What, I wonder, would I gladly give up for Simon Snow?
The answer, as it turns out, is everything.
It leaves slowly, my everything. Snow doesn’t take it all at once; he takes it with time, like how a stream erodes a rock, which is a whole different kind of irony considering Simon’s never taken time doing anything in his life. (Maybe with kissing me, but I know now that if he’d had access to all of the thoughts and emotions he kept buried in a part of his mind that he never touched, it probably wouldn’t have taken any time at all. He’d have kissed me the second he felt like he could, and that would have been that. I wouldn’t have even lasted to fifth year; I’d have died of happiness way before then.)
The first thing I give up is my patience. Patience for the Normal world, patience for the Old Families, patience for the time it takes everybody to stop staring while I hold my boyfriend’s hand, and patience for the time it takes him to cool down when they don’t. I’m pretty sure I lose it somewhere in Simon’s mouth (where I lose most things, like my dignity and my rage and my hunger for his tongue on mine), and then it’s gone. Just like that. Simon swallows it and plants it somewhere in his belly and sucks it into his system like it’s a gift.
He could probably use it, I think when I start to notice. Because of course I start to notice before he does. Typical. No more running into situations setting everything blazing.
Because we’re a matched set, though, when I start thinking that I’m at the end of my now short rope, he gives me some of his. He loans me the new bits that he’s never had before. It's like we switch places, and suddenly it's me who's setting everything on fire and him who's trying to stamp it out. When I start treating time as the finite resource it is, Simon starts treating it like maybe it’s not, because apparently our entire relationship is a game of tug-of-war where we’re never on the same side. We just swing each other around from one end to the other, alternating who’s right and who’s wrong and only meeting in the middle for kisses that almost make me agree with him even when he’s being the stupidest git in all of London.
So Snow takes my patience. And I stop trying to give the world time to change. I stop giving the mages time to change. (You would think, given all the weird shit they’ve lived through, that the Old Families would be a little more accepting of a vampire and his winged ex-Chosen One of a boyfriend. But that’s all the Old Families are: old. Traditionally bland and old.) I stand in front of Simon one night, and I shout, “We’ve given them time, Simon! We’ve given them all of it!” and Simon looks at me in such a way that I feel myself begin to break from the tenderness of it all.
“I know,” says Snow, all kind warmth and open invitations where there once were angry sparks and guarded doors. This is how he is now. Simon with the sharpness turned off. Simon with his blade sheathed and his bombs discarded. A broken glass shard smoothed around the edges—smoothed by me. He places a hand on my wrist, and I still feel like I’ve been touched by a fire. But one not quite as hot. I don’t know whether to be scared of it or to be happy that I won’t get burned. “I know, love.”
I don’t even really miss my patience, if I’m honest. I had too much of it anyway.
The second thing to go is my hair. No, not my hair itself—I’m not a savage. More just…my desire to hold my hair up to the status quo. Simon said one time that he could run his hands through my hair forever if I allowed, and I—well, I decided to give him more so he could.
When he first begins taking notice, he smiles at me, and I think I might faint or combust or just cease to exist. Because he’s smiling at me all soft, and I can’t hardly stand it.
“Are you doing that for me, Baz?” asks Snow.
Yes. I’ll do anything for you. Anything at all, my love. Just say the word and it’s done. “No,” I reply, but even I know that my tone is too gooey. Too gooey to mean what I’m saying or to convince Simon that I do. Simon would probably compare it to the inside of a Watford cherry scone. “I just think I’ll like it better this way.”
Snow’s eyes burn bright like he knows a secret. I have time to notice this right before the glistening blue disappears behind his eyelids and he’s slamming his lips onto mine. And wrapping a hand in my hair like he always does, of course.
Finally, I think.
The next thing to go, I think, is my pain. Not all of it, obviously; not even Simon Snow is enough to soak it all away. But he scrapes at it, and it trickles out, pulled from me drop by drop in kisses and nights spent sleeping over and dragon wings securing me into someone’s side.
“I’m in love with you,” Simon whispers fondly into the cold air one night. He probably thinks I’m asleep, which is why he’s being all open and soft. I make sure my breathing stays even, because the amount of times that Simon Snow has been open about his emotions in understandable words (and without going off) can be counted on one hand. And you’d probably have some fingers left over. “I’m in love with you, Baz, and I wish I’d figured it out sooner.”
I can’t say anything to that, and I don’t want to ruin the moment, so I don’t even try. My breath catches, though, and I think that I’ve been had. But all Snow does is sigh and turn to bury his head against my shoulder, and he mumbles into the sleeve of my shirt (Simon’s shirt, because I like the smell of him on me—I’m long past done for, I know), “I love you for all that you are.”
And what am I supposed to do? What do I even—what am I supposed to even think?
I feel something break away then. I feel its loss in my chest, an empty space where something shattered and torn once sat. I do not miss it.
In the morning, when I wake up, I stare at Simon sleeping like I always do and try to memorize his face when the morning sun hits it just right. It turns him positively golden, highlighting every mole and freckle like they’re beacons. I wonder if I’m ever going to get my fill of Snow—or maybe if I’m just another Humdrum. Another hole that’s emptyemptyempty without Simon Snow there to fill it up. I hope I’m never filled. (Well. That’s not necessarily true. But we’re not talking about—Crowley, we’re not.) I hope—I hope that I’m a tunnel, and that Simon is the light at the end of it.
The last thing to go is my magic. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, giving it up. And the thing is, Snow doesn’t even ask for it.
But I’m not blind. And I see it. The way he winces whenever I magic something fixed. The way his eyes begin to hurt like he’s holding something in whenever I start a fire above my palm from nothing.
Simon would never tell me to get rid of my magic. He would never expect that from me. Which is why I give it up like I give up everything else: slowly and without Snow’s approval.
I stop magicking my tea warm if it turns cool. I stand to grab a book off the shelf. I chase after my scarf if the wind snatches it off my neck.
It takes Simon a while to notice. Just like with everything else. Before he realizes what I’m doing, though, he stops grimacing all the time, and that means that I’m making the right decision.
The magic will always be there for me if I want it to return. It’s not like I’m swearing it off entirely; I’m just…trying to give in to Simon’s Normal reality. (Normal sans the wings and the tail and the vampire boyfriend.) (Boyfriend. I’m still Simon’s vampire boyfriend, even after all these years. I should change that to fiancé soon, if he’ll let me.) (Does all of this count as a proposal? I don’t know. It feels like it should. I wouldn’t be giving all of this up if Simon wasn’t the person I thought I’d quite like to spend the rest of my days with. No one else is worth this.) (And this has got to mean more than any other magical proposal I’ve ever heard of, even my mother’s.)
Normal boyfriends don’t use magic. Normal boyfriends cringe silently as they drink cold tea, and Normal boyfriends grab their own books, and Normal boyfriends snatch up run-away scarves before they fly away.
If Simon Snow is Normal, then how can it be a bad thing?
Simon does take notice, eventually.
“Baz.” He says my name like the beginning of a question. Like he’s trying to come up with an answer before he even asks. His brows are furrowed; I want to kiss the wrinkles away before they set into his skin. “Why aren’t you using your magic anymore?”
Because I love you, I think about responding. Because I see how it aches in you to not have your own anymore. Because I want you to stop looking at me like I’m hurting you. “No reason,” I say instead of the other things. “I just think I’ll like it better.”
This time, Snow’s eyes flash like they do when he starts seeing red. I haven’t been on the receiving end of a stare like that since before he kissed my sanity back into me in that forest. It brings back memories of secrets and bruises on both of us and snapping at each other. I haven’t missed it.
I shrug, which just irritates him more. Good, I think loudly. Be irritated. Better than looking like I’ve slaughtered a magical creature in front of you every time I use my wand.
It isn’t until the words are out that I realize I’ve said them at all.
“I don’t—” Snow stammers, face flushing red. He rakes a hand through his hair like he does when he’s stressed, and I want to grab it and brush his curls back out. He looks like a bird with its feathers raised. It’s ridiculous. And totally charming in an I’ve-loved-you-for-as-long-as-I’ve-known-you kind of way. “I mean—I don’t do—Baz, what—I don’t—”
“You do,” I sigh out when I find a space where I can interject. Leave it to Snow to not know how much the sight of what he doesn’t have anymore hurts him. “Every time I use my magic for something, you get this look on your face, and it breaks my heart, Simon.”
I say his name more now. Especially when I want him to listen to what I’m saying. It brings his brain into focus. I want him to be focused when I say the next thing I’m going to say.
“You can’t stop using magic,” he says when his voice has recovered. “You can’t, Baz, I’d never ask that of you.”
“I know you wouldn’t,” I say back softly, bringing up a hand to touch his golden face. Grey on gold. Dead on alive. We complete each other. “But I’m doing it.” And I say his name again because this next part is important. “Simon.” His eyes meet mine. I smile. “I love you more than I love magic.”
Loving someone more than I love magic. Crowley. Snakes alive. I never thought I’d get there. That’s not how magic works. You’re not supposed to value someone over it. Magic is the end-all, be-all—for most mages. For me…well. For me, that’s always been Simon bloody Snow, hasn’t it? My end. My all.
If Simon Snow doesn’t have magic, what good can it be, really?
“Is this how you’re proposing?” he asks after a minute full of his lips on mine and his hands around my waist and him pinning me against a wall with his chest. (I’m taller. I should be pinning him, the twit.) “By doing the most magical thing in the world and sparing me? Because that’s a little soft, even for you, Baz.”
I consider several responses, all of them sarcastic and biting. But then I look into his eyes. His blue, blue eyes. Not a shade other than Simon Snow Blue. And I decide to tell him the truth, because I’m being open right now and I’ve already told him he’s more important to me than magic, so what is there to lose?
“If you will have me,” I whisper, pressing in. Our faces are so close that my lips graze against his as I say it. I’m practically breathing the words into his mouth.
He stares into me like he’s trying to figure out everything about me—like he’s trying to dive into my head and take a stroll around to map everything he doesn’t know—and I wonder if the Humdrum perhaps didn’t take all of his magic. He’s still got that stare that claws at the insides of me and turns my brain into jelly for him to swim around in; I’m half-convinced that’s magic in and of itself.
“Okay,” he finally whispers back. “Okay, Baz. If you will have me.”
And then he kisses me like I’m more important than magic, too.