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BAZ

It’s easy to love Simon Snow. He calls it to him, like a plant drawing in sunlight. It’s impossible not to love him. It’s always been impossible, for me. He pulls it out of me, my love, and I can’t help giving it to him. It’s not that he takes it; he’s never taken anything from me. He never would--I give it to him. Nothing has ever felt so right. Giving Snow my love is like answering an unasked question. It’s a silent promise between us, unspoken words that say ‘this is forever. We will have this forever.’

Of course, it’s difficult to remember ‘forever’ when Simon Snow is acting like a madman. We’re meant to be at a wedding, a romantic get together on the Cornish coast for Trixie and Keris. They’ve rented a manor house for all the guests (except the members of Trixie’s family who live nearby), put a lot of time and work and effort and money into it, and Simon Snow is behaving as though he were a child having a strop.

For some reason, he’s throwing his clothes at me.

“You’d better watch out, Baz Pitch!” he shouts from behind me, as something whistles past my ear.

Despite the fact that there’s enough space between me and him that I should be safe from his attacks, he keeps coming dangerously close to hitting me. Luckily, my years of football training in school haven’t left me totally useless and I’m able to dodge all the potentially decapitating, or worse, disfiguring articles he’s throwing at me. Including, of course, the highly dangerous tie, left sock, and, worst of all, the pocket square. I manage to scurry out of the bedroom and pull the door half closed behind me without being hit by anything. I can still hear and speak to him, but there should be no danger of any of Snow’s throws aiming true.

But as much fun as it is to be attacked by your boyfriend, we’re on a bit of a time crunch--we’re due on the lawn for the wedding itself in fifteen minutes, and Snow isn’t making things any easier with the toddler tantrum going on in the room behind me. It’s something I’m rarely grateful for, but thank Merlin he gave up his magic. An explosive Simon Snow practically boiling over with magic, as well as refusing to get dressed would make us even later, and I have a reputation for punctuality that I’d like to maintain. Perhaps even worse, the manor Trixie and Keris have rented for the wedding has been standing for centuries, but a heavier step than normal from pre-eighth year Snow could have easily brought it crashing down.

If I’m honest, a too-heavy step from the Snow of the present could probably bring this house down as well.

His voice comes from inside.

“Baz Pitch, if you don’t get back here right now I swear I will take the pot of fancy hair gel I can see in your suitcase and throw it as far as I can out the window!”

“That stuff is more expensive than anything you own Snow, and if you dare--” I push the door open, only to be pelted in the face with the most dangerous of all his clothes--the belt. The buckle smacks me squarely in the face, just above my lip.

Snow has the grace to look guilty.

“Right,” I say. I’ve had enough of this. There’s something about being hit in the face with a metal object that really makes you lose your temper, “What is your problem, Snow?”

He’s still standing by the window, in the same position he was in when I feverishly ran out of the room just moments ago. His wings and tail are fluttering wildly, almost instinctively. It happens often when he’s agitated. His shirt is half buttoned, he’s only wearing one sock, and he’s holding his trousers in his hand. His pants have little smiley faces on them, but the look on his actual face is not smiley at all.

He waves his trousers at me.

This is the problem,” he says.

“If you wanted to attend this wedding without your trousers, you should have told me,” I say, “I wouldn’t have stopped you. I also would have had to move seats and pretend that I have never met you before in my entire life.”

“That is not what I mean and you know it!”

“Oh?” I arch an eyebrow (he hates it when I do that. Only because he can’t do it himself.), “Then would you be so kind as to explain?”

“I--you...this--suit--insufferable...you--bastard--”

I let him bluster for a little. It’s quite entertaining, and there’s no danger of him throwing something at me while his brain is trying so hard. Though you wouldn’t know it was working at all, from listening to him go on.

“I’m sorry, Snow, but I don’t quite follow,” I say, “I don’t speak moron. Would you consider trying English?”

That only makes him splutter even more.

“Can’t--you...urgh--just--never--”

I really do love him, but he is just such fun to tease. Sometimes I think that I shouldn’t, that I should give him a break once in a while, but I think my whole being would fall apart if I wasn’t being at least a little bit of an arse to Snow.

I’ve always teased him, but now that’s balanced out with occasional (often) kissing, so I don’t feel quite as bad about it as I did when I was fifteen, helplessly in love and desperate for Snow to pay even a little bit of attention.

“The suit!” he finally manages to get out, “This--bloody--suit!”

Well, we’re getting somewhere I suppose.

He waves his trousers at me again for, I assume, dramatic effect. It doesn’t particularly make the impact I imagine he was going for. He just looks more crazed than ever, half dressed, bushy hair from running his hands through it. Perhaps I should lend him some of that gel, although I rather like the wild look on him.

“What’s wrong with the suit?” I ask, “Apart from the fact, of course, that it is currently strewn all over the floor.”

“It doesn’t--fucking--fit!”

“So you threw it all at me? You are impossible, Snow.”

“It’s your fault it doesn’t fit!” he retorts.

“My fault?”

“You bought it for me! I thought you were the expert on clothes! And now I have nothing to wear to the wedding that is meant to be starting right now!”

Well, I suppose if we’re already late, we might as well make it fashionably. Or unfashionably, since Snow claims his suit doesn’t fit him and I’ll have to use all my ‘expertise’ to cobble together something formal but undeniably wedding-inappropriate for him.

“I most certainly am not an expert on clothes, Snow. Although, considering some of the things I’ve seen you wear, I suppose that in this relationship, I would be considered the expert.”

“If you’re the expert then,” he says, thrusting the trousers at me, “why would you buy me a suit that doesn’t fit?”

I toss the trousers back at him. He fumbles with them, and they fall to the floor.

“Would you put those on?” I say, “This is a custom made suit. There is no way it doesn’t fit you correctly.”

“I told you, it doesn’t fit,” Snow mutters.

It should fit. And if it doesn’t, I don’t know why he didn’t say something when we were buying it. It’s just like Snow, to keep his mouth shut when it’s important and then complain later.

He puts the trousers on anyway and makes a face.

“So what’s the problem?” I ask.

There isn’t one, in my opinion. He looks perfectly fine to me. Perfectly good. Very good.

Crowley, he’s not got the whole suit on and I’m already thirsting after him. I don’t know how I’m going to manage once he’s actually dressed.

“It’s too tight,” he says.

“What do you mean, tight?” I ask.

“Around my legs. Suits are meant to be loose.”

“This is a fitted suit made specifically for you, Snow. It’s not my fault you seem to not have worn something that fits you properly before.”

Ah.

The words leave my mouth and all of a sudden I feel like the world’s biggest idiot. Of course he’s never worn a suit that fitted him properly.

He told me once that the only thing he’d ever owned that fitted was his Watford uniform and so I took him out shopping that very afternoon. I can’t believe I forgot something like that so easily. It always seems to slip my mind that most people weren’t raised in the same world as I was.

Snow flushes and it’s all I can do to not scream at myself.

Crowley, I’m so stupid.

“Snow,” I say.

“Simon,” he mumbles.

I know, from the way he corrects me, that he’s not angry, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about myself.

“Simon,” I say, “I’m sorry.”

Loving Simon Snow is a constant apology. I feel like I’m always saying sorry to him. But I need him to know. I need him to remember that no matter what words fall out of my mouth, under every cruel thing I forget to stop myself saying, I love him. It’s like there’s a well inside me that there never was before, and every day that I spend with him I give him a little more from it. Sometimes I worry I’ll run dry, though I know that for me, for the way I feel about him, that’s impossible. And still, I hold back, just a little. I spent so long hiding how I felt for Snow from everyone that even though I know I have nothing to hide anymore, it still feels like a step too far to let myself go. Even though we’ve been together for almost five years, there’s a part of me that still can’t believe this is all real. That Snow really wants me as much as I have always wanted him.

I love him. I want him to be happy. I want to be a good boyfriend, the best, but I don’t see how I can be when I’m also the biggest, blindest idiot sometimes.

But he knows. He understands. He sees it in my eyes. So it’s him who puts his arms around me and holds me tight.

Snow’s a man of few words. Deeds, actions, those are what come more naturally to him. So I know, when he folds his arms around me and presses his cheek into my shoulder, that it’s his way of saying ‘it’s OK’.

We stand there for a few minutes, quietly. Peacefully. I breathe Snow in. His smell. If ‘warm’ could be a scent, it would smell just like Snow. The smell of burnt sugar, sun, the promise of a hot, lazy summer day.

My chest hurts, sometimes, when I’m with him. Before him, I’d never felt so intensely, so completely, in my life. Even through all those years I spent pining after him, I never felt anything close to it. It was always a shadow of how I feel now, hidden behind cutting remarks and biting words. I didn’t let myself feel like I do now. I thought that if I did, it would crush me.

It does. It crushes me so heavily I can barely breathe.

I don’t think there will ever be a time when it doesn’t.

But I love it.

The clock in the hall chimes half past the hour and It’s with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I realise we’re truly, properly late to the wedding.

I am never late for anything. This is what Simon Snow has done to me.

But I’m holding Snow, and he’s holding me, and Merlin I cannot believe that this is my life and I don’t want it to end just yet--

But he pulls away.

“We’re late,” he murmurs.

I stand there, stupid, as he picks up all the parts of his suit from where they’re strewn across the room and begins to get dressed. It’s only when he’s almost done that he comes back to me, his tie looped around his neck. He looks a little embarrassed.

“Do you mind--?”

I roll my eyes, “Honestly, Snow, you used to wear one of these every day. How did you manage?”

“Penny did it,” he replies, “Or Agatha. At the start of the year. Then I would just loosen it to take it off and tighten it to put it back on again.”

I take my time with the tie. I might as well enjoy myself, before facing whatever glares the rest of the guests will throw our way. As I tie it, Snow’s throat bobs. It’s at times like these when I can almost feel the blood moving through his veins, but I try not to think about that. I try to block the thoughts from my mind.

I like to indulge myself, sometimes. Let myself think about what it would be like to lean forwards, bend my neck just so, open my mouth, feel my fangs slide out from wherever they go and let them sink into his neck. I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to bite a human. Would my fangs pierce his skin softly, easily? Or would it be harder to leave my mark? Would I need to use more pressure, to bite down hard just to get a little sip of blood?

Human blood. I’m still curious about what it tastes like, how it would be different from the blood of another animal. The tang of iron would still be there of course, filling my throat, but it would be mixed with something else, something more, something Simon. Rich and thick and sweet.

And of course I wonder if he’d would like it. The bite of a vampire is said to numb its victim, make the...action less painful, almost enjoyable. I don’t remember, of course. But there’s a part of me that wants to try it, bite into his golden neck and see if his eyes fill with sunlight.

I think about this far more than I’d ever let on. (I’d never tell anyone that I fantasise about drinking my boyfriend’s blood.) It’s an impossibility, though. I’d never ask him to do something like that. If he wanted to do something like that. I don’t even know how I could bring it into conversation.

By the way, Snow, I was wondering if you’d let me bite you. Just for fun.

It’s disgusting. But I like to indulge myself, sometimes. I am, after all, disturbed.

Once I’m done, we hurry outside, much to my chagrin. I don’t have nearly enough time to appreciate the way Snow looks in his suit. He has no right to look as unreasonably handsome as he does in something so simple--a plain grey like the one I lent him when he first came to my family home. If you ignore the slight look of discomfort on his face (jogging bottoms will always have his heart), he looks like he was born to wear bespoke outfits.

I suppose that’s the point of getting something bespoke.

We cross the lawn and Snow follows me down a winding, secluded path. The trees are planted so closely together that their branches entwine high above us, shading the path from the July sun. Once we emerge from the shadows, the wedding is spread before us in an almost tableau. The guests are assembled on rows of chairs facing a huge oak tree where the officiant is standing. My father.

I’m not quite sure why, when Trixie and Keris announced their engagement to the Coven and asked for a member to oversee the wedding (as is tradition), my father was the first to volunteer, though I suspect I know why he was so eager. For him, I think that officiating a gay wedding between a human (well a mage, so sort of) and a magickal being was a way of showing me that he supports Snow and I, even if sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. I suppose I ought to be touched.

In a stroke of good luck, Snow and I aren’t quite as late as I thought we would be. Neither of the brides have arrived yet, although the procession of various members of the wedding party down the aisle has begun. As we take our seats at the back, Snow next to Bunce, me next to him, my father shoots me a half glare from where he’s standing. I suppose that even in his new role as the kind, supportive officiant, there’s still space for him to be the father I’ve always known and criticise my manners.

Though in this situation, I don’t really think I can blame him.

Because my father is officiating the wedding, Snow and I were originally offered seats closer to where the brides will be saying their vows, but we declined in favour of sitting at the back to accommodate for Snow’s wings, and the fact that they would block the view of anyone behind him. I offered to spell them invisible for him, or even use that spell of Bunce’s and make them go away, but he refused. I didn’t pry, but I know that what he didn’t say is that he still doesn’t really like having magic used on him.

I don’t think Snow misses having his own magic, necessarily, but I think that now he doesn’t have it, something about it doesn’t feel quite right to him. He’s getting better, more comfortable with us using it around him, but it’s a slow process and I don’t see that there’s any need to push him. A time may come when he feels completely happy being around magic, but if that doesn’t come for a long time, or ever, it doesn’t matter to me. All I want is for him to be happy.

It’s all I’ve ever wanted, really.

Loving Simon Snow is terrifying because I’m scared he isn’t happy. I’m scared he doesn’t know how important that is to me.

Bunce has that American (I refuse to call him Shepard, it’s a ridiculous name, though perhaps I should start) sitting on her other side. He’s looking around with a ridiculous grin on his face, as if he’s trying to memorise everything he sees. I’m half surprised that he doesn’t have a camera out, taking photos of everything, or scribbling it all down in a notebook. I have no idea how Bunce managed to get his visit past the Coven. Knowing her, she probably didn’t ask, even though her mother is on the Coven and would probably have made an exception, or found some loophole somewhere that my ancestors missed when they were writing the laws themselves. Perhaps one that says Normals are allowed at magickal gatherings if they’re leading a relationship with a mage. My ancestors definitely didn’t expect any mage to choose a Normal over one of our kind. Most modern mages don’t either--I know it was a shock to her parents when Bunce and the American (Shepard) told them.

If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure why I was invited to this thing. Trixie and Keris seem to have invited everyone who was in our year at Watford, but I feel more as if I was invited to fill an extra chair, or because my father is the one marrying them, or even because they wanted to invite Simon Snow, the Chosen One himself, and figured they should drop his boyfriend an invitation too. I find that I don’t mind the idea as much as I might.

Next to me, Snow shuffles in his seat. I glance over, and he gives me a small, quick smile, then leans over and rests his head on my shoulder. I can’t imagine it’s very comfortable for him, sitting upright with his head at such an awkward angle, as well as having to deal with his wings and tail at the same time, but he seems perfectly happy. The feeling of his curls only a breath away from my cheeks makes a little current of electricity run over my skin.

Merlin, I’m weak. I’m so weak for him.

I feel a heave of disappointment in my chest when music begins to play and the people around us stand, though it’s eased when Snow slips his hand into mine as we stand up too. We turn back to watch Trixie and then Keris walk down the aisle. Neither have opted for the traditional white dress--Trixie is wearing a short pink dress, almost the same colour as her hair (I’m not quite sure how I feel about such a bold statement), with a skirt that puffs around her knees. Keris is wearing possibly the most expensive looking suit I have ever seen. I’m quite impressed by her taste, but surprised to an extent because I didn’t know she was well-off enough to afford something like that, though I suppose when it’s your wedding you can go all out with your outfit.

A woman near the front starts to sob.

Snow doesn’t let go of my hand when we sit down, and I’m too busy paying attention to its warmth (how can he still be so warm without magic?) to concentrate on the ceremony. I’ve been to enough of these to know how they go anyway-- vows, exchanging rings, promising to love each other forever and so on. A typical magickal wedding would normally involve a few more spells, but because of Trixie’s pixie heritage some of the traditions have had to be changed in favour of a more Normal ceremony, because there’s certain magic she’s not able to perform. I’m not quite sure why, but it seems to be because of some core beliefs at the heart of pixie society. (I can’t quite believe I never knew that pixies had some sort of belief system.) (Bunce knew. It was quite embarrassing for me.)

I’m not sure Snow’s ever been to any kind of wedding before, magickal or not. He keeps craning his neck over people’s heads in an attempt to get a better view. When Trixie and Keris are exchanging rings, I could swear he begins to tear up, just a little bit. I may have been slightly numbed to the magic of weddings over the many years of attending them, but the newness of them to Snow is very sweet to watch. As the ceremony progresses, I find myself watching it through new eyes, Snow’s, and by the time Keris and Trixie share their first kiss as a married couple, I have to turn my face away to hide the fact that a few tears seem to have escaped me (quite a lot of tears).

Once Trixie and Keris have walked down the aisle, to resounding cheers from everyone (even me, once Snow poked me hard enough), we all make our way back inside the manor, where a huge room on the ground floor has been decked out to act as a sort of ballroom. There’s a balloon arch for photos, a huge buffet table Snow seems quite enamoured by next to some tables, and a huge dance floor that takes up most of the space. It’s faintly ridiculous, but I find rather like it, except for the band of pixies playing on a little stage at the end of the room. The writing on the drum kit labels them as The Cornish Pixies. From the door they look as if they’re shimmering but as we walk in I realise it’s just pixie dust. It’s not the band themselves that I have a problem with, more the fact that they’re playing a cover of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’, a song which I can’t seem to like at all, and never have been able to. (Snow, of course, loves it.)

Snow strategically leads Bunce, the American (Shepard) and I to a spot near the buffet table as Trixie and Keris take to the floor for their first dance The way they look at each other, so openly and wholeheartedly, fills me with a strange aching, sick feeling that I can’t quite describe, even if I’m unable to overlook the fact that neither of them can dance very well.

Once it’s finished, Snow immediately makes a beeline for the buffet table, almost tripping over his own feet on the way over. Despite the fact that we will in fact be eating a proper, sit down dinner this evening (with five courses if Trixie is to be believed), he seems to think it necessary to pile up a plate with mini sausage rolls, crisps and whatever else is available. (A little bit of everything on the table.)

Bunce and the American (Shepard) take to the dance floor as soon as an upbeat, poppy song I don’t recognise begins to play, and it only takes a few moments before people begin to trickle over to ‘have a quick chat with the Chosen One’.

I don’t recognise the first person to come over, though she looks like some relative of Keris’--a distant, older cousin or an aunt, maybe.

“Simon Snow, it’s a pleasure,” she says, stretching out her hand. Snow just looks at it, not moving to shake it. He’s holding his plate with both hands, but even if he wasn’t, I don’t think he’d be too thrilled to shake hands with some woman he’s never met before who seems far too enthusiastic to speak to him.

Still, that doesn’t seem to dissuade her.

“I’ve been wanting to have a chat with you for so long now,” she says, “I was on the Coven after the events in the White Chapel--very sad--but we never got the chance to have a conversation. How have you been coping? Getting on alright?”

“Yes, thanks,” Snow says politely.

I hate that this is something he has to deal with. I wish people would just leave him alone. He may be coping, sure, but he’s still not really getting on alright, even though it’s been years. Not through lack of trying, either. He wants to get better, he’s trying, me and Penny and his therapist and everyone who really loves him is trying, but it’s because of people like her that he’s struggling. No one’s giving him a chance to forget, to move on. No one’s letting him be normal.

As normal as he can be, anyway.

But no. People still insist on treating him like he’s some kind of celebrity, some object in a museum that they can stare at and gossip about, until Snow wants nothing more than to fade into the ground.

I manage to get rid of Debbie, as she introduces herself, pretty quickly, but she’s almost immediately replaced by Alison, David and Stewart, who are then replaced by Michael and Aidan, who are then (I know) replaced by Jenny.

“It’s so nice to meet you, Simon!”

“Big fan, Simon, can’t believe I’m finally getting to meet you.”

“Can I get you a drink, Simon?”

“Can you fly with those wings, Simon?”

“Is it hard, not being able to do magic anymore?”

By the end of it I’m this close to losing my composure entirely and biting the head off the next nosy bastard to come alone (perhaps even literally. I am a vampire after all). I can’t see Penny and the American (Shepard) anywhere on the dance floor, or somewhere mixed in with the groups of people standing around. They could have gone somewhere quiet to canoodle, but knowing them they’ve probably gone back to their room and are having an intense discussion about something only the two of them care about.

Snow seems to have had enough. He puts his now empty plate on a nearby side table and leans into me. His face is pale and sombre looking--not a good expression for a wedding, but I suppose it’s quite fair for him to look so dour. I put my arm around him and hold him tight. In times like these, he doesn’t want to talk. He just wants to be still.

Loving Simon Snow is about being there in the quiet moments. When he feels lowest, he doesn’t shout or scream or lash out. He simply folds in on himself, into himself. All you have to do is stand by him, hold him and let him hold you. He needs that. That reminder that there are people who love him.

For a long time, Snow didn’t have that.

There are times, however, when he doesn’t want to be still. Sometimes, he wants to move.

He tugs at my arm. It’s a childlike move, one I wouldn’t expect from him (Snow may be annoying, but not in a childish way) (most of the time, anyway) but in moments like these, he’s never quite himself.

“Let’s dance,” he says.

The band is still playing music that feels obscure to me but that everyone else seems to know, and I don’t feel too enthusiastic about gyrating on the dance floor to the sound of the mid 2000s.

“Snow--” I begin. How to let him down gently?

“Please, Baz,” he says, “Dance with me.”

I can’t say no to him. Because I’m pathetic. Because I’m weak. Because all it takes is for him to say my name and all of a sudden my knees are weakening and my stomach is full of butterflies.

Because he needs me. And I have to be there for him. I will always be there for him.

We walk on to the dance floor. Thankfully, he chooses a space close to the edge, so I have less of an opportunity to embarrass myself. I don’t know what’s expected of me. Are we waltzing? Just dancing facing each other?

Snow pulls me close and takes me in his arms, and finally the band starts playing the opening notes of a song I do know: God Only Knows. The Beach Boys. It takes a moment for the music to register with me, but as soon as I recognise the song I feel myself melting even more into Snow. This song, for me, is us. I don’t know who, what, I’d be without him.

Sometimes I feel that without him, I would be nothing.

I spent so many years pining for him. So many years shut up in our room at the top of Mummers, so close to him yet so far away at the same time. I thought I would die without him. I thought I would die anyway, my life bleeding out in his arms. Even then, even if my last breath was on my lips, I don’t think I could ever have told him how I really felt, the ache in my heart whenever I looked at him that was torturing me, killing me slowly. If he hadn’t kissed me himself, that night in the forest, I know I never would have told him. I was too afraid of the truth, I was too afraid of seeing my worst fear shining in his eyes. I was too afraid he’d reject me--I almost expected it. I never imagined he could ever feel even a fraction of the same way that I did. I don’t think that even he realised himself until he kissed me for the first time. I was terrified that things would change, although I don’t know what I thought they’d change to. Certainly nothing would have become better.

Telling Snow the truth would have meant baring my soul to him, and that was a step I couldn’t take. To have someone look at me and know me, all of me, was so frightening I thought I would disintegrate. It still feels like that most of the time, when I try to be completely open with the people I love.

I want to talk to people. I want to be able to talk to my parents, my aunt, to Snow himself.

I can barely hold a normal conversation with Snow without wanting to dive right down into his eyes and bury myself in his heart. It’s so hard to speak to someone who makes you feel like you’re on fire, lighting up the skies, blazing hotter than the stars.

It’s Snow who’s meant to be the blusterer, the one who stumbles over everything he says. Yet now it seems to be me who can never find the right words to say.

I hold him to me instead.

We’re standing towards the edge of the dance floor, swaying slightly but not dancing properly (Snow doesn’t know how. I had lessons until I was sixteen.). All around us, other couples are moving together in the same way but as the song progresses they seem to fall away into nothing until all I can see, all I can feel is Snow holding me, looking up at me, saying...something to me.

Whatever it is he said, I miss it completely. I raise an eyebrow at him instead of trying to scramble for an answer,

“Well, Snow?”

He blushes, and I can sense a bluster coming. My eyebrow tends to do that to him.

He manages to sidestep it though (I must admit, I’m impressed) and continues on with whatever it was that he was saying.

“This is nice, isn’t it?” he says, gesturing at the room.

“Lovely,” I say. I don’t know whether I’m talking about the room or about him. I can barely remember what our surroundings look like, and I don’t have any desire to drag my eyes away from him to remind myself.

He’s so lovely.

“Do you think--” he begins, then stops abruptly. He looks nervous, embarrassed even. Unsure of himself.

But then, Snow always seems to be a little unsure of himself.

“What is it?” I ask, gently.

I’ve talked to Snow’s therapist a little, about him, and she says that we need to talk carefully with him, listen closely, make sure he knows we care. Something about positive affirmations. Even if he didn’t need it, I would willingly listen to Snow all day every day until time swallowed us both. He has the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard, even if it doesn’t work the way he wants it to sometimes. Even if he can come out and say the most idiotic things sometimes.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if--well...I--thought, maybe--”

The blustering is back. I stay quiet and let him find his words.

“Well…do you think that--maybe--one day, we could have this?” he says.

If I had a heartbeat, it would most certainly have stopped right this moment. As it is, I can do nothing but stare.

Am I falling? I feel like I’m falling.

“This?” I breathe.

“You know…” he waves his arm in the direction of Trixie and Keris (or possibly the buffet table. They’re standing quite close to it), “This. Wouldn’t it be nice, maybe? And maybe even… someday soon?”

He is. He is asking me...what it is I think he’s asking me.

Snow’s therapist told me that if he’s really struggling to say what he means, we might have to supply the words for him.

I have to push down the lump of...something in my throat before I can make myself speak.

Stay cool, Basil.

“You’re not proposing to me are you, Snow? Because you know that’s very bad form at someone else’s wedding.”

Snow seems to relax. Even if what I said wasn’t particularly reassuring, showing him that I’m perfectly composed seems to make him feel more confident in his words.

Except that I’m not composed at all.

“I wouldn’t know,” he says, “This is my first wedding. But I don’t think it’ll be my last.”

“True,” I say, “Bunce and the...Shepard seemed to be getting on quite well. I could see something in their future. A golden wedding and maybe even an army of tiny, annoying geniuses.”

“That’s not what I meant,” he frowns.

Have I pushed it too far? Does he think I’m not taking him seriously?

I’m taking this very seriously.

Because of course I know what he meant. But I can’t. There’s no way he could possibly be asking me this.

But he is. Of course he is--he’s Simon bloody Snow, who has never thought about what the simplest things he does and says do to me. When he smiles at me across a room, when he murmurs my name in his sleep, when he holds my hand, when he kisses me, I feel like I’m burning up inside. Simon Snow sets me on fire. The difference is that now I am happy to burn for him.

Being with Simon Snow still doesn’t quite feel like part of my life. I wake up most days with his hot breath on my face and fall asleep in his arms again that night, and I can’t quite believe that this is how I live now.

So this, standing on the edge of a dance floor with his hands on my shoulders and my arms around his waist doesn’t quite register in my brain. Surely, surely, he doesn’t mean--

“Marry me, Baz,” he says. He isn’t quite looking at me. His eyes are fixed on a point just next to my right eye.

I don’t think I can look right at him either. I pick a mole (there’s plenty to choose from) and focus on that instead. If I look into his eyes I think I might faint.

Marry me, Baz.

Marry me.

He clears his throat.

“I really love you, Baz,” he says, “and yeah, maybe you’re right. This--someone else’s wedding--is probably not the time to do this. But I--well, I’ve been thinking about this for ages. And I can’t...I can’t wait. Not anymore.”

I can’t speak. My throat is closing in on itself, and I just know that if I open my mouth I’ll start to cry, and my father is standing on the other side of the room and I will not cry in front of him.

It doesn’t matter. Snow has found his words, and once he’s got into it it’s almost impossible for him to stop.

“And I had a plan--well I didn’t really, I had a..a sort-of-plan,” he says, “And I didn’t mean to do it here, but I’ve started now so fuck it, might as well. I didn’t even get a ring. But I’ve spent months waiting for the perfect time and I can’t keep worrying about it. The perfect time...well, it’s when you and I are together. Obviously. And it should be somewhere romantic. Like now, when we’re dancing together. Like this. It’s proper gay, and this room is well romantic...even if it is because someone else is getting married.”

“Simon--”

“And I know I’m not the best boyfriend. I’m a pretty terrible one,” he grins, “I don’t know how suits work, and I have wings and a tail that are always hitting people--especially you--and I’m not posh or clever or anything like that. You know, all the things that the heir to the House of Pitch should look for in a partner. But I can make a mean curry, and my Star Wars knowledge is solid, and I think I’m a pretty good kisser. So, yeah. I guess that was the big speech.”

That was maybe the worst proposal I’ve ever heard. (Not that I’ve heard many. Just those I’ve seen in the rom coms I’m strangely drawn to at two in the morning when I can’t sleep.)

I think I’m supposed to say something.

What do you say when someone proposes to you?

You give them an answer, Basilton.

“Baz?” Snow has pulled his lower lip between his teeth, furrowed his brow. I don’t think he realised he’s doing it, “You know, it’s OK if you want to say no.”

“No?” I ask.

It’s more of a cough than a question. I can barely form thoughts, let alone words. For once, I know how Snow feels.

He nods, still not quite looking at me, “That’s alright. I get it, you know, if you’re not ready.”

I can see a look in his eyes, a strange look, as if he were expecting to be disappointed and that expectation has been fulfilled.

What?

Use your words, Basilton.

“Why on earth would I ever say no, Snow?” I say softly.

Good, ask him a question, give yourself time to recover. Keep it short, snappy, keep calm.

“Well...I--you said no,” he says.

I clear my throat. Breathe.

“I was merely expressing my disbelief, Snow, that you think I would ever treat such an eloquent proposition as yours with utter disregard.”

He blinks.

Shit. I’ve confused him.

I always do this when I’m nervous. Come up with the most ridiculous, over-the-top ways of saying things.

“Why can’t you just say what you mean, Baz?” he says.

Is he therapising me?

“Snow. Simon,” I say, before he gets a chance to correct me. I could see his mouth about to open.

Crowley, I’ve started now. I’ve just got to carry on.

Come on, Baz.

“There is no world in which both of us exist,” I continue, “where I could ever say no to you. To...what you’ve asked of me. Including this one. You’re quite right: your limited knowledge of suits is distressing, and you most certainly were not brought up in the right kind of society to make a respectable husband.”

He looks a bit put out by that, even though he said so himself earlier. This isn’t going well. Why can’t I ever be kind to him?

Be nice, Basilton.

“But the point is,” I hurry on, “that none of that matters. Because even with all the things between us, we crossed those borders. Those oceans. You chose me, and I chose you. I will always choose you. So yes, Simon Snow, my answer is yes.”

When he kisses me, all I can do is kiss him back with all the fire in my soul. I think he’s crying. I think I might be too. To hell with what my father thinks. And even though somewhere, outside our two bodies, the song has changed to the god awful sound of Heaven Is a Place on Earth, I find that I don’t mind it so much. With Simon in my arms, like this, I don’t care about anything. And he’s right, what he said in his speech. He is a very good kisser.

For years, loving Simon Snow terrified me. It still terrifies me. But there’s something exciting about doing things that terrify you. Something deeply fulfilling. Because although it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done, loving Simon Snow is also the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m so glad my lifeless heart chose him. I’m so glad he chose me.

He’s chosen me. Forever. And I’ve chosen him. Forever. And now, soon, we’re going to be bound forever.

Crowley, I’m living a charmed life.

Simon Snow, I love you. I love you. I love you.

It’s like the Beach Boys said. As long as there are stars above you.

I’ll love you as long as the stars shine on us, Simon Snow. Forever and ever and ever.

In this moment, nothing’s been easier.