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The Familiar War Inside

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“Hello darling,” Eliot says upon closing the door to the lush bedroom Quentin had temporarily been provided with down in the lower levels of the castle. Quentin looks a little rough around the edges, hair shiny with grease and scruff starting to grow out. He seemed tired, he had been gone a few weeks though, so it was understandable.

 

“Hey, El.” Quentin greets, still taking off his boots and stripping off his quest clothes. He had gone out to the Abyss and come back with some girl from Brakebills that Eliot didn’t like the looks of. However, he was so busy with his own things that he decided to trust Quentin and send him on his way. They headed to the underworld, and now he was back.

 

“I was told you found the key,” He steps over to the other man, who nods quietly. “Safe, then?” He questions, Quentin hums under his breath and throws his shirt haphazardly onto the floor.

 

“Benedict’s dead by the way, he got eaten by a dragon.” He says quietly, sounding vaguely distant, Eliot frowns.

 

“I’m sorry,” Eliot replies, and Quentin’s face scrunches up a little as he looks up at Eliot.

 

“He was your friend, I should be apologizing. You sent him off with me, I should have kept him safe.” He mutters, Eliot tilts his head a little at the moping tone of Quentin’s words and steps closer to pull him into a hug.

 

“I’m sure you did your best, Q.” He presses a kiss to Quentin’s dirty hair, then wrinkles his nose. “You need a bath, we can catch up about the key in a little bit okay?” He holds Quentin out at arm’s length, who nods silently. “Is everything okay?” He asks, unable to help himself, a familiar worry building up in his chest. Quentin had problems that were far more complicated than anyone could understand, Eliot would know, he spent years taking care of him when things got bad.

 

“It’s fine,” Quentin’s lips quirk into a small smile, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. Eliot’s mind whirs with thoughts but one repeats itself, a simple selfish, maybe he’s just tired.

 

He leaves with another kiss, this time to Quentin’s temple, then heads off to find Margo and Tick. It doesn’t take long until he gets yanked into Margo’s room. He finds Tick and the queen herself standing with a young man who looks awfully nervous.

 

“This is Wicken, he’s one of the crew members of the Muntjac.” Margo says quietly as Eliot approaches, the man bows. “Eliot, Wicken here has approached Tick in concern over King Quentin’s whereabouts.” She looks to him with a twitch of her eyebrows, Eliot frowns.

 

“He’s safe, I assure you.” He promises, the man seems relieved.

 

“I’m so glad, sire. The crew was worried about him, after what happened on the boat.” He shakes his head, Eliot’s eyes narrow.

 

“What happened on the boat?” He questions, the man pales significantly and stammers for a moment.

 

“It’s not your head on the line, Wicken, just Quentin’s.” Margo promises, the man glances to her and then back at the High King.

 

“Well, King Quentin was found leaning overboard, attempting to… end his quest… early…” He mutters quietly.

 

“Permanently.” Margo adds, the man nods.

 

“He had to be tied to the mast, something about a key… Then the royal map-maker threw himself overboard shortly after.” He confesses, Eliot’s face twists into a scowl.

 

“If you’ll excuse me, I have some business to attend to.” He says quietly, turning on his heel and yanking the door open before storming down towards the room Quentin was placed in. There was a mix of frustration and anxiety swirling around in the pit of his stomach, along with a little bit of boiling rage. Quentin should know not to lie to him, they were supposed to tell each other everything.

 

When he opens the door, Quentin is sitting on the floor in his dirty pants, no shirt. He hadn’t showered, probably hadn’t moved since Eliot left besides dropping down onto the ground. Eliot’s anger fades immediately at the sight of him, just staring into nothing and slumped back against the foot of the bed.

 

“Anything to tell me, Q?” He asks, approaching the younger and crouching down next to him. Quentin’s eyes drift from the wall, slowly turning his head to gaze at Eliot. “Anything important? Key related, Benedict related, anything?” He says, feeling some of that crossness come back.

 

“I didn’t want you to worry,” Quentin mutters, pulling his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms loosely around them.

 

“That’s the opposite of what hiding things does, it makes me worry more.” He has the urge to smack the boy, but he quells his anger and settles on squeezing his shoulder. “You said Benedict got eaten by a dragon.” He insists, Quentin shrugs.

 

“He jumped overboard into the dragon’s mouth,” He elaborates, Eliot drops sideways against the mattress, pulling his legs out from underneath him.

 

“What does the key do?” He asks, the younger is quiet for a moment, looking lost in thought.

 

“It makes this… Twin of you, something only you can see and hear… It talks and talks, pulls every dark thought from your head, every self-doubt.” He bites the inside of his cheek, sighing quietly. “A depression monster, as Poppy put it.”

 

“She gave it to you,” Eliot says, the realization hitting him. “She gave you that key, did she tell you what it does?” He demands, Quentin snorts quietly.

 

“She got me drunk, I fell asleep and woke up holding it.” He brings his arms up on top of his knees and leans forward to rest his chin against one.

 

“You let her go on the quest with you, a-and you didn’t say anything?!” Eliot snaps, Quentin glances over at him, but doesn’t hold his gaze long, just looks back at the wall.

 

“She was really adamant about following me.” He says casually, Eliot takes him and shakes the boy, who scowls at him.

 

“And you were too fucked up to say anything, weren’t you?” He’s not angry at Quentin, frustrated sure, but the only person he’s angry with is the girl who thinks she can take advantage of something that is his. “I’ll kill her.” He starts to get up, Quentin grabs his wrist, he topples backwards at the loss of balance.

 

“I’m okay,” Quentin assures, Eliot turns and glares at the young man.

 

“Then why haven’t you moved since I left?” He questions, the younger’s lips tremble just a bit and then he tries to look away, Eliot catches him by the chin. “You’re forbidden from leaving the castle until further notice.” He stands up, Quentin’s eyebrows furrow and he opens his mouth to object. “No keys, no quests, not without me or Margo.” He points a finger at Quentin.

 

“I’m not a child!” Quentin pulls himself to his feet, invigorated by his anger. “You can’t just lock me in my room.” He snaps, Eliot arches his eyebrow at him.

 

“I can and I will,” He presses a finger to Quentin’s chest. “We have been through too much together, and since you can’t seem to take care of yourself…” He shakes his head, scoffing as Quentin pushes him.

 

“I did what I had to, didn’t I?” He demands, continuing to shove at him. “I had myself tied to the mast, I went to the Underworld, I found the key!” With every statement he adds another shove and then follows Eliot when he steps back to do it again.

 

“Q,” Eliot murmurs, watching Quentin’s eyes fill with tears as he tries to maintain his anger.

 

“It was my responsibility,” He says, voice shaking, he steps back. “Benedict was my responsibility…” He shakes his head, reaching up with the back of his hand to wipe at the corner of his eye. “I’m sorry, Eliot.” He croaks, Eliot shakes his head and quickly lurches forward to hug the other tightly.

 

“You did your best, and that’s good enough, that’s better than good enough. Benedict wouldn’t blame you, I don’t blame you…” He squeezes tighter as Quentin sniffles, pressing his lips to Quentin’s bare shoulder. “You’re gonna take a couple days off, all right?” He whispers, Quentin makes a quiet discontent noise.

 

“We can’t afford to-“

 

“We can’t afford to lose you, Quentin! No, I cannot afford to lose you.” Eliot interrupts him, pulling the other back and taking a hold of his face. “You’re going to stay in my chambers, all right?” He questions, Quentin wipes at his eyes to rid himself of the tears that had spilled over.

 

“H-How am I gonna…?” He frowns.

 

“Leave that to me,” He leans forward, clasping the back of Quentin’s neck and bending over to press a gentle kiss to his lips, then straightening out and kissing his forehead. “The only thing you need to worry about is a shower and what you want for dinner.” He steps back, sliding his hand down Quentin’s arm and taking his hand.

 

“Just a few days,” Quentin says quietly, Eliot nods and squeezes his fingers.

 

“Just a few days,” He agrees, reluctantly letting go of the younger’s hand and turning to walk away. He shuts the chamber door behind him, sighing quietly and collecting himself before starting to walk. “A week at the most.” He mutters to himself, heading back up towards the throne room.

 

Nothing was going to take Quentin from Eliot, he wouldn’t risk anything of the sort. If it came down to losing magic forever or losing Quentin forever, he knew what he’d choose. He might be crazy, might be downright insane, but he had never loved anyone quite like he did Quentin. Nobody had ever been worth caring about besides Margo, but then that sad and adorable little nerd stumbled into his life like a lost faun and he hadn’t looked back once.

 

Quentin would stay with him until further notice, Alice or Julia or whoever fucking else wanted to could search for the keys. He didn’t give a shit, not when it meant that this was starting to endanger Quentin in a way nobody else thought about but Eliot. He wouldn’t stand by and watch Quentin let his depression consume him, he hadn’t back at the mosaic and he wouldn’t now. The Fairy Queen could kiss his royal ass.

 

Quentin comes first.