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"I had such a weird dream last night," Quentin says over breakfast.

"Fancasting your friends in your favorite movies is weird," James says. "I'm glad you finally see it."

"Shut up," Quentin says, smacking him on the shoulder. "I should've never told you about that."

"What was weird about it?" Julia asks, shooting him an indulgent smile before spooning more Cheerios into her mouth.

"I dunno, I was shopping for clothes—"

"Yeah, you're right. Very weird," James says, and Julia elbows him.

"It was! They were clothes I'd never wear, way different from my size, and there was someone with me. One of those people who's so hot she's intimidating, you know?"

"Oh, so it was that kinda dream," Julia teases, her eyes dancing.

"Ugh," Quentin sighs. "I don't know why I tell you guys anything."

"Eat up," Julia says, nudging his bowl toward him. "You don't wanna be late for your interview."

---

The rest of his day only gets weirder from there. His interview-that-wasn't turns into a whirlwind, as he discovers a whole-ass campus clear across the state and oh, by the way— magic is real?!

He doesn't know when or how he made it to bed, but suddenly he's waking up in a brand new room with a roommate who hates him. He swallows, steeling himself to ask Penny to start over, when his friend from yesterday arrives. Well, not friend, they didn't exactly talk to each other much, but the guy—Eliot—is gorgeous and approachable, and he's smiling at Quentin now, so he's gonna go ahead and let himself think it. Friend.

"Quentin!" he says effusively. "This is the interruption you've been waiting for."

The woman that steps up to him then is achingly familiar, and Quentin swears he thinks of her name a half-second before she says it—Margo.

Following the two of them around is as much of a dream as all of yesterday seemed to be. He keeps waiting to wake up, but it never happens. Not even when he trips and stumbles down the stairs, knocking into Eliot and nearly sending them both crashing down. Eliot catches them both, though, twisting Quentin into his grip until he can get his feet under him.

"Thanks," Quentin says, face heated. Eliot smells so good up close, the scent unique enough—something warm and dark and smoky sweet, like a snuffed candle labeled ‘sex and candy’—that he's not sure if it's cologne or just Eliot. "I'll, um, try not to knock you down again."

"Just give a guy some warning first," Eliot says, shooting him a wink before releasing him from his grip. Quentin tries not to dwell on how cold he feels without Eliot's arms around him.

"We good?" Margo asks impatiently from the bottom of the stairs.

"Yeah, all good," Eliot says, tipping his sunglasses down over his eyes. And with that, they lead Quentin further into his new life as a magician.

---

As Quentin gets settled in at Brakebills, he keeps having dreams that leave him feeling slightly off-center. Sometimes he wakes up remembering a dream of himself, not from his usual first-person view or even an over-the-shoulder look like he's watching his own TV show, but as if he's got an outside perspective. He can't remember ever having that before, and it's weird to remember how he acted in these dreams. He seemed unnaturally confident, maybe even more attractive? But whatever. They're just dreams.

Then one day, for the first time ever (at least that he can remember), he has a lucid dream. He's in the Cottage—not surprising, as it's his new place of residence—and there's a party going on—also not surprising.

Eliot is mixing drinks while putting on a show and, unlike in the real world, Quentin doesn't hesitate to step up and cut in line, smiling and asking for tonight's special.

"There he is, my favorite customer," Eliot says, grinning widely. Quentin's subconscious really isn't pulling any punches tonight. "Tonight's special, huh? You want the kind you can drink or the kind you can only get upstairs in my room?"

"Oh! Um," Quentin flounders, as flustered as he would be in real life. He knocks over a (thankfully empty) glass, then scrambles to catch it. Eliot just watches him, eyes sparkling. "Just—just the drink, please," he mutters miserably. Isn't he allowed to be suave in his own dream?

"Yeah?" Eliot asks, brow arching. Quietly, as he combines ingredients so expertly Quentin can't keep track, he murmurs, "Man, can't even catch a break here."

"Huh?" Quentin says, but Eliot doesn't answer, the play of his muscles fascinating as he works the shaker.

"Here you are. One special." Eliot slides the glass across the bar to him, levitating the garnish onto the rim with an elegant twist of his fingers.

As Quentin takes his first sip—damn, Eliot is good—Eliot moves around the bar and tosses an arm across his shoulders. Quentin lets himself be led back to the couches, but then he pauses, making them both falter. "Wait, don't you have other… patrons?"

Eliot waves a hand and the line they left behind disperses. "They can get their own drinks. Tonight is all about you, Q."

Quentin flushes pleasantly, leaning into Eliot as they settle on the couch. It's weird, he always thought lucid dreams meant you could control your environment, but he doesn't seem to be able to set the scene any better than he could in real life. At least he has no doubt that Eliot wants him there.

"You know, we got distracted at the last party. When Josh showed up with his batch of goodies."

"Oh yeah." Quentin snorts. "Kinda hard to stay on topic when you're floating in the pink dimension."

"Much as I love a good pink trip," Eliot says, grinning, "you were gonna tell me all about Fillory."

"You actually want to hear about that? Here?"

Eliot's expression can only be described as a smolder, and it makes Quentin shiver as he leans closer. "I do. I want everything from those lips of yours, Q, especially if it's enthusiastically given."

"Fuck, I, um. Yeah, okay." He swirls the alcohol around in his glass and takes a big sip, even though he doubts it will make any difference in the dream world. "So, I already told you about the Chatwins—"

He loses himself to storytelling for a while, ridiculously thrilled with how into it Eliot seems. He'll probably feel pathetic about that later if he remembers this, but it's nice, having Eliot's full attention. He even starts to play with Quentin's hair a little bit as Quentin explains the importance of the key Jane receives in The Girl Who Told Time.

He keeps thinking he'll shut up after this thought and do something about this dream, but then Eliot asks him another question, and he's off again on another tangent. Eliot's hand is on his thigh, and he's still talking about talking squirrels. What the fuck?

"Sorry, I should really shut up."

"Don't apologize." Eliot licks his lips, and his hand shifts slightly on Quentin's thigh. "But if there's something else you'd like to do with your mouth, I'd be open to it." He leans in—

And of course, that's when Quentin wakes up.

"Fuck," he says aloud, his voice echoing over the wards of his empty bedroom.

---

The next day, Eliot finds him and takes him along on a rescue mission for… a book? Quentin would have gone along regardless, but Eliot makes the situation seem dire, so Quentin agrees to go without asking too many questions.

It's not until they stumble into the hedge hideout that Quentin sees the situation for what it is—a rivalry. Not that Quentin condones stealing, but he can tell from the change in Eliot's posture and the snippy way he speaks to the hedge witch in charge that there's a history there.

Which is why it should really come as no surprise when the hedges fight back.

Eliot jumps in front of Quentin, shielding them both narrowly from battle magic Quentin has never seen before. "Time to go," he shouts, grabbing Quentin's arm and pushing him toward the door, never turning his back on the hedges. He shoots off another spell while Quentin scrambles, balancing the box containing the reunited books as he shimmies out the door. They sprint down the next four blocks and turn a corner to the portal, stumbling through. In a matter of moments, Eliot has the portal closed and is resting his hand reassuringly against Quentin's back as he catches his breath.

Eliot calls it a success, but Quentin feels a surge of self-loathing when Eliot hands him a celebratory glass of wine back at the Cottage.

"God, I really am worthless, huh?" Quentin laughs ruefully. "Guess I can stop fantasizing about going on any Fillory-level rescue missions if I can't even handle one for a book."

"Not worthless," Eliot insists. "Just new at this. I'm sure Jane Chatwin would welcome your help any day."

Quentin scoffs. "Maybe if she had no other choice." He drinks his wine moodily, sinking back into the couch.

"Tell you what," Eliot says, reaching for the bottle to top off his glass. "Let's not talk."

Quentin feels a spark of something—hope? desire?—that immediately gets extinguished as the door to the Cottage slams inward, rocketing off its hinges as he witnesses battle magic for the second time that day. Kady struts in, full of anger, and the next thing Quentin knows she's positioning herself between him and Eliot on the couch. The moment, if there really was one, is lost.

---

By the time Quentin crawls into bed, his wine buzz has long since worn off and he's ready to start fresh on a new day. He hardly expects to find himself in another lucid dream, right back where he'd been a few hours ago, chilling on the couch downstairs with a glass of red wine in hand.

"I thought I might find you here," Eliot says, approaching the couch, his red blazer from earlier in the day resting over his shoulders like a cloak. He tosses it over the arm of the couch as he sits next to Quentin, heat burning through Quentin as their legs brush.

"I'm glad you did," Quentin says, setting his glass aside. He's not going to waste time this time. "Before Kady interrupted us, it seemed like you were gonna…" He turns to Eliot and breathes in sharply as he sees him leaning in.

"I was," Eliot confirms in a whisper, before closing the distance between them.

Quentin moans as their lips touch, so immeasurably glad that he gets to have a proper dream this time. He leans into the kiss, grabbing onto Eliot's tie.

"Yeah, that's it," Eliot growls, arms wrapping around Quentin and hauling him into his lap. "Love that fucking mouth of yours."

"Fuck yeah," Quentin breathes, moving back in for another kiss, parting his lips at the first brush of Eliot's tongue. Something about the dream seems to be enhancing everything, every touch rocking through Quentin like the strongest aphrodisiac he can imagine. Eliot's long, gorgeous fingers slip under his henley, and he cries out against Eliot's lips as he brushes over a nipple, sending another wave of arousal coursing through his body.

"God, the sound of you. You're so good, baby," Eliot murmurs, a stunning smile gracing his lips. "You wanna continue this upstairs, or are you good here?"

"Upstairs is too far. Just—" he pushes Eliot back, even though the loss of his touch pulls a whine from him. He shifts around, spreading his legs until he's straddling Eliot, settling more comfortably in his lap. He cups Eliot's jaw in his hands and pulls him into another kiss, grinding down when their tongues slide together.

They gasp into each other, breaking the kiss as they rock together, every hint of friction multiplying in this space. Quentin goes for his tie, yanking it loose and tossing it aside as he nips at Eliot's jaw, but his fingers falter over the additional layers.

"Here, there's a spell for the buttons," Eliot says, sitting back slightly. He looks serious for a moment. "Don't you dare tell Margo I used it."

"My lips are sealed," Quentin vows, and Eliot shakes his head.

"I didn't ask for that," he clarifies with a shit-eating grin.

It's always a delight to watch Eliot do magic, and even more so when the flourish of his fingers ends in his vest and shirt falling open, revealing a tantalizing amount of skin and dark patch of hair over Eliot's chest.

Quentin slides his fingers over the exposed skin, thrilling in the feel of Eliot under his palm. "God, I wish this was real," Quentin whines.

"Fuck, me too."

"Wait," Quentin says, pulling back. "Why isn't it real for you?"

"Huh?" Eliot asks, reaching for Quentin, his mouth hanging open invitingly. "Look, Dream Q, I'm all for realism, but we were finally getting somewhere. Let's not get distracted."

He leans in and starts kissing Quentin's neck, which feels heavenly, but the thought won't leave Quentin alone. "Hang on. You think I'm the dream? You're the dream."

Eliot sighs and sits back. "What is this, then? My subconscious thinks I'm too into Quentin, so it's gonna throw philosophy at me to edge me until I wake up, unsatisfied?"

Quentin's heart is starting to race. "Eliot— this is so— okay, I might sound like an idiot, but are you lucid right now?"

"I haven't taken any uppers in at least a week, so yeah, this is about as lucid as it gets, other than the fact that I'm technically asleep right now."

"El, I'm dreaming this right now. This whole thing."

Eliot's bored frustration morphs into hesitant confusion. "No, I think you'll find that I'm the dreamer in this little Inception knock-off."

"I think… Is it possible we're both dreaming? Like, sharing the dream?"

Eliot swallows, his expression shuttering. "No," he says after a moment. "Don't overthink it, Q. This is just a dream."

"Okay, um. This is weird," Quentin says, easing off of Eliot's lap. "I'm gonna wake up and come find you, okay? If you're just like, sleeping normally, and I'm passing up on this really good thing right now, trust me that I'm gonna beat myself up about it later. In um, more ways than one."

Eliot studies him, his expression still far too serious. "How do you wake yourself up? I'm—not sure I buy this, but if it's real I want to be awake when you find me."

"Oh! Um. I looked it up after the first time. Supposedly you can do it by trying to read." Quentin goes to the shelf and pulls down two Fillory books, handing his favorite to Eliot.

Eliot blinks at him. "You're kidding."

"Nah, I don't kid about reading." He opens up the first Fillory book, and the words swim on the page as he struggles to resolve them. He can almost make out Fiona Chatwin's name when he jerks awake in bed, heart rocketing in his chest.

---

As he makes his way up the stairs to Eliot's room, he wonders what he's gonna do when he gets there. Should he knock? Check the wards, and if they're up, assume it was all in his head?

It turns out not to matter, though, because when he reaches the landing, Eliot is waiting for him with the door open. He freezes, and Eliot seems to do the same, his knuckles tight on the doorknob.

"I guess you should come in," Eliot finally murmurs, shattering the silence.

They sit awkwardly on Eliot's bed, not quite touching. Quentin can't seem to move his eyes up from the floor. From the corner of his eye he can see the creases in Eliot's pajama pants, as if they hadn't been worn in a while—if ever.

"So, um? Holy shit, we were dreaming together."

"Yeah," Eliot says, laughing ruefully. "I think we've done it before."

"Yeah," Quentin confirms. He feels so awkward, like he's going to crawl out of his own skin. Maybe they should turn another light on, or he should stand up, or—

"If I did anything you didn't want—" Eliot finally says, his voice strained.

"No!" Quentin insists before Eliot can go any further. He meets Eliot's panicked gaze. "Oh, god, no. If you had, I would've told you. I mean, I was lucid too."

"Right," Eliot says slowly, as if he doesn't quite believe him.

Quentin scoots closer on the bed until their legs are touching. Just that slightest point of contact is enough to have his heart beating faster; he needs to get a grip. "El," he starts, clearing his throat. Knowing what he knows now, from the dreams, he should feel confident, but he can't help still feeling nervous. "I wanted you to kiss me. I, uh, I've wanted that for a while." Since I first saw you, he thinks.

Eliot stares back at him, a smile blooming on his face, and, leaning into each other, they meet in the middle.

The slide of their lips is as luxurious as it had been in the dream—better, now that he knows he's with the real Eliot. Eliot moans when Quentin's fingers slide under his shirt, brushing over his skin, and he mirrors the touch, hand cupping Quentin's waist.

It had been easy to assume the dream's interference earlier, but now he knows he's awake, and still every slight brush of Eliot's skin on his sends sparks of pleasure shooting down his spine.

"God, why does that feel so good?" he asks, breathless.

"I don't know," Eliot says, his voice full of wonder, "but don't stop."

"Maybe because we were dreaming it first—?" he theorizes, tracing patterns over Eliot's skin.

"Does it matter? We should—fuck—take advantage, before it goes away."

"Yeah," Quentin says, sliding his hands further under Eliot's shirt to ease it off. "Absolutely."

Eliot returns the favor, throwing Quentin's shirt to the side and shifting to the center of the bed, pulling Quentin on top of him. Quentin can't help but think that he fits perfectly, elbows on either side of Eliot's chest, body nestled comfortably between Eliot's splayed legs. "God, you don't know how many times I thought about this," Eliot murmurs, reaching up to tuck Quentin's hair behind his ear.

"Really?" Quentin says, blushing. "But why? You could have anyone."

"Maybe I can," Eliot admits, watching the play of his fingers as he traces over Quentin's jaw, "and I more or less have. But the way I feel about you is different. I want things with you I've never even considered with anyone else."

The admission makes Quentin's heart race from more than just physical pleasure, and he doesn't miss that Eliot doesn't quite meet his eyes as he says it. "I want you in every possible way," he says, his voice steady. Eliot's finger stills on its tracing journey, and he finally meets Quentin's eye. Quentin lets him search for whatever meaning he needs there, turning to capture his finger with his tongue, drawing it into his mouth. He doesn't have the words to express everything he's thinking right now, so he'll just have to show Eliot.

They fall back into each other, making out without urgency. Quentin would be content if he never had to leave this bed again if could stay in Eliot's hold, under his steady attention, surrounded by Eliot. The steady thrum of arousal builds in Quentin until he can't help but move against Eliot, rocking their hips together to feel the hardness of Eliot's erection against his own.

Quentin lifts up, breaking out of the kiss with a wet sound that just turns him on more. "Can I—? If I don't get these pants off, I think I might die."

"Please," Eliot agrees. "If you don't get them off, I might die."

He stands up to yank them down, nearly getting his foot caught in the left leg, but then finally kicking them free. He looks up and realizes he somehow missed Eliot doing the same, as he lies stretched out on his bed in nothing but his silky purple briefs. The outline of his cock leaves little to the imagination—thick, hard, and big as it stretches against the material.

"Guess I should lose these too," Eliot says, his eyes travelling hungrily over Quentin's naked body.

"Yeah," Quentin agrees, licking his lips. It's hard not to believe he's dreaming—he reads the word Wicked on the poster on the wall, just in case—though the word blurs again as the glory of Eliot Waugh's naked body is revealed to him. The way his muscles shift as he tosses his briefs off the bed, the divot of his hips leading down to his frankly magnificent cock— He's even more gorgeous than Quentin had imagined.

"You can come back here now," Eliot says, spreading his legs.

Quentin doesn't have to be told twice. He moves back into Eliot's arms and his kiss like he was made to be there, loving every second. "Can we—? God, I don't even know what to ask for."

Eliot hums happily against his neck. "What would you have suggested in the dream? If things had carried on."

A hot flush spreads through his body, up through his cheeks and down across his chest. "Oh, well. I kinda wanted to blow you." Eliot's eyebrows shoot up. "Just—! You were always talking about my mouth, in the dreams, so I thought— It'd be nice to live up to the hype."

Eliot's gaze is hungry. "Do you still want that?"

Quentin swallows, and he doesn't trust himself to speak, so he nods.

"Jesus, Q. You're gonna be the death of me."

Quentin grins as he slides down the bed, kneeling between Eliot's legs. Something settles in him as he shifts his focus to making Eliot feel good.

The weight of Eliot's dick is heavenly on his tongue. He takes his time, getting it wet, savoring all the grunts and gasps escaping Eliot's lips as he licks over his length. When he finally sinks down, pulling in as much as he can to start, Eliot shudders and whines, fingers sliding into Quentin's hair.

"Yeah, that's it," Eliot encourages, massaging his fingers against Quentin's scalp. "You feel so good, Q."

Quentin loses himself in the stretch of his mouth over Eliot's dick, the delicious sounds he makes when Quentin moves over him just right, the absolute joy of really getting to be with Eliot. He almost doesn't hear it when Eliot's breath speeds up.

"Q, baby. I can't—! I'm gonna come," Eliot says urgently. Quentin squeezes his thigh, working his other hand hard against the base as he speeds up, drawing Eliot's orgasm out. The beautiful sounds Eliot makes as he comes only turn him on more, his ass flexing as he rubs down against the bed, seeking relief against his cock while he swallows around the pulses of Eliot's.

"Fuck, Q. You got me so worked up, I barely fucking lasted," he breathes out, laughing. "Come up here so I can return the favor."

Quentin moves up for a kiss first, but after some coaxing, he sits up on his knees, bracketing Eliot's chest.

"Perfect," Eliot says, shifting. He presses a kiss to Quentin's hip. "You look so fucking good, Q."

The first touch of his tongue to Quentin's cock nearly has Quentin doubling over. He grabs onto the headboard, tensing his thighs and trying to keep still under the onslaught of Eliot's careful attention. As Eliot swallows him down, he struggles to keep it together; it's never been this good—with anyone.

Pulling off, Eliot wraps his fingers snug against the base of Quentin's cock, and his eyes flicker up to meet Quentin's. "Fuck my mouth," he says, and Quentin nearly comes right there.

Eliot's fingers stay wrapped around his dick, keeping him from going too far as he pushes inside the perfect slide of Eliot's mouth. He pulls out and thrusts forward again, trying to work up a rhythm while Eliot moans encouragingly. His thighs tremble with the effort to keep himself in check, but then Eliot's free hand is there, high on the back of his thigh, urging him further forward with every thrust. As Quentin works himself into a frenzy, Eliot's hand slides up, cupping his ass as he moves to Quentin's rhythm.

Quentin grips onto the headboard, hips snapping as he works himself in and out of that wet heat. "Holy shit, El. It's too good."

Eliot squeezes his ass, seeming to encourage him, and Quentin surrenders himself to the rising rush of sensation. He comes hot over Eliot's tongue, moaning passionately as pleasure cascades throughout his body, skirting the edge of too much in a way that has him writhing. Eliot coaxes him through it, hands soothing over his skin as he starts to come down. He feels nearly boneless as Eliot lifts and shifts him down onto the bed on his back.

"Wow," he says to the ceiling, lolling his head to the side to see Eliot's beautiful smile.

"My thoughts exactly," Eliot says, resting a hand at the center of Quentin's chest as he leans in for a quick kiss.

As he gets his breath back, Quentin starts to notice light peeking in through the curtains. Eliot stretches next to him before curling up against his side. "We should get some sleep."

"Yeah," Quentin agrees, warmth spreading through him from the point where Eliot's arm is tossed across his body. "D'you think we'll dream again? I wonder what caused it."

"'M not sure. Let's talk about it in the morning."

Quentin wants to argue that it is morning, but he's also pretty tired, and very comfortable. So he closes his eyes and drifts off to sleep.

---

Quentin wakes up alone.

He's still in Eliot's bed, so he has at least that much of an assurance that everything that happened overnight was real. He reaches over to Eliot's side, but the sheets are cold, and Quentin is fighting not to feel cold himself.

He tells himself it's fine as he picks his pajama pants up from the floor and pulls them back on. Eliot didn't want to talk this morning; that's fine. That doesn't mean that they're done here. Eliot had said things were different with him. And the way he'd looked at Quentin— No, they're not done here.

He makes it back to his own room without seeing anyone, then takes a shower before heading down to breakfast. He's sure he'll catch up with Eliot there, but he's nowhere to be seen.

"Hey Margo," he mumbles, pulling the carton of iced coffee out of the fridge and thinking of Eliot scoffing at his poor taste. He pours himself a glass, asking, "Have you seen Eliot?"

"Bitch, you think I'd be standing here making my own boring-ass pancakes if I'd seen Eliot?" she quips. "Sit down, I'm making enough for two."

"Thanks," he says, realizing how hungry he truly is. If Margo hadn't seen him either, then Eliot truly must have snuck out. It makes him angrier the longer he thinks about it— yeah, talking sucks. He's way worse at it; he should know. But this is him and Eliot. They had both acknowledged last night was something special. It wasn't fair for Eliot to have ghosted him.

"Rough night?" Margo asks, sliding a plate down between them and taking a seat. "You look like shit."

"Complicated," he says, claiming a small stack of pancakes. "You think the Chatwins ever had to worry about stupid things like essays and homework, once they knew Fillory existed?"

Margo raises her eyebrows. "I'm sure they had to deal with the mundane bullshit as much as the rest of us. Just because magic entered their lives doesn't mean all their problems were solved. We should know."

"No, you're right. I mean, Martin obviously wasn't okay after Fillory banished him. I just wish, sometimes, for something like Fillory. An escape, you know?"

Margo studies him. "You wanna get away for a while? I can't get you to Fillory, but I have a connection to a quick portal that could get us to Paris in ten minutes."

Quentin sighs. "That sounds nice. But I guess I have an essay due tomorrow whether I'm here or in Paris."

"Maybe it's not exactly an escape you're looking for, then," Margo muses. "Hell, why not? I'm feeling generous today. I could help you with your essay."

Quentin smiles at her, touched, and wonders how much he could talk to her about Eliot. He's pretty sure their bond is unbreakable, but that doesn't mean she wouldn't listen. And he's confident she understands Eliot better than he does, at this point. "Actually—"

"Quentin," Eliot calls out brightly, and a happy feeling immediately blooms in Quentin's chest. He turns to see Eliot entering the Cottage with Julia of all people, the two of them smiling conspiratorially. Quentin clings to his anger as it tries to evaporate in the wake of Eliot's smile.

"Eliot," he acknowledges, turning back to his pancakes. He can feel Margo watching him like a hawk as Eliot steps up next to him.

"Sorry I disappeared," Eliot murmurs, brushing his fingers over Quentin's shoulder. "I had a theory, but I needed a reference… and a second opinion," he adds, flicking his eyes at Julia, who's still beaming at him. "Will you come upstairs with me?"

"I'm still eating," he says shortly, fighting his impulse to follow Eliot anywhere.

"Q," Julia says firmly, "you should go with him." When he looks at her, her expression softens. "Trust me."

"Will someone please tell me what the maple-flavored fuck is going on here?" Margo demands.

Eliot walks up close by her side and holds the book out. Quentin still can't see it, but Margo's face goes slack, and she looks for a moment like she might cry. "Really?" she asks, clutching at Eliot's other hand as she peers up at him. He nods, looking just as emotional.

Quentin sighs. "Okay, god, I'm coming. Sucks to be the only one in the dark."

"Oh, Q," Margo says, reaching out and clutching his hand too. "I approve so hard. We're still gonna have the shovel talk later, though, you understand?"

"Um," Quentin says, but then Eliot is leading him away by the hand.

As they climb the stairs, Quentin tries to form a battle plan, unsure what Eliot's whole thing with the book and Julia is about. He knows what he wants with Eliot, and he needs to try not to compromise on it, even if Eliot is hesitant.

Eliot leads Quentin to the bed but doesn't join him, instead starting to pace over his floor. "Okay, this is— well, it's kind of a lot, so it's fine if you freak out. I'm a little freaked out too, to be honest. And— it doesn't have to mean anything, if you're— unhappy, if you don't want it to mean anything. That's okay. Just— keep an open mind."

"El, what the fuck," Quentin says. "You sound like me right now. What's going on?"

Eliot stops and takes a deep breath, then hands him the book. Quentin studies the cover, Souls Intertwined, feeling his world tilt on its axis. Feeling unsure, he flips open to the table of contents, where the chapter titles quickly confirm it—it's a book about soulmates. "El," he says, breathless.

"There's a spell," Eliot says, and he sounds nearly as excited as Quentin is starting to feel. "Chapter six. So we don't have to— wonder."

Quentin can feel tears pricking his eyes, but he fights to hold them back. "So when you took off this morning, it wasn't to get away from me."

"No," Eliot insists, kneeling in front of him. "Q, I'm so sorry, I should have waited. But— once I got the idea in my head, I couldn't exactly sleep. I had to be sure."

"How do you even know about this?" he wonders aloud, flipping to the chapter on dreams. His throat feels tighter the more it sinks in—soulmates.

Eliot stands up to pace some more. "Margo and I found the book. Last year. Our dreams have never been as… consistent, or intense. But they were happening enough that we decided to do our research. It turns out she and I are platonic soulmates."

"Oh wow," Quentin says, smiling up at Eliot. "That's amazing, El."

"It is," Eliot says, laughing a bit hysterically. "And I never would've been selfish enough to think I have two soulmates, I mean, that'd be pretty arrogant, even for me. Fuck knows I don't deserve it."

"Hey," Quentin says sharply. "Don't say that, El. You're spectacular. You amaze me every day. I can't think of anyone who deserves happiness more than you."

"Q," Eliot says, almost brokenly, and in two quick strides he rejoins Quentin on the bed and pulls him into a quick but fierce kiss. "I could be wrong about this. The spell will show us for sure. But I don't think I've ever felt more sure about anything in my life."

Quentin breathes out shakily. "What do we need to do?"

"Sit across from me, like this," Eliot says, scooting to the middle of the bed and crossing his legs. "Turn to chapter six, and we can go through the tuts together. It won't do anything until we join the movements with the words."

"Right," Quentin says, settling across from Eliot and flipping to the appropriate page. "I guess you've done this before."

"Twice," Eliot confirms. "Once with Margo last year, and again this morning, with Julia." He smiles at Quentin's confused look. "Just wanted to confirm a negative case."

It's hard to focus at first, as they go through the motions of the cooperative spell, which requires them to reach across each other, their skin brushing as they transition from one step to the next. All of Quentin's nerves and excitement seem to be thrumming energy through his body, making him extra sensitive every time they touch.

"Okay, I think we're ready to try it for real," Eliot says. Quentin could get lost in his soft smile. "Do you need some time to get the words down?"

"No, I'm ready," Quentin assures him. He'd been repeating the Greek in his head the whole time they'd been practicing. The sooner he sees the result, the better. If Eliot's wrong about this, he'd rather get the disappointment out of the way fast.

Together, they take a deep breath and nod, beginning the spell. Quentin's impulse anytime he tries a new spell is to stare at his fingers, making sure he’s got the movements right. But this time, his eyes catch on Eliot’s, and he can’t look away. He goes through the motions and the words without having to think about them, everything flowing naturally. Every touch feels even more charged, so that the purple energy that starts to light up around them seems almost like an afterthought to the obvious connection they have.

Eliot laughs joyfully, and only when Quentin hears it does he realize that Eliot's crying. He blinks, and realizes he has tears in his eyes too. The energy is pouring off of them in waves, lighting up the room in sparks of bright purple—physical, incandescent evidence that they really are soulmates.

"Holy shit, El," he says wetly, laughing through his tears. Their hands are still up, palms facing each other from the end of the spell, and it's the easiest thing in the world to press forward, interlocking their fingers.

Eliot leans forward to kiss him. It's the longest, sweetest, best kiss of Quentin's life. Quentin feels transcendent, happier than he'd ever imagined being. It's like he's found a puzzle piece he hadn't even known was missing.

Of course, that's when the doubt starts to creep in. He pulls out of the kiss, trying to talk himself down, but Eliot can read the concern on his face.

"What is it?" Eliot asks gently. The purple energy is still in the room with them, lighting up his face.

"Before you showed me the book— you said it didn't have to mean anything. If you don't want to feel… tied down—"

Eliot shakes his head with a relieved smile. "Q. We're literally made for each other. I'm not concerned."

"I mean, you say that now, but like— my brain breaks sometimes. I'm not always a lot of fun to be around."

Eliot squeezes his hand. "I know, Q. I play it cool, but I do actually listen during our conversations."

"You like it when I talk," Quentin recalls, remembering his first lucid dream with Eliot. All Eliot wanted to do was listen to him. A smile edges back onto his face.

"I really do." Eliot leans forward to tilt their foreheads together. "And like I said, I'm not concerned."

Quentin laughs helplessly. "I can't believe I found magic and the literal man of my dreams all in the same year."

"Believe it," Eliot says, pulling him into another kiss. It's short and sweet, but Quentin can feel it down to his toes. "You're not getting rid of me now."

"Good." God, they have the rest of their lives to be together now. Quentin can't imagine how he got so lucky. "So, um, how should we celebrate?"

Eliot grins wickedly. "Oh, I have some ideas."