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Quentin gets back to the castle a good two weeks after his departure, almost three really, but he didn’t even want to think about it anymore. The servants are hurrying around the boat, lowering the sails and tying up to the dock. Quentin steps off the boat, wiping at his face tiredly and reaching into his pocket to brush his fingers over the box there.

 

It had taken a while for it to happen, Poppy and Quentin had switched the key from hand to hand between them after they retrieved it. She was kind, he had a bit of a crush on her to be honest, but after everything she… She was the last one to hold the key and slipping it into a box didn’t take much effort once he shook it loose from her dead palm. He didn’t touch it, nobody had, so he was technically depression monster free.

 

Magic depression free, at least.

 

Quentin was drained, grieving the loss of a friend, and trying not to let the words of his magical curse get to him. That was the worst part, even when it was gone, he could still hear it sometimes. That was what depression was, really, a voice in your head saying you were never good enough. So much for being a black belt…

 

He’s taken back to the castle, where he puts on a guard’s uniform and then roams the halls quietly. The place is bustling with life and yet silent, the fairy menace is most likely the cause of that but Quentin has other things on his mind at the moment. Quentin makes his way to Eliot’s room, giving a quiet nod to one of the guards, who nods in return. They recognized him of course, but they knew something was amiss, so they allow him into the High King’s bedroom without a single word exchanged.

 

Quentin tugs off the disgustingly hot uniform, dressing down into his underwear and undershirt. He puts the key in the drawer next to the bed and then throws himself down onto the mattress. He has the urge to look for Eliot but he’s too tired, too damn exhausted to move. He kicks his legs until he gets them under the blanket, then buries his head under the pillow.

 

Just a nap for now…

 

-

 

“Q,” A hand on his cheek, warm and soft, he blinks open tired eyes.

 

“Hey,” He mumbles, Eliot smiles down at him softly, pulling himself further onto the mattress to sit beside him on the bed.

 

“What a nice surprise, a handsome young king in my bed.” Eliot jokes quietly, Quentin smiles a little and then shifts himself forward against Eliot’s thigh, resting his head there. “Find the key?” He questions.

 

“Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend touching it.” He offers, Eliot chuckles and buries his fingers into Quentin’s hair. “Benedict’s dead.” He mutters, Eliot’s hand freezes.

 

“Come up here, Q.” Eliot urges, Quentin shakes his head and hides his face. Eliot tugs on him one way, then another, until he sits up. “Look at me,” He pulls on Quentin’s jaw, staring into his eyes. A lump forms in the younger man’s throat at the concern, the blatant worry, in Eliot’s expression. He knew, Eliot always knew when something was wrong, more so after their lifetime in Fillory.

 

“The key makes you kill yourself,” Quentin supplies quietly, voice hoarse, Eliot’s eyes widen. “The darkest parts of yourself appear as a twin, only you can see, it guilts you into committing suicide. Even after you let go of the key, it stays…” He shakes his head, looking away.

 

“Quentin,” Eliot cups his cheek, smoothing a thumb over the young man’s jaw. “Where’s the key?” He asks, Quentin shakes his head.

 

“I met someone from Brakebills, we passed it back and forth. She died holding it, I put it in a box.” He explains, Eliot pulls him close and presses his head to his chest. “Benedict died, Poppy died, I-I thought…” He wraps his arms around Eliot, unable to finish.

 

“You’re strong, Q, much stronger than you think.” He promises softly, kissing his forehead. Quentin sighs softly and turns his face against Eliot’s shoulder, squeezing tighter.

 

“I missed you,” He admits, Eliot chuckles, the low noise vibrating through his chest.

 

“I missed you too,” He returns, combing his fingers through Quentin’s hair again. They’re both silent for a minute, soaking in the company, when Quentin’s thoughts bubble to the surface.

 

“I liked Poppy,” He confesses, leaning back out of Eliot’s embrace. “A lot…” He nods his head, Eliot’s expression doesn’t change, doesn’t morph into surprise.

 

“Isn’t she how you found that key in the first place?” He asks, Quentin nods his head and wrings his hands together anxiously.

 

“She put it in my hand when I passed out drunk,” He murmurs, Eliot’s eyes harden just a little.

 

“Q, babe, listen to me…” He reaches out and takes Quentin’s hand and squeezes it gently. “You need a better type.” He says, voice serious but eyes alight with humor.

 

“Shut up, this is serious!” Quentin throws himself back on the mattress. “I… care… about you.” He says as his eyes flicker over the tiles in the ceiling.

 

“I care about you too.” Eliot offers, slowly laying down on his side beside the younger.

 

“Not like that!” Quentin fusses angrily, rolling over onto his stomach and grabbing a pillow to pull over his head. He can hear Eliot laughing, and then the pillow is tugged away from him.

 

“Quentin, you could be the biggest slut in Fillory, and I’d still care about you.” He promises, Quentin glances over at the High King warily. “You think I don’t look at guards’ asses on a regular basis? How else am I supposed to be entertained, Fillory doesn’t have cable.” He pats Quentin’s chest.

 

“So what, we’re like friends with benefits? Brothers?” Quentin demands, frustrated, Eliot snorts and throws himself backwards. Quentin sits up as the older man laughs, a full belly laugh that Quentin can recall in the echoes of memories in his mind from their other life.

 

“Quentin Coldwater, we are not brothers.” He insists, Quentin frowns and feels just a little hurt at this. “Like I said, we’re… Life partners… Two parts of one whole… Soulmates, I guess you could say.” Quentin’s cheeks start to heat up, Eliot sits up, his crown having fallen off his head. He looked like Eliot still, even without the crown, he’d always be King Eliot in Quentin’s mind.

 

“Soulmates?” Quentin repeats quietly, Eliot hums and reaches for his crown.

 

“I suppose the mortal, boring term would be husbands.” He says casually, placing the jeweled halo back onto his head.

 

“Husbands.” Quentin echoes, smiling just a little bit.

 

“You do your thing, Quentin… But if you show up with a girl that tries to hurt you, fair warning I will obliterate her.” He stands up then, adjusting his tunic and his posture, less casual and comfortable. “We come first, all right?” He gestures between them, Quentin nods his head.

 

“What if I show up with a guy?” Quentin asks teasingly, Eliot narrows his eyes.

 

“I cannot be held responsible if he goes missing.” He says quietly, Quentin laughs and gets to his feet, feeling ten times lighter now.

 

“I think right now, I only need one life partner.” Quentin tells the other gently, peering up at him with a small smile. Eliot nods his head, reaching out and pulling him in for a hug. Quentin turns his head when the taller man taps his chin, their lips meet in a passionate yet gentle kiss.

 

“Husband, that’s a better term.” Eliot decides, Quentin nods his head. “Okay then, you stay here and hide out. I do not want the Fairy Queen getting her pasty claws on my boy.” He kisses Quentin’s head, looking distracted already. “Did this…” He gestures between the two of them. “Help?” He questions, Quentin nods once more.

 

“It did,” He sinks back down onto the mattress and Eliot smiles.

 

“I’ll be back later, handsome. Send a guard if you need me.” He pauses and glances at the guard uniform on the floor. “Better yet, come find me in that and we might be able to fit some fun in inside one of the storage rooms.” He bites his lip, Quentin grins.

 

“Whatever you say, your majesty.” He says in a formal tone, Eliot shudders audibly.

 

“Save that, don’t tempt me.” He points a finger at Quentin, who holds his hands up in mocking surrender. Eliot steps out of the room and closes the door, Quentin drops back against the mattress. He still felt residual sadness creeping at his edges, but he was too busy being happy right now to pay it any attention.

 

“Husbands.” He mutters to himself, rolling himself in the blankets. “My husband is the High King.” He giggles to himself, covering his eyes and sighing out with content.