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This Slope is Treacherous

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Quentin was a bit of a gleeful mess, he was practically vibrating with excitement. Fillorian Designations were real?! He had only been in classes at Brakebills for a total of three days, and already there was all this talk of Alphas, Betas, and Omegas. It was something straight out of Plover’s “Fillory and Further”. He couldn’t believe it, could the books he grew up reading actually be based on reality?! This was a fan’s ultimate dream! With all these elements from the books actually being real, could this mean...could Fillory be real? Does the fantastical land actually exist? What about the Cozy…?

“Seriously?! SERIOUSLY! Learn some mental wards already Coldwater!” Quentin’s psychic roommate snapped, cutting off his thoughts. “All you think about is fucking Fillory, what the fuck even is a ‘cozy horse’? You’re annoying as fuck. Can you fucking leave?”

Quentin grimaced, shrinking back a little at the outburst. After a small pause, he started mentally singing “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. He looked over expectantly at Penny, who was meditating on the floor. 

“And fucking stop with the Taylor Swift shit already.” Penny huffed, glaring at him. After motioning to the door, Penny closed his eyes and tried to recenter himself. Quentin smirked, satisfied at his successful attempt to further annoy his surly roommate. 

Deciding that it was probably in his best interest to give Penny some space, he got off his bed and grabbed his book bag. Heading in the direction of the library, Quentin thought now was as good a time as any to read up on the physical biology of magicians. Before he signed his Brakebills paperwork, Dean Fogg had taken the time to explain that since real magic is highly technical, in theory and execution, it will be extremely taxing on a magician’s mind and body. Therefore, a magical adept’s body will go through physical changes to better adapt to practicing magic. This being largely the result of magic being a living organism itself. It essentially mutated (although Fogg had skirted around the word “mutation”) an adept’s body to present as one of the sexual designations, serving multiple purposes that Fogg assured him covered in a mandatory seminar during week two. Quentin, however, was just itching to figure out how much Plover had either gotten right or pulled from magician biology. He loved Fillorianverse, obsessed over it, and the thought of it being real had him practically prancing to the library.

Quentin was pleased when he finally found a comfortable looking nook, under a magical window, in the depths of the library. The scene beyond the pane was of a different location, a field somewhere snowy. There was no way the view could be of Brakebills. Not with the wards causing the campus to lag two months and twenty-eight days behind the rest of New York’s seasons, it was still warm and sunny within the school’s grounds. 

Quentin set his belongings, and the recommended library books, down and took a seat. According to the titles of the books, the term was “sexual designations”. Quentin had only ever interacted with this premise in the context of the Fillory books. As a Fillory stan, he had vehemently argued with people from other fandoms, contesting that the correct term was actually Fillorianverse. Versus what other fandoms called this system of sexuality, Omegaverse.

Quentin chuckled a little as he cracked open the first book titled, “Designations for Dummies”. At least this publisher knew its audience, and opted for some humor.

Essentially, magicians gained a designation once their magic and discipline developed enough. There were a few different ideas as to why the magical population evolved this way:

“1) It was the wellspring’s’s way of boosting the magical population. These biological changes allowed additional magicians to get pregnant.

2) The symbiotic Alpha/Omega bond increased not only cooperative magic capabilities, but also the local ambient magic.”

“Designations help magicians better control their magic, as well as find a partner with compatible magic and genes…

...Alpha and Omega designations do have anatomical and personality based effects.”

Quentin wondered if the physical elements were similar to the aged-up fanfics that took Plover’s Fillorian Designations and played with its sexual implications.

He heaved a deep sigh at the thought, and flipped to a page in the book with a biological traits chart:

  • Alpha
    • Scent glands on neck and wrists are more pronounced than those of a Beta, but less pronounced than those of an Omega.
    • A female Alpha’s clit function more similarly to a sheathed penis, most Alphas clit’s growth are triggered by Omega pheromones or specific spells
    • female Alphas can only impregnate magical Omegas
    • undergo ruts
      • only triggered by ritual magic, or prolonged exposure to a compatible Omega in heat.
      • equivalent of a heat where an Alpha is most virile
    • the base of the penis or the clit magically expands into a knot, not dissimilar to canid anatomy
      • this helps a pregnancy be more likely to take as it effectively plugs an Omega and insures less semen seeps out
      • this can be triggered either by pheromones or by spells
    • protective instincts can be sparked by a compatible or familial Omega's heat
  • Betas
    • scent glands on neck and wrists are more practically superficial and not so different from normal skin
  • Omegas
    • scent glands on neck and wrists, more pronounced than the glands of Alphas and Betas, especially in heat
    • magic allows for an internal shift in circumstances in male Omegas allowing impregnation during heats
    • undergo heats:
      • female Omegas are more likely to conceive in heat
      • male Omegas can only conceive during heat
      • for some, heats are only triggered by certain rituals. While others have them monthly like a period. 
        • There are spells to suppress heats, although suppressing heats is bad for an Omega's health and magic.
      • a mating period where an Omega's scent becomes nearly irresistible to compatible Alphas and Omega's need to seclude themselves and keep themselves filled and satisfied for 3-5 days. Easiest to weather with a compatible Alpha
      • longest recorded heat in history was a ritual induced heat lasting 14 days
      • all Omegas stay wet through the entirety of their heat
      • instincts, especially to nest and scent, grow stronger during heat.

A lot of this was fairly standard, things that the mundane world seemed to have gotten right. The information on female Alphas was helpful. Although unlike other Omegaverse canons, Fillorianverse always had an equal amount of female and male Alphas. Fillory’s magical components were key to the fandom meta. Clearly sexual designations mirrored this.

Quentin’s biggest concern about his predicament is the likelihood of him presenting as an Omega. In such a case, he would have to worry about pregnancy…. While the text claimed conception was only possible during heats. If Quentin did present as an Omega, he’d definitely want to do additional research to really figure out if there was any chance of it happening other times. The last thing he needed was a pregnancy.

But god, actual knots existing... Quentin blinked and tried to distract himself with things that wouldn’t make him drool. He shook his head, and flipped to the section on social hierarchy, hoping the courts of Fillory weren’t accurate in their portrayal of designation politics. 

He glanced at the book’s charts on the subject and immediately cursed under his breath. These were in fact, almost the exact same problems that Plover described the Chatwins seeing in Fillory. Such as Omegas being seen as submissive. Although Plover had omitted the sexual submission factors from the children’s books. And had not called the Fillorian secondary designations, sexual designations, like some of these texts did.

According to the text, Omegas are seen as being magically weaker, and are also expected to be both sexually and generally submissive (unsurprising given what the fandom forums were always joking about).… Although, it’s implied that bonded Omegas are stronger, and only have submissive urges towards their bond-mates.

On the other hand, Alphas have to be careful with their aggressive urges. These urges increase an Alpha’s chances of “niffining out.” Whatever that meant. Supposedly, mating with an Omega decreases these chances. Well, it at least brings down the probability to the same statistical chance that any non-Alpha magic user faced. Mating with a Beta does help, but it’s not as effective. Quentin would have to ask Eliot and Margo what “niffining out” meant. Considering how it was framed, Quentin surmised it was not a good thing. 

Betas are assumed to be the most balanced in both temperament and magical ability. Quentin didn’t know what he wanted more, to be a bonded-Omega in perfect harmony with his Alpha, his dom(me). Or to be an independent and stable Beta with no additional issues or aspects to worry about, well, beyond kink at least. Quentin knew the Omega aspect could make his life a lot harder, but he thought, come-on? A mated bond? His 16-year-old self would’ve jizzed in his pants at the thought. He also acknowledged there was no-way he could be an Alpha, not with his submissive tendencies. 

Skipping ahead to manifestations, he saw that someone had written in the margins: ‘Usually when assigned one’s Discipline, occasionally post BBS.’ The note was next to the line: “Magic development differs from magician to magician. Designation can often be magically detected prior to an adept presenting.”

He likely had some time before his discipline was determined. Eliot had mentioned that the determination wouldn’t be till later, but he hadn’t specified when it was going to be. Everything pointed to the magic needing some time to develop, but none of the texts Quentin pulled gave an exact timeline. Also what the hell was BBS? 

In the mean-time however, he could scour the fillory forums. He’d never needed an excuse to escape into his favorite Fillorianverse fics before. And now that he had one, well, why not bury his head in hot porn? Especially now that he knew it could be real? He could be a real Omega with real heats, and could have a real, warm, live Alpha to knot him. Quentin blinked and tried to refocus. It wouldn’t help anything for him to get hard in the middle of the library.

He had a sudden thought, maybe some magicians knew their designations prior to them being tested or presenting. He didn’t see much here, but it couldn’t hurt to check the forums. Maybe Margo and Eliot knew where he could get some cell-service or internet access. Quentin didn’t actually know what the enigmatic Alphas saw in him, but they clearly enjoyed his company. After all, why else would they have continued to track him down and invite him to dinner most nights? Granted, despite having been at Brakebills for only a week, Quentin had already heard some rumors about the duo. Apparently, they’re both highly sex-positive, with one caveat. They didn’t sleep with unpresented magicians or Omegas. No one knows their exact reasoning, but their dynamic could certainly be considered odd. If the rumors are true, of course.

All of Quentin’s Fillorianverse knowledge, paired with the reading he’d done in the library, pointed to two Alphas mating being extraordinarily rare. Additionally, they didn’t really act like mates; at least not in the traditional sense. Their interactions didn’t read like the all encompassing romance associated with Fillorianverse. Also if there were health components associated with mating with a non-Alpha, why did the two still devote themselves entirely to each other? Had they ever thought of finding a third?

Quentin stopped his train of thought. At the end of the day they’re definitely in a queer relationship, which he was all for and also: it’s none of his business. It wasn’t like the dyad was actually interested in him like that. Chances were, he was just some “flavor of the month”. Something he’d heard they’d had throughout the previous two years. Plus, he was likely an Omega. And if that were the case, they definitely would not be interested. Hell, they probably wouldn’t even want to stay friends with him. He had heard rumors that there was an Omega in the year above him that had presented super early after fucking the pair. If Quentin had to guess, he would say it was Todd, given the way Margo and Eliot both teased him mercilessly and avoided him like the plague.

Quentin would definitely not be that type of Omega. The puppy, following uninterested and borderline cruel (but Margo and El are pretty cool, so they wouldn’t be intentionally cruel, right?). Regardless, even if his kinky inclinations manifested in being an Omega, at least he knew how to navigate a d/s relationship. Well, sort of… He knew the theory. 

He knew about S.S.C.-Safe, Sane, Consensual, vs. R.A.C.K.-Risk Aware Consensual Kink vs. P.R.I.C.K.-Personal Responsibility in Consensual Kink, and even had his own limits sheet. He has scened a fair amount at a local dungeon, and has a few different play partners he’d switch between. But he’d never managed to find a compatible long-term dom(me). If it came down to it, and he presented as a Beta, maybe he could find some Alpha play partners? Ugh, but if most Alphas had the same rules as Margo and Eliot, he was going to have a hard time scratching that itch on campus while he waited to present.

Quentin shook his head, bringing himself back to reality. For now, there was nothing to do but track down Eliot and Margo. Maybe there’d be a printer so he could at least keep some of his favorite pieces on-hand.He sighed, got up and placed the books on a library cart. He returned all the books except for one. He decided to hang onto the “Dummies” guide book. He figured it’d be a good resource to compare against the Fillorianverse wiki and fics. He did the tut to check out the book, packed his messenger bag up and left the library.

As he was walking across the Sea he couldn’t help but recall the day prior, and how Margo and Eliot had treated one of the few presented first years.

He had been sitting near one of Brakebills’ numerous fountains, playing with cards while idly glancing through Amelia Poppers’ “ Practical Exercises for Young Magicians” . Margo sat lounging in front of him, with Eliot behind him leaning against a wall, cigarette in hand. Quentin glanced up and Margo followed his line of sight, both of their eyes falling on Alice as she walked past.

Ah,” Margo sighed, “there’s one of those every year. ” Her voice was mocking, with a hint of disdain. Quentin turned to her, puzzled.

One of what? ” he asked.

Overachiever, shy, yet knows they’re smarter than everyone else,” her eyebrows raised a tad, her voice becoming truly mocking, “therefore, everyone hates them. ” Her fingers doing air quotes as she rolled her eyes. 

Yea, Alice is like… ” Quentin started. He paused to shake his head, gazing down at the book in his lap and muttering, “ I don’t know how she does it. ” Margo’s expression was one of disbelief.

That’s Alice Quinn?” She asked, sounding a little taken aback. She quickly laughed it off and said, “Yeah, don’t bother trying to compare yourself. I heard she comes from a whole family of magicians. It's good to be aware that the world is inherently unfair.” Margo’s posture shifted, “Act accordingly. ” She rubbed her lips together, turning to Alice who was still passing by across the Sea. “ Hey, Alice,” her voice pitched up as she addressed the girl, “come join us.” She waved Alice over, “ Make some friends. Take a load off. ” Alice turned abruptly, walking away quicker at Margo’s address.

Eliot sighed, “ poor, little Omega girl.

Quentin sat there, frozen. He didn’t feel great about how Margo and El singled her out. Especially upon learning that she had already presented. It wasn’t common knowledge, but Eliot and Margo must have maybe... smelled her? There were rumors about the Alpha pair, and their peculiar behavior towards Omegas. But maybe they wouldn’t have noticed her if it wasn’t for him. If he hadn’t been looking at her, or made it clear he was jealous, maybe Margo would have left her alone. 

Later that day, he had spotted her in one of the on-campus coffee shops. He approached her, hoping to apologize. “ Hey Alice. ” He said softly, she glared up at him before returning to her book. “ Look my friends, they were, they were just --

Cruel, unoriginal ?” She interrupted, her voice was flat and emotionless, eyes narrowing into a glare. But Quentin was determined to apologize, if at least to soothe his own guilt.

Yeah. Sorry.” he moved to sit across from her. “ Just... um… look honestly, um, it’s... ” he stuttered “ it’s my fault that they said that. ” He slowed down. “ They saw how jealous I am, and… you’re the best. It’s easy for you. ” 

“No, I study.” She snorted, her gaze returning to the book opened in front of her.

Then you get it.” Quentin said emphatically, “ I barely… I’m terrified I’m gonna get kicked out...I need” he stressed this word, his fear and his commitment clear, “this place. I never had friends or parents who under-”

Alice cut him off again, rolling her eyes as she looked up at him. 

Look, my parents are useless, crazy people who never taught me a drop of magic. Okay?” She explained brusquely, her gaze turned icy cold. She was far from the shy and subdued girl he thought she was. “So, if you think that my family is some sort of advantage, you've been misinformed. ” She paused, “ Now is there anything else I can do to make you feel better? Or are you good?” Quentin knew he had fucked up. The venom dripping from Alice’s every word had him squirming in his seat. He averted his eyes and blurted out a brief apology. He got up quickly and fled the coffee house. Alice hadn’t even bothered to watch him go. She just returned to her book, intent on her research.

Quentin had felt bad about Margo and Eliot’s behavior, but he didn’t know how to think about it. They were his friends, the only two people who seemed to even like him at Brakebills. Plus he enjoyed their company. He loved Margo’s ice and Eliot’s sharp edges. It was nice being around other queer folks who understood him. Even if that understanding didn’t extend to how he had been bullied; if it had, they would have left Alice alone.

By the time Quentin finished thinking about how things had went down with Alice a few days ago, he found himself at Margo’s door. Snapping himself out of his stupor, he remembered why he was even seeking out the two Alphas in the first place. Quentin knocked on the door. 

Margo had just about had it with Eliot. 

“Margo, I’m not ready for Quentin to see me repeat outfits.” Eliot whined, holding up three different vests, clearly anxious. “Which vest?” Margo sighed, she was all for wooing ickle-firsties, but good god, they should at least wait until after they’ve presented. Ever since Quentin Coldwater had stumbled through the hedges, strode across Brakebills’ Sea, and gazed up at Eliot with his “big-brown eyes, floppy hair, and slightly opened mouth that would look perfect wrapped around a cock,” (his words, not hers). It’s been Quentin this, and Quentin that, and “Margo, isn’t he just precious?” Margo liked the boy well enough, don’t get her wrong. But there was also no reason for her or Eliot to get attached to the doe-eyed first year. She and Eliot weren’t even considering a consistent third , let alone a committed one . Well, not as far as Eliot had mentioned at least. And even if they were, they would have to choose a presented Beta or Alpha. As far as Margo had seen, Coldwater was the dom-the-anxious out of me type. He was far too likely to present as an Omega. Pushing aside her own feelings on the matter for the moment, she suggested one of the proffered vests, “The green brocade El, I’ll wear a slightly darker green.”

As Eliot shrugged the vest on, she pulled out her own outfit. A close-fitted black top with mesh cutouts and a short dark green pencil skirt. Eliot coiffed his hair, completing his look, while Margo got dressed and spelled her make-up on. 

Just as they were finishing up, there was a knock on the door.

“Margo?” Eliot jumped at Quentin’s voice, “Are you and Eliot around?” 

Smoothing out non-existent wrinkles out of his vest, Eliot opened the door with a smile. Using his telekinesis, he stacked his vests, that had been spread across Margo’s bed, into a neat pile on her desk.

“Quentin,” Eliot said, sugary sweet, as he beckoned the first year into Margo’s room, “come in.”

“Uh...thanks. I...” Quentin murmured as he wet his lips, his tongue darting out for just a second. Eliot fought off the urge to kiss the boy, wanting desperately to feel that tongue in his mouth. Careful to keep his gaze steady, he waited expectantly for Quentin to finish his thought. “I might a-actually have two questions?” He said shakily as he took a seat on Margo’s bed.

“Sure.” Eliot replied courteously. He was more than willing to impart some of his wisdom to the doeish first year, “What can we do for you?” Eliot asked, sitting down on the bed opposite of Quentin, legs demurely crossed. He gave Quentin a discreet once over, quickly taking in the way his hair draped so nicely over his broad shoulders. One day, he’ll be able to get Quentin into something other than a t-shirt and a plaid long sleeve. Grunge was popular back in the 90’s, but like denim on denim, it needed to stay in the 90’s. 

“I, uh, do either of you know what ‘niffining out’ means? One of the books I was reading mentioned it.” Quentin asked, a little self consciously. At the word “niffin”, Margo and Eliot both tensed. With Eliot suppressing the vicious growl rising in his throat.

Margo swallowed and responded, her voice a little icy, “It refers to becoming a niffin. A niffin, being a magician who channels so much magic they burn from the inside out. Their own magic consuming them whole. Supposedly they erupt into flames. Either way, the magic burns out whoever they were, leaving only a monster in its wake.”

“They say the flames are lightning blue…. Supposedly a third year niffined out about five years ago. But no one’s ever proven it to be more than just a rumor.” Eliot continued somberly. Neither he nor Margo bothered to mention how talking to Alphas about niffins was considered extremely rude. There had been a time when the two of them had sworn they’d seen blue lightning skittering across the surface of the Woof Fountain. And before presenting, they would tell the story to spook other first years. Now that they were both Alphas, it was less funny-frightening and just plain terrifying. But it was obvious Quentin didn’t know proper etiquette.

Quentin shut his mouth and swallowed. “I uh. Thanks. I um...” He shook his head. “My second question isn’t quite so loaded.” He continued. “I just wanted to know where on campus I could go to get internet access or cell service?” 

“Honestly, I’m surprised you didn’t ask sooner.” Margo said, “We can definitely show you the media room.” as she got up, she noticed Quentin’s eyes following her figure. She purposely stretched as she passed him, “come along now Quentin. You too El.” Putting a little more sway into her hips than she really needed to, she headed out the door. Nothing wrong with showing off the goods, especially when the pencil skirt hugged her ass so well. 

The three magicians walked across the Brakebills campus, headed towards the Physical Applications building. Buried in the basement, there was an odd room, filled with hanging crystals that had an old computer and printer. God, Quentin hoped there was an incognito mode or a way to fully wipe the browsing history when he left.

“This room is always open. Although, you may want to watch when you come down here. Some folks aren’t shy about their porn preferences.” She smirked. Quentin felt a warm blush spread across his cheeks at her words. 

“Uh, go-good to know. Thanks.” He stuttered out. He hoped it wasn’t obvious that he was, in fact, planning on reading smut. Quentin walked up to the computer and sat his bag down next to him.

Margo and Eliot gave no indication that they were going to leave. “Thanks guys. Um...” Quentin tried to figure out what to say.

Eliot’s eyebrow shot up and the corner of Margo’s mouth quirked. “El, we should leave the poor boy to it then.” She pulled Eliot out of the room behind her, “Don’t forget to scrub the browsing data, or to log out of livejournal.” Margo didn’t see it, but the latter part had Quentin’s brows furrowing. How the hell did she know? 

Regardless, now he could at least do some research, and print some things in peace. The note above the printer read that it has been spelled to never run out of paper or ink, definitely a bonus. Quentin sighed and opened up the internet browser, reaching down for the “Designations for Dummies” book while waiting for the homepage to load.

Margo and Eliot were walking back to the cottage, arm in arm. 

“Livejournal? Really, Margo?” Eliot questioned.

“Oh, like you didn’t have him pegged, El?” One of her eyebrows was raised, a smug smile plastered on her face. “That boy is practically a walking Fillory forum. I’d bet that golden broach of mine, that you've borrowed 10 times since we got back to campus, that he’s looking up Fillorianverse—”

“What verse?” El interrupted.

“How Fillory fans refer to sexual designations El.” 

The two fell silent. Eliot knew Margo was vaguely worried about him getting attached. And that she was also pretty annoyed with his first-year boys. But he hoped Margo knew that she was the one for him. Pretty boys were pretty. And Quentin was just so easy to rile up. He wanted to swallow the boy whole.

But it would pass, it always passed. Margo was his forever. And pretty boys were just pretty boys. They both knew that.