It takes him a while to figure out what he needs to do, what he’s missing that will make him a hero. He gets the rabbit from Fillory, about how there’s some uprising and Margo and Eliot need help. Well, it’s a little vaguer than that but conveying everything in four words is difficult. They have the next key, but they need more, and although Quentin feels incapable of finishing out this quest he knows what he can do to be a true hero.
A hero sacrifices himself for those he cares most about, and that’s just what he does.
He makes his way back to Fillory, tracks down some fairies, and gets ahold of the queen herself. He meets her in the forest, and she is intrigued by his plea for a deal.
The Fairy Queen is all too accommodating, she likes watching them squirm he thinks. The trade is more difficult than he thought it to be, but he doesn’t back down and the creature almost seems to respect him for it. After the deal is made, the Fairy Queen takes him to the castle and enchants a sword and chestplate for him.
“This is where I leave you, King Quentin.” She bows her head, he nods and turns away from her.
This was his moment.
It doesn’t take long for a fire to start somewhere in the west wing, opposite the room where he knows Margo and Eliot are being held. He sneaks through the halls, sword at the ready and teeth gritted as he makes his way to the throne room. He slices through a few men that try to stop him, blood splattering along the walls and floors as his weapon cuts through them like a hot knife through butter.
He’s a man on a mission, not the end of his quest but the true beginning.
Quentin reaches the throne room and spots his two best friends, dirty but mostly unharmed. Margo lays eyes on him and gasps aloud, he knows he must look rather shocking with blood stained along his face and clothes. Eliot’s head turns, and all he does is grin brightly.
“Q!” He hisses excitedly, Quentin storms over just as a man rushes towards him. He sticks him in the stomach with his sword and throws him to the ground, then wipes the crimson from the blade on his pants. “Where is everybody?” He asks, glancing past Quentin.
“A distraction, right?” Margo questions, he slams his sword down onto the shackles and sparks fly as they break.
“Jesus!” He does Eliot’s next, only pausing when another man comes racing in to swipe his head clean off. “Where’d you get that?” Eliot is standing shakily, he looks exhausted, all Quentin wants to do is take him home.
Quentin points to the door, gesturing them forward, only to be caught by the sleeve.
“Quentin, what’s going on?” He demands quietly, already knows something is up. Quentin can feel tears pricking his eyes because the effect of what he’s done will haunt him for the rest of his life. He can’t even explain himself, only tugs on Eliot until Margo hurries forward and grabs him too. They escape out of the castle, and Kady is waiting near the portal in the forest for them when they return.
“Come on!” They slip through, tumbling from the clock and into Brakebills together. Quentin is exhausted, filthy, the stench of copper stinging his nostrils as he drops the sword on the hardwood floorboards.
“Quentin,” Julia helps him up, but Eliot is there, separating them and grabbing the young man by the lapels of his shirt.
“What’s wrong with you, huh?” He asks, not accusingly, soft and worried. He hadn’t said a word on the way back, not even when Eliot repeatedly begged him to speak. “What’d you do, you idiot?” There are tears in his eyes, and Quentin swallows roughly.
“He made a deal with the fairies.” Julia says quietly, and Eliot turns his head to glare at her.
“And you let him?” He snaps, then pulls Quentin even closer. “What’d you trade, what the fuck did you trade?” His voice is edging on hysterical, Quentin sighs through his nose as tears dampen the corners of his eyes.
“His tongue.” Kady answers quietly, and Eliot’s eyes widen, mouth falling open slightly as he lets go of Quentin’s shirt. He steps back, Quentin bows his head and thinks about being a hero, how it’s not something anyone really wants to be and he understands that now. Heroism is about pain, sacrifice, suffering for the greater good.
“Quentin,” Margo’s single eye is shining, mouth a grim line. Quentin opens his mouth, hesitating a moment before pointing to his lips.
“I’m sorry,” He mouths, and then Eliot is tugging him forward into a bone-crushing hug.
“You stupid fucking idiot, why would you do something like that?!” Eliot’s voice is breaking, breath hitching on a sob. He feels Margo press against his back, he closes his eyes and lets his tears dampen Eliot’s shoulder.
They stand together in a huddle of grief, and Quentin can’t even regret his choice. Because wrapped between these two he knows that he’d do anything for them, for Eliot… It was worth never being able to talk properly again, as long as Eliot was there to hold him.