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I'll tell you about the magic (it'll free your soul)

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Breathe in. Breathe out.

Touch. Taste. Smell. Sound.

Phil grounds himself in his senses. The material of his pyjama bottoms is soft against his legs, the palms of his hands, and the tips of his fingers. His glasses pinch slightly at the bridge of his nose.

He sticks his tongue out. There’s not much to taste but, if he thinks about it hard enough, he can taste the molecules of the scented candles he lit diffusing through the air. The taste of his mouth after a night's sleep but before he’s brushed his teeth.

Smell . There’s the candles again, the woodsy scent strong in this nose, but there’s also the familiar warmth of his apartment and his own early morning musk. He breathes in a lungful of it all, his body rising with the motion.

Sound. The white noise coming from the speaker of his phone that drowns out almost everything else: the traffic from the street below filling with commuters, the ticking of the clock on the wall. The click of his own bedroom door opening across the apartment.

No sight because he has his eyes closed and the thick curtains block out any light that would be streaming in through the windows. The candles only provide a soft glow that doesn’t seep through his eyelids.

He focuses on each sense in turn on a loop, and he feels the energy of the city strum through his body.

Touch. Taste. Smell. Sound.

He wiggles his fingers against his knees as the familiar electric feeling dances through his body and makes sparks bounce off his finger tips.

Touch. Taste. Smell. Sound.

He feels lighter than air.

Touch. Taste. Smell. Sound.


He comes back down to Earth with a bump. Literally. He’s glad he put a pillow down. He clicks his fingers, and, all within a second, his phone stops playing, the candles go out, and the tv turns on low to whatever channel they’d left it on last night. Dan walks into the room. Phil turns to greet him with a smile. “Here.”

“Mornin.” Dan bends down, and Phil tilts his head up to meet him in a kiss. “What you doin’ up?” His voice is soft and deep, his hair is a mess, and there’s an impression of a pillow crease across his cheek.

“Watching the sunrise,” Phil lies. He’s now sitting in a quickly-warming patch of sunlight from the sun that’s peeking its way above the London skyline. “What are you doing?”

“Woke up and you weren’t there, so I came to make sure you hadn’t knocked yourself unconscious or something.”

“Sorry,” Phil says. He had hoped he would be done before Dan woke up, but Phil had overslept, not wanting to leave the warm cocoon of duvet and his personal space heater.

“S’okay.” Dan’s hand absently strokes through Phil’s hair, and he leans into it. “Do you want coffee?”

“Yes, please.” Neither of them are going to be able to sleep again now, anyway.

Dan bends down to place a kiss on the top of Phil’s head. “I hear the sofa’s pretty comfy.”

Phil smiles and grabs at the front of his shirt, pulling him down for another kiss, pressing his lips gently to Dan’s. Dan’s lips are dry and cracked against his own, but he revels in it anyway.

When Dan turns around to head to the kitchen, Phil takes a deep breath and flexes his fingers, shaking out his hands as the final few sparks fall from his fingertips.

By the time Dan comes back with the two mugs, Phil has settled himself under a blanket on the sofa. He lifts up a corner to let Dan sink down against him. Although Phil hadn’t come out here to actually watch the sunrise, that’s what he does now as some early morning breakfast show plays softly on the tv.

It’s well into spring now, and the sky is clear, swaths of oranges and yellows blending with the blue horizon, broken only by the silver skyscrapers of central London. It’s also April 8th, the morning after a full moon, when the magical energies are at their strongest. This had been the reason Phil was up so early.

As his mum had reminded him via text last night, this morning would be the perfect time for a recharge; she’d even sent a link with the precise times of the month's moon phases which showed that 3.35am would be its most powerful. Phil had groaned when he saw this — why couldn’t full moons happen at more convenient times? He ignores the fact that the last two had happened during the day.

Phil had gone to bed with Dan but wasn’t able to fall asleep before half-three rolled around, and he eventually found the will to extricate himself from Dan’s warm, sleeping mass.

He’d laid his crystals on the windowsill in the moon’s light, lit his candles, and then took up his meditative position in front of the window. Every witch scattered across the country had likely done the same.

Phil hadn't realised how long he’d sat until he felt the light change from the powerful silver of the moon to the warming orange of the sun. He’s pretty sure he fell asleep at some point, three feet in the air.

He was almost done by the time he’d been interrupted, but he thinks he’ll get by until the next full moon. Not that it really matters when he doesn't use his magic much anyway, but he finds a full magical battery goes a long way in charging his mental and physical batteries, too.

The risk of interruption isn’t usually an issue because, although it may not seem like it for all the time Dan spends here, this is technically Phil’s flat. Dan lives in another partway across the city. They tend to split the week between the two homes — some nights at Dan’s, some nights at Phil’s, and one night apart because distance makes the heart grow stronger and all that. But also because they haven’t been together very long, and they decided it not wise to officially move in together just yet. At least, that’s what Phil insists, although this is mainly to ensure he’s alone for the full moon every month.

Last night was supposed to be their night apart, but Dan had looked at him and begged, and Phil is nothing if not a sucker for those big brown eyes and dimples. They’d put on their third movie of the night and then went to bed not an hour later when neither of them could keep their eyes open any longer. Phil told himself he’d just have to be careful not to wake Dan when he has to get.

Dan shuffles further into Phil’s side, resting his head on Phil’s shoulder. The sun is almost completely above the skyline. Phil sighs happily. The fact that he hasn’t slept is barely noticable, one of the perks of a full moon recharge.

Phil comes from a long line of witches on his mother's side. His mother is a witch, as is his brother, most of his aunts, and his grandmother. His grandmother had been the most powerful witch in his family for many generations.

He remembers being a kid and watching her perform all manner of spells with a simple twitch of her head and mix delicate potions using herbs he had never heard of that other witches would travel for miles just for a drop of. Phil and his brother would watch in awe as pots and pans flew around the kitchen making delicious meals while she sat reading a book in another room.

It took Phil several years before he learnt what his channel was; by the time he did, his family had started to think he didn’t have any magic at all. It wasn’t until his brother taught him to click his fingers at the dining table when he was 8 years old and the corner of the table cloth caught fire that they realised he did. His mother had never been prouder of him as she extinguished the flames with a wave of her hand. His brother's channel is wiggling his right ear.

Neither his father nor his grandfather have any magical abilities, not that this is uncommon; witches and non-witches have been marrying for centuries, contrary to what history would have you believe. As far as Phil is aware, both of them accepted their wives’ abilities readily. Martyn did not have this issue in the first place as his girlfriend, Cornelia, is a witch herself, born and raised in a country where witches are much more common.

Phil has yet to tell Dan due, in part, to Dan’s very vocal opinions regarding the non-existence of the craft and all other things supernatural along with it. On their fourth date, Phil had mentioned his grandmother's psychic abilities in a coffee shop around the corner from the annual witches’ convention he’d just left, but Dan waved it off, saying such things don’t exist, and ranted about coincidences and the inherent fantastical nature of statistical improbabilities. Maybe this should have been a red flag, but Phil had been falling hard and fast, so instead he decided he would just have to bring Dan around to the idea.

Unfortunately, Dan had remained steadfast in his opinions, despite Phil trying everything short of clicking his fingers and making all the nerdy ornaments scattered around his apartment do a dance in front of Dan’s face. Which is something he could do, but he’s scared that Dan would run out of the house screaming, and he really doesn’t want to lose him.

Phil hopes that when he gets to tell Dan, which will be soon as he keeps telling his mother, that he’ll do it gently so as not to startle him too much. Maybe he’ll click his fingers and light a candle from across the room or float a pen into his hand. He hasn’t got the specifics worked out yet.

And it’s not like he’s really hiding it — there’s evidence all around his flat: spell books, potion recipes, herbs in the cupboard that can’t be bought from the supermarket, objects infused with charms to bring safety and soothe anxiety. Dan has found several of these items, but Phil is sure he just puts them down to another one of his family’s quirks because when Dan asks what they are, Phil just says they were his grandmother's, which in most cases is technically true. Dan just puts them back in their places without investigating them further. His most powerful and precious items he keeps in a locked chest at the end of his bed. Dan jokes that it’s full of Phil’s most kinky sex toys that Phil’s going to whip out one day when they’re in the throes.

Still, Dan will sit with Phil while they watch episodes of ghost hunters and listens to Phil earnestly rant about the inaccuracies of psychic readings and potion making portrayed on TV and how ridiculous the characters sound casting incantations of nonsense words that they’d be lucky to so much as startle a cat with, let alone banish a demon to the underworld or whatever. Though Phil will listen to Dan rant about things he couldn’t care less about, so he thinks that might be fair enough.

A few weeks later, something happens that makes Phil think that ‘soon’ may be sooner than he thought.

He comes home, arms loaded with bags of groceries, to Dan sitting cross-legged on the sofa bent over something in his lap, his face full of concentration. He doesn’t appear to notice Phil’s entrance, so Phil drops off the bags in the kitchen, putting away some of the more urgent items in the fridge, before going back to Dan in the living room. It doesn’t take long for Phil to realise what Dan is pouring over. There’s a set of Phil’s tarot cards laid out on a cushion on one side of Dan, and a book open on the other. He’s holding one of the cards in his hand and is frowning intensely at a page of the book, trying to work out the card’s meaning, Phil assumes.

“What does it say?” Phil asks gently, as way of announcing his presence. Dan startles anyway, looking up at him, a light blush spreading across his cheeks.

Dan turns the card around to Phil. “It’s my future card.”

Phil comes to sit down next to Dan who hands him the book. Phil doesn’t need the book to be able to read the cards, but he accepts it and reads the passage anyway.

Phil has learned a lot about Dan in the seven months they’ve been together, and vice versa, and every new thing he learns just makes him love Dan even more. Dan chews on his bottom lip as Phil attempts to interpret the card for him. He tells Dan the card can have many meanings and tries to give the most optimistic ones he can. Phil can see the meanings ring some truth for Dan, and perhaps for a moment belief finds a place behind Dan’s eyes.

But then Dan is shaking his head of it as he begins stacking the cards back together, and the moment is broken.

“It’s all bullshit anyway, isn’t it,” he says, needlessly shuffling the cards between his hands.

Phil bites his tongue, closing the book. “I think it’s as true as you want it to be.”

Occurrences like this start to happen more often over the coming months. They’ve been spending more time at Phil’s apartment because it has the rarity of air conditioning that Dan’s does not and they are both introverted hermits with barely any friends. They find little reason to go outside into the muggy London heat more than they have to.

Phil watches as Dan’s eyes trace across the shelf of books, specifically the witch-y books,  when they’re supposed to be watching a film. He watches when Dan pulls one out on candle magic and flicks through the pages or reaches down a jar of mugwort from the back of a kitchen cupboard which he sniffs — causing his nose to wrinkle up in a way Phil finds adorable — before putting it back. Phil doesn’t say anything about this new behaviour. Dan will ask when he is ready, when he’s more receptive.

On an evening toward the end of August, they play Mario Kart. Phil has lost count of how many games they’ve played this evening. He thinks he’s probably won fewer than a quarter of them, and, even then, that was mostly luck or Dan letting him win when he started to pout. Dan is sat at one end of the sofa with his legs draped over Phil’s lap at the other. Phil has just crossed the finished line, many seconds after Dan already had, when Dan says:

“My apartment contract finishes end of next month.”

“Oh, yeah?” Phil says as he chooses the next map. “Are you gonna renew it?”

“You’ve seen my apartment, it’s a shithole. I’d be glad to be rid of it, but I don’t know if I can be bothered trying to find a new one.”

Phil hears the unasked question. He’s been lying to Dan so far, he knows that, but he’s been able to rationalise it to himself, and if they lived together, officially that is, that lie would become ten times bigger. He doesn’t think he’d be able to live with himself keeping it up 24/7 to the person he loves most in the world.

He glances across at Dan as the game counts down to the start of the next race. He has to take that leap sooner or later.

“You could always move in with me?” He says it as casually as he can, keeping his eyes on the screen. And when Dan doesn’t say anything right away, “I mean, we basically already live together, right?”

“Yeah, I guess we do.”

Phil thinks that’s the end of that for now. All of his concentration is on maintaining fourth place. He even squeezes into third at one point until a shell throws him back. Dan is effortlessly keeping first place, his mind apparently not even on the game.

“Maybe between us we’d actually have a full set of cutlery.”

It takes Phil a moment to find Dan’s train of thought. It’s been a running joke for a while now they are both terrible at retaining kitchenware. Both have uneven, mismatched sets of knives and forks that they’ve carried with them through the student houses and apartments they’ve individually occupied over the years. Phil thinks that, even now, if you looked in his drawer, there are maybe three forks and one knife that he actually owns, the rest being Dan’s that were brought over at some point in boxes of leftovers.

Phil laughs. “I’d actually be able to eat my cereal with a spoon in my own house.”

Dan wrinkles his nose, making Phil laugh again. “I hate that.”

New Year’s is a big deal in Phil’s family as it is in every witch family. There are elaborate celebrations and rituals where the entire family gathers together at midnight, holding  candles and chanting spells, to thank the year as it comes to end and welcoming in the new one. Asking that the year be kind and generous and bless them with good health and whatever else they want that year, or something. The original meaning has been lost to the centuries, evolving to fit whatever the need is of the time and the interpretation of the particular family.

“Your aunties in America are coming over for the celebration this year,” his mum says. Phil hums in acknowledgment and doesn’t mention that it’s kind of early to be talking about the new year. “It’s about time, really. They were supposed to come last year, but we all know how that went.” Phil bites his tongue to keep from laughing. “And Cornelia said she’ll stay with us this year too.” She pauses. “I suppose Dan won’t be joining us?” Her voice is pitched too high for her to cover up the hope that Phil will have changed his mind. They had this same conversation last year, but it had ended in sharp tones and defensive words.

Phil had never had anyone serious enough to even think of inviting into this intimate ceremony, but when Dan had arrived in Phil’s life it had been clear straight away that this could be something special. Phil had made the excuse then that their relationship was still new, but his mum had still argued that Dan should be there. That had also been when she found out Dan didn’t even know about their witchcraft yet.

“I’ll think about it, Mum.”

He’s still thinking about it when they hang up. He pushes his head into the back of the sofa and flings his arms over his face, groaning. The next full moon is in three nights’ time. He’ll properly think about it then.

Not only can the moon be used to renew their magical energies, but it’s also great for getting clarity on difficult situations.

Phil is hovering in the moonlight above his favourite pillow with dogs on it. Dan is asleep in Phil’s bed. The familiar electric feeling is thrumming under his skin, and the tips of his fingers are tingling against his knees.

His mantra is circling through his mind, keeping him mentally, if not physically, grounded. He takes a deep breath through his nose, expanding his lungs until they won’t expand any further, and then holds it for a few seconds before letting it all out through his mouth, exhaling until his lungs must surely be empty. 

He pictures Dan as he’d left him: naked and beautiful, sheet pulled up to his waist, and curls falling over his unconscious face that was pressed into Phil’s pillow. He shifts his mind to the silver rays that are falling over his own body, and he focuses on the thrumming and the tingling until it fills up all his senses. He feels himself rise a couple more feet.

What should I do? he asks in his mind.

The image of Dan comes back to the front of his mind, and he tries to banish all other thoughts until his mind is empty of all but Dan and the thrumming beneath his skin.

If he wants this thing with Dan to last, and god he does, he knows he has to tell him.

He focuses on the love he has for Dan and the love Dan has for him. Everything they have learned about each other in the time they’ve known each other has only made their bond, their friendship, their love stronger.

Suddenly, a feeling of clarity washes over him, and he knows what he’s going to do. He knows it won’t be easy, and maybe Dan won’t accept it with open arms right away, but he also knows that it will be okay. They’ll be okay.

And, as he comes back down to Earth, blows out his candles and goes back to bed, that is the feeling he holds onto. He slides back under the covers before wrapping his whole body around Dan. They’ll both complain about being sweaty messes in the morning, but he does it anyway.

He’s going to tell Dan. Tomorrow.

Once Phil has made a decision it’s almost impossible for him to not immediately follow through.

Dan had showered and dressed while Phil had made them breakfast pancakes.

“It’s too warm for pancakes.” Dan had said.

“It’s never too warm for pancakes.” Phil had replied, sending Dan off to the bathroom with a kiss on the nose.

They’d sat at opposite ends of the couch and ate with an anime episode on the TV. Once finished, Phil had taken the plates to the kitchen, turned off the TV and said he wanted to talk about something. His tone must have betrayed him because Dan immediately starts tugging on the sleeves of his jumper.

“Are you breaking up with me?” Dan says it like a joke, but Phil can hear the insecurity in his tone.

“No. No! Of course not,” Phil says, reaching across the now too expansive gap between them to take Dan’s hand and squeeze. He sees the tension in Dan’s shoulders begin to relax.

Phil's stomach twists as for all of the times he’s had this conversation in his head and all of the outcomes he’s imagined, it doesn’t make the reality any easier.

He takes a deep breath and turns over Dan’s hand he’s still holding in his own and traces the lines of his palm.

Phil has a whole monologue he wants to say in his head, but what actually comes out of his mouth is, “I’m a witch.” The bluntness startles even himself. He glances up at Dan.

There’s a smile quirking Dan’s lips and a frown pulling at his eyebrows like he’s waiting for the punchline. When Phil doesn’t smile or laugh to tell Dan that this is a joke, Dan says, “What? Shut up, no you’re not. What’s this about?”

“It’s what I said. I’m a witch. My whole family are witches. Well, my dad isn’t, but everyone else is.”

Dan doesn’t respond, but his frown deepens like he can’t quite see the joke and he’s waiting for Phil to crack and explain. But Phil has never been good at keeping a straight face when it comes to pulling pranks; he always breaks into a grin, leading the person into the fact that they are being pranked. Now though, he doesn’t crack, he doesn’t smile. He’s sat facing Dan, exposing himself to him like he never has before.

“Okay, then prove it,” Dan dares, like it’s the most unimaginable thing possible.

Phil looks around the room for something suitable. He turns back to Dan, looks him in the eyes, squeezes Dan’s hand with one of his own, and clicks his fingers with the other. A book flies off the shelf and hovers next to his head until he reaches up to take it from midair.

Dan's mouth falls open as he stares at the book. Then he looks up at Phil with a grin.

“How did you do that?” He says in awe. He takes the book from Phil and inspects it, turning it over and over in his hands. “Was it strings or magnets or something? Why didn’t you tell me you were learning magic tricks?” When he doesn’t find anything off with the book, he stands to inspect the shelf.

“It isn’t a trick, it’s real. I’m a witch.” Phil says. He stays where he is, tugging at a thread on his pyjama bottoms now he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. He watches Dan pull more books off the shelf and crane his neck into it to inspect the shelf itself and the wall it’s attached to. When he still doesn’t find anything to explain the trick he just saw, he turns back to Phil, who's now wringing his hands in his lap.

“I don’t understand.” Dan isn’t smiling anymore. He looks down at the book he’s holding and lays it flat on his palm in front of him. “Do it again,” he says, like if he saw it again he would understand.

Phil clicks his fingers and the book flies from Dan’s hand and lands perfectly in his own. The expression on Dan’s face changes, suddenly. It’s confusion with a mix of… fear, Phil realises, and he has to hold on tight to the feeling of the previous night, the feeling that this will be okay and Dan will still be his at the end of this.

“Can you do anything else?” Dan asks quietly, the words tumbling from his mouth, eyes fixed on the book in Phil’s hand. The one that had been in his and now wasn’t, for reasons didn’t fit inside his worldview.

Phil desperately wants to tell him everything he can do, everything that is possible if he opens his mind to it, but words fail him. Instead, he looks at the candle on the windowsill. Dan follows his gaze as Phil clicks his fingers, watching as the orange flame that wasn’t there a second ago appears on it’s own, standing tall and proud as it dances in the light breeze that’s flowing through their apartment.

Phil looks back at Dan, and his chest goes tight. Dan’s face has turned as white as a ghost. He looks Phil in the eye and clenches his jaw, and Phil has to try hard to maintain the eye contact and not flinch away from the intensity.

“Is this a joke?” Dan asks, tone level, nothing like Phil has ever heard him.

Phil shakes his head.

“You’re a witch? You can do magic? Like, real Harry Potter, Sabrina type magic?”

“Yeah,” it comes out as a whisper, his throat tight around the word. He wants to say something, anything, to soothe all of the emotions flitting across Dan’s face.

Dan is nodding slowly like understanding is finally dawning. His eyes flick all around the room as if seeing it for the first time. He starts moving towards the door, and Phil tries to get up, to reach out, to stop him and explain.

“Dan. Please, let me—”

But Dan stops him. “I need some time.” He puts on his shoes and grabs his keys. Just as he’s about to open the door, he turns back to Phil who’s stood in the middle of the room, like a ship marooned at sea. “I’ll be back,” he says. “I promise.” He glances back at the candle and at the books left on the sofa and turns the handle.

The sound of the door closing echoes through the apartment.

Phil hates being alone on the nights he doesn’t spend with Dan, but he doesn’t think he has ever felt as alone as he feels right now.

The next couple of hours pass by Phil in what feels simultaneously like two seconds and two years as he waits for Dan to come back. Because he is going to come back.

He picks up his phone then puts it down again. He turns on the TV then turns it off again. He puts the books back in their places and blows out the candle, manually, using his actual breath. He goes to the kitchen to make some food, but when he opens the fridge, he just closes it again and collapses back on the sofa.

He must go to sleep then because the next thing he realises is the door closing and then Dan is standing at the far end of the room. His sleeves are pulled down around his hands — he still insists on wearing jumpers despite the heat. He’s twisting his hands around themselves and biting his lip, and Phil hates it so much. Dan glances over at the blown out candle and at the full shelf of books.

Phil goes to stand, to pile Dan into his arms, to say he’s sorry and finally explain everything. To make certain that Dan is really here, to let that slowly disappearing feeling of hope that Phil had been clinging to since Dan stepped out the door come back. But Dan speaks first.

“Do you have a cauldron?”


Dan continues to stare at him.

“No,” Phil says slowly. He’s terrified that Dan might leave again.

“So, how do you make your potions?” Dan asks, frowning.

“In a mixing pot like everyone else.” Phil does stand then.

Dan still hasn’t moved, but he doesn’t look scared any more. He has that same look he gets when he’s learning about a new thing, full of questions and curiosity.

“Do you have a pointy hat?”

“No!” Phil says. “That’s very offensive.” Dan’s hands have stilled, and Phil takes a tentative step towards him. Hope is taking its root back in his chest.

“A black cat?”

“Dan, you know I’m allergic to cats. My auntie does though.”

The corners of Dan’s mouth quirk into a smile. It’s perhaps the best thing Phil has ever seen.

Dan goes to take a step closer, then hesitates. “You’re not gonna put a curse on me or something are you?” There’s a hint of a smile on his lips.

“Dan, I’m still me.” He lifts his arms out. Dan closes the rest of the distance into them.

“I missed you. I’m sorry I freaked, but you’ve basically changed my whole world perspective.”

Phil laughs into Dan’s shoulder. “I get it, and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.” He feels Dan shake his head where it’s pressed into the crook of his neck. A patch of dampness is growing there, though whether from tears or sweat Phil isn’t sure.

“I don’t know if I would have believed you.”

Phil feels like his heart is caught in his throat again. “Do you now?” He does his best to keep his voice even, but there’s still a shake.

Dan pulls back but keeps his arms around Phil’s neck. His eyes are wet, and he looks so tired, like the last few hours have drained everything from him. His eyes track all across Phil’s face, and Phil waits for Dan to give him the answer that will either be the best or worst thing he’s ever heard.

Dan nods his head. “Yeah, I think so.”

Relief, nothing like Phil’s ever felt, floods through him, and he can’t keep himself from grinning. “Really?”

Dan’s smiling now too. He places a hand on Phil’s chest. “Show me some more.”

Phil clicks his fingers, and all of the candles in the room light up at once. He does it again, and music starts playing through the speakers they have set up around the room. Phil recognises the song as something Dan had put on last night.

Dan gives a little gasp and looks at Phil with wide eyes.

“Are you going to rleave again?” He feels Dan gripping a little bit tighter around his neck.

“No,” Dan says after a few moments, “but I think it’ll take a while to get used to it.”

“That’s okay, I understand.”

“What else can you do?”

Phil clicks his fingers again and a couple of discarded pens on the coffee table stand on their ends and move together, waltzing across the table in time to the music. They watch the mini performance, which ends with one pen seemingly dipping the other, before they both collapse into a motionless heap.

Dan laughs. “How are you not this coordinated with others things?”

Phil blushes. “I’m not, usually. But I can use magic to catch things and clean up messes when you’re not around.”

“Well, now you have no excuse to make me clean up after you.”

Over the next few weeks, Dan comes to him with more and more absurd questions.

“Why do you always kill houseplants if you can just magic them alive?”

“Nobody can bring things back from the dead, Dan. Not even witches.”

“Can you alter people’s emotions?” It’s a sincere question asked late one night when they’re in bed together after a particularly low day. “Make someone happier or fall in love, or just… less sad?”

Phil brushes back his curls, presses a kiss to his temple, and whispers that he wouldn’t, even if he could, because then it wouldn’t be real.

It doesn’t work like that, anyway, at least not the magic he knows. Only dark magic can manipulate emotion, and it takes magic more powerful than he could ever hope to possess.

“Of course there’s dark magic,” Dan mumbles. “I bet there are bad witches too. Do you have a Voldemort?”

Phil continues to stroke a hand through Dan’s hair where he’s bundled under Phil’s arm. “Witches are still human, Dan. We cover the whole spectrum of ethics and morals just like non-witches do; there are bad witches just like there are bad non-witches. Some of the most infamous people were witches” — Dan’s face drops — “but some of the best people are also witches, Dan. There’s no wizarding war going on that you don’t know about like in Harry Potter. At least not any more. Joking!”

Dan swats a hand at Phil’s ribs, making Phil giggle. Dan buries himself further into Phil’s side.

“What celebrities are witches?”

They’re eating a proper meal they cooked themselves. Dan had found a recipe book for 30-minute meals when he was searching through more of Phil’s magic books. Phil had said that it may as well be a magic book, but Dan insisted they try one.

So, after a trip to the grocery shop and several substituted items later, they were sitting down with two plates of significantly-more-than-30-minute chilli.

“Elijah wood, definitely.” Dan continues without waiting for Phil to answer.

Phil laughs. “My mum used to say David Bowie was.”

“Oh, I believe that.” Dan says, nodding sagely.

They spend the rest of the meal on the topic, and it feels better than Phil could ever have hoped, being able to talk about this subject with Dan knowing the absolute truth. He finally feels free to be open with Dan just like he does with every other part of himself.

After they’ve emptied their plates, Dan puts his fist on the table between them. “Play for who’s washing up.”

Phil loses.

Dan cackles as he makes himself comfortable with his feet up on the sofa. “At least I can still beat you at rock, paper, scissors.”

Phil makes a show of grumbling as he collects the plates to take to the kitchen.

“And no using magic!” Dan calls after him. “If I have to do it the old fashioned way, then so do you!”

Magic has existed for as long as humans have, so, if anything, using magic would be the old fashioned way. But Phil doesn’t say any of that. Instead, he just grins and carries on.