quentin smacks her ass. She's honestly not sure how long he does it. She loses track.

She's shivering even with light touches by the time he stops and her ass must be bright red and she wants-

“Q – Quentin, there's a- there's a camera in my bag, I wanna have – El, are you okay if Q takes a-”

Eliot translates her babbling successfully, directing Quentin to manifest her camera out of her bag in the other room and into his palm. Then Eliot takes her ass in both hands, hoists her up, checks in, “You want my face in this, Bambi, or just my dick inside you and your gorgeous ass?”

“Face,” she says, instantly. “I wanna see you later.”

Eliot's hands slide down to frame her thighs, and she doesn't even have to try to picture it, because she's gonna be able to look later, see the way El's cock is splitting her wide and how flushed her ass is from Quentin's hand. She hears the camera, and it's a fucking expensive one so she hopes Quentin knows how to operate a real camera and not just his phone.

He doesn't sound like he's dropping it, at least.

“Take a fuckton,” she shouts out, wriggling in El's hands. “I'm not trusting you to get the perfect moment or angle. Give me options.”

“Oh, god, stop moving around and let me concentrate, holy shit, Margo,” Quentin says, and he's using his frustrated nerd voice, so she settles down a little, because that means he's probably studied it, at least enough not to completely fuck up. “If you got disciplined for being bratty, it would take your entire life to actually carry out the damn punishment.”

“Mouthy,” she mutters, but she stops moving. Waits for him to take some pictures. “Are you done yet? Stick your dick in me, already.”

“You asked me to-” he breaks off, laughing again. “Fine, fine. I'll fucking stick my dick in you, you classy bitch.”

“You fucking bet I am.”

And she hears him set down the camera on the table, come back over and put his hands on her. In contrast to his voice, all impatient and annoyed with her, he kisses her skin like she's his goddess, licks at the dip in her back, holds her hips like she's priceless treasure. She can feel him getting in place behind her, pressing the blunt head of his dick against her asshole and it – it's been a while since she had anything up there and she's stretched out but she's also, fuck, already so full with El.

When he slips inside, it's like all the air gets pushed out of her in one long breath. There's just- there's just not enough room for anything else. The first real thrust makes her squeak and slides her body up along Eliot's cock, and her eyes fly up to El's face, where his mouth is twitching up into a helpless smile and she knows he feels it but she asks anyway, “Is it good? Is it what you wanted?”

Eliot strokes through her hair, nods, says, “Yes, I- I can-”

His head lulls back against the pillows and he bites at his lip. Quentin fucks into her again, and he's holding onto her hips, so that when he pulls out, he tugs her back down onto Eliot, mama adores a clever boy, and she can see it on El's face, his eyelashes fluttering as he takes it in.

“He's such a good boy to daddy and mama,” Eliot says, and she loves it when their minds are hitting the same groove, and his voice is all husky and low as he pulls at her hair. “Fuck, what a good boy.”

Quentin's fingers tighten on her hips. His next thrust makes her yelp and bury her face down against her arms. She feels so fucking weightless right now, like she'd float off into space if she weren't tethered by Quentin's hands as he fucks her up off of El and then yanks her back down.

He smooths his hands over her hips, leans over her and kisses her shoulders, asks, hesitant and breathy, “Is- is mama getting what she needs?” and it fucking punches her into an orgasm that leaves her gasping and Eliot, Eliot going-

“Holy fuck, Bambi,” as her cunt tightens around him like a vise. “Jesus, I don't blame you, but don't break my dick off, okay?”

“Mouthy,” Margo says again, faintly. “Mouthy boy.”

She's gonna feel that one for a while.

Quentin keeps still a moment, and she lets him, but then she says, “Keep fucking me, honey. I want you to cream inside me.” Because she's sensitive as fuck, but she is gonna milk every second out of this particular screw. She still can't quite believe he actually said it for her.

She feels like- gelatin or pudding or – ha! a gelatinous cube, she should tell that one to Quentin, afterwards, he'll get a kick out of it – and she's not participating at all, really, anymore, just shuddering as Quentin moves her with his hands and his dick. He's so good at – she needs to tell him this sometime – he's so good at making sure no one feels left out when they're fucking. He keeps talking to her, tells her how he wants to be good for her, and for El, and he touches her like a person, not a hole he's fucking so his dick can rub against Eliot's.

He'll be a hit at Encanto Oculto, really, with those instincts of his. They'll have to beat people off with a stick, to make sure he isn't overwhelmed.

Margo hears him moan deep and loud, tug her hips back harder, and she doesn't feel it when he comes and she's already so wet inside from the spell that she can't really tell the difference, but she twitches, anyway, just from knowing. He slips out of her slowly, but she can't even feel empty for more than a second, with Eliot still taking up what feels like most of her stomach and ribcage. She feels... open, though, and tender.

Quentin presses his mouth to her again, kisses himself out of her.

She manages, just barely, to lift her head up to look at Eliot.

“You wanna?” she asks him, and he touches her face so sweetly she almost wants to cry.

“How about Q cleans you off me?” Eliot suggests, gently, and she nods and lays her head back down on his chest. She shivers as he wraps his hands around her ass again, gently tugs her up and off, and now she feels empty, hollowed out, and he rests her back down and she can feel the hard bulk of his dick leaning against her ass. She still feels fucking melted, so she just lets herself sprawl there uselessly as Quentin licks up El's dick, kisses her ass, touches his fingers to her cunt but backs off when she hisses softly.

She does watch Eliot's face as Quentin mouths over his dick, all the shades of desire and pleasure and adoration. His mouth twitching up into a helpless smile and his eyes crinkling up and his throat swallowing reflexively. El is, by far, the prettiest man she knows, and she gazes up at him like he's her own personal Starry Night, sees the delight that overtakes him as he comes all over her ass and lower back.

Quentin cleans it up, of course, though she'll still want a shower later.

“Thanks,” Quentin says, petting over her ass. “That was- you guys are so good at sex.”

“Yeah, that was definitely all us,” Margo says, amused beyond belief. “You had nothing to do with it.”

“I'm not good at sex,” Quentin says, like it's a fact. Margo stops smiling. “You guys are really, um. Good at making it feel good, though.”

“You cannot possibly believe you're bad at sex,” Eliot says, in a flat voice. “Bambi, let's get you over-” He shifts her to the side so that she can lie next to him. She still feels like she doesn't wanna move for about a million years, so that's good. “Get up here, baby.”

Quentin blinks, but goes, cuddling up next to Eliot on his opposite side.

“I didn't say bad,” Quentin says, like the clarification matters. “I just said 'not good'. I- um. I'm like- like play-doh-” and his face twitches a little and she has a sudden awareness that this is not a metaphor that he came up with himself. “-you know? I'm good at. Um. Being the shape people put me in. But it's the other person who- uh. Who matters?” His voice has been getting more and more questioning as he goes on, and she wonders if this is the first time he's said this aloud himself, if before he was always listening to that fucking girl say it. “I can- I can figure out what people like and try to do it? But that's still- um.”

Eliot is biting down on his lip, probably to keep himself from crying because- holy fuck.

“You aren't play-doh,” Margo says, as gently as she knows how. “You're a person, Q. You don't- you're more than-”

She has to blink to keep herself from tearing up too. She reaches across Eliot's body and snatches up Quentin's hand and she is gonna fucking- fucking talk to Wicker. Figure out who this friend of hers was and fucking track her down and have a very very important conversation with her.

“You matter,” Eliot says, and he kisses Quentin on the forehead. “I don't- we don't care about you because we've... molded you into the right shape, okay, baby? We care about you because of you. And I will say that-” he traces his knuckle down Q's cheek. “-I will say that as many times as you need to hear it, okay?”

“Don't fucking 'Perfect Mate' yourself for us, okay?” Margo says, sternly. He blinks a moment, and he can see it when he gets the reference, all soft and 'oh' and thrilled at her for making it in the first place. Since Eliot, just as obviously, does not get the reference, she explains real quick, “A bride becomes whatever personality her future hubby wants her to be.” Then she turns back to Q. “Honey, is that girl the only time you had a lot of sex with the same person? I mean, before us.”

“Well, I mean, yeah,” Quentin says, again like it should be obvious. “I had- uh. Some hook-ups, I guess? But no one has ever- I'm not really boyfriend material, you know?”

“Of course, you are,” Eliot says, devoted and tender and all prince charming in the third act of a disney movie. “You deserve all the love in the world, baby.” And then he stops. She knees him in the side and he fucking ignores her. She's gonna punch him when they're alone again, for missing what is literally the best fucking opening in the goddamn world.

“Thanks, El,” Quentin says, hesitant and awkward. “I- um. You do, too.”

She hates them so much.

 


 

The opening ceremony for Encanto Oculto is... a lot.

Quentin doesn't- he's not technically clinging to Eliot and Margo. That's not a thing that's happening. He just happens to be standing close to them because they're the only people he knows.

But after the sword dancers and the fireworks and the nearly-nude musical number-

-and, okay, Quentin really sees why Eliot and Margo love this event so much, it was basically invented for them-

-then it's time to 'meet the Elders', which is not a thing Quentin even realized was a thing until about five seconds ago, so that's just a bit stressful. There's a long receiving line and apparently there's several clumps of Elders to save time on the process which would be more of a relief if he knew literally anything about it all.

“You'll be fine,” Margo says, patting his hand. “We're covering you for the gift. And they go easy on virgins.”

“I'm not-”

“-virgins to the Encanto Oculto experience, little Q,” Eliot clarifies, sandwiching him from his other side. “It's like going to see Rocky Horror the first time- did you ever do that?”

“Um, I meant to-” Honestly, it had all sounded fairly intimidating.

Then they're in front of about five people who are all very attractive and not wearing a lot of clothes. Four of them look like they might actually deserve being called 'Elders', though they're pulling it off really well, but one of them looks the same age as Quentin.

“Oh, I remember you two,” says a lady he thinks might be in her fifties. “The bag of dicks. Very droll.”

She doesn't particularly sound like she means that.

“They made up for it later on,” says the guy around Quentin's age. “Still, I hope you went to a greater effort this time, children.”

“Yes, Elder Daro, we believe we did,” Eliot says, producing a flute and handing it over.

Daro studies it, flips it around. Blows into it and nods, then hands it off to one of the others.

“Acceptable.” Then his focus is on Quentin and- okay, yeah, there's no way this guy is actually the same age as him. Not with eyes like that. Quentin tilts his chin up, which doesn't do too much, since the guy is definitely close to Eliot's height. “And is this one getting a temporary pass as a playtoy or is he being vetted to join?”

“Join, of course,” Eliot says, and he's at his most haughty and flippant and it makes Quentin's heart tumble over in his chest. “This is our dear friend, Quentin.”

Quentin does his best to look like a- like the sort of friend who gets invited to orgy parties.

“Brakebills student?” Elder Daro asks, tilting his head to the side. His hair is long, too, longer than Quentin's, and spilling over his shoulders and down his back. “Physical discipline. Already enjoying the spirit of the week, it seems.”

“We all are. Enjoying it so very much, Elder Daro,” Margo says, using her brainless party girl voice, which can't possibly be fooling this man, though- Quentin thinks for a moment. Maybe the masks are part of the point. “And I do hope to be seeing more of you again this week.” She winks broadly and it's so blatant and obvious that- it has to be part of the whole game, right?

“Hmm.” Elder Daro studies him for a long long moment and if this is what 'going easy' on someone looks like, Quentin isn't sure he wants to see the alternative. Still, he's not gonna fucking let some random orgy ringmaster push him around, so he does his best not to look cowed. “I hope so as well. Enter and be welcome, Quentin Coldwater-” and, okay, literally no one had said his last name, so that's- “Margo Hanson. Eliot Waugh. May all your hungers be sated, darlings.”

He waves them away.

Once they're a handful of paces away, and the Elders are focusing on the next group, Margo and Eliot relax.

“That's 'going easy'?” Quentin asks, because now he can. “He had a stare like- I don't know, fuck, looking at a galaxy a million miles away.”

“We kind of said that so you wouldn't lock up and panic,” Eliot says, kissing his cheek. “But you were wonderful, baby.”

“Also, is he- um. Human?” Quentin asks, and he glances behind to see Daro giving that same intent stare to a new set of people. “He kind of seemed... like he maybe isn't.”

“Well, he's looked like that for as long as anyone who attends can remember,” Margo says. Which means, if the other Elders are like him, how old are they that they actually look old? “So, you know. Trust your instincts.”

“Did you, uh, um?”

“Yes, we had sex with him last year,” Margo says, stroking his wrist. “It was- interesting.”

“His semen tastes like cotton candy,” Eliot says, and it makes Quentin laugh, even though he's pretty sure Eliot is being honest. “So decide for yourself if that's something you want in your mouth this week.”

“He's actually one of the friendliest of the Elders,” Margo says. “And he liked you, honey. 'Spirit of the week' ha! I knew it was a good idea to blow you again right before we left the villa.”

The idea that some of the people here can literally look at him and tell he's been having sex recently is- a thought he is going to put aside for later.

“He knew my last name,” Quentin says, because he just wants to- put that out there. “Is that... um. I thought my wards were better than they used to be?”

“You're under his protection,” Eliot says. “The Elders as a whole, of course, but like Margo said, he's one of the nice ones. The world of magic is a lot wilder and stranger than just Brakebills. Some of the magical creatures that exist don't need to be able to read your mind in order to know things about you.”

“Well, that's terrifying,” Quentin says, as cheerfully as possible. At least it's only being used for the dubiously worthy prospect of a group sex party and not, like, invading planet earth from outer space. “Just what I always wanted – more people to know things about me.”

Margo giggles and presses her breasts against his arm. She's not wearing one of the bikinis she brought – or, well, she is, but it's under a slim, form-fitting dress for now – but he can feel her nipple through the fabric. “They only really care about sex and getting high and having fun,” she says. “Or, at least, that's what they say, and it seems to be true enough.”

Most of the people at the party are dressed in the same kind of 'casual' – but actually expensive – beachwear that Margo and Eliot are wearing and that they dressed him up in. They mix in with the crowd as they move around the beach. There are a lot of people but it doesn't feel overwhelming. He can see tents all over the place and the waves rush up against the sand and there's a scent that's floral and sweet but doesn't seem to actually be coming from anywhere.

And then there are the servers. They're wearing very little already, just like Daro and the Elders, and when one of them gets close enough for Eliot to pluck some food on a tray, Quentin gets a glimpse of their eyes, and they're just as fathomless and deep as Daro's were. Not human, then, though they mostly look human.

Eliot smells the – bread roll? – that he pulled off the tray, then tears it into three pieces. “This will taste like the best parts of home,” he says, as he hands it over, and that's such an odd-

Quentin takes a bite and-

-the smell of crayons and wood, huddled underneath a table with Julia, looking up at the map of Fillory they'd just drawn on the underside, where no parents would find it to punish them or paint it over again-

-rushes over him. Also, cinnamon.

“Okay,” he says. “Um. Okay.”

Eliot is watching him with a tiny smile, so he takes another bite-

-the taste of cigarettes on his tongue and a strong cocktail washing down his throat, Eliot's hand on his arm, Margo smiling at him and telling him to pull another card-

-and swallows.

“That's- that's a lot.” He also realizes, a little distantly, that he got hard without realizing it. But it doesn't feel- oddly, it doesn't feel urgent at all. It feels like an option. Like, if he pulled out his dick and told it to settle down, it would obey.

He eats the last bite of bread and it's-

-fuzzy, like a dream, he sees Jane Chatwin at a writing desk, the way she looks in her author picture, smiling to herself as she works, humming quietly-

-and also, he thinks there might be a hint of cardamom.

“Is all of the food here like that?” Quentin asks. Eliot and Margo ate their shares of the bread, too, while he was distracted. “Because that was- holy shit.”

“Not all of it, but enough,” Margo tells him. “Some people honestly do come just for the food.”

Quentin can believe it. And maybe, in the future, he might even be one of those people and-

-wow, is some part of him accepting the idea that he might get to go to something like this more than once in his life? Is he getting bolder or is it the bread talking?

There's a table of champagne fountains because, yeah, that tracks. Eliot and Margo circle the display slowly, examining it closely for no particular reason Quentin can work out. Then Margo takes one glass and holds it under a sparkling stream of liquid, filling it up. She hands it to Quentin.

“All the taste, none of the loss in judgement.” She and Eliot use a completely different stream of champagne to fill their own glasses.

Quentin takes a sip and- it doesn't taste like champagne. It tastes like a rich red wine, mellow as he holds it in his mouth. He swallows, looks at the glass. It definitely still looks like champagne.

“Who showed you the ropes, when you first came?” he asks because. Well, there's no way they could have figured it all out on their own. Right?

“Some guy who thought I was really hot,” Eliot says, off-hand, and there's a laugh in his eyes, though his mouth stays serious. There's more to the story, but nothing horrible. “If we see him this time, we should probably steer clear.”

“He might be mad?” Quentin asks, with a flush of concern.

“Settle down, my little hero,” Eliot says, and pats his cheek. “Embarrassed, more like. He thought I would want to see him again after the week was over.”

Quentin tries to wrangle up some of that confidence that Eliot and Margo wear like coats. “Not as good at sex as me, huh?”

It gets him a very fond smile. “No, baby. He definitely wasn't.”

“So, uh. Not to sound pushy but I don't actually- see any orgies?” Quentin bites his lip when that prompts a bubbly laugh from Margo.

“Our eager boy.” She rubs her hand along his arm. “That's what the tents are for – out here is for mingling, eating, drinking, getting high. General merriment. The tents are for fucking. And when you need to take a break, maybe get some sleep, we'll take you down to the shoreline. There's a section cordoned off as a waterbed. It's actually pretty soothing.”

“Huh.” Quentin tosses back the rest of his drink, whatever it actually is.

“Do you want to go to a tent?” Eliot asks.

Desperately.

“Sure, yeah. I mean, that's- we came for that,” Quentin says, attempting to project an aura of nonchalance. Eliot absolutely doesn't buy it but- honestly, pretending to believe someone's lies while definitely seeing underneath seems to be a big thing here, so- maybe, for once, Quentin is actually... fitting in? What a weird fucking place for it. Or maybe it's just Eliot and Margo, making him fit, the way they've managed to do with all the parties at the Cottage this last year.

He starts to drift in the direction of the nearest tent, but Margo and Eliot tug him away from it, heading towards one nearer to the ocean. After everything else he's seen so far, he's pretty sure they have a good reason, so he goes along with it.

They duck inside the flap of the tent and-

-okay, okay. This is a fucking mansion.

“Some Timelord shit, huh, honey?” Margo teases. She pulls her dress up and over her head, hangs it on the coat rack next to the door. Because it's a heavy wooden door now, not a tent flap. With her dress off, she's just in a tiny blue bikini, only barely covering her nipples and the slit of her pussy. Eliot is also pulling off his shirt and hanging it up, though he leaves on his pants.

There's a place for shoes, too, and Margo and Eliot shuck their footwear and carefully place it on the shelf.

“Is there a dress code?” Quentin asks, inanely, his fingers frozen on the buttons of his shirt. He's the one who wanted to go in right away, why is he hesitating now?

Eliot's hands cover his, tug them away from his shirt. He looks up and Eliot touches his mouth, light as air. “Comfort level. You can keep everything on if you want. There are plenty of ways to have sex with your clothes on.” Quentin pushes up so he can kiss Eliot's fingers, then nods.

He slips off his shoes and puts them in between Margo's and El's. Wiggles his bare feet in the plush rug on the floor – stone floors, but so many rugs everywhere.

There's the main door they came in, a wide staircase in front of them, and an archway on either side. Eliot takes him by the hand and they go right, through the shimmering pulse of a silencing ward and on the other side-

-first, he notices the moans and whimpers and the shouts. The room is dimly lit, but he can't see a light source, unless it's the mist itself that blankets and softens the air. The floor here is covered with rugs piled high and heaps of blankets and pillows and, well. People.

Probably less than a dozen, honestly, but walking into a room with a dozen people all having sex is an adjustment. Eliot's hand in his is sure and cool and comforting, though, so Quentin pulls closer to him.

Over in the corner, a blonde woman has her legs splayed wide and someone with a long dark braid of hair and a really amazing ass is licking at her, their head clutched tight to her pussy.

He can see someone else getting jerked off, and there's a pile of people – four in total, he thinks, – all moving together in ways he can't quite figure out from here.

Eliot tugs at his hand, leads him over to an empty cushion.

“Easier if we start with just us, hmm?”

“Yeah,” Quentin agrees, breathless already. He breathes in the mist and it's- it smells like the air outside, and his head feels clear and fuzzy at the same time. “This place is a lot, El. I- I think I like it? But it's a lot.”

“Is there something you feel comfortable doing in front of other people?” Eliot asks, cupping the side of his face. “We can always go back out and have more food, show you the waterbed.”

“There's a pie that tastes like sunrise,” Margo says, resting her hand on his lower back.

His eyes dart over Eliot's shoulders, to that blonde lady arching her back as she comes against her friend's mouth. Or stranger, maybe. He doesn't have any reason to think they know each other.

He licks his lips.

“I'm good here,” he says. He sits down. Falls, kind of, really. But everything is soft here, so it feels fine. He looks up – up and up the long length of El's body – marshals up his courage, and says, “Be even better with someone in my mouth.” He looks over to Margo, so she knows the invitation is for them both. Then he lets himself collapse all the way back onto the cushion. It's like falling into a cloud, but it stops, holds him firm.

Quentin thinks he can hear them talking, but there's a rising moan from another part of the room that distracts him. He can't see the archway from here, would need to crane his neck all the way over to make it out, and there's something freeing in that, that he doesn't know who might be coming or going.

Well, he has a guess as to who might be coming soon.

It's Margo who straddles his face first, and he brings up his hand to tug the tiny triangle of material away so that he can lick into her without anything between them.

He loves- he loves the way she tastes, the sharpness of it at the back of his throat. The sounds she makes, so shameless and open. He closes his eyes and opens his mouth, holds her thighs with his hands, presses thankful kisses to her clit and her cunt.

When she comes all over his face, thighs tight around him, for a moment he can barely breathe from it. Then she's pulling away, touching his cheek and saying, “You've got an admirer, honey. They wanted to come say hi.”

He blinks up at her, then shifts his eyes. The person who'd been eating out the blonde girl, with the long braid and fantastic ass. “Hey,” he breathes out. They have a nice handful of tits, too. He thinks they're maybe a handful of years older than him.

“You're new,” they say. “I'm Jo. I'd totally be into blowing you, if you want.”

“Yeah, okay.”

And just like that, he's really doing this.

He can't quite see Margo or Eliot right now, but he knows they wouldn't be far. They promised. If he could lift his head more, he could try looking around, but he's not-

Jo is really fucking amazing with their mouth and he lets himself sink into the feeling. It's a little strange to have a new mouth around his dick, someone who is definitely not El or Margo. But good. He tentatively reaches for their head, pauses after touching until they pull off to say, “Yeah, go for it.”

Then it's getting too good and he's already so fucking close and he pets at their head desperately, whispering, “You're wonderful, but I can't- I have to-”

Jo pulls off, looking slightly disappointed. “Not into it anymore?”

“So into it,” he says. “But I- um. I have a rule. I gotta.”

Their eyes light up with amusement. “Dance with the one what brung ya, huh?”

“Something like that. Margo or- um. If you know Eliot.”

“Yeah, I know 'em,” they say, still very amused. They glance around. “Okay, looks like Margo has found her way into a three-person situation and Eliot is getting a handjob. Preference?”

Margo sounds busier, so he says, “El. Um. Eliot.”

They help him get going in the right direction and then head happily back into the mist of the room.

El isn't far, definitely set himself up where he would be able to keep an eye on Quentin and Jo. He's sprawled against the cushions and it's just- it's so ridiculously natural. He looks debauched and lovely and at home. There's a boy between his legs — well, Quentin thinks boy because of how Eliot talks about these things, but the guy is definitely older than both of them. Anyway, El is getting a double-fisted handjob and Quentin doesn't want to interrupt except-

Except for how he really does.

He sinks down to his knees next to El, completely ignoring the other guy, which is- really rude of him, honestly, and tells Eliot, “I need you.”

Eliot gives him a blindingly brilliant smile, then turns away to look between his legs. “Nate, this is Quentin. He's a brat. Q, say hello to Nathaniel.”

Reluctantly, Quentin looks at Nathaniel — thin mouth, unfairly laughing pale blue eyes, sharp cheekbones. “Um. Hi?”

“Hey, cutie Q,” Nathaniel says, in an accent he doesn't quite recognize. “Here to join in?”

One of Nathaniel's hands leaves El's dick, reaches out and hovers over where Q's is sticking out of his pants. He's not as close as he was a minute ago, so he huffs out a hesitant, “Yes.”

El's hand slides up the back of his shirt, bracing him, and Nathaniel explores his cock with soft fingers. Tests the heft of it, slides down to tug at his balls, swirls teasing patterns up and down the shaft.

Quentin slumps back against Eliot's hand, and feels a pang of guilt for being so selfish already. “Um, can I- do you want-”

Nathaniel looks at El which is-

-hot? It makes something twist and spark up in Quentin's stomach, anyway. He looks too, and Eliot reaches out and touches his face, tracing lightly along his cheek. Both of El's hands are on him, El's attention is on him and he squirms and-

“Nathaniel, um. You have to- to stop touching me,” Quentin says, even as his hips are trying to twist towards Nathaniel. “I gotta-” he breaks off to breathe, trying not to fuck up into Nathaniel's hand.

Which is suddenly gone, which sucks, even though he asked.

“Did you want to blow Nate?” Eliot asks and sounds- genuinely curious? He thinks? “Or do you just feel like you should? There are plenty of people here, baby. He won't be put out if you don't want to.”

He hasn't- hasn't seen the guy's dick yet or whatever but-

“Kinda yeah,” he tells El. “Um. But I'm really close and if I uh- if I blow him, I might come.” He doesn't think anyone here will judge him for that. But it needs to be El — or Margo — who makes him.

“Mmm, okay,” Eliot says, and then he turns his attention back to Nathaniel. “I'm gonna take care of my baby, but if you stick around, I promise his mouth is worth it.”

Quentin kinda sorta hears Nathaniel agree, but is more into Eliot, who is letting Quentin crawl into his lap and press kisses under his chin. Then El's hand is on his dick, not jerking him off right away, starting out by exploring and assessing, the way Nathaniel had. Quentin squirms in his lap, very aware of Eliot's big dick rubbing up against his thigh.

“You know what my dick feels like, El,” he complains.

“Keep that up and everyone at Encanto Oculto will know just how much of a brat you are,” Eliot says, but he doesn't sound unhappy about it. “Should I be asking you to keep track of your smart mouth? So I know what you deserve later?”

“Please?”

His voice almost embarrasses him, or maybe it does, he can feel heat splashing across his cheeks but- he means it. He wants it.

“Well, whatever you want,” Eliot says, sliding his fingers down to cup Quentin's balls, which- El must be able to tell how badly he needs to come. “You wanna start at zero or at one?”

“One,” he breathes out.

He's been close enough, for long enough, that even just admitting that makes him go off, spurting up over himself and Eliot in messy streaks.

Fuck, this place is-

-in a fucked-up way, it's almost what he always wanted magic to be, though his dreams were more PG when he started. But a secret hideaway where magic is just used to make people happy-

He presses his mouth up against El's throat, says, “I really want to blow Nathaniel?” It's easier to say it to Eliot than to the man himself. “He has nice shoulders. Does he want me to?”

“Baby, I don't think you'll be getting too many rejections this week,” Eliot says, a little dryly, but his fingers on Quentin's dick are soft. “Go forth and blow Nate. You gonna swallow or spit?”

“It's safe here,” he double-checks, and Eliot nods. “Yeah, I wanna take it down my throat.”

Eliot touches his throat and Quentin feels him leaving spots of wetness behind — Quentin's come. It makes him shiver and kiss El on the mouth before sliding out of his lap.

Then he's facing Nathaniel again and he feels- stupid? Shy? “Hey,” he says, softly. Nathaniel does have nice shoulders, and a nice collarbone, and- and a real nice dick. Skinny but long. “Are you- did you wanna keep jerking off El while I-?”

Nathaniel puts a hand on his shoulder, leans in and kisses his cheek. “Sure, let's put you on the floor.”

Quentin has always been a big fan of floors in general and this one is so soft and lovely. He lies down on his back, kisses Nathaniel's ballsac before taking his cock in hand and tugging it down towards his mouth. He can see Eliot's dick from here, see Nathaniel's hands on it and should it make him jealous?

He sucks on the tip of Nathaniel's dick and thinks about it.

He'd meant what he told Julia at Brakebills South. He wanted to ask Eliot and Margo if they wanna… date or whatever. He wanted to take them places and buy them gifts and do dorky shit like have an 'our song' and stuff like that. And he knows now that's not gonna happen with Margo. It's not for her. But he doesn't know for sure about El, yet. So maybe, he would...

But that's- would that change the way he feels about things like this?

Quentin jerks off the part of Nathaniel's dick that won't fit in his mouth, presses his tongue under his cockhead. Different from El's, and from the boy he dimly remembers from high school. Skinnier and floppier even when hard.

El comes, with a laugh, and Nathaniel runs his hands over El's big dick, working out every last drop. It looks like he's asking El something and getting a languid sentence in reply.

Nathaniel sits back on his heels, tugging his cock out of Quentin's mouth. Before Quentin has time to- to protest, Nathaniel is asking, “So, do you wanna suck Eliot's come off my fingers?” And that- wow.

Quentin grabs Nathaniel's wrist with both hands and pulls it down to his mouth, licking as soon as he gets close enough. The taste of Eliot's come makes his eyes close with how bad he wants it, and he probably looks silly and desperate but-

-Nathaniel had asked. So maybe it's okay.

“You're a natural,” Nathaniel tells him, and Quentin flushes. “Seriously, I hope you come again next year.”

He's cleaned off Nathaniel's hands, so Quentin reaches for his dick again, eager to get it back in his mouth, but he feels hyper-aware of Eliot watching him.

Nathaniel is still talking to him, so, guiltily, Quentin does his best to listen.

“-walls of this place are, like, double reinforced. I don't know if you've played D&D, but I kinda think of the tents as like Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion, you know?”

God, wow, he's a genuine nerd. That's kinda reassuring. Quentin cradles his balls and licks the tip of his dick and maybe feels a little less like-

“I'd offer to set up a game later,” he says, pressing a kiss to Nathaniel's cockhead. “But it's probably not the right place?”

Nathaniel laughs and it makes his stomach tremble and Quentin fumbles up a hand so he can feel it and then sucks his dick until he moans.

“Yeah, see why Eliot likes you,” Nathaniel says, and tugs at Quentin's hair. “Shouldn't be surprised, really. I think he fucked every geeky guy here last year, ha!” The last bit turns into a barking sort of laugh as he comes and Quentin holds the come in his mouth for a moment before swallowing. It feels thicker than El's, almost coating his throat.

“I have a type,” Eliot admits, lazy and unashamed and tugging up Quentin to kiss him. “I'm gonna make out with Q for a while. Tell Antonio 'hi' if you see him?”

“He'll be thrilled to know you made it out this year,” Nathaniel says, and he swoops up Quentin's hand for a kiss before he leaves, adding, “You're cute for a virgin, Quentin. Stick around.”

Quentin blinks after him before Eliot touches his cheek, reminding him he has kisses to collect. He loses himself in Eliot's mouth, surfacing to ask inane questions like “should I try to set up a game here?” and “okay, so is this mist, like, an aphrodisiac?” before getting distracted by Eliot again and never waiting to get any answers.

They spend hours in the room — Quentin doesn't keep track — and he honestly isn't sure how many dicks he sucks or cunts he fingers or how many times he crawls back to Eliot and Margo so they can make him come. Time feels different, almost indifferent, if that makes sense.

Margo is carefully rubbing at the corner of his mouth when she says, “I think that might be enough for one night.”

Quentin feels… good but also kinda loopy, so it's probably a fair point but, oh. “I made a new rule with El,” he tells her. “Been keeping track of- um. Being a smart-ass.”

“Oh, does honey need a parting gift before we head back into the no-fuck zone?” she teases, reaches down to glide her hand over his ass, which has been groped a few times but nothing else tonight. “Do you want us to make a big deal over it?”

“God, no,” Quentin says because- okay, people watching is hot but asking people to watch sounds excruciating and embarrassing. “Just, like, in the corner?”

“You're loud,” she reminds him, and he flushes. “If people notice?”

“That's their business,” he says, though he's pretty sure his face is bright red. “I mean. I deserve it.”

Her face softens and she gives him a very gentle kiss.

“You absolutely do, little Q,” she says. “You deserve so many wonderful things.” And that hadn't been how he meant it but- it's nice.

So, she goes and collects El, who is wiping off his mouth after blowing some guy who is built like a football player, jesus, and she whispers in his ear.

He gets thirteen smacks, because that's the number he tells El. He's not a hundred percent sure it's right, but it seems like a good number and El and Margo go with it. He ends up hard again when they're halfway through and he's certain now there's something stamina-boosting in the air, because wow. And Quentin's last orgasm of the night comes from El's mouth while he kisses Margo's breasts, so that's nice, too.

“This is fun,” he tells them, when they're at the door getting dressed cover the essential bits and yanking their shoes on. “But you're my favorites.”

Margo beams at him. “Well, we are quite fabulous.”

“You are,” Quentin agrees.

The whole ocean-waterbed situation is fascinating. Because he can see, past the glowing lines that mark off the boundary, that there are people splashing and wading in the water. All of it with that giddiness that the atmosphere and food and sex encourages. If he focuses, he can almost see wisps of magic escaping individual magicians to join the mist around them.

He leans back on the shifting 'mattress' of water and gazes up into the sky — he can't see stars and it looks like the sky might be blue up there but the mist fogs out the light in this section, like the ocean is on a dimmer switch, and he doesn't think he'll have any trouble falling asleep.

“We can't leave until it ends?” he asks, trying to remember what they'd told him before leaving the villa.

Margo, curled up on El's other side says, “We can leave, we just wouldn't be able to get back in. The circle is- complicated. Old magic. Maybe even older than any humans have been magicians at all.”

A circle that is filled with magic and feels like another world. People who look human except they aren't quite right, with a galaxy of stars in their eyes. And they like to be brought gifts and it means something when they know your name. Maybe it would be dangerous, if they knew someone's name but they hadn't been brought a gift?

“Todd thought Bacchus would be here,” Quentin says, and Eliot snorts. “But it isn't anything like that. It's… I don't know. Almost ethereal.”

“It's better magic than Brakebills or hedges have,” Eliot says. “Maybe because it's so old. Keeping the secret is part of the deal, baby, but it's also just fun. There are enough rumors out there about what Encanto Oculto is like that all you really have to do is look appropriately mysterious about it all.”

“Julia is gonna ask about the orgies,” Quentin reflects. “God. Even if I wanted to, I'm not sure I could find the words? It's sweet. How can an orgy party be sweet?”

“That's what makes it dangerous,” Margo says, though her voice stays soft. “A little, anyway. Coming here last year- El and I had just spent weeks in a snowy hell after being forced to bare our feelings. Even if it was just to each other, it was rough. Then we got invited to Encanto Oculto and- well, we fucked and drank and ate ourselves silly. Then it was over and we were back in the real world and-” she sighs. “I don't know. You can spend a lot of time fucking and getting fucked up out there and still only rarely get as blissed out as a goddamn bread roll can make you feel here. Some people live their whole lives waiting for this week to come around again.”

“If I hadn't met Bambi, but had come here anyway, I might have been one of them,” Eliot adds, sleepy and earnest in a way that tugs at Quentin's heart. And, yeah, Quentin gets that. He gets that painfully well. If he'd somehow found his way here without El and Margo, it could have become a new kind of Fillory for him to want to hide away inside.

“I'm glad you shared this with me,” Quentin says, deep and sincere. “I'm glad that you- I like that a place like this, you know, exists. Outside the human world, I guess. I've always loved hidden worlds, they were just always fictional before.”

“Mmm, still no centaur dicks, though,” Margo says, feigning disappointment. “So they can't fulfill all my teenage fantasies.”

“You're awful,” Quentin tells her and she laughs and the mist around them dampens the noise so it won't disturb any of their neighbors. “And I still won't neigh for you, either, so don't ask.”

“Brat,” she says, fondly. She rests her open palm up on El's stomach, so he reaches over to grab it with his. “You gonna be able to sleep?”

“I think so. In a little while.”

He thinks El is already asleep, even breaths moving his stomach where Quentin is holding Margo's hand. He nestles up closer, tucking around Eliot like a blanket, and listens to the ocean underneath them, rocking them to sleep.

 


 

Eliot isn't waiting for Daro to find them — just because he'd seemed a little intrigued by Q didn't lock anything in. But he isn't surprised when, at the beginning of the third night, he looks up from a dessert tray to find Daro standing on the other side of the table.

“Elder Daro,” he says, his armor carefully in place, despite missing most of his usual trappings. “Delighted to see you among the throng.”

“Yes, I suppose you must be,” Daro says. His face always reminds Eliot of a wild wolf, narrow and hungry, with eyes as dark as midnight. “You brought longing and lies with you this year. Both gifts are deeply appreciated. And the flute is nice too.” His hair is pulled back and up tonight, in a complicated series of braids.

“A good host deserves only the finest gifts,” Eliot says. “And the Elders of Encanto Oculto are known to be gracious hosts.”

“Certainly, if it is known, it must be true,” Daro replies. He picks up one of the cookies and doesn't eat it. “You and your friends are invited tonight. I hope to see all of you.”

Eliot inclines his head in an implied acceptance, waits for Daro to turn around and vanish before collecting the rest of the food he'd been sent for and heading back to Margo and Quentin on the ocean.

He dumps the food down in front of them, then takes a seat, cross-legged, and says cheerfully, “We're invited to the tent of the Elders, tonight, so we'll need to grab the makeup bag out of our luggage.” Margo, who had moved their bags to an ankle charm bracelet before they left the villa, tugs off one of the charms and pops it back into being a full-sized suitcase. “Quentin, sweetheart, some quick rules.”

“Be vague with them if you can,” Margo starts, digging through the bag. “They like fancy, so we're all gonna wear makeup, okay?” Quentin nods, solemnly, studying them with that face that means he's playing nerd-close attention.

“They can tell whether or not you're interested in fucking them, so don't lie about that,” Eliot says, reaching out to touch the corner of Quentin's eye, and he shouldn't find it cute that there's a touch of sleep still there. Longing and lies, indeed. “Don't insult their honor.”

“Most of this stuff is what David – that's the guy who invited us – it's what he told us last year, but it seems to check out,” Margo says, sitting back on her heels as she tugs out the makeup bag. “Don't worry about offending them if you want to say 'no' to sex, okay? There's a reason this place is like it is.”

“They like masks though,” Quentin says, quietly enough that Eliot thinks he isn't expecting a response. “Even obvious ones.”

Eliot hadn't thought of it quite like that but, hmm.

“I guess they do,” Eliot says. Quentin blinks at him, all wide-eyed and sweet. He adds, “They might think our rules for you are cute, but you have permission to ditch them if you want to.”

“Are you expecting- how many Elders are gonna be there?” Quentin's voice is soft and careful. Margo turns his face towards her and gets to work on him, first getting him to be a clean canvas, then adding lipstain and eyeliner.

“Elder Daro invited us, so he'll be waiting in the court up the stairs,” Eliot says. “The others may be there or might be wandering. It's impossible to say.”

“There were seven in the tent last year, when El and I were summoned.” Margo laughs. “Well, when David was summoned and told to bring his new friends. They do- hmm. They like the idea of friendship, though I'm not entirely certain they understand it.”

Quentin is… exquisite, and Eliot tugs him over to tie his hair back and up, leaving a few wisps to frame his face. “You've read enough fantasy to know to be careful with your words.”

His clothing is fine as is, since it likely won't be going up to the court with them, so Eliot and Margo busy themselves with getting pretty too. Quentin eats while they put makeup on each other and then, soon enough, they're ready.

The tent of the Elders is the same one Quentin had wandered towards their first night and that they'd steered him away from entering. It has something of a magnetic pull, in any case, and if someone doesn't pay attention as they walk around, they always end up going that direction. So, it's easy, to unfocus and just let impulse take them to the correct destination.

“Remember Bambi's mandatory safety tips,” Eliot says, right before they head inside. David's warning to them last year had been more blatant. And he'd gotten in a little bit of trouble for it, so- Quentin would understand.

He puts Quentin in the middle and firmly takes his hand, while Margo claims his other side. David had taken the middle last year, when they'd gone to see the Elders, happy to have extremely beautiful armcandy and then disappointed when Margo and Eliot had been asked to stay longer and he'd been politely dismissed.

Once inside the tent, the marble entryway is more dimly-lit than the other places they've taken Quentin. The lights are all for the sake of the humans anyway so here, in the tent claimed most obviously by the Elders, it's as dark as it can be while still letting them see well enough not to trip over anything.

Margo unbuttons her dress enough to pull it off, then hangs it up on the coat rack, left in a golden bikini. Her shoes go neatly on the shelf below. Quentin has been getting more and more comfortable, so he sheds everything but the boxer-briefs they'd picked out for him. Eliot does the same.

Technically, the stairs in any tent lead to the court of the Elders, but going up the wrong ones can be- disorientating. Not necessarily dangerous but... well, better to go the correct way.

Eliot and Margo reclaim Quentin's arms and lead him up the stairway. Unlike the entryways in most of the tents, there are no rugs here, their feet walking on bare stone.

The upper floor slowly turns to a more rough-hewn look and the mist flickers. Quentin is fascinated and Eliot pets his arm fondly. The final barrier into the room of the Elders shimmers as they approach it.

“We're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy,” Margo tells Quentin, wryly, then she tugs him through, and Eliot follows.

When they reach it, the court is old, not quite a cave, but definitely more related to one than it is to the fancy rooms below. The Elders don't stand on ceremony here in their home and there are about a dozen in the room, eating and laughing and lounging — not on rugs and cushions but on moss and soft patches of dirt.

Daro is chatting with another Elder around his age, one with her dark hair in a lazy ponytail, but he notices them immediately and waves them over. The other Elder gives them an amused look, but doesn't stay to chat.

“You're enjoying yourselves,” Daro says. He swallows a grape whole. “Are you impressed, Quentin Coldwater?”

“Yes, of course. Uh. Elder Daro,” Quentin says, breaking off his perusal of the room. “I've never been anywhere like this- I mean- I only just learned this last year that magic was real. Um.” His mouth twitches and Eliot gives his arm a reassuring squeeze. Daro smiles, slowly and warmly.

“You'd like something to eat,” he says, and holds up a grape.

“Thank you for the- uh. The kind offer,” Quentin says, with a trembling politeness. “But I just ate.”

“I suppose you did,” Daro says, and eats it himself. “Are all your hungers being sated, children?”

“Always,” Margo says, easily. “You throw a wonderful party, Elder.”

Daro's eyes focus on Eliot, one eyebrow raising questioningly.

“It's a work in progress,” Eliot says, because Daro is looking at him with laughing, sharp eyes again. “Your hospitality is noted and appreciated as ever, Elder Daro.”

“Mmm.” Daro studies them and Eliot wonders exactly how deeply he sees. Last year, Eliot had been pretty high when he'd come to this room so his memory is- okay, but not as clear as he'd prefer. “Our hospitality is truly our dearest gift to the world. Do you believe you'll return next season, Quentin Coldwater?”

“I haven't seen anything that would- that would, um- make me not want to come back,” Quentin says, and it's a torturous sentence, but Daro seems as amused by it as they might hope for. He reclines on the moss, wolf-eyed.

“You haven't had physical pleasure yet this evening,” Daro says, and his gaze flickers over all of them. “Do you wish to partake before you leave the court?”

Eliot — and Margo, he sees — looks to Quentin.

“Uh-” Quentin hesitates and Eliot strokes his arm and hopes Quentin remembers to be honest. “I think. Um. I think I would regret it if I didn't. Is that-? I mean. Yes.”

“I'm down for it,” Margo says.

“It seems we're all in agreement,” Eliot tells Daro.

They join Daro on his bed of moss. He'd been wearing minimal clothes when they walked up, but he's nude now. Maybe all the Elders' clothes are just tricks of the light. Daro touches Quentin's mouth, light and curious.

“You want this?”

Quentin kisses his fingers, instinctive, and Daro curls them inside. Tugs Quentin closer by the mouth, onto Daro's body.

“You want this,” Daro says again, pleased and certain. “Sate your hunger.”

Eliot wonders for a moment, if he and Margo are going to be bystanders, voyeurs, but once Quentin is kissing his way down Daro's lean, hairless chest, Daro waves the two of them closer. He pulls Margo in for a long kiss, directs her to curl up at his side and press soft kisses against his neck. Then he looks at Eliot, brightly.

“You're so hungry, Eliot Waugh.” His delight in it is obvious. “I could try to feed you for a thousand years and never fill you up.”

“Not due to any fault in you, Elder,” Eliot says.

Daro pets Quentin's hair, hums happily as his fingers dance over the stands. “It is true I am faultless,” he says, with casual grace and arrogance. “As are all who live without the cares of the world. Your hungers trouble you?”

“No more than I can handle,” Eliot says. He takes up one of Daro's hands, kisses his palm. Quentin is sucking Daro's cock now, with the pained joy he reserves for giving head, like he enjoys it so much he might die from it. “I wouldn't give them up.”

“As you wish,” Daro murmurs, turns his head back to capture Margo's mouth again.

Freed from expectations, at least for the moment, Eliot watches Quentin. The way his whole face — even his eyebrows — tightens as he concentrates. His desperate, agile mouth as it stretches around Daro's cock. His hands, muscular and knowing, stroking over Daro's shaft and down to touch his balls.

He places a trembling hand on Quentin's back, spreads the fingers wide. Daro won't feel left out, he knows, not with Eliot's longing like a living thing in the room. Quentin's muscles relax under his hand, his body recognizing Eliot's.

This is, on some level, a rigged game for the Elders. They provide the venue and then feed off the desires, sex or food or otherwise. The house always wins and anyone who tries to cheat, really tries, gets thrown out.

That's fine. Eliot isn't tempted to cheat here.

Margo moans into Daro's mouth — another Elder has joined them when Eliot wasn't looking, is kissing Margo's neck and whispering a question in her ear. At her soft, “oh yes, please,” they slide a hand between her thighs, working at her cunt.

No one approaches Eliot. He's not surprised. Like Daro, they can all taste his real hunger misting off his body like perfume. He strokes down Quentin's back, his lovely boy-

-he strangles that particular thought. He doesn't want to be too possessive in this room, not even in his own head. They like challenges as much as they like games or sex.

When Daro orgasms, it's like a sigh, and he relaxes against the moss even more deeply. “You're still hungry,” he says to Quentin, not sleepy but languid. “I'd like to watch you get taken. You want it.”

Quentin licks at the corner of his mouth, says, “I made a rule with Eliot. That I would only- um. With him.”

Daro's eyes sparkle, like distant stars colliding. “Your terms are acceptable.”

Eliot glances over to check in on Margo, who is- yeah, she's doing pretty great over there. He rubs Quentin's back. “We can't do magic in here,” which he probably should have mentioned sooner, but there's so much to remember about this place and some details are bound to slip through the cracks. “Not in this room. Do you want me to open you up, Q?”

Quentin rolls over onto his side, his cheek resting on Daro's thigh. “Yeah.”

Daro is watching them closely, with a hint of mischief that makes Eliot's stomach flip over nervously. He pushes at Quentin's shoulder until he's flat on his back. “Like this?”

A host of emotions race across Quentin's face before he says, careful as trying to unpick a ward, “If I'm on my hands and knees, I feel more comfortable.”

“Do you?” Daro asks, sharply. He puts his hand — skinny but with long fingers — over Quentin's throat. Playfully. Quentin swallows and stares up at him. Eliot doesn't move, does his best to not even think. “Hmm. I suppose that's true.”

Daro lifts up his hand, watches as Quentin scrambles up to his knees.

Eliot can see the outline of Quentin's dick, pushing hard against the fabric of his underwear. He puts his hand on Quentin's ass and asks, “Ready, sweetheart? Tell me what you want?”

“Please,” Quentin says. “Please fuck me, El.”

He tugs off Quentin's boxer-briefs and presses his mouth against him. No magic and no lube means- a stronger taste, here. It means he needs to take his time, too, get Quentin as relaxed and stretched as possible. The fog in the room dances as if in response to his thoughts, feels thicker and wetter against his fingers.

Eliot can hear Daro's voice, pitched low and not towards him. Talking to Quentin, asking a question. He can't make out the words but he hears Quentin's response flash through him like lightning, “It was- uh- it was the first time it- um- it didn't hurt.”

He presses his tongue deep into Quentin's ass, makes him squirm back and moan so that Eliot doesn't have to think about the person who hurt him. She isn't allowed here anymore.

He lets himself get lost in it, the escalating pitch of Quentin's voice and the roll of his hips and his skin under Eliot's fingers. Still hungry. Oh, yes.

Eliot's fingers are slick from the mist when he slides them inside Quentin, and there's a thrum of old magic against his skin. It always tastes of magic in here, he remembers that now, like going back into a half-forgotten dream. Bambi's voice is nearby, loud in her pleasure, and he lets that beat against his skin too.

He mouths up Quentin's spine, pulls his fingers out and smacks Q's ass to make him noisy. He feels half-delirious from it all — the taste of magic and Quentin and not just his own aching desire but Daro's and any other Elder who might be watching.

“Sweetheart.” He pets Q's back, his shoulders, his head. He presses his face against Q's hair, sweaty and damp from the mist, breathes him in. “My little hero. Daddy wants inside you so bad. Can he?”

“El,” on a sigh, a breath. “Please.”

So he fits himself up against Quentin, slides home. Presses kisses to every bit of skin he can reach. He starts to slide a hand around, toward Quentin's cock, but Q gasps out, “Wait, I wanna- wanna-”

Eliot stills his hand, stops moving so Quentin can catch his breath.

“This place. I'm so close.” Quentin has to stop every few seconds to gulp in a deep breath. “I wanna- I think I can- you don't need to touch me, El. I think- I think I can anyway.”

Eliot kisses between Quentin's shoulder blades and says, “Yeah? Lemme know if you can't?” and his voice is thick and familiar from long ago. He drowns himself in the push and pull of his thrusts, feeling more kin to the ocean outside than a man. Inwards, the waves rush the shore and break, and outwards, drawing back to the sea of himself.

Q does come — Eliot feels the constriction, hears the rolling, echoing moan of it. He crushes Quentin's body back against his, tugging him off his hands so they can sway upright and exposed and vulnerable.

“They see you,” Eliot says, bracing one hand on Quentin's stomach and then sending the other hand up and up and up, to delicately cup Quentin's throat, to overwrite Daro's touch with his own. “They see how glorious you are. You're inside a hidden world, Q. And it loves you.”

Quentin shivers against his hands, but something catches his moan.

When Eliot blinks the sweat from his eyes, he sees Margo — lovely perfect Bambi — leaning in at an angle, so she can kiss Quentin but let Daro keep his view.

“Dearest,” he says, voice cracked, and she kisses him, too, trades kisses between the two of them until Eliot bites at her lip as he begins to come, hiding his joy in her mouth.

“You performed admirably,” Daro says, and Eliot's eyes can't quite focus on him. Or maybe he really is fuzzy at the edges. It's entirely possible. “I do appreciate enthusiasm.”

“Glad to- glad to share this time with you,” Margo says and Eliot is grateful for her ability to keep steady no matter how drained she might feel inside. “I hope- hope to see all of you again, Elders. Next season.”

“Next season,” Daro says agreeably. He waves a hand and three other Elders — younger than Daro, he thinks — help them stand on wobbly legs and lead them back down the stairs to the marble entryway.

Eliot hadn't noticed the heat while he'd been in the court, but he feels the coolness of the night now, hitting his skin like the first snowfall of winter.

He helps Quentin get dressed, falls to his knees to kiss Q's ankles and his calves and- everything before he tugs up Quentin's pants and does up the buttons. He rubs at Quentin's feet before he helps Q slide on his shoes.

“It's a lot, the first time,” he says. Smooths his hands over Quentin's soft linen pants. “Regrets?”

“Seems like it's still a lot when it's not your first time,” Quentin observes, his arm resting around Margo's bare shoulders. “Was that a-” he stops at the warning on Eliot's face. They're still too close to the court to ask too many loud questions. “No regrets. Just- real tired.”

“We can nap,” Margo says. Quentin kisses the corner of her mouth and she bats at him with her hand and a fluttery laugh that really does mean she's exhausted. “So, honey, was it cotton candy?”

It takes Quentin a moment to remember their conversation earlier, about Daro's semen. Eliot uses that time to get to his feet and help Margo into her dress. She winces as he tugs the bust back into place, her nipples dark and slightly swollen.

“More like buttercream frosting,” Quentin says, after a moment of consideration. “From a homemade cake.”

Then he tries to help Eliot get dressed, which is a mild comedy of errors. “Maybe nudity really is your natural state. Clothes do seem to be your worst enemy,” Eliot says, rebuttoning his shirt so that he's not off by two buttons. “Have you considering forswearing them altogether?”

Eliot,” and it's a whine but it's a fond one.

Once they're all reasonably put together and no longer walking like they're drunk, they head back outside. The temperature feels what it should again now, warm but with the breeze from the ocean.

“They won't ask again this visit,” Margo tells Quentin. “Daro would have challenged my request if they wanted us back another night.”

Quentin makes a thoughtful noise at the back of his throat. Eliot realizes he's been staring at said throat and carefully redirects his eyes a bit higher.

They cuddle together on the ocean, and Margo pulls a fuzzy blanket out of one of her bags for maximum comfort.

“I said this back there, to them, but I am- I'm so glad we got to share this with you, Q,” Margo says, tucked in between the two of them. “Sex is-” she shrugs and gazes up at the sky, and Eliot sees the fuzzy implication of stars up there. “Bodies make sense to me. How they touch and move together. Finding this place, last year, it- it was finding one fucking place where I could connect with people in the way that made the most sense to me. One place where it didn't come with all the implications that it does-” she waves her hand towards where the expanse of ocean shimmers past the edge of the circle. “-out there.”

“Where someone doesn't get called your boyfriend at the drop of a hat,” Quentin says, and he thinks — there's an edge of wistfulness in his voice that Eliot thinks Margo missed and that Eliot- well, he's not entirely sure what it means.

“Exactly,” Margo sighs. Then she presses her face against Eliot's shirt and groans. “Shit. Eliot. It has come to my attention that we may have made a slight error in judgement.”

“Probably several,” Eliot agrees. “Which are you thinking of?”

“Our motives were pure.” She pauses. “Our motives were definitely not pure. They were real goddamn self-serving, if I'm forcing myself to be honest.”

“Is this about rushing me off to leave campus with you without saying goodbye to Julia or literally anyone?” Quentin asks. He sounds amused. “Yeah, she's gonna be pissed but don't worry, I can take it.”

Margo bristles up like a wolverine. “Don't you fucking dare.” Her venom-laced tone would probably be more effective if she stopped playing with Q's hair. “You are falling onto exactly zero grenades for us, little Q. Wicker better goddamn yell at us or I'll have words with her about it.”

“Noted,” Quentin says, dryly. “But it won't be that bad, honestly. I told- um. She knows we're friends who have sex- uh, well- I mean, god. Obviously, I don't mean that Julia and I are-”

“We know what you meant,” Eliot says, gently.

“Well, I-” Margo hesitates, glances up at Eliot's face. “Yeah, we know, honey.”

“It's good for you to talk things out with Julia,” Eliot says, suddenly and painfully certain he hasn't said it directly before. Sure, he and Margo hadn't asked Quentin to keep anything a secret but… “Even if you feel awkward about it?”

“Yeah, it's- I know you aren't like- um. I know that you're trying to- uh.” Quentin blows out a frustrated breath. “You aren't ashamed of- of having sex with me. I do know that.”

“And you know we're… that I…“ There are so many reasons to try to lay out what Eliot's been feeling. It's just hard to remember that under the voice telling him that- hey what they have now works. He managed to luck himself into something that actually feels good for everyone and he knows himself. Eliot knows he's not good at making things work, just at fucking them up. The more of himself he tries to put into the- the relationship, the more likely it is that the jenga tower will collapse, wood blocks all over the floor. Sometimes less movement, less change is better.

“Yeah,” Quentin says, and he's playing with Margo's hand in lieu of waving his own around. “I mean. I never had a reputation before? Except maybe as the guy most likely to bore you at a party? So it doesn't, um. I already knew they thought of me as your- um- your project? Honestly, being your- your- ah- he never said exactly but I guess what implied was, um- that you think. Mmm. That you- you own me? Or whatever, you know. Like some sort of possessive thing which is kinda silly? But, yeah.”

Margo stiffens up again, and Eliot knows how much she hates getting angry when the target of her wrath isn't around to be appropriately dealt with. He kisses the top of her head and she grumbles.

“Fucking dickholes who don't understand casual fucking sex between friends,” she mutters. “Jesus turtlehumping Christ on an elephant. That's it, El, I'm only fucking non-Brakebills people for the rest of second-year, because I am tired of the drama of it all. It is fucking goddamn decided.”

“That's only a couple more months,” Quentin points out.

“I am a forgiving soul,” she says, and proves it, he guesses, by ignoring how that makes Eliot laugh. “If their heads are out of their asses next year, I'll reconsider. Ugh, plus all the self-important thirdies will be gone.” She packs so much disdain in that sentence that Eliot has to laugh again, even though he kind of agrees. Learning what so many people had been saying about Q – and implying about Margo and Eliot into the bargain – has definitely made his opinion of the Cottage as a whole take a tumble. They'd come to Margo and El's parties all year and praised them to their faces, while thinking that behind their backs. Really, only the first-years are innocent in all this, since Eliot knows from experience that no one ever tells first-years shit until after they make it through the trials.

“Um, on a- a related note,” Quentin says. And his voice is a touch quavery, so Eliot strokes down his arm and pays very close attention. “If you guys, um. Stop wanting to have sex? With me, I mean. Please don't try to- uh- try to- um. To set me up with. With, like, other people?”

Eliot closes his mouth on his first response, to say that there's literally zero chance of that happening, because it's clear that's not the kind of reassurance that Q is looking for them to give him.

“I'm sorry about that,” Margo says and – Eliot cranes his neck down a little, so that he can stare baffled at her for a moment – she kisses Quentin's cheek. “I said all that to Quinn before our little Push how-to, and... I didn't really understand-” she hesitates. “-I assumed you were more like me than you are, honey. I get now why you wouldn't want that.”

“What exactly is the story here?” Eliot asks, carefully, and he's not going to let himself feel hurt, because Margo just said that it was before- before her teaching Q about Push, so it was before the two of them had talked about Q and about Eliot's- well, about Eliot. Quentin wriggles around so that he can look at both of them, taking the blanket with him, looking slightly bewildered.

“You know what it's about?” he says, but he sounds uncertain and he's tensing up. “Right?”

“I have never heard any of this before,” Eliot says. He reaches out and touches Quentin's knee, and relaxes when Quentin doesn't move away. “What talk with Alice?”

“It was back when the first-years got placed into their disciplines,” Margo says. “It wasn't even a- it was just that I'd noticed she liked you-” Quentin looks adorably confused at this statement, which. “-so I told her to go for it. Rah, rah, embrace your sexual desires and all that. Plus she looked really cute in my dress.”

“How did this not come up before now?” Eliot asks. “If it was months ago?”

“Oh, um,” and Quentin is staring down at his hand now. “She didn't say anything until Brakebills South?”

“Is that why you thought we didn't want you anymore, when you got back?” Eliot asks, and he is not going to be mad at Bambi. She didn't mean to hurt Quentin. He can't quite look at her right now, though, needs a little time for his head to settle and move past the instinctive desire to bundle up Q and protect him.

Quentin shrugs, his hair falling down around his face. “I don't know. I guess? I mean, I probably would have thought it anyway.” His mouth twists and he says, more quietly, “I mean, I've been assuming you would eventually?” He peeks up at them through the strands of his hair and it would be cute if it weren't actually a horrible fist around Eliot's heart. “Like. I know it's not gonna- um. Last forever? But it's here now and that's- um. That's a good thing. It's a very good thing. But I mean- you guys aren't gonna be calling me up for a- ha!- a booty call or- you know. Once you've graduated. And I won't- um. You know.”

Eliot doesn't... entirely know how to answer that. The entire premise is flawed in a way he can't quite wrap his head around. He doesn't know how to start unpicking it.

“You think we're gonna drop you after we leave Brakebills?” Margo asks and, yeah, that's a good place to start. “Fuck, Coldwater, you know how fucking rare it is I find people I can stand to have actual conversations with? You are stuck with me.”

“I... I second that,” Eliot says, tongue feeling numb and useless. “Quentin, I don't often find things worth caring about but when I do... I like to keep them around.”

It's not enough. He can see it in Quentin's face, in the lingering sadness that reminds him of a quiet room, months ago, listening to Quentin confide in him but not being able to the same in return. He hadn't been brave enough that day.

Eliot is... god, he's so fucking tired of being a coward.

“They aren't just booty calls, you know that,” he adds, helplessly lifting his hand up to touch Quentin's cheek. “They aren't-”

He leans forward and touches his lips against Quentin's, and Q startles but then melts into it, kissing him back eagerly. He slides his hand down to Quentin's shoulder, tilts his head for a better angle, presses inside.

Quentin is such a sweet kisser, not passive but he gives and gives. Eliot takes, but does his best to give too, tries to stay soft and caring and not turn this into- into just sex. His fingers itch to tumble Quentin down against the water, kiss him until he can't breathe.

He breaks off the kiss and leans his forehead against Quentin's.

“I know,” Quentin is saying, their lips still almost touching. “You're nice-”

“-I'm not,” Eliot says, because he's never pretended to be that, at least. “I'm really not, Q.”

“You are,” Quentin says, and his hands are on Eliot's shoulders, pushing him away slightly. He glances to the right, where Margo is. “You're both actually really nice. I mean, yeah. You're bitchy and weird about it sometimes but, um. You're nice. You're just- uh. You're good people.”

“Being nice only to the people you like doesn't make you a nice person,” Margo says. Eliot looks over and she's wrapped her arms around her knees, all tucked up against herself. “I'm not just bitchy sometimes. I'm a bitch, Coldwater. Fucking proud of it.”

“I don't- I mean, of course, you're a bitch,” Quentin says, in a reassuring tone that strikes Eliot as more than a little hilarious, considering what he's saying. “You're just- you know. Other things, too. When I found out about my dad, you were both- um. You were both really great about it. So I know it's- uh. I know it's not just sex. I know we're- I know we're friends, too. I just- I don't want to- to make assumptions? About- because I know you're- something permanent. Together. It's just- you know. You two have something a lot bigger than- uh- than just being friends.”

“We did spend a while creating our own little two-person bubble against the world,” Margo says. A smile pushes up the corner of her mouth, for just a moment. “We felt safe there.”

“I get that,” Quentin says, earnestly, and Eliot is sure he does – with Fillory and Julia and all his hidden worlds.

“It's possible we prioritized safety over other things that were just as important,” Eliot says, feeling cautious and stilted and as nervous as if he were venturing out on a high-wire. Wobble too much and he ends up a splat on the ground far below. “I did,” he clarifies, with an apologetic look towards Margo, who is radiating hostile tension towards him that he honestly deserves. “You are- you're really brave, Q. And I envy that.”

“I-” Quentin blinks and cuts himself off when Eliot puts a finger on his mouth. He looks down at it, cross-eyed and mildly put-out, but he doesn't try to yank it off or move his head away.

“Not only friends,” Eliot says, taking the next step out on the wire. “Maybe- maybe something more like-” Quentin's eyes are so wide, and smeared with the eyeliner Margo had put on him earlier. He looks beautiful and fragile and Eliot wants so desperately not to break anything here. “-when we get back to Brakebills. Maybe I could take you out to dinner?”

“Like a...?” Quentin mumbles, Eliot's finger still on his lips.

“Christ, yes, like a fucking date,” Margo snaps. There's a silent moment in the air and then she buries her face in her knees and says, as loudly as she can through her skirt, “Sorry. I shouldn't have- you were having a- a fucking moment or whatever. You were just- taking a long-ass time with it.”

“Oh my god, Margo-”

“Bambi, you can't just-”

But the moment doesn't feel as fragile anymore, with Quentin indignant against his hand and Margo making insincere apologies. It doesn't feel as much like something that will fade away away with the fairy circle. He twists his hand around, runs a knuckle down Quentin's lips, and chin, and throat.

Eliot rests his knuckles against Quentin's collarbone, swallows, and walks out on the wire. “Yeah. Like a date.”

“Not, like, just a pre-sex dinner?” Quentin asks and Eliot isn't so far up his own ass that he can't recognize hope in Q's voice. Eliot smiles, leans in and presses his face against Quentin's neck. Not kissing, just resting. So much of his upper body is resting on Q that he's practically in his lap which is... a thought. “I have- um. There are a lot of places I've been to in- uh. In New York that I went- I went there kinda for double-dates with Julia, James, and whoever they could talk into coming. But the places were nice. Good, um. Good food?”

“Yeah,” Eliot says agreeably, against Quentin's skin. “You can make a list.”

“All this talk of dinners,” Margo says, brightly. Eliot forces himself to pull away from Quentin so that he can look at her as she bounces up to her feet, all energy all of a sudden. “I'm starved enough to eat a dragon, scales and all. Any requests while I'm up?”

“Oh,” Quentin says. “Margo, you don't have to-”

“Literally, I do, or I'll have to eat one of you. And it'll probably be El. Taller. More meat.” She leans down and drops a kiss on Q's head, ruffles his hair. “Requests?”

“Um. I liked that- um, sort of fish thing?” Quentin offers. “And those peaches were good, too.”

“Check and check. You, El?” she asks.

He reaches up and captures her hand, turns it to place a kiss on the inside of her wrist. “I trust your judgement, as always, Bambi.” She smiles down at him, and he can feel some of that frenetic energy dissipate.

“I'll be back in a bit,” she says. “Try to get the mushy stuff out of the way while I'm gone?”

“As you wish, dearest,” he tells her, and she makes a face at him and presses a kiss against his forehead before she heads back to shore.

Then it's just him and Q, all the sound around them muffled by the mists.

“You think there might- might be mushy stuff?” Quentin asks. “Are you- um- are you sappy when you're dating someone? I mean, we kinda just started, so-”

“Did we?” Eliot asks, feeling reckless and wild. If he's balancing over a high-wire anyway, after all, he might as well go for a show. Somersaults and that fake wobble and maybe a bit of skipping at the end. He cups Quentin's face again, with both hands this time, feels dizzy and silly and lets himself feel it. “You're such a pretty little thing. How'd I get so lucky?”

“You're a dork,” Quentin tells him, but there are dimples under Eliot's fingertips, so he likes it. “Margo will definitely- um. Tell you off for it.”

“Are you sad Bambi doesn't-”

Quentin shakes his head, not hard enough to knock away Eliot's hands.

“She told me, uh. Before we- when we were at the villa,” Quentin says, more seriously. “While we were talking about something else. I know she doesn't want things like that. I didn't know how- if-” He gives Eliot a pleading look that's easy to translate.

He gives Q the kiss he's begging for, gives him a dozen. Presses him down into the blankets on the shifting ocean and kisses him until his mouth hurts from the effort, slick and swollen.

They can't screw out here and won't be able to get it up for a while anyway, but that's for the best. The last thing Eliot wants is for Q to think this is another way to get sex out of him.

He rolls them over so that Q's on top. Studies him in the dim, foggy light. Red mouth, from the kisses and the lipstain Margo applied earlier. Hair all mussed from his hands, and Daro's earlier, completely released from how Eliot had arranged it before they'd gone to see the Elders. Thin white linen shirt that Eliot wants to unbutton like a gift, but he restrains himself.

“My lovely boy,” he says, reveling in how flushed and flustered Quentin is over all the kisses and maybe his words. “I am going to spoil you so thoroughly, sweetheart.”

“Yeah?” Quentin lays down on top of Eliot's body, rests his head on Eliot's chest. “I think I might like that,” he admits, on a breath of a thought. “Fuck, I am tired though.”

“The Elders can take a lot out of you,” Eliot says. “But it doesn't last too long, not here. Sleep, Q. I'll wake you up when Bambi gets back.”

 


 

In some sense, Margo is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Eliot and Quentin still haven't admitted soppy romantic whatevers to each other, yet, but they're actually identifiably on the road to it now. Still for now, during Encanto Oculto, they're both enjoying the spirit of the week.

It's a little different than before – Eliot always wants to keep touching Quentin, during, and he's taken to hand-feeding him which- not her kink, but okay, it's not like it wasn't funny when Eliot had boys doing it for him. But he also likes holding onto the back of Quentin's neck as Q gives other people head, including her, so that part is more than fine. Eliot isn't really touching anyone else, though he is letting them touch him while he focuses on Q.

Quentin seems just as hungry to get on his knees as he did before, especially for her.

The big changes will come after they get back to Brakebills, probably. After they deal with Reilly and maybe let Wicker yell at them for a while about whisking Quentin away to an amazing island paradise where he's had the fucking time of his goddamn life.

She's happy for Eliot. That's the thing.

Living in their own private world has been comforting. She thinks they both needed it. She thinks they've helped each other.

Still, tugging open the door to that world to let Quentin in is... it's a good choice, even if... well, no matter what, she thinks it's a good thing.

An idea whispers at the back of her mind, so she leans on Quentin on their way back to shore, on the last night of Encanto Oculto. Kisses his cheek and says, “New York Push Club. I'm gonna introduce you when we get back. No more excuses. You can do some introductory games while we're at Brakebills, then smoke 'em during the summer lull. It'll be hot as fuck.”

It's a semi-serious suggestion. She's not sure she wants to hang around New York during the summer. But if they do, watching Quentin play Push could be a fun time.

“If you really think I'm good enough...” and he sounds thoughtful.

“I've got a deck of cards in one of my bags,” she tells him, and he glances down towards her ankle bracelet with their luggage charms. “Pull it out. Full-sized. Manifest us an object, honey.”

“I think I have to do it the way I would if I were doing a trick,” Quentin says, after squinting at his outstretched and empty hand for a bit. He pulls away from them, spins around to face them. “You know, Margo, I'm not sure you washed your face enough this morning.” And he reaches out, and plucks a card from behind her ear.

“I thought that one was for coins,” Eliot says, transparently delighted.

Quentin shrugs. “Gotta be adaptable in the cutthroat world of magic, El.” He twinkles at them, stage-whispers, “I think you might have lost something.” He yanks Eliot toward him, slides his hand down inside Eliot's pants and tugs out another card – and Margo is paying attention this time, sees it shimmer into existence right at the edge of El's waistband.

He slides a few out of his shirtsleeves, pulls a handful from the pocket of Eliot's shirt, cups Margo's breast as he glides two fingers down inside her dress and gets several from her cleavage. He swipes his thumb over her hard nipple after that one and gives her a showy wink.

After he has all fifty-two cards, he does a fancy-looking shuffle, then sticks them in his pocket for now.

“Object manifestation is a Physical discipline,” Eliot mentions, as they stroll towards the food. “So it seems a likely candidate. You're very good at it, sweetheart.”

“I mean, I might not be a-” he pauses, takes a look at their faces. “What?”

“He didn't notice,” Margo says, amused.

“To be fair to him, there was a lot going on,” Eliot concedes.

“Still, you'd think he'd have paid attention to that, after fretting over it so much the last few months.” She reaches over and tweaks Q's nose, and he bats at her hand with a 'hey'. “Dear little Q, Elder Daro sensed it on you during your presentation. You're a Physical Kid. We just don't know what kind.”

Quentin's whole face moves as he throws his memory back to that first meeting with Daro, and she can see when he remembers. “Oh,” he says. “Oh, wow.”

He's walking on air after that – almost literally, his feet leaving the ground a few times, which Eliot points out with glee as further proof of his discipline, if he needs one – and handsy as fuck, nearly too much for outside the tents, but he's too happy for either of them to want to mention it.

Eliot tugs him close to his side when they get to the tables, and feeds Q his dinner piece by piece – slices of fruit, mostly, sticky enough that Quentin needs to lick him clean – and Quentin nips at his fingers afterwards, nuzzles into his hand. Doesn't even object when Margo calls him an adorable puppy.

When they get inside one of the tents, it's hard to even get Quentin out of his clothes – he's kissing them so much, tugging at them to drag them into one of the rooms faster, trying to climb El like a tree once they get inside and toppling him back against the wall. “I can't- I can't hold you up forever, baby,” Eliot tells him, laughingly, as Quentin nuzzles up against his neck and wraps his legs around Eliot's waist.

“I'm holding me up,” Quentin mumbles, blatantly doing nothing of the kind. “You're just here to look pretty.”

Margo should probably go find someone else to play with but Quentin's joy is... infectious. She rubs her hand down his back and he arches into the touch.

“See,” he says, triumphantly. “Margo's holding me up.”

She presses up against him, kisses the back of his neck. “Yeah, you're not so heavy,” she tells him. “I don't know what El's whining about.”

“That's it. I'm not going to take this type of blatant disrespect standing up,” Eliot says, and he slides down the wall to sit on the floor, Q in his lap. Margo follows them down, ends up on her knees behind Q, still inside the sprawl of Eliot's legs.

“What do you want, honey?” Margo asks Quentin, kissing under his ear. “You want to sit in El's lap and have him fuck you?”

“That sounds nice,” he breathes out. His head lulls back against her shoulder. “And you could sit in my lap?” He snorts. “Lap-ception.”

“You are not using that correctly,” she says, but he's not listening, too busy laughing at his own joke. Eliot tweaks one of his nipples, trying to get his attention, but he's absolutely impossible today. They do bang that way, the way Quentin wants, with his back pressed against El's chest and her facing him as they fuck and giving him teasing kisses while El sucks at his neck. Margo does her best to fully appreciate every slide of Q's dick up inside her, because if he and El do couple off when they get back to Brakebills, she's really gonna miss fucking him.

She tells him – “your cock feels amazing, honey” and “that's it, you've gotten so good at using your hands on me” and “come inside mama, little Q, cream me all up” – and kisses him until her mouth almost hurts.

Quentin is wrecked and giddy after they're done with him, and leans his head back onto El's shoulder and says, “I think I just wanna sit here if that's... okay? I might be all orgy'd out? You don't have to stay with me.”

Which is ridiculous and she and Eliot both tell him so. She pulls off his dick, carefully, and helps him off of El's, and then she sits in his lap again, closing off their circle so that everyone else knows not to approach.

“It's the last night,” Eliot says, petting Quentin's hip. “Some people do a final burst at the end, but others like to ramp down. There's no wrong way.”

“Mmm, this was fun, though,” Quentin says, his hands rubbing over Margo's breasts almost absent-mindedly, she thinks. “I wouldn't- um. I wouldn't want to do it all the time but it's- it was fun.”

“We can come back next year,” Eliot says, as lazy and self-satisfied as any cat. “Anniversary trip.”

Which makes Quentin blush, even literally after just getting fucked. Margo kisses one of the splotches of heated skin, says, “An orgy party as an anniversary gift sounds better than exchanging some fucking paper, so congrats to you two on that.”

They sit together until the mist begins to coil and condense, the room lighting up around them, though visibility remains limited. Quentin glances around, eyes wide.

“It's time,” Eliot tells him, and they all get up and make their way back to their clothes.

The fog is dense outside, clinging to them, wet and warm. Margo and Eliot collect a glass of plum wine for themselves and one for Quentin. “Something of a tradition,” she tells him. “We drink it to complete the circle and say farewell. Every last drop, Q.”

As they drink, the fog continues to get thicker and thicker, until they each stand alone surrounded by the endless white light. It won't lift until everyone is finished, so Margo downs hers quickly, then drops the cup, reaching out to find Eliot and Quentin's arms.

Quentin's forearm is tensed, and she strokes him comfortingly, waiting out the mist.

Slowly, very slowly, it dissipates.

The sun shines brightly on the sands of the beach – no tents, no tables, no Elders – only magicians left.

Time to go home.

 


 

Quentin is tentatively prepared for a few things when they arrive back at Brakebills – for the second and third-year Physical Kids to treat him like Margo and Eliot's possession, which is apparently how they've thought of him for months. For Julia to be mad at him or, just as likely, to be mad at Eliot and Margo for carting him off to Encanto Oculto without a goodbye. Possibly for the Dean to try to kick Eliot out. He and Margo have their back-up plan in place for that, but hopefully they won't need to use it.

What he actually gets when they come in is, well, Julia and Kady and Alice and Penny sitting in the common room of the Physical Kids Cottage, no one else around. Julia looks over the three of them intently – and Quentin becomes suddenly very aware that he's holding Eliot's hand while Eliot is also holding Margo's hand.

He doesn't let go, though.

“Oh, hey guys,” he says, as casually as he can manage, which is honestly not very. “Have a good spring break?”

“Your wards are slipping,” Penny says, with a pained look. Quentin does his best to hastily shore them up. “And, congratulations, I guess? Orgy week a big success?”

Quentin is also now vividly aware that the linen clothes he's wearing are somewhat translucent. “Um. Went great. Thanks.”

“Did you meet Bacchus?” Julia asks. She's carefully not looking below his waistline. “Wine, women – er, people? - and debauchery?”

“Some of those things definitely happened.” He glances longingly towards the stairs. “We're gonna go- change?”

“We'll talk to you kiddos once your boy is decent again,” Margo tells the group – which makes Alice and Kady stiffen up indignantly – and she tugs on Eliot's hand, which means that El tugs on his hand, and they escape up the stairs to get dressed in something less 'orgy beach casual'.

“Do you think they murdered the rest of the Physical Kids?” Margo asks, sounding almost as if she hopes the answer is 'yes'. “I was kinda getting a serial killer vibe.”

“Please don't joke about that, Bambi,” Eliot says, with an elaborate fake shudder. “You know we'll be next.”

Still, though, all the bedrooms in the hallway had been shut up tight. Some of it could be explained by people not being back yet from break, but that seemed unlikely to explain all of it.

Quentin glances over himself in the mirror after he's changed back into clothes that Julia would reasonably expect him to be wearing. He does have a hickey on the side of his neck, which is his own fault, really, for spending who the fuck knows how long cuddling in the dark with Margo and Eliot at the end.

Eliot and Margo want to spend a ridiculous amount of time dolling themselves back up as the party royalty of Brakebills, but settle for only spending an absurd amount of time doing it.

“It does occur to me that your friends are extremely powerful magicians, even as first-years,” Eliot says, as he carefully buttons up a light brown vest. “Julia and Alice, in particular, might become master magicians some day.”

“Are you afraid?” Quentin asks, cross-legged on the bed, watching Eliot and Margo as they finish up. “Because I can go down there alone.”

“You will not,” Margo says, strapping her feet into tall wedge-shaped heels. “Just, you know, be ready to throw yourself in front of El if it looks like one of your lady friends is about to throw some battle magic at him.”

“Bambi!” And Eliot laughs and yanks her over to give her a kiss on the temple.

“What? They're not gonna blast him,” she says, tugging playfully at his tie. “I'm just thinking of everyone's safety and continued well-being.”

Quentin's kinda hoping that maybe some of them – or all – will be gone when they go back downstairs.

No such luck.

Eliot immediately heads to the bar and says, “You know what we need right now? Cocktails. Signature Physical Kid cocktails.” Margo also goes to the bar and leans back against it. Quentin just kinda stands there awkwardly for a moment.

His four friends have somewhat rearranged themselves while he was upstairs. Alice is now sitting primly in the very middle of a couch, with that downturned expression that means she's having strong feelings she doesn't want to show. Kady and Penny are sitting in a loveseat together, with Kady collapsed a little on top of Penny – they'd been talking quietly when Quentin had come back downstairs but stopped before he actually heard what they were talking about.

And Julia was standing just about in the center of the room, tapping a foot impatiently.

Her gazes moves over from Eliot and Margo, back to him. “You took your time.”

“It was a long week,” he says. Definitely the wrong thing to say; her expression tightens. “Um... where is everyone?”

“Minding their own fucking business,” Kady says, smugly. “And maybe worrying a little bit less about everyone else's fucking business.”

Julia briefly lifts her eyes to the ceiling, as if calling upon an unknown goddess.

“Julia told us what people were saying about you,” Alice says. She pauses, adjusts her glasses self-consciously. “Well, Julia told Kady and Penny. Kady told me.”

“Oh,” Quentin says, faintly. “Great.” He wonders exactly how detailed Julia's explanation had been.

“Obviously, we weren't going to let people to continue to gossip about you behind your back in such a hurtful way,” Alice continues. “So, we made it clear we were ready to go to Dean Fogg to report them.”

“You went to the Dean.” Quentin spins around in a circle, looks over at Eliot and Margo. Eliot, determinedly making enough cocktails for everyone. Margo, slowly becoming one with the bar. “Um- what. What exactly- how much- uh- did you-” He coughs. He's not sure he can actually ask whether or not they told the Dean about the details of the rumors. He's honestly not sure if he wants to know.

“No, dumbass,” Penny says rolling his eyes. “We just threatened to go to the Dean. Do you still have sand in your ears?”

“That worked?” Margo asks. She gives Kady and Penny an appraising look up and down. “You're not that much scarier than us.”

“I also punched a guy,” Kady volunteers. Cheerfully. “That helped.”

“It showed how seriously we took the issue,” Alice says, with no apparent qualms about said punching. “How seriously we take any threats towards our friends.” And her chin raises up aggressively. Tilts in Margo and Eliot's direction.

“Shovel talk?” Margo asks Eliot, in a loud stage-whisper.

“Definitely a shovel talk,” Eliot agrees, in a similar manner. Then, towards everyone else, “Cocktails are ready, dear first-years!”

None of them make a move towards the bar.

Well, Quentin goes over and grabs a drink, looks vaguely in Julia's direction, though not quite at her, and says, “Concern noted but- uh- not needed in this specific, um. In this specific case.” He takes a sip and- he's been wondering how normal food and drink would taste after having, well, fae food and drink, but El's cocktails are still good.

“We tried to go,” Julia says, and she's definitely looking at him. He avoids her eyes. “No portals allowed if you aren't invited. Apparently.”

“It's a very strict policy,” Margo says, consolingly. “Too many party-crashers in times past.”

“I tried to get an invitation from my parents,” Alice says, in a soft voice. “But they said they'd never been, which was a bit surprising, since they're obsessed with, well, with sex magic.” More firmly, she says, “I don't particularly enjoy asking my parents for favors.”

“Yes, well, I see your point,” Eliot murmurs, into a glass of his own.

“I couldn't even travel or astral-project there,” Penny admits. “Which was damn shocking. They have powerful fucking magic.”

“Literally,” Kady adds. “The whole island vibrated in the key of sex for our scrying spell.”

“It's old magic,” Quentin says, flushes at the memory of- of being in the court of the Elders, offering himself up and enjoying it. “You didn't, um, see anything in the scrying spell?” He really hopes not. There was... a lot to see.

“All we could see a white wall of mist and fog that felt like… well, like sexual desire,” Alice says. She shifts on the couch. “No people.”

“Thank god,” Quentin mutters, under his breath.

“You're really okay?” Julia asks, coming closer.

“I'm… yeah. I'm good,” Quentin says, in what is honestly the biggest understatement of his life. “I promise, Jules.”

And she grabs his arm and yanks him into a hug and says, fiercely, “I am so fucking mad at you, asshole. I chased down every rumor and it was-” she pushes away far enough to wipe at her eyes. “-part of me did want to go to Fogg, just to get them all kicked out for saying that bullshit about you.”

He grabs one of the cocktails El made and presses it into her hands. “I guess it ended up being like high school after all, huh? You protecting me.”

“Well, it's my job,” she says, with a teary sniff. “Fucking angel watching over your future, remember?”

“I do,” he says, with a soft smile. He glances around at the others, at Penny and Alice and Kady. “Thanks for- um. For trying to come to my rescue. Even if I didn't need it.”

Penny and Kady both make dismissive noises, all blustering attempts to pretend they don't care but he knows them well enough now, to know when they're faking. Actions always reveal more than words with those two, and, while it's obviously not his call, he kinda thinks either or both of them would be good for Julia, and he wishes her good luck with them.

Alice just says, solemnly and sincerely, “You're welcome, Quentin.” There's a hint of a shadow in her eyes and he remembers a half-finished conversation from Brakebills South. And maybe it's obvious enough that he doesn't even need to talk to her about it, but… but she deserves a straightforward 'no' instead of being forced to make assumptions.

So he presses a fond kiss into Julia's hair before letting her go and then he says, “Alice, you had a question for me. Before. Maybe we can take a minute to talk?”

“Of course,” she says, standing up.

He grabs a cocktail for her, heads into the back hallway, into the kitchen. Hands her the glass.

“Oh. Thank you,” she says.

It's the location of most of their pre-dawn talks, when Quentin would be stumbling around from anxiety-induced insomnia and Alice would be determinedly starting her day, hours before anyone else in the Cottage was awake.

“I'm sorry you had to talk to your parents,” he says. They're talked a little about their respective home lives and Alice's mom reminds him rather too much of his own. She's got a raw deal with her dad, too, who ignores her most of the time. Like him, she has one reliable person — for him, it's his dad. For her, it's her older brother, Charlie, the only person in her family to pay any real attention to her. She misses him a lot, she's confessed, and she's looking forward to spending her summer hanging out with him. “I didn't know they were- uh- into sex magic.”

“Ugh, yeah,” she says, rolling her eyes and sounding years younger. “It's not really something I advertise. I couldn't ever bring over friends. If, you know, I'd had any.” She sounds a touch bitter, but he can't blame her.

“Alice, I…“ Quentin studies her. She's all put-together and dressed up, more than normal and he doesn't know if that's because she isn't trapped at Brakebills South anymore, with the limited wardrobe they'd had there or… well. If it was because she knew he was coming back today. It seems almost breathlessly arrogant to think that, except that, she'd said she was interested. “I'm sorry. That your parents are like that.”

“Yeah, me too.” She takes a gulp of her cocktail. “Was it really all orgies?”

“Not all orgies, but there were some,” Quentin says and she nods and half-smiles, awkwardly. “And, um. Alice, when you asked me, at Brakebills South, if I wanted to go out sometime…“

“I doubt I can compete with an orgy,” she says, soft and shy and sad, the way she almost never is.

“Of course, you can,” Quentin says, putting his own glass down with a clink. “Alice, that's definitely not- there isn't anything wrong with you. I've been wrapped up in this complicated thing for months with- um. With Eliot and Margo. My heart is all- is all wrapped up in that, but if I didn't already- I like you a lot, Alice. I really do.”

“Just not like that,” she says, with a sigh and a half-shrug and-

“I don't want to hurt you, but I figured- it's better to know for sure, isn't it?”

“Yeah,” she says, quietly. “It is. I do prefer honesty, Quentin, so thank you for that.” But her voice is forlorn and, well, these things take time. “We're still friends?”

“Who else would I talk to at four in the morning,” he says, and she laughs. Shaky and not as loud or genuine as normal, but a laugh. “You wanna head back to the others yet or- um. Did you get a chance to talk to your brother when you got back?”

Her eyes light up. “I did! I actually talked to him first. I was hoping to avoid talking to my parents at all.” She rolls her eyes. “But-”

And Quentin talks to her about that for a while, and then tells her he knows for sure he's a Physical Kid, though he's vague about the reasons beyond 'someone at Encanto Oculto can sense these things', and she's happy for him and-

-and they're gonna be okay.

When they go back into the common room, he gives Alice a hug before he heads back towards the others, and her return hug is stiff but tight.

Eliot is out from behind the bar now and he and Margo are having a conversation with Julia, Penny, and Kady.

“-like something really fringe, you know?” Julia is asking. “I guess I just want to know more.”

“Gotta wrangle an invite for that, cupcake,” Margo says, then, kindly, “It isn't dangerous, not really, but you gotta follow the rules if you wanna come back.”

“Quentin could invite you,” Eliot says, consideringly. “He won approval rights. I suppose you have almost a year to- sweetheart!”

Having realized Quentin is close enough to touch, he guesses, Eliot snags Q's hand and tucks his body in between Eliot's legs. It isn't so different from what Eliot might have done before Encanto Oculto, not really. But it feels different. Quentin leans back against Eliot's chest and plays with his hand.

“Julia wants an invite to next year's big beach bash. Since it'll be our anniversary and all, figured you should make the call,” Eliot says. “You don't have to give her an answer any time soon.”

“They won't tell me anything,” Julia says, frustrated. “Not even whether or not Bacchus actually attends the Bacchanal! Come on, Q. I'm your best friend.” She gives him her highest-caliber pleading eyes but, luckily, he's immune.

“If I tell you too much, I won't get to go again either,” he says.

“Wait, you guys are full-on dating now?” Kady asks. “Julia said it was friendly banging or some shit.”

“Um. It was?” Quentin says. He kinda wants to look behind himself, see Eliot's face but- Eliot's the one who'd said 'anniversary' like that. Eliot's the one draped around Quentin like a coat. “Things changed.”

“You scored a real relationship at an orgy?” Penny asks and he sounds begrudgingly impressed. “Not sure if that's dorky or sweet and- nah. It's dorky.”

“Thanks, Penny,” Quentin says, dryly. Accusations of being a dork don't sting very hard after a week like the one he just had. “I- uh- appreciate your input, as always.”

Kady is still watching them, thoughtfully. If she were a cat, her tail would be twitching. “Like, just you two-” she gestures towards Quentin and Eliot. “-or Miss Hot Stuff too?”

“Um. Eliot,” Quentin says, cautiously. “Margo doesn't- uh. Date much.” Alice is giving him a weird look and- oh, because of what he said in the kitchen, probably.

“Bambi is a goddess that we can only hope to adore and worship,” Eliot says, lightly. “Too glorious to be pinned down by mere mortal man.”

“Jesus, Coldwater, dating him is gonna make you even weirder,” Penny announces, mournfully, just as-

-someone darts down the stairs and out the door, without stopping in the common room at all.

“You really do have them terrified,” Margo says, after a beat. “That's fucking hot. Well done. See, El, I should have just kneed him in the balls. Problem solved.”

“Ah, yes, there, see, just like a goddess… always vulnerable to the desire to smite the unworthy,” Eliot teases. “Little Q-” and that specific endearment makes him avoid Penny's eyes in particular. “-do you want me to kidnap Bambi for dinner so that you can be with your friends?”

His friends.

The thought makes something fuzzy and soft unfurl inside his ribcage. Because they really were, weren't they? Even the persistent doubts that always whisper at the back of his mind have a hard time poisoning his brain with this much contradicting evidence right in his face.

“Yeah,” he says, feeling content. “That sounds nice.”

 


 

Before Eliot leaves with Margo, he presses a soft kiss against Quentin's mouth. It's a chaste nothing of a kiss, really, but somehow thrilling. It's funny. He's had boyfriends before, so he should know how it all works, but Quentin is-

“Are you thinking sappy thoughts again?” Margo asks him, her voice indulgent. “And I thought the pining was bad.”

“Deepest apologies,” Eliot says, insincerely. “My thoughts are fixed only on you.”

“Dumbass.” She takes his hand up as they head off to a portal to find a place in the city to eat.

They have sushi and then go out to a bar afterwards. Margo glitters under the lights, so he dances with her, of course.

They get back around eleven, he thinks, and not as drunk as they would be after a normal night off campus.

Quentin is — adorably — in Eliot's room, still dressed and all twisted around himself on Eliot's bed. Fillory and Further: Book Whatever resting open on his chest, spine-up.

“Should we wake him up?” Eliot asks, very hushed tones. “He looks so uncomfortable. Though at least he took his shoes off.”

“Unless you feel up to using magic to help him strip,” Margo says and the thought of using his telekinesis is still a white-hot streak of pain so… that's out.

Margo hovers in the doorway for a moment before he tugs her inside. “It's easier with two.”

Eliot plucks the book off Q's chest and tucks his little bookmark into it, placing it on the nightstand. Then he gently pushes at Quentin's hips to try to get him to straighten out his body.

Quentin mumbles and moves easily at his touch, and doesn't wake up. There's a heavy line between his eyebrows, so fretful even in his sleep. “Margo, help me with his jeans.”

They tug those off but leave his boxers. Pull off his top layer of shirts but leave the second one. Then Margo helps him shift Quentin under the sheets. At some point in the process, Eliot realizes that Quentin is, in fact, awake again, but just letting them do all the work.

“Brat,” he says, fondly ruffling Q's hair. Quentin pushes up into his hand, every inch a sleepy, spoiled kitten of a boy. “You wanted to wait up for us, huh?”

Quentin's eyelashes flutter as he peeks his eyes open and he's so pliable under Eliot's hand — and so obviously, obviously exhausted. He yawns and asks, “Have fun?”

“We did,” Eliot says. “The last week hit you like a tidal wave, didn't it, sweetheart?”

“Ugh, yeah,” Quentin says. “Come here.” He reaches up and tugs at Eliot's arm, then flails in Margo's direction. “I'm cold.”

“We're still dressed, baby,” Eliot says, but it's such a temptation. “Give us a few minutes?”

Quentin flops his arm back down, dramatically stretching it across the bed like a period-piece movie heroine dying of consumption. “Ugh, fine. Whatever.”

He keeps making ridiculously put-upon sounds the whole time Eliot is changing for bed, and makes extra-annoyed noises when Margo says she has to go grab something to sleep in.

“I'll get it,” Quentin says. “Tell me what it looks like.”

And after she describes it, Quentin smiles slyly.

“Oh, are you sure it isn't already here?” And he gestures for Eliot to come closer — shirtless but still with his pants on — and he pushes his hand into Eliot's pocket and tugs out the silky nightshirt like a magician producing a scarf. “Ta-da,” he says, with the laziest jazz hands imaginable.

So, obviously, once they're dressed for the night, they snuggle up on either side of him.

“Demanding little thing,” Eliot says, and he gives Quentin a sweet kiss as a reward. “Always so much work.”

Margo hugs him from behind and strokes his arm. “It won't hit you so hard next year. Your body was doing a lot of new things. And Q?” Her voice softens further. “Don't get concerned if you don't get hard for a while. You gave a lot of yourself away. It's natural to hit a lull. It happened to El last year. It's nothing permanent.”

Quentin thinks that over, and there's a hint of worry on his face as he takes it in.

Eliot knows there probably isn't anything he can do right now to erase the fear that got instilled into Quentin but- well, he has to try. He tucks some hair behind Quentin's ear and says, “It lasted a few days for me.” Sounds as casual and matter-of-fact as he can. “I think I spent most of it cuddling Bambi, the most valid of life choices.”

“Yeah,” Quentin agrees, quietly. He rests a hand over where Margo's arms are looped around his body. “Definitely a valid life choice.”

Eliot gives him another kiss, this time on the vulnerable stretch of his forehead.

The next morning, Eliot wakes up to find Quentin tangled messily on the far side of Margo, a sure sign he was up in the middle of the night, wandering, and then crept back into bed as stealthily as possible. Eliot presses closed-mouth kisses to both their cheeks, then gets up and belts on a robe to go downstairs.

He has the urge to make breakfast in bed, so he searches through the cabinets for pancake mix and starts getting set up.

Making breakfast in bed for a lover is something he's considered more often than actually done. Most of the boyfriends he had at college preferred to be the one to do the cooking. And he hasn't really dated at Brakebills, just kinda screwed around.

He's halfway through cooking when he hears someone come into the kitchen. “I'll be done in a bit,” he says, distracted. “Unless you just need juice or milk. I saw some in the fridge.” He turns with a smile and then blinks. “She got you good, didn't she?”

Reilly reaches up and touches his banged-up nose, looks sheepish. “Yeah, I- Coldwater's friends are pretty passionate about him.” He leans back against the doorframe, keeps his distance.

“He's a good guy,” Eliot says. “You didn't get it healed?”

Reilly shrugs. “Lipson's still on break and the student healers are always hit-or-miss.”

“You probably deserve to keep it for a few days,” Eliot says. Reilly winces a little but doesn't argue and Eliot feels a pang of guilt. “You didn't- uh. You didn't deserve what I did.” An actual apology still sticks in his throat and he's not sure he could make it sincere yet but- he has to start somewhere.

“What, for scaring me?” Reilly asks, face wrinkling up. “It's not like you hurt me, Eliot.”

Eliot isn't sure what to-

“You know what I did to Logan.” His voice drops, involuntarily. “I could have-”

“If you'd wanted to, sure,” Reilly says, not sounding terribly concerned. “You want to know what I remember most about that- that shit-faced first-year? I remember how much he hated himself because his magic came out in a way that hurt someone. I remember how desperate he was to learn how to control his magic. You aren't a killer, Eliot. You're just powerful. We all are. We're fucking magicians. You don't need to hate yourself. You just need to be careful.”

“If I'd been angry enough-”

“Eliot, you remember my discipline, right?” Reilly snaps his fingers and a flame dances across his hand, brushing against skin and not hurting it. He closes his hand around it again, snuffing it out. “And your friend Margo could freeze the blood in your body if she tried hard enough. We're all dangerous. Anyone strong enough to snag a seat at Brakebills is strong enough to kill someone, if they want to.”

Reilly hesitates, then adds, “Not trying to read your mind or- or assume I know, okay? I know it's different because- because it isn't just theory for you. But you've worked incredibly hard to control it. What happened two weeks ago only proved that to me.”

Eliot bites down on his lip. “I'm sorry anyway,” he says, and he means it. “I hadn't told Q what he meant to me yet. So finding out what people assumed...” He shrugs, but there's nothing casual about it.

“I was being an asshole too,” Reilly says. “A thoughtless asshole, which is why you stopping talking to me in the first place.”

It's the truth, so Eliot isn't really sure what to say back. “I better get upstairs before they wake up.”

Reilly nods. “Would it help for me to apologize to Coldwater?”

Eliot isn't entirely sure if Quentin knows who Reilly is, beyond him being one of the third-years but. “Sure, I can't see how it would hurt.” Then, after more thought. “Not in public, though.” Eliot himself might enjoy the spectacle of receiving a public apology but he doubts Q would.

He gathers up the breakfast tray in his hands and heads back up the stairs, propping it on his hip for a moment so he can open the door physically, not telekinetically.

Margo is still fast asleep, snoring lightly, but Quentin is awake, tucking her hair back repetitively. Eliot gets the impression he's been doing it a while.

“Room service,” Eliot says, sliding the tray onto the top of Margo's dresser. “But I need a tip.”

Quentin looks at Eliot, then at the covered tray.

“You sound like the start of a porno,” he says, and then he beckons for Eliot to come over. Quentin is still all tangled up in the sheets, and Eliot would love to climb right back into bed with him and Margo and sleep the day away, but-

There's breakfast to be had.

So he gives Quentin a soft morning kiss, then reaches over to push at Margo's shoulder. “Bambi, there's food. If you don't get up, I'm gonna give it to Todd,” and that gets her awake, ready to fight for her share.

They eat on the bed, because they can always spell it crumb-free later, and it's lovely and decadent. As much as Eliot feels the urge to spoil Quentin, Q's been dreadfully indulgent of him, too.

It's last day before classes start up again, and Eliot takes advantage of it by keeping Margo and Quentin as close as possible. No sex – he wants to wait until Quentin is in the mood again, and that might take a while.

Because Quentin has his other friends, too, they spend part of the day hanging out with Alice, Julia, and Julia's suitors. Slowly, too, the news gets around that Quentin's friends probably aren't going to punch anyone else as long as everyone behaves, so the other Physical Kids start wandering through the house again, looking a bit less hunted and worried.

“I am impressed with your problem solving skills,” Margo says again, to Kady. “Your whole group will be something to be reckoned with in the future, if you stick together.”

“Yeah, I think we will. Quentin's a loser but I guess I like him anyway,” Kady says, with the air of someone who would definitely punch anyone else who called Quentin a 'loser'. “And Julia and Penny are, you know, pretty good in bed. So I'll probably stick around them.”

Margo silently holds her first out and Kady bumps it.

Quentin also shows off his object manifestation skills for his friends and Alice, in particular, asks him a lot of questions about how he feels while he's doing it and how naturally it comes to him. She would make a good practical magic researcher of some kind, if she felt like turning her hand to it. Julia is interested at first, and then gets frustrated at the lack of actual casting involved.

“You Physical Kids,” she says, with a frustrated sniff. “It's all just about fucking willing things to happen. You don't even know how you do it, do you?” And Quentin shrugs, which frustrates her even more. When Penny laughs, she glares at him, too. “You aren't any better!” But then she kisses him, so Eliot doubts Penny takes it too much to heart.

Eliot mixes drinks for them and spends more time listening than talking. He's still processing his conversation with Reilly from this morning, turning over some thoughts in his head about honesty and control. So when Margo asks if he wants to go out that night again into the city, he says, quietly, “I think I need to talk to Q about something.”

He helps her pick out an outfit for the night, all swish and flirt, and kisses her on the cheek before she heads out.

He decides to have the conversation in Quentin's room because- he's not entirely sure. It feels right to be in Q's space for this.

And Q listens.

Of course, Q listens. That was never the issue, only Eliot's hesitance to talk.

Eliot lays down on the bed, his head resting on Quentin's stomach, and he tells him about growing up in Indiana. About his family. His father's violence and his mother's scoldings. His brothers' silence. About Logan. About-

Until his voice runs out.

“Magic wasn't this beautiful thing I hoped for and dreamed about finding,” he says, near the end. “It was- scary and it made me something scary. And when I found Brakebills, I thought it meant- that maybe I could stop running away from myself. That I could control myself instead.”

Quentin's fingers are gently resting in his hair, not really moving, just holding Eliot in place with their presence. He hasn't talked much, just made encouraging noises from time to time. Now, though, he observes softly, “You're good at being in control.”

“Yeah,” Eliot agrees, on a sigh. “It was part of my great reinvention, my finest creative achievement. The rebranding of Eliot Waugh, from cowering closet case to loudly and proudly queer. Star of every party. Master of libations and every kind of sin. What my family would have called 'sin', anyway. Though, to be fair, they called almost every goddamn enjoyable thing in the world a 'sin'.”

“Do you feel guilty sometimes? When you do things they'd disapprove of?” Quentin asks and the question-

Eliot reaches up to stroke Quentin's ankle, to ground himself.

“I do,” he admits. “There is a part of me that still feels- dirty. For existing. I hate it, but it's there.”

“For what it's worth, I think you're spectacular,” Quentin says, and his voice is the most dear sound in the entire world. “And I'm sorry. For your family. For the way they treated you.” There's a tremble in his voice and Eliot recognizes it – that urge Quentin always has to fix things, to make it better. Eliot's little hero.

He turns his head, nuzzles into Quentin's stomach. He has an idea for how Quentin might be able to help him, but he wants to wait to suggest it.

“Thank you, sweetheart,” is all he says for now.

They cuddle together until they both fall asleep.

The next day, classes start up again, and Eliot forces himself to think about what his reluctance to use his telekinesis might mean for his potential thesis projects, next year. Students aren't required to focus on their discipline for their project, but it certainly makes everything easier. And his favorite idea, the one that he picked out Giselle as a mentor for, because he needed more of a grounding in healing magic to make it work – telekinesis is a vital part of that project.

In other words, he needs to get over himself and get back on track.

Easier said than done. Still, he manages. He and Margo throw a couple of relatively low-key parties, and have some private conversations with everyone else who had been gossiping about Q, to get the story set straight.

Eight days after their return from Ibiza, Quentin says, in a thoughtful tone, “I miss having sex.” They're in Eliot's room and Eliot had been working on a sketch of Quentin's face, but Quentin's words make his pencil skip across the paper, leaving some unsightly marks.

“You wanna?” Eliot offers. Margo is out freezing Woof fountain to see how deeply she can get the ice to layer, and he should maybe wait for her to get back, except, well. There's his idea. When Quentin nods, Eliot adds, very casually, “Because I've been thinking we could try switching a few things up.”

His voice is, possibly, not as casual as he thought, because Quentin immediately straightens up from his lazy sprawl sideways on the floor to peer up with interest at Eliot.

“What things?” he asks.

Eliot leans back on the bed, put his drawing pad and pencil on the nightstand. “I like to be in control, normally. But I think it might be… helpful to remind myself that part of control is trust.”

Quentin thinks that through carefully and slowly before he asks, “You want me in control?” He sounds conflicted, the darling.

“Limited, predetermined amounts of control,” Eliot clarifies and Quentin relaxes. “We won't throw out our playbook entirely, sweetheart.”

“So, what, you want me to-” Quentin's eyebrows come together and he frowns slightly. “Fuck you?”

“Maybe.” He wouldn't mind it, but- “Mostly, I want to redefine a few things for myself. Sin and punishment.”

“I don't want to hurt you, El,” Quentin says, tone rising uncertainly.

“I wouldn't ask you to,” Eliot says, soothingly. “That's the whole point. Just enough of a sting to make me feel it.”

Quentin scrambles up onto his knees, and that's lovely and familiar and Eliot certainly wouldn't mind tugging him over to suck Eliot's dick but… he has other goals tonight.

“You like it,” Eliot says. “And I've played around with it in the past, just never with much intent.”

“I don't know if I'll be any good at it,” Quentin says, but he sounds intrigued. “Are you- are you sure, El?”

Eliot beckons with a lazy finger and Quentin climbs up on the bed, in range to be pulled in for a kiss. “I trust you, my little Q,” he says, against Q's mouth. “I trust you to take care of me. Will you take care of me?”

“Of course,” Quentin says, and he kisses Eliot's nose. His voice gets firmer. “Yeah, of course, I will.”

“What's bad here?” Eliot asks. He brushes his knuckles along Quentin's cheek. “Talking back? Or trying to take control back from you, maybe?”

“You're not bad. You're perfect,” Quentin says, stubbornly, apparently choosing to forget most of the last year and how often Eliot had fucked up. “If we want to, um, to redefine things, then it shouldn't be something you get for being bad. It should- it should be a reward. For being good. For- uh. For using your words and- and doing what I say. Because you want it.” His voice gets a touch wobbly at the end, questioning.

“I do want it,” Eliot confirms. And he wants this, too, as part of it. Q deciding.

“One then,” Quentin says, and he touches Eliot's throat, right above where his tie is knotted off. “For being… for being good. For being a good boy.” He's almost subvocalizing now, nearly too quiet to hear, searching for something that feels right to him. Eliot waits, patiently. “Not 'boy', that isn't- my- my-” His expression clears. “My love.”

His voice wavers and he isn't looking Eliot in the face any more, but he flattens his hand out over Eliot's shirt. Says in a thick voice, “My love, who is always so good to me.” It comes out a little awkward and Eliot suspects Quentin doesn't have much experience with endearments. But it's sincere enough that it makes Eliot ache. Brave, brave Q.

“I want your clothes off,” Quentin says, lifting off his hand. “I wanna watch. Do that for me, my- my love?”

Eliot slides off the bed — gracefully, because Quentin is watching with hot, dark eyes that never manage to go above his collarbones. Embarrassed even when he's giving an order. Or, well, a request, really.

“Fold your clothes after you take them off,” Quentin says, when Eliot's hands are at his vest buttons. “And put them on the top of the dresser. Don't be messy.”

So Eliot unbuttons the vest with exquisite care. He's waiting for Quentin to get bored — there isn't even any skin yet — but when he glances towards the bed, Quentin is watching intently. Eliot slides the vest off his shoulders, brushes off some invisible dirt, and carefully folds it. He wouldn't normally fold most of this clothing, would want to hang it up if — god forbid — he planned to wear it again before it was cleaned, but he follows Quentin's request to the letter, placing the folded vest on the top of the dresser.

He loosens his tie but- he sneaks another glance at Quentin, wonders out loud, “Someone might find this useful at some point tonight,” as he pulls it over his head.

“That's a great idea,” Quentin says, and he holds out his hand. Eliot comes back over, drops the tie into his palm. Doesn't even touch him, but just being this close to Q when he looks like this makes the warmth in Eliot's body increase. “That deserves 'two', I think, for making a suggestion. Thank you, Eliot.”

The gentle gratitude in Quentin's voice is- Eliot bites down on his lip, nods an acknowledgment, then turns and walks back towards the dresser, a little shaky.

He takes off his shirt the same way as the vest, but now his fingers are less steady. Folds like- like it would be in a department store. He worked in one, for a while, when he first came to New York.

There aren't any visible marks from his childhood. He was able to make sure of that, smoothing it all away with cosmetic magic once he learned how, slowly, piece by piece so as not to strain the magic the way an appearance alteration spell might. So he knows his skin is flawless, apart from the tiny marks here and there that nature gives. He stretches his arms out over his head, turns around slowly, so that Quentin can see all of his chest and back. Rubs his hand over his chest, flattening his chest hair down and then feeling it spring back up again.

He drops his hands to the buttons of his pants, undoes the top one idly, then flicks his thumb against the fabric of the waistband. He's not entirely sure if Quentin wants to see his ass or his dick more, so he asks, “Should I turn around?”

“No, my love,” Quentin says in that quiet voice, so that means Q wants to see his dick. “I'm glad you checked in, though. Three.”

Eliot takes off his pants as slowly as he can manage without feeling awkward. There's a slight sense of ungainliness as he balances on one leg and- hesitantly, he dares to use a touch of magic to keep himself from wobbling. It's safe enough to use it on himself, after all. He folds the pants, too, turns to put them on top of the shirt and the vest.

“That's enough for now,” Quentin tells him, so Eliot stops his hands from going to his boxer-briefs. “I miss kissing you.” Eliot comes to him, sits down in front of him on the bed and offers his mouth. Quentin smiles at him, closed-mouth but thrilled. “Four and five, then, for undressing for me and then coming over when I asked. You're so good at this, El.” He leans up and kisses Eliot's mouth, and Eliot softens his lips, parts them for Q, but doesn't try to take control of the kiss. It's slow and soft and shallow, but Eliot feels breathless by the end.

“You like it,” Quentin says, in his thrilled nerd-voice, and his hand is on Eliot's thigh, far enough away not to touch his dick through his underwear. “Okay, okay, I can- um. You should lay me back on the bed and- and give me a blowjob. Really really slow.”

Eliot kisses Quentin's cheek, then takes Q's hips in his hands and slides him back on the bed. Quentin doesn't help, has Eliot do all the work, and he would be a brat even when he's doing his best to dom someone. Eliot kisses Quentin's chest through his shirt, then his stomach, then right over the zipper of his pants.

Quentin didn't say to make a show out of it, but he makes a delighted sound when Eliot unbuttons and unzips him with just teeth and tongue. He rests his hand in Eliot's hair, doesn't pull. Eliot noses his way into Quentin's boxers, kisses far too much fabric before he hits skin.

“You should- um- should rub your stubble against my dick. Not hard. I just want to-uh. To feel that you have it, I think,” Quentin says, and Eliot shudders as he presses his mouth against the shaft of Q's cock, turns his face to lightly brush his cheek against the soft skin. He kisses Quentin helplessly, until he works his way up to the tip of Q's dick and licks right over the head. Quentin strokes gently through his hair and says, like it's a surprise to him, “I think I do wanna fuck you.”

Eliot breathes a 'yes' against Quentin's skin, much too quiet for him to hear.

Not yet, though, he's barely had his mouth on Quentin's dick at all. He takes Q's cockhead into his mouth, doesn't even suck, just lets it rest inside and breathes over it as he feels it harden. Quentin's hands stay in his hair, barely moving. Quentin fills his senses like this – the pulse thrumming through the hot skin of his dick, the salt of his skin and the glimmers of precome, the musky scent of his body, and the mostly steady sound of his breathing.

“You look really pretty right now,” Quentin says, his hand briefly touching Eliot's cheek before returning to his hair. “You're- you're always pretty but you look-”

Eliot flutters his eyelashes and pouts his mouth around Quentin's cock, not too exaggerated just to- add a little emphasis. Make it prettier. He lets the heat of his mouth warm up Quentin's dick, until it's as hard as it's gonna get, and leaking at the tip. Quentin's breathing has sped up, but his hands still touch Eliot like he's a delicate thing.

“Um, I should-” Quentin's voice cuts off like he's biting at his mouth, but Eliot keeps himself put where he is, doesn't look up. “I should- I might not have thought this through.” He's quieter now, thinking out loud. Quentin doesn't need Eliot's input yet, so Eliot doesn't offer any. “I didn't- um- didn't think about whether I should- I should spank you first or- or fuck you? You've done both to me and I liked it- uh- I liked it both ways. Ha! That's- um, that's funny because I'm- I guess it isn't really that funny.” It's not funny, but it is still kinda cute. Eliot presses his tongue up against Quentin's dick, hums under his breath. Quentin's breath catches and his voice sounds hesitant when he says, “I don't wanna do it wrong.”

Eliot pulls off Quentin's dick. Gives it a soft kiss in case Quentin decides for them to do something else, and then looks up and says, “How do you want to fuck me? That might help you decide.”

Quentin looks so relieved that Eliot wants to tumble him over and kiss him breathless and give him everything he needs but-

-he leans his head against Quentin's thigh, the fabric rough against his face. He wonders if he'll have better luck convincing Quentin to update his wardrobe now that they're officially dating.

“The tie,” Quentin says, shyly. “I thought- you gave it to me. I could tie your hands to the headboard. If that's okay? And safe?”

“We can make it safe,” Eliot assures him. He thinks carefully about how to structure his next question, ends up with, “What do you want to look at when you fuck me, baby? My ass and my hair, or my face and my dick?”

He waits while Quentin thinks it over.

“I think- I think I wanna see your face,” Quentin says and he brushes his fingers over Eliot's cheeks and his nose. “And you don't- it doesn't bother you to-”

“It doesn't bother me,” Eliot says, firmly. “I'd love to look at your face while you fuck me, sweetheart.”

Quentin's mouth opens in a startled and pleased little 'oh', which makes Eliot very aware of his own dick pressing against his boxers and how fond his dick is of being in Quentin's mouth. There will be other blowjobs, he reminds himself. Probably a lot, so settle down.

Then Quentin sighs unhappily and he says, “Oh. I was gonna... gonna add to the count, but I lost track.”

“Five,” Eliot says, promptly. “For coming over to give you a kiss when you asked.”

“You're so good at staying focused,” Quentin says, brightening up again, and it's a tiny, silly thing for him to sound so impressed by and it's even sillier for Eliot to enjoy hearing that tone in Quentin's voice so much but, well, Eliot doesn't have to worry about his dignity right now. All he has to worry about is Quentin. “Um, so that's- six for the blowjob, doing it slow the way I- the way I wanted it. And then seven for helping me decide how to- how to fuck you. Um, if-” Quentin frowns again, but he's just concentrating this time, not fretting. “I don't want you on your back after you've just been- um- when you might be sensitive. So, I'll- we'll do fucking part first, and the- um- the other part afterwards.”

Eliot honestly doubts Quentin could spank him hard enough to make it too painful for him to get fucked face-up but it's sweet of Quentin to be concerned.

“Do you want to tie me up now?” he asks. “I can teach you the safest way to do it.”

“Oh, I- yeah,” Quentin says.

So Eliot teaches him, lying back amid his pillows and gently correcting Quentin with tiny suggestions. Quentin bites down on his lip and- it should be a little funny, because his dick is sticking out of his pants and his face is so very serious. It should be funny, but it somehow isn't at all. Quentin slides Eliot's boxes off, gets up and folds them and then puts them with the rest of Eliot's clothes on the dresser.

Quentin comes back to the bed and sits down next to Eliot, resting a hand on his hip. “I'm going use- um. Pertrick's on you. If we- uh- if we decide to do this again, I wanna do the long way but I'm- this time, I wanna make sure it's...”

Eliot relaxes against the bed, letting his wrists press against the headboard through the fabric of the tie. Quentin does the motions of the spell, then licks at his palm and jerks Eliot off for a while, though he doesn't need much to be fully hard. Eliot bites his lip as the spell works inside him, making him loose and slick for Quentin. It's not as intimate as fingers or a tongue, but it's intense.

“If I start to suck your dick, I'll get distracted,” Quentin admits, rubbing his knuckles at the sensitive spot under the head of Eliot's cock. “Um, I don't know if I'll be able to- uh- get you to come while I'm- so maybe after.”

“You can suck my dick after,” Eliot says, agreeably.

Quentin seems to notice, all of a sudden, that he has his clothes still on. He sheds them in jerky motions and drops them on the floor, with none of the care he'd taken with Eliot's. Then he climbs back onto the bed. He pushes Eliot's legs back, fussily, gets him to put his feet down flat so he can push his knees wide.

“You have a lot of leg,” Quentin comments, as he edges one of Eliot's feet further back on the bed. “I don't understand how you can be so graceful when your legs are so long.”

“Practice,” Eliot says. He managed to sneak some dance training in, when he was young, until his parents found out. Took it up again for a while in college. But mostly- “I put myself through my own homeschool version of finishing school, sweetheart.” He'd practiced walking gracefully, talking without his accent, how to mix drinks, how to smoke without coughing. Completing that self-assigned work had been more essential to him than his actual degree, to be perfectly honest.

“Kind of like magic,” Quentin says. Eliot tilts his head questioningly. It's a flattering comparison, given how Quentin feels about magic, but he's not sure how it tracks. “You're-um. You're the magician and you're also the- the material the magician casts through. Anyway, you can relax if you want to, my- my love. You can be- be graceful if you want, but you can be clumsy, too. It's okay.” One of Quentin's fingers presses against Eliot's hole, testing. “Does that feel- is that good?”

“Very good,” Eliot tells him, angling his hips towards Quentin a little more. He can feel the stretch in his thighs, but just enough to feel it, not enough for it to hurt. He almost asks if Q wants to fuck him now but- no. He'll let Quentin get to it in his own time.

Quentin kisses his knee, which is not a part of him Eliot's ever been particularly satisfied with, though maybe no one likes their knees. His in particular, though, always feel bony and poky and weird. Quentin doesn't seem to mind, anyway, leaning his cheek against the bend of Eliot's leg as he pets inside him. He pulls out his wet fingers and strokes them up Eliot's dick, swirling them around the head, then back down again, a few touches against Eliot's balls before the fingers slip back inside him.

“It might be a weird time to ask this,” Quentin says, his fingers deeper now. “But I- uh. I realized that we're- we're dating now but we haven't technically been on, like, a date yet. Do you wanna- tomorrow night, maybe? We could go out to dinner.”

“Yes, sweetheart.” And Eliot is so hopelessly, hopelessly fond of this boy. “Did you make a list?”

“Yeah,” Quentin admits. “There's- uh, and you might have been to some of them- probably, you have-” he rambles for a bit, all while his fingers press and explore inside Eliot's body. Eliot listens more to the sound of his voice than the specific words. He'll be happy anywhere Q picks. Eliot has worked hard on refining his palate, but he can eat pretty much anything, if he needs to.

He isn't sure how much later it is when Quentin says, “-do you- are you ready?” But he hears the difference in the tone of Quentin's voice, how it sharpens from 'thinking out loud' to actually needing an answer.

Eliot makes a soft humming “Mmmhmm, yeah” sound. He feels practically liquid at this point, except for his cock, sitting up hard and needy from the puddle of the rest of him. Quentin hadn't been focusing on Eliot's prostate but he hadn't avoided it either, so there had been occasional pulses of intense pleasure alongside the smoother feeling of Quentin fingering him.

Before Q fucks him, he leans down to kiss him. It's a deeper kiss than he'd given Eliot earlier, and Eliot opens his mouth to Quentin's tongue and enjoys being explored here, too. After Quentin pulls away from the kiss, he rubs his hands down Eliot's arms, stretched up against the headboard. “Still comfortable, my love?”

Eliot nods and Quentin gives him another kiss.

Quentin reaches down, taking his cock in hand, presses it against Eliot. Pushes in shallowly, just the cockhead, and then, like he can't help himself, his hands go to Eliot's dick instead, like he's reassuring himself that it's still hard, like he won't believe just his eyes. Quentin is only barely inside him, feels more like he's holding the entrance open than actually fucking him, and Eliot has to restrain himself from bucking up into Quentin's familiar, lovely hands. If he moves at all, he's pretty sure Quentin's dick will slip right out of him, and that's the last thing he wants.

“You're good,” Quentin says, in a whisper clearly meant for his own ears. “It's good for you. Okay.” Eliot thinks Q maybe doesn't even realize he's talking out loud, so he keeps his own mouth closed.

One of Quentin's hands moves to brace on Eliot's hip, but the other stays on his cock.

And slowly, agonizingly slowly, Quentin slips inside him.

It's maybe the most drawn-out screw Eliot has ever had. Quentin takes his time. Strokes and pets and coos over Eliot's dick. Leans down to kiss at Eliot's nipples. Bites them a little, then soothes the sting over with more kisses. His hips are jerky and hesitant, at first, as he fucks, but the motion smooths out as he falls into it.

Eliot wants to pet Quentin's hair and tuck it back behind his ear and give him a kiss there, right at the hairline, like a secret. He tugs at the tie holding him back, but only half-heartedly because- he'll get to do those things later, when Quentin lets him. It's a warm thought to hold onto, Quentin letting him.

Quentin's dick feels good inside him, and the way Quentin closes his eyes and shivers when Eliot tells him that feels even better.

At some point when Quentin is sliding back in, Eliot feels the tingle in his wards that means someone with permission to cross in has just opened his door, and that can only mean one person right now. His eyes flicker over, at where Margo is peeking inside, looking a touch uncertain. Her cheeks are rosy – from chilling Woof fountain, from letting her power move through her.

He lets out a soft breath, says, “Sweetheart, sweetheart. Bambi's here.”

Quentin blinks at him, dreamy-eyed, shivers to a halt inside him, and turns his head. “Margo, hey. You wanna kiss me?” His voice is an odd mix between the demanding brat he plays for them so often, and this new thing he's doing for Eliot right now, but he hasn't fallen out of the mood, which is a relief.

“Frequently,” Margo says, and she proves it by sliding onto the bed and leaning over to press a light kiss against his mouth. “I can leave if this is a two-player game.”

“I- hmm.” Quentin closes his mouth as he thinks it over, petting at Eliot's dick. After a solid minute or so, he asks, “Eliot, my love, do you want your Bambi to watch you get rewarded for being very very good?”

Margo's eyes are lit up with curiosity. She'll go if he wants, if either of them want, but her own preferences are obvious. She's seen him get fucked before, but not often. And never like this.

Has he ever been fucked like this before?

“Yes,” Eliot says to Quentin, because Margo makes even already wonderful things better. “Yeah, she can watch. I'd like that.”

Margo settles herself on the bed, leaning on one hand and not quite touching either of them. Quentin resumes his torturously-slow rhythm and it's even more torturous and amazing with Margo's eyes on them, on how Quentin makes him shudder.

“What did Eliot do to deserve a reward?” Margo asks.

“He's Eliot,” Quentin says, and Margo hums as if that's an answer that makes complete sense.

“He looks pretty like this, all tied up,” she says. “You did a good job, little Q.”

“Thanks.” Quentin leans forward, presses his fingers against Eliot's wrists. “He showed me how to make sure I wouldn't hurt him.”

Margo makes another thoughtful noise at that.

Quentin looms over Eliot, as best he can with a body that wasn't made to loom, and kisses all over his face, avoiding Eliot's mouth for what feels like an eternity. When he finally does press their lips together, Eliot opens up to Quentin with an eager whimper. His mouth feels sloppy, which it never does, but that's fine, he's not guiding the kiss anyway. Q is.

“Your dick feels- it feels really hard, but try not to come, okay?” Quentin kisses his jaw. “I wanna have you in my mouth when you come.”

“Yes, sweetheart,” Eliot says, heart soaring. He is hard, so fucking hard, and could easily come if he let himself focus on it, so he forces his attention onto other things instead. He thinks about sketching and his project, his- he used telekinesis on himself, earlier, so maybe it would-

Quentin's not moving much faster, but there's more force, more intent in his thrusts.

When Quentin comes, he gasps and shivers and jams himself in as deeply as possibly. His hands tighten on Eliot's hips and he half-collapses on Eliot's body, inside the cradle of Eliot's pelvis. “You were so good,” he murmurs against Eliot's skin. Q's stomach is a heavy, quivering weight against Eliot's dick, and Eliot bites down on his lip to make sure he doesn't come too.

The first thing Quentin does, when he recovers, is brace himself up on his elbows and touch Eliot's dick, tentatively.

“You liked it,” Quentin says, and he smiles, relieved, and turns to Margo. “He liked it.”

“Baby, don't keep doing that if you still want me to come in your mouth,” Eliot warns him, trying to keep his hips from twitching into Quentin's hands.

“Oh! Sorry,” Quentin says, and takes his hands off Eliot's dick which- okay, he'd literally asked for it, but also he wants Q's hands back on his dick. “I do want it- um, I should do that first, before your reward.”

“That wasn't his reward?” Margo asks, but quietly enough that it's clear she doesn't need an answer.

Quentin pulls out of him – slowly – and then presses his fingers against Eliot's hole. Not inside, just lightly against the rim. He ducks down, kisses Eliot's dick tenderly. He slides his fingers back inside Eliot at the same time he takes Eliot into his mouth. It's still gentle and slow, and Eliot can see Quentin's eyes slide shut as he sucks. He's had a lot of boys on his dick, but Quentin loves it in such a rare, whole-hearted way.

Eliot honestly thinks that if he could just have this for the rest of this life, he might actually manage genuine happiness.

He wants to tell- he wants to say-

“Bambi,” he says, because everything's easier if he's saying it to Margo. But he makes sure his voice is loud enough. Q will hear. “Bambi, can you give Quentin a message?”

Margo plays along, as ever the perfect Ginger Rogers to his Fred Astaire. “What message, El?”

“I've wanted to- to tell him for a while,” Eliot says. Quentin's fingers paused when he first started talking to Margo, but only for a moment. Only enough to let Eliot know Quentin's listening. “But being vulnerable is- I'm not great at it.”

“You seem pretty vulnerable right now,” Margo observes, glancing up at his bound wrists.

“Yeah, but only- ah! Only because I'm- I choose to be,” Eliot says because- well, he could easily undo the tie, if he wanted. And then he could tug Quentin on top of him, kiss him senseless. Part of him has felt the urge to do just that this entire time. There's been an enjoyment in pushing back that desire, forcing it to be on the backburner so that he can let himself be nudged and contained and enveloped by Quentin.

Eliot's eyes roll back as Quentin carefully takes him into his throat. Just a little, for just a moment, then he pulls back again, lets Eliot's dick rest in his mouth.

“I wanna tell him- that I think I...”

Quentin's eyes are still closed and that makes it easier, too, to stumble his way through this confession he's been holding onto to for- fuck, months now.

“...I've been in- I've been in love with him for a while,” Eliot says, and Quentin's breathing goes unsteady and he can feel Quentin's mouth quivering around his dick. “And he deserves to know. But I've been- I've been scared to tell him. I love him so much, Bambi. Can you- can you tell him?”

“Of course, El,” and she smiles at him, and then she swoops down, presses a kiss against Quentin's cheek, which is, oh, right over the bulge of El's dick. And she asks, in a grave voice, “Quentin, would you like to hear a message from Eliot?”

And Quentin is definitely laughing around his cock right now, which is a fantastic feeling and Eliot says, “Oh, I'm- sweetheart, I'm-” as he tenses up and releases into Q's lovely mouth.

Quentin pulls off his dick and tugs his fingers out of Eliot's ass, leans his cheek against Margo's for a moment, then pushes himself up to press his mouth against Eliot's. He doesn't open up right away – Eliot didn't see him swallow, so he wants to see if Eliot-

Eliot parts his lips, and Quentin kisses his own come into his mouth.

It's not Eliot's favorite taste, honestly, but he loves Quentin's tongue and how shaky and eager and trembling he feels against Eliot's body.

“I'm gonna untie you now,” Quentin says, and he rubs at Eliot's wrists once they're freed. “Thank you for being so- so good for me, my love. Um, I think we're at- um, eight for letting me tie you up and fuck you. Nine for- for telling me you wanted Margo to stay. And ten for-” Quentin flushes, and he touches Eliot's throat. “For being honest. So, ten.”

“Oh, that's the reward,” Margo says. “How are you gonna do him?”

Quentin thinks about it for a moment. “I'll sit back against the headboard and he can- um. Lie across my lap. Or. He's tall for that, I don't want his legs to be- It should be lengthwise. I-” He purses his lips. He's back to caressing over the pulsepoints in Eliot's wrists. Eliot lets himself rest in the peace of not really needing to be involved in the decision. It's more freeing than he'd been expecting. He thinks maybe it wouldn't be that way, if it were someone he trusted less than he trusts Q.

Margo ends up sitting against the headboard, with a pillow in her lap for Eliot to rest his cheek on while the rest of him stretches out along the bed. His hips – his dick – are resting in Quentin's lap, and he can feel Quentin's soft cock against the weight of his own. There's something almost peaceful about it, especially when Margo starts stroking through his hair and humming softly. Eliot loosely wraps his arms around Margo's body and lets the moment exist.

Quentin touches Eliot's ass for a good long while, pressing his fingers into the flesh and teasing at the relaxed, used rim of his asshole. When he does smack the curve of Eliot's ass, it sounds loud in the quiet of the room but the sting is faint and fades quickly. He hears Quentin whisper, “one,” so Eliot doesn't have to try to keep track of it himself.

The next hit is higher, harder, and the ache lingers a few seconds.

Eliot feels Quentin's fingers cupping his ass, like something precious and that-

He smiles against the pillow, lets himself lie limply across Quentin's lap. A reward. He hadn't thought about it in too much detail, really, what it meant for Quentin to define it that way, but he feels it now. The way Quentin touches his skin like it's the finest silk-

Well, Quentin doesn't care much about fabric, so more like... the priceless pages of some first-edition of a favorite book. Like he's delicate and fragile and beloved.

Eliot shudders and rolls into Quentin's next strike, feels it in his whole body. Then the tenderness afterwards, the way Quentin traces over the lines of muscle and bone. Like Quentin can read the whole story of him, know him down to his core, and want to keep having him anyway. Eliot feels... owned, in a gossamer, tangled-thread way. Feels Quentin's affection wrapped around him like a million invisible ribbons cocooning him and he could break away from them if he wanted to but-

This is home, he thinks, for him. Margo and Quentin touching him, loving him. This is home, if he lets it be.

Quentin's hand lands right in the center of an asscheek, hard, making Eliot gasp. Glorious boy, he thinks. Maybe he says it out loud. He's not sure. His glorious boy that Eliot was brave enough to be honest to, and that he might get to keep. Margo carefully pushes some hair back, out of his face, and she traces a finger around the top of his earlobe.

A soothing touch flutters over his body, Quentin's gentle, talented fingers. He barely feels this one, and he's not sure if that's because it's softer or because he's so relaxed he's practically melting into the bed. He feels Quentin's fingertips more, afterwards, lightly gliding over the hot ache. There's something his brain pokes at the edges of, then backs off again, to think about later. Something about that edge of pain immediately followed by a tidal wave of soft care and comfort, it nudges at something inside him.

“You okay, El?” Margo asks, quietly.

He blinks, wet lashes against the upper curve of his cheek. Margo rubs her thumb under his eye, wipes away tears. He can feel Quentin's hand resting on the dip of his back, with a hint of a nervous tremble.

“Real good,” he says. He tries to think of a way to- to make Quentin calm about it again, fumbles for an explanation that might work for him. “I'm good. What's that wizard you guys like say? Not all tears are evil.”

“Oh, god, please don't attempt to quote Gandalf when we're naked,” Quentin says, repressively, but his hand relaxes. Margo is straight-up laughing, back to petting through his hair. “That's not sexy, El.”

“I don't know. I'd probably fuck Sir Ian, if you said I could,” Eliot says. “Or, he could fuck me. Whatever. He's hot for an older guy.”

“Not as Gandalf,” Quentin protests. The next smack he gets is maybe a little bit of punishment, then, for making Quentin think of unsexy nerd things while he's naked, but he also instantly starts petting at the heated skin again, all soft apologies.

“Sir Ian is definitely hot,” Margo says unapologetically. “If he were into girls, I'd fuck him. He can even wear the beard.”

“I hate you both,” Quentin says, as his fingers gently stroke the curve of Eliot's ass. “You are the worst people I've ever met. And you didn't even get the quote right.”

“I didn't actually watch the movie,” Eliot says, enjoying Margo and Q's twin gasps of horror. “What? It's long.”

“El, please tell me you know there's more than one movie,” Margo demands. Eliot laughs against the pillow and refuses to answer, because of course he does, but this is so much more fun. “Q, honey, can I fucking spank him for being the bane of my life?”

Quentin laughs now, too, a bubbly sound that mostly stays in his throat and is disconcertedly attractive.

No, Margo! It's not a punishment,” Quentin scolds her, breathless. “Don't cross the streams.”

And that makes Margo laugh again.

“Fine, fine,” she agrees. “But we're fixing that problem before third year, mister.”

They're still laughing when Quentin hits Eliot again, and his breath comes out of him in a huff. He has no idea what number they're at, but he's not sure it matters. It all just feels good, the sting of the spanking and then the soothing afterwards.

Quentin's dick is pushing up against his now, not much but enough to feel it. He's not sure if it's the focused attention Quentin is putting on Eliot or all the nerd talk or something else. But it feels nice, too. Another sharp smack and Eliot moans, shifting on Quentin's lap, turning his head to bite into the pillow.

And again, and Eliot is definitely getting hard, too, from feeling Quentin's cock stiffening next to his, from Quentin's hands on his body. Then after the next, he hears Quentin say, “Okay, that's it. That's all of them,” and he can't hold himself back any more, shoving himself up onto his knees and grabbing Quentin's face and kissing him until he's whimpering into Eliot's mouth.

“You're such a good boy,” Eliot tells him, and Quentin blinks at him, lips parted and breathing harshly, and Eliot can actually see the moment his brain shifts gears and he goes pliable and needy in Eliot's arms. “Daddy is so fucking happy with you, sweetheart.”

Quentin's smile is a sweet and tremulous thing. “Yeah?”

“You wanna eat Bambi out while I jerk us off, baby?” Eliot asks and Quentin nods eagerly. Eliot glances up, to check where Margo's at with everything. Her hands are resting on the pillow in her lap and she- there's an odd little conflicted expression on her face, and he hadn't thought she might stop wanting- “If she feels like taking off that dress, anyway,” he adds, to give her a graceful out, if she wants to take it.

“This old thing?” Margo says, with a breezy one-shoulder shrug. “Not even sure why it's still on.”

It's an exquisite crimson number, with black and gold accents, and it hugs her curves like it was painted on. He's pretty sure it's one of the new dresses she's gotten since they got back from Ibiza, in fact.

“Oh, yes, it's practically rags.” He reaches out and runs his knuckles down the center line of the dress. “I wanna lie down next to Q. Do you wanna sit on his face or do more of a sixty-nine thing?”

“If you're okay with me licking your dick by accident, I'd rather lie down,” Margo says, so that works. Quentin lays down flat, with Margo skimming off her dress and getting on top of him. Q's always so desperate with his mouth, tugs her down as soon as she's close and starts licking at her cunt.

“Don't kick me in the face,” Eliot warns her, and he curves himself around their bodies, resting on his side and getting one leg up over Quentin's body so that their cocks can touch. He does feel Margo's mouth brush against his fingers and his dick, as he works his hand over both his and Q's cocks. It makes him feel soft and warm, like the way he'd felt inside her, before Quentin's dick had rubbed up against his through her body.

He has a good view of Margo's legs spread out over Quentin's face, and the sounds Q makes as he sucks on her clit. In another life, maybe, in a world where his relationship with Quentin had taken a different path, he might feel insecure at how much Quentin obviously loves eating pussy.

But Quentin is gorgeous like this, pushing his face up against Margo's body, going for it like he's dying of thirst. His shoulders even come off the bed, so he can press his mouth against her harder.

“Eight days without Bambi's cunt is a long time for you, isn't it, baby,” Eliot croons. Margo is sinking her mouth onto Quentin's dick, her cheek and hair brushing against Eliot's cock. He moves his hand down, out of her way, to roll and caress Quentin's balls. “You take as long as you need to drink her in.” Margo's hips are rocking now in a steady rhythm, rolling against Quentin's face.

She deserves at least as many orgasms as they got, probably more, since they started off without her. He feels her mouth against the back of his hand, so she's taking Quentin down all the way. Maybe she's been missing it, too, even if she's been getting her own fun on her outings in the city. He twists his hand around to rub a knuckle against Quentin's dick, and his finger slips into her mouth. He can't really see what's going on – her head is down and there's just too much hair all over the place – but he can feel her mouth moving as she swallows and sucks around Q's dick.

He feels her come, because her mouth goes still for a moment and the rest of her body tenses up, and Quentin's face gets wetter. Quentin pulls back slightly, laps at her more gently, but he doesn't stop.

Eliot tugs his finger out of Margo's mouth, wraps his hand around his dick. He has to brush away some of Margo's hair, doesn't want to tug on it and hurt her, then he shifts his leg to get a little closer and starts jerking off, dick pointed vaguely in the direction of Q's stomach and Margo's tits.

Margo is bobbing up and down Quentin's shaft now, and he can see flashes of dick as her hair bounces around. When Quentin comes in her mouth, Q lets go of Margo for a moment, collapses back down to the bed with a moan. Margo shifts onto her knees, like she's thinking of moving, and Eliot touches her shoulder.

And, like Eliot was thinking might happen, as soon as Quentin gets his breath back, he's shoving himself back up to kiss at Margo's cunt some more.

Seeing that- that hunger, that neediness in Quentin, cuts through to Eliot's core. His hand steadies on Margo's shoulder, and he says, “Gonna come soon. Want me to move, Bambi?”

She shakes her head, but braces herself on her elbows, opening more of a space between her body and Quentin's. “You can- I don't mind if it gets on me,” she tells him. So he takes his hand off her shoulder and puts it back on his dick, tugging steadily now, watching Quentin's mouth as it moves.

When his orgasm races through him, he holds his dick loosely, lets it twitch and shiver in his hand. Then he rolls to his back, keeps his head angled so that he can look as Margo stops holding herself up, going limp over Quentin's body, her legs spreading even wider as her knees slide apart.

Eliot watches dreamily as Quentin brings Margo to two more orgasms, her body clenching and shuddering, until she says, voice thick, “My heart might give out if you keep going, little Q. And I'm too goddamn young for a heart attack.”

She rolls off Quentin the opposite direction as Eliot had and as she turns, he sees the smear of his come across her chest.

Quentin lays there panting for a while, cheeks and mouth shiny-wet and flushed.

“You're always so pretty after Bambi's been on you,” Eliot says. He touches Quentin's slick cheek. “One of my favorite Quentin looks. You have a good time buried in her cunt, baby?”

“So good,” Quentin says. He turns his face towards Eliot's hand, kisses his fingers. “I never cleaned you up. After.”

“It's still after,” Eliot points out.

Quentin does the tuts of the clean-up spell, targeting all three of them. Then he tugs at Margo until she's facing the same direction as the two of them.

“How'd the cryomancy research go?” Eliot asks, as Margo tucks her body up against Quentin's. “Successful?”

“I froze the fountain down about five feet and left it that way,” Margo says. “We'll see how it looks in the morning.”

The sheet is bunched up at the foot of the bed. It's just- just fabric. He can't hurt it. Eliot lifts it, carefully and slowly, brings it up and over their bodies.

Quentin has already fallen asleep. He'll get up again in the middle of the night then, brain tumbling about a mile a minute. Eliot rests his mouth on top of Quentin's sweaty hair.

“You two were in the middle of something new and fun-looking,” Margo says, kissing Quentin's shoulder. “Was that couples' sex? Should I not have interrupted?”

He and Quentin didn't talk about Margo, when they talked over things that might be different now that they're dating and not just fucking as friends. He thinks they assumed they were on the same page, and tonight reaffirmed that's probably true but still- they should have the talk anyway. All three of them together for this one.

“We both invited you, Bambi,” is what he says now, mildly. “And we all enjoyed ourselves, right?”

“Mmm, yes,” she agrees, and he can't quite see her hand, but from the movements under the sheet, he thinks she's tracing invisible lines over Quentin's chest. The motions reminds him of protective runes. “You and Q are always a good time. You know that.”

Yeah, they definitely need to talk to her in the morning.

 


 

Margo is debating the merits of slipping out early.

Pros: she gets to check on the fountain probably before any professors find it and fix it. If there's gonna be any messy aftermath of having sex with Q and El post-Ibiza, she gets to delay it. Eliot was giving her a look last night like he wanted some kind of mature adult conversation, and she's hoping to avoid any of those until after graduation.

Cons: definitely will not get Q's fingers in her pussy this morning if she leaves before he wakes up. He did that thing he does in the night, where he goes off in a fretful daze – usually not fretful about anything in particular, just his normal baseline fretfulness kicking in – and then comes back to bed. It means that she's rolled towards Eliot, with Quentin cradling her from behind, and one of his hands is resting on her stomach, literally inches away from her clit.

So, only one con, but it's a big one.

She shifts a little, to see how easily she could sneak out from between the two of them. One of her hands is pressed up against Eliot's chest hair, and the other one is basically on his ass, so she moves that one first, to his hip. Both the boys are sporting wood, with Quentin's pressed up against her lower back.

Then Quentin is sleepily kissing the back of her neck, asking in a rough voice, “Are you awake? You feel awake. You wanna do something?”

And, well.

She does like Q's fingers.

“Yeah,” she agrees. “Stick your dick between my legs and touch my clit, honey.”

He mouths at her shoulder as his dick slides between her thighs, rubbing against the sensitive folds of her pussy. His fingers slip down just far enough to play with her clit. She presses against his body, feels his hard nipples against her back.

It's not a surprise El wakes up, now that they're making so much noise.

“You're having a good morning,” Eliot says, and he tugs the sheet down so that she and Q are exposed in the dim light of dawn, then rests his hand on her hip, heavy and careless. He leans forward and kisses the corner of her mouth, then settles back and looks down at where Quentin's dick peeks out as he fucks between her thighs, at where Q's hand is working at her clit. Eliot makes a thoughtful noise, reaches down and presses fingers against her, spreads her labia lips open so he can get a better view of Quentin touching her.

She makes a sound that probably isn't actually a word, shudders against Quentin. She can't stop watching Eliot's face, as he watches Quentin please her. There's something so oddly scientific about him in these moments, and it gets to her.

Margo comes all over Q's dick and over their hands. Lays there and shivers while Quentin chases his own orgasm, his fingers on her moving away from her clit and just stroking over her pussy lightly.

Quentin spurts out over their thighs, some of it landing right on El's cock. He kisses her shoulder one last time, slides back, then climbs over their bodies to get his mouth on Eliot. She's happy to roll to her back and watch Quentin kiss and bite at El's nipples, then slide down to suck on his dick.

Eliot's hand is cupping the back of Q's neck now, petting gently as Quentin blows him. Soft, silly, twitterpated expression on his face.

After he swallows Eliot's come down, Quentin rolls to his back, too, panting and pleased with himself.

“We haven't talked yet about how dating might change all this,” Eliot says and, fuck, she got bamboozeled into having an adult conversation after all. “Or, I guess, should dating change any of this?”

“Oh,” Quentin says, staring up at the ceiling. “I like this.”

“Bambi?” Eliot prompts. “How do you feel about screwing someone in a relationship?”

Which is a trick question and he knows it. She huffs at him, annoyed. She'd kick him, but Q is in the way, and he doesn't deserve it, so she smacks Eliot's arm instead.

“More seriously, I agree with Q,” Eliot says. “I think what we have works. But I'm not sure what you want.”

“I'm not dating anyone,” she says, firmly. Neither of them look surprised. “I can bang whoever I want.” She tangles her fingers in Quentin's hair and sighs. “But, you know. I wouldn't mind keeping the benefits clause of our friendship. I don't know. I thought you might get all weird and exclusive now that the big 'L' is out there.”

“Um, I- I guess I've kind of seen you and El as a package deal,” Quentin says, pressing up against her hand. “From the very first time I slept with either of you.”

“Oh, fuck, yeah, you got up from getting hardcore reamed by El and came right to me,” Margo remembers, with a flash of heat. There are some things about that first fuck that she would change, in retrospect, now that she knows more about Quentin's past. But the desperation and the heat, touching his ass and knowing El had been inside him. That part had been amazing.

“I was already a little in love with you then, I think,” Eliot says, which makes Quentin glance up at him, startled and wide-eyed. “And then fell deeper and deeper the more I got to know you.”

“It took longer for me,” Quentin confesses. “But I- I love you, El. I do.” Then he looks over at her. “And I love you, too, Margo. I know it isn't the same for you, but that's okay. I'm not asking to be your boyfriend.” He kisses her thigh. “I like being your friend with benefits. And I've been thinking a lot about- um. Jealousy and stuff. Jules and I talked about polyam stuff when we were at Brakebills South. She thought I was some kind of expert which, you know. Hilarious.”

“You do pretty good,” Margo says.

“I concur,” Eliot says, and he moves his hand down to Quentin's hair too, his fingers brushing against hers. “So, we're in agreement, then, everything settled?”

“Have you two talked about being exclusive outside of fucking me sometimes?” Margo asks, because if she's doing an adult conversation, she's gonna make sure all the bases are covered. “You wanna be sure to get that clear so that one of you doesn't think you're doing monogamy while the other one thinks fucking around is fine.”

“Oh, I- I'm good with- um. You and Eliot,” Quentin says. “You're- until Encanto Oculto, you were the only people I'd had sex with since coming to Brakebills and it's been- it's been good. I feel like- if we're going back to Ibiza next year-” there's a slight questioning uplift in his voice. “I'm good with the- um. The rules we had this time. I don't really want anyone to- to fuck me except Eliot. But I like- uh. Touching people and tasting is- that was nice.”

“I'm happy with that plan,” Eliot says, tousling Q's hair. “You look good on your knees, sweetheart. So, exclusive with a Bambi clause and the Encanto Oculto exception?”

“Yeah,” Quentin agrees, and if he keeps pushing into their hands like that, she's not gonna be able to resist a puppy joke.

“Well, that was less painful and awkward than expected,” Margo announces. “But I got all tense during, so if someone wanted to relax me again...”

So Quentin rolls over and licks her until she comes against his mouth.

Then they get cleaned up and dressed and go check out Woof fountain together, where there's still a thick layer of ice. Margo raps her knuckles against it happily, and lets it be water again.

“I'm gonna fucking destroy my thesis,” she says, satisfied.

They separate then, to go to their respective classes.

When Margo gets back to the Cottage later that day, it's a lot more settled than it was a week ago, when they'd first arrived and all the upperclass Physical Kids were walking around hilariously terrified of Quentin's friends.

She doesn't historically give a shit about too many people, but she is impressed with Quentin's friends. One day, maybe, she'll even be willing to call them her friends too. Stranger things and all that.

Alice is sitting on the couch in the common space, looking less prim and put-together than normal. She actually looks a little frazzled. Margo puts on her mentor-hat and sidles up next to her, asks, “What's wrong, kitty-cat?”

“I might not be able to go stay with my brother this summer,” she says, and she sounds miserable about it. She's clutching a letter in her hands. Margo gestures towards it and Alice offers it up.

She skims through – brother Charlie lost his job, so he's not sure he'll be settled enough to offer Alice a place to stay.

“That sucks big hairy balls,” Margo says, sympathetically. “What are your other options?”

Alice makes a face like she just smelled something three days dead. “My parents.”

“Hmm, well, something might come up that's better,” Margo says, her brain sifting through options. “Hang in there, pretty kitty.”

“You can call me Alice, you know,” she says, holding her hand out. Margo gives her back the letter.

“With your sharp claws? Kitty is much better,” Margo says. She hesitates, then adds, “Hey, sorry I set you up for failure with Coldwater. It wasn't on purpose. I didn't realize the dummies were falling in love. Still, you didn't deserve any backsplash from it.”

Alice shakes her head. “Oh, I don't blame you. I waited months to get up the courage to talk to him. That's my own fault.” And Alice really is very pretty, even if she insists on wearing clothes that don't quite fit.

“My door is open if you want to stop in,” Margo offers, and she pets Alice's knee before getting up. “Orgasms are relaxing and extremely therapeutic.”

Alice doesn't answer her, just stares up at her, mouth slightly open.

Given her previous track record on these things, Margo figures Alice might take her up on that sometime during their next year at Brakebills.

The world is full of wonderful things, after all.

 


 

So, really, most things don't change much, after Brakebills South and Encanto Oculto.

Eliot touches Quentin almost the same as he did before, which makes a lot of sense, now that Quentin knows Eliot's been in love with him for a while.

For, like, quite a while, which is a lot to process.

Margo is still Margo, and she looks like a goddess and her pussy tastes like a dream, and he feels like he can put her securely in 'best friends' territory these days.

Some of the second and third-years have apologized to him, which has been weird but Eliot and Margo look thrilled whenever one of them pulls him aside, so he guesses it's fine if it makes them happy.

He knows for certain that he's a Physical Kid, which is- it would be nice to know his exact discipline, sure, but even knowing the general type of magic he has is pretty fucking great. He visits his dad a couple of times, shows off genuinely magic card tricks for him and gets Ted to smile at them in a way Quentin's normal card tricks haven't done for years.

After a party, about a month until the end of the school year, Quentin lays out on the moonlit lawn with Julia next to him, sharing a smoke.

“You got Penny and Kady figured out yet?” he asks. He's see both of them orbiting her pretty regularly, still. “Or are you stuck in the trial phase?”

“Almost figured out, I think,” Julia says. “We've been working on a project together, not just having sex all the time, you know.”

“I didn't,” Quentin says, propping himself up on one elbow. “What's the project?”

“Long-term,” she says, her smile a little pained. “We think it'll be our thesis for third year? We've roped in, um, Nick from the Nature Kids – you remember him, right? – and Bethany from Healing for it. I don't think you know her.” She reaches up and brushes his hair back. “We're working on that spell. For your dad. To make him better.”

“Oh,” Quentin says. There aren't, maybe, any other words. “Oh, fuck. Really?”

“Really,” she says. “I wanted- I can't make any promises that it'll work. Or that we'll get it done in time to save him. But we're gonna try.”

Quentin collapses onto the grass, overwhelmed. It had been the hardest thing in his life, but he'd put his dad's cancer in the box marked 'unfixable' and done his best not to think about it every day. The idea that it can potentially come out of that box some day is...

“Thank you, Jules,” he says. “Jesus... that's... thank you.”

“Yeah, well, he's practically my dad, too, in the ways that matter most,” she says.

Quentin contemplates the stars overhead, and asks, “Do you ever think about James?”

“Oh, god. Am I a terrible person if the answer is 'not really'?” Julia asks. “We haven't talked about him since I broke up with him, have we? God, when was that? Oh, yeah, you were telling me about that girl you dated behind my back-” she nudges his shoulder, companionably, and he feels cold and shivery and guilty and lost. “-you sly dog. Who did you say it was?”

“Heather,” Quentin says, quietly. “It was Heather.”

He presses his fingers to his mouth, does a party trick spell Margo taught up, his lips going icy as the spell takes effect. Sucks in some smoke, blows it out and makes it Ember's seal from Fillory and Further.

“Nice,” Julia says, because this is just a normal conversation for her. They did the difficult stuff already, talking about his dad.

Quentin hands her the cigarette.

“Margo and Eliot think she raped me,” he says, and he hears Julia's breath suck in, shocked. “They didn't- um. Use that word. But they made it- that's what they think.”

“Did she?” Julia asks, and her voice is so careful now.

“I never thought of it that way,” Quentin says, which he knows isn't an answer. He's not sure what he believes about it. “It was rough sex. She had fun. I wanted to make her happy. But, uh, if Margo and Eliot ever ask you for her last name or anything, it's probably not to send her a gift.”

“I might talk to them about it even if they don't ask me for it,” Julia says. “Do you- do you wanna...?”

“I think I- I think I want to try to find a therapist,” Quentin says. “I never- she wanted it to be a secret, so I never even told-” he sighs and stares upward blankly. “She used my depression against me. During sex. Which was kinda a dick move, even if she didn't-”

He's not sure Julia understands what he means by that, but he's not up for explaining it further. He rolls up off the ground, onto his hands.

“I wanna go back to the Cottage,” he says. He wants to- he wants to at least be in the same room as Eliot and Margo again. “You wanna go back and hang out for a while?”

“Q,” she says, soft and sad.

He gets up on his feet and holds out his hand, helps her up.

It's late enough that the Cottage is quiet. Margo and Eliot are still downstairs, directing Todd as he repairs some glasses that got broken during the party. Quentin sits down between them on the couch and nudges Eliot, who floats him one of the mostly-intact ones. Quentin works on mending it. Margo and Eliot aren't particularly good at little things like this, but Quentin is developing a bit of a knack. It's a nice feeling, to have something in his hands that he can fix.

“Julia, tell them about your project,” he prompts. And that cheers her up, makes her look less heartbroken, as she starts to tell them the news. Margo's hand rests lightly on his thigh and Eliot's arm is around his shoulders.

That was the past. This is his future.

 


 

“Eliot, this is amazing,” Quentin tells him, momentarily distracted from the mission that had brought him into Eliot's room. He stares down at the sketch Eliot drew this morning, when he was finally feeling secure enough in his telekinesis again to know for certain what he wanted to do for his thesis project. “You're gonna have wings?”

“If I can get the healing magic to work right,” Eliot says. He touches Q's wrist, fond and familiar. “And I might ask for your help, too, baby.”

“My help?” Quentin asks, sounding stunned.

“Object manifestation is part of how it'll work,” Eliot tells him. “Manifest the wings, use healing to tie them into my shoulders, then the actual flight is aided by my telekinesis. And it'll be hot.”

“Yeah,” Quentin agrees, fervently.

They're interrupted by Margo popping her head in. “Hey, I've got all the other nerds assembled. It's go time.”

Quentin sets down the sketch, lifts up onto his toes to plant a kiss on Eliot's mouth, then starts tugging him towards the door. “Yes! It's time. We got it all set up.”

“I don't see why it's necessary,” Eliot complains, but mostly just for the sake of complaining. He lets Quentin and Margo haul him along easily enough, amused at their stubbornness on the issue.

They've completely re-done the common room and turned it into a mini movie theater. It's not something he would have chosen to do, but here they are. Classes are done and they have a week until they'll be heading off campus on their almost-romantic world tour.

Almost romantic, because Margo and Quentin somehow managed to invite all of Quentin's friends along too, and apparently literally none of them have other places they'd rather go this summer.

Said friends are now settling into the couches that are facing the large screen that Margo and Q have set up. Penny and Kady are complaining too, though they shush when Julia tells them to shush. Alice seems genuinely interested.

“I don't watch or read much fantasy,” she confesses, after he gives her a lovely breezy cocktail that suits her better than the swill she tends to drink when she's left to her own devices. “But Quentin speaks very highly of the visual and practical effects and I want to see if there's anything I can re-create using magic.”

“There are breaks built in. Sort of,” Quentin says, sliding out a book that is actually a dvd case. “But if anyone needs to pee, go now while I'm setting up.”

“You have to come back,” Julia says, sternly, as Penny and Kady both make breaks for it. “You better come back!”

Eliot isn't particularly worried about it. They'll be back in time.

“I'm only watching if I get to comment on everyone's appearance,” Eliot says, pulling Margo down onto a couch with him. “And talk about which actors are most bang-able.”

“Deal,” Margo says, way too quickly. “Hey, I've seen this multiple times, babe. We can do commentary on it. I'm good with that.”

Eliot floats the dvd case over to himself once Quentin is done futzing with it. The back cover has a group of people wandering in a very tall stairway.

“What exactly does 'special extended' mean? How extended is it?” he asks, as he flips it open to look at the inside. There's a booklet tucked into the inside flap. He tugs it out and opens it up. Flips the pages. Pulls out one of the pages to show- “The dvd set needs its own flowchart?” This is possibly more intimidating than he was giving it credit for being. Margo laughs and pets his hand. He holds onto his own drink tightly, takes a sip.

Then it's time, and Quentin comes over to their couch, snugging in on Eliot's other side.

Penny and Kady are back, in plenty of time. They're sitting more separated than he is with Q and Margo, because Julia takes her movie watching very seriously, apparently, so Kady is next to Alice on her couch, while Julia and Penny hold down the opposite corners of their own.

There's a page on the screen, with writing he can't read at the top and the bottom – the fictional languages he's been told Tolkien was so good at, he supposes – and then the dvd menu, which is a bit of a blast to the past in general. It's been a while since he watched any dvds. Quentin turns up the volume, and some instrumental music starts.

And, well, the details don't matter. Eliot honestly doesn't care if he likes the movie. He gets to hold Quentin's hand in a dark room while Bambi nestles against his shoulder. So, it's good.

He's looking forward to whatever happens next.