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PENNY

I’m meant to be in Elocution first lesson, but instead I’m standing just inside the Watford gates watching the road instead. Spots of rain are drizzling down, light enough for me to feel my hair beginning to frizz and for specks to dot my glasses, but not so heavy that my good mood is ruined. Right at this moment, it’d take a lot more than rain to put me in a bad mood.

The drops falling on the ground seem to be beating out a rhythm, one that sings Micah’s coming, Micah’s coming, Micah’s coming.

I haven’t seen Micah in person since fourth year which was when we started dating. We’ve talked loads on the phone since then, obviously, and we text and email and Skype and write letters during term time when I can’t use the internet, but I’m in seventh year now. It’s been almost three years since we got together and I’m finally going to see him again. Face to face.

I think his flight must have been delayed, or there was more traffic on the motorway than normal because he should be here by now. He was meant to arrive at half eight, and it’s quarter past nine now.

If he’d arrived on time, we would have had half an hour together before Elocution and I wouldn’t have had to miss class. Having to copy up is never worth the fun skipping brings, but this is for Micah and I’d do anything for him.

I’ll just get Agatha to give me her notes. She won’t be happy about it, but I’m very good at persuading Agatha to do what I want.

Over the sound of the rain and the shaking trees I think I can hear a car. I try and stick my head out between the bars, but they’re a bit too close together for me to be able to peer out.

It is a car.

It’s Micah.

The car stops just outside the gates. Micah’s dad is behind the wheel, and he gives me a little wave as he opens the door and gets out.

“Hey, Penny, good to see you,” he says.

“Hello, Professor Cordero,” I say. He lays his hand on the gate and it begins to open, so I take a few steps back, “How are you?”

“I’m well, thank you,” he replies, “Would you like a ride up to the school?”

He doesn’t have to ask twice. I’m pulling the car door open, getting in and turning to Micah before the reality has even set in.

It’s Micah. In the flesh.

He’s sitting down, but he looks taller than when I last saw him. Though that makes sense, I suppose. Apart from that, he looks just the same as ever, but a more stretched out version of the Micah I first met.

“Hi,” he says. He looks a little shy.

I feel shy. I’m never shy.

“Hi,” I reply.

I sort of want to kiss him, but I don’t know if that would be weird. We’ve not been face to face in years, and his dad is sitting right in front of me, driving up to school. In any case, I don’t want to make a scene.

“Don’t you have class?” Micah asks.

Of course. The second thing he says to me would be about school.

“It’s not a big deal,” I reply.

It’s not a big deal. Micah’s here now.

He reaches across the seat between us and takes my hand. I’m so happy I could dance in my chair.

SIMON

Penny's over the moon that Micah’s here--she's not stopped talking about his visit for months, since he told her at the start of October that he was coming back. She came practically flying up to Mummers with the news (it was just lucky Baz wasn’t in) and I had to put up with her excitement for nearly two months.

It was sweet, though. She really loves him.

They've flown over from Chicago so Micah’s dad can give some talk to the eighth years about American research, and specifically their research about the Humdrum.

I think the Mage might make me sit in on the lecture, even though I’m not an eighth year. Hopefully, Penny can come too (her dad and his team are coming too so they should be able to get her in). I know everyone’ll be looking at me and if Penny’s there I know I’ll be able to deal with it much better. Especially if they start asking me questions. I may be the Chosen One, but it doesn’t mean I know anymore about the Humdrum than anyone else does.

Penny’s skipped Elocution to meet Micah when he arrives (she never lets me skip whenever I want) and I’m expecting Madam Bellamy to make a fuss, but doesn’t seem bothered. When I whisper this to Agatha, she says it’s probably because Madam Bellamy still misses her husband and doesn’t want to get in the way of ‘young love’.

I tried not to laugh when Agatha said ‘young love’.

Penny doesn’t show up for Elocution at all, and because we all have a free after I decide to try and find her once the lesson’s over.

“Maybe you should let Penny and Micah have some time together,” Agatha suggests, “It’s been two years since they were together properly and they’ll want to catch up. You’ll have plenty of time to talk to Penny later.”

I guess she’s right, so Agatha and I head to the library. If it was nice out, we’d probably go sit outside somewhere quiet--on the hills maybe, and then I could pretend I was practising my magic. Agatha and I would probably just spend the time kissing.

We’ve been doing that a lot recently, kissing. Not proper making out, but we kiss a lot. Normally it’s Agatha who starts it.

I like kissing Agatha. It’s nice. But it’s also kind of weird. It sort of feels like another job for me, something halfway down a to-do list that isn’t that important compared to other stuff. I think Agatha feels it too. Even when she starts the kissing, it just feels like we’re going through the motions. Like it’s something we should be doing because we’re a couple.

I think we’re going through a rough patch at the moment. I looked it up in the library (they have a self-help section, and some of the books look like they’ve been put there for the teachers, not us) and it seems like it’s something most couples go through, although there’s not really anyone I can ask to confirm that.

But it started chucking it down halfway through Elocution so we go to the library instead. I’m a bit relieved, if I’m honest. I think Agatha might be too.

We get there quick enough to get one of the best tables. It’s by a window and pretty far back in the library so no one can see us from the door and you can barely hear anyone else. The table’s massive too so you can spread your stuff out a lot, which is pretty useful when we’re in the middle of a mission and Penny wants to do research (which is all she ever wants to do). I get out my books and start struggling with an essay for Magickal History that Penny’s been nagging me about for weeks. Agatha puts her bag down opposite me and starts looking for something on the shelves by our table. She can’t seem to find whatever it is she’s looking for and soon leaves me to stare at the blank piece of paper in front of me on my own.

I’m halfway through writing the introduction when I hear the muffled voices of a group of people. Their voices are quiet at first but slowly grow louder as they approach my table. I try and ignore them and manage another word before I give up. That’s when they turn the corner and I finally realise who was speaking.

Dev and Niall. Baz.

“Come on, it’s the only table free,” Dev murmurs to the other two and they sit down, although Baz seems to hang back a little. Probably he wanted to spend this time plotting, which he can’t do when I’m sitting right by him.

It’s not a free table but it is pretty long, and since they sit down at the other end to me, it’s almost like we’re sitting at two separate tables. I’d be bothered about them being here normally, but for some reason I’m not that fussed today.

I watch them sit down, then turn back to my work and start writing again.

When Agatha comes back, a book under her arm, she seems surprised to see them sitting there, pausing for a sec before coming to sit down. She doesn’t open her book or get anything out of her bag.

She’s looking at Baz.

Baz is looking at her.

It’s an considering sort of look, as if he’s questioning something about her. Like she’s got a mark on her face or something, and he’s wondering how it got there. (I check, in case she does.) (She doesn’t.)

She gives me a funny look and I turn back to Baz. I don’t know why he’s staring at her, but I do know that I want him to stop.

When he sees me looking, he sneers at me (of course he does, the git) and drops his gaze back to the work in front of him.

Agatha opens her book and gets paper and a pen out.

I could almost swear I hear a sigh.

AGATHA

Penny and Micah are so easy together. It’s lunchtime and we’re all sitting in the dining hall at a table together. Penny and Micah and Simon on one side, me on the other. I feel a little as if I’m being interrogated, as if I were in court. Like I’ve committed some terrible crime and they’re trying to prove my guilt.

When we came in, Penny and Micah, then me, then Simon, I deliberately sat opposite them. I’d hoped Simon would take the hint and come and join me on my side, but he didn’t. He sat straight down next to Penny like there was no other option.

Simon is truly awful at taking hints.

The worst part is that I didn’t really mind. I actually felt relieved that he didn’t sit with me. If he had, I would have had to snuggle up next to him, press a kiss to his cheek (maybe even his lips) and try not to feel fake in comparison to Penny and Micah.

It’s so clear that they love each other--it shines out of their eyes the same way the blue light on my phone at home shines at night. I can’t see myself, but I know I don’t look at Simon like that. I feel like I’m forcing myself to shine when I’m with him.

Simon’s going on about Baz through mouthfuls of the potatoes piled on his plate.

“He gave me such a shifty look in the library this morning,” Simon says, “Like I was ruining his chance to plot.”

Penny rolls her eyes. Micah’s smirking.

“Baz isn’t always plotting, Simon,” she says.

“Yes he is,” Simon replies, gesturing with his fork, “What about that time that…”

I can’t keep my thoughts from drifting away. Am I a bad girlfriend if I want him to be quiet?

Please, Simon. Please just stop talking for one second.

I think I’m going to be sick.

I can’t take this. I get up from my chair, murmuring something about needing the loo and walk out as quickly as I can. I don’t stop until I get to my room, where I flop down on my bed. I feel...so flat. Like there are emotions I should be feeling, but I don’t know how. All I can feel is a horrible guilt pressing down on my spine.

I don’t know why I’m crying.

SIMON

“And what I don’t get,” I say, “is why he’s always staring at Agatha, you know? It really pisses me off. Like today, in the library, he was looking at her like there was something wrong with her face or something, you know? Like he was confused. He was doing this squinty thing with his eyes, and his mouth was screwed up all funny so he looked like an idiot--”

Micah’s laughing at me. Well, not laughing. But I can tell he thinks I’m being ridiculous. He’s holding his mouth like he’s trying to stop it twisting it into a smile.

Micah’s got an awful poker face. I do too, so I suppose I shouldn’t judge.

Baz has a great one. I never really know what he’s thinking. Though I can guess.

“I know he wants to get with Agatha,” I say. Penny looks tired. She’s heard me say this a thousand times, “But he won’t! Agatha’s my girlfriend, and Baz thinks he can get her because he’s rich and clever and because he’s got swoopy hair and the same sort of face as some...some pretty-boy rom-com character, and he plays on the bloody football team--”

Micah does laugh at that.

“What?” I say.

“It’s just that I haven’t even been here five hours and you’ve barely talked about Agatha who’s, you know, your actual girlfriend. And from all that stuff you’ve been saying about Baz, it’s like he’s the one you’re interested in.”

“Are you joking?”

“Not at all. I think you should ask him out,” Micah grins.

Penny laughs. I don’t think she’s taking what Micah said very seriously. But this is very serious. I can’t believe he basically said that I fancy Baz.

I do not fancy Baz!

I think I spoke a bit too loud. A third year at the next table jumps. Her friends stifle giggles, looking at me over their plates.

Micah raises his eyebrows (Baz does that a lot, it’s infuriating) and nods his head at me.

“Sure, Simon, whatever you say. Just tell it to Baz and that swoopy hair of his.”

I can’t believe he thinks I have a thing for Baz.

I definitely do not.

Micah doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Doesn’t see me for years, then comes back and immediately thinks he knows everything about me.

He doesn’t know anything about me.

And I don’t have a thing for Baz.

BAZ

Snow hasn’t stopped staring at me the whole evening. I came up to work in our room because everywhere was full of people stuck inside thanks to the rain, and I had some reading to do for Political Science which I wanted to do in peace. I’ve already read the whole book --it was written by a great-great uncle of mine, and we have a first edition copy in the library at home, but I’m a big believer in re-reading books.

I’m sitting stretched out on my bed with a blanket round my shoulders (despite the fact that the rain is still pouring, my insufferable roommate insisted on keeping the window open). It’s hard to focus though, when I can feel Snow’s eyes burning into me.

I came up here in the hopes of avoiding him, not having him stare at me from across the room. Perhaps it seems counter-intuitive to avoid him in the room we share, but since the American only arrived this morning I’d hoped Snow would be spending his time with his friends somewhere. It was bad enough stumbling across him in the library this morning. I wanted to leave as soon as I saw him, but Dev and Niall were already sitting down and I couldn’t exactly tell them how torturous it would be for me to join them.

I hoped Snow was sitting alone and I wouldn’t have to watch him laugh with his friends. The reality was worse. Wellbelove.

I wasn’t surprised when they began going out--the Chosen One and his golden girl--but a part of me died the first time I saw them kiss.

I am surprised they’ve lasted this long, however. There seems to be nothing between them anymore. Perhaps because Wellbelove spends half her time staring at me instead of Snow. I should be laughing at the irony, but I can’t when all I want is for him to stare at me instead.

Differently to how he’s always stared at me, anyway. With love in his eyes rather than hatred. But he’s never stared at me like he is now.

Even in fifth year, he never got this bad. He followed me around every chance he got, yes, but he never just sat and stared with such intensity. Crowley, he’s not even pretending to work. He’s just sitting on his bed and watching me.

I keep reading the same sentence over and over again.

This won’t do.

I snap my book shut.

“What on earth is your problem this evening, Snow?” I sneer.

He flinches, a flustered look flitting across his face.

“I--uh--well...you and--” he says. As coherent as ever, I see.

“Well? Spit it out,” I continue.

I’d almost forgotten how difficult I find concentrating when Simon Snow is watching my every move. The love of your life is staring at you from across the room is very distracting, and it takes all my willpower to keep myself from returning his gaze. If I looked at him properly, I don’t think I could keep myself from leaping on him and shoving my tongue down his throat.

Pathetic.

Disgusting.

I can’t help it, when it comes to him. He brings out the worst in me.

And I love him for it.

Snow still hasn’t stopped blustering. I decide to intervene and put him out of his misery.

“You know what, Snow? I don’t care.”

He jerks back against the wall by his bed as I stand up.

Interesting. He really does seem to have some kind of problem. I instinctively reach up to my mouth and make sure that my fangs haven’t popped. They haven’t, which does nothing to alleviate my confusion. I can’t think of any other reason why he would be staring at me with such fire.

I raise an eyebrow and give him a long, cool look that I hope suggests I know exactly what he’s thinking (and that hides the fact that I have absolutely no idea but am very curious to know) (I always want to know what he’s thinking). He can barely hold my gaze. A dark flush creeps up his neck from underneath his shirt. I can almost picture his chest turning red with the same colour.

Don’t think about Simon Snow’s chest, Basilton.

Unsure of how much more of this I can take, I cross our room to the bathroom and close the door behind me, a desperate attempt to get away from his electric eyes. It doesn’t work, of course (nothing ever works the way I want it to, in regards to Snow). I can feel him burning through the door with his eyes.

I let out a very long, very heavy, breath.

SIMON

I toss and turn the whole night, and spend most of it staring at Baz across our room. The dark means I can only just make out his face, pale in comparison to the surroundings. He looks so different when he’s asleep, when his face is totally blank. As if he were a statue.

He gave me this look, when he got up from his bed. After he shouted at me. It was cold and piercing as if he was reading my mind. I couldn’t help but wonder if he really could (can vampires read minds?) (better add it to the research list), and I couldn’t make proper eye contact with him which must have looked well suspicious.

I can’t get that look out of my mind. He’s never looked at me so curiously before. Normally he’s just being a dick. It was...nice to have him look at me without hatred. Even if it was unsettling.

I think I want him to do it again.

But I don’t. I definitely don’t.

Fuck, my brain is really pissing me off.

My bad mood doesn’t clear the next day, and even the sausage and mash for lunch doesn’t make me feel any better. I always knew it’d be a sad day, the day that food fails me, but I didn’t realise it’d be so bloody confusing at the same time. I can’t eat. I don’t want to eat.

I want--something. But I don’t know what that is.

I don’t like not knowing things like this. My emotions. I always thought they were simple, standard. I’m not used to my brain confusing me so much.

I feel a bit let down by myself, if I’m honest.

Plus, this is the first time I’ve never been able to ask Penny what to do. I mean, I could ask her but Micah’s always around and I don’t want him to know I’m actually taking what he said seriously. And I think Penny would lose it if I started talking about Baz again to her. Micah’s right about one thing, I do talk about him a lot. Besides, I don’t think I want to talk to Penny about this. We may be best friends, but talking to her about (maybe) fancying Baz feels too personal. Probably says something that I’ve never been bothered talking about snogging Agatha to Penny.

I don’t know what to think.

Penny always knows what to think. So what would Penny do?

Penny would make a list.

There’s no use in me paying attention in Poli Sci this afternoon. Normally on Wednesdays we have a ‘discussion’ (which is really just code for a debate), but I haven’t read the book we were meant to in preparation for the lesson so I have no idea what’s going on. It’s one of the lessons where Baz seems to take issue with everything everyone else says. Rhys is talking about goblin rights in the mid 18th century (the fact that they had none) and Baz is huffing after every point he makes. And he’s sneering, the tosser. I don’t know why he thinks he’s the expert on goblin legislature here. We do have a qualified teacher.

Oh, of course. Some relative of his wrote the stupid book we had to read.

I’m so out of my depth that there’s no point in even pretending to listen. And I can’t keep looking at Baz. Every time I do, there’s a niggling feeling in my stomach like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I need something to distract me.

Time for some thinking, I guess.

I rip a piece of paper out of my notebook and twist away from Penny, towards the wall on my other side so she can’t see what I’m writing. I draw two columns and head the first one ‘why I like Agatha’ and the second ‘why I don’t like Baz’.

I decide to write about Agatha first (see, prioritising my girlfriend) but it’s much harder than I thought it’d be. The first thing I come up with for her list is ‘she lets me stay at her house at Christmas’ but I’m not sure that counts because that’s what a friend would do anyway. Except for Penny. But Penny’s mum doesn’t really like me, so maybe it does count.

I try and think more objectively. Like what features of Agatha’s I like.

She has brown eyes. I try and picture them, as if Agatha was standing in front of me, looking up at me. The self-help books I found in the library said that when you think of the person you love, their eyes are supposed to make you feel something stronger than anything else. Like the world is on fire around you but those eyes keep you safe. Like every part of your body is pulling you to their eyes. Like they hold all the answers to every question you’ve ever had to ask.

Agatha’s eyes are just brown. A nice brown, I suppose, but when I think about them, I feel the same way I always do.

I close my eyes, half-hoping that a picture of Agatha’s eyes will jump to my mind and I’ll feel a tug on my heart like the books promised. Instead, I see a different pair of eyes--grey and soft in a way they never are in real life, and something swells in my chest.

My eyes snap open. What an arse. Baz can’t leave me alone even in my mind. But the fact remains that I don’t feel anything special towards Agatha’s eyes.

Maybe I’m just not an eye guy. I try and think of the other things I like about Agatha instead.

I like her hair. It’s very soft, and long.

Baz has long hair. For a bloke, anyway.

I struggle with the column on Agatha for a few more minutes. The next thing I come up with is ‘she’s good at sport’ but that’s not a very Agatha-specific point. Lots of people are good at sports.

I can’t think of anything else, so I switch over to the column about Baz. Maybe writing the things I don’t like about him will remind me why Agatha is so much better.

No matter what Micah thinks, I know how I feel about Baz. His list is easy.

As soon as my pen touches paper again, it’s like the world around me switches off. I’m writing faster than I’ve ever written in my life (where was this in my Magic Words essay last week?) and I barely know what words are coming out. All I can think about is Baz.

He set a chimera on me once. You can’t love someone who hates you. (It was years ago but that doesn’t matter--it was a chimera!)

He pushed me down the stairs too. See above point. (Even though he says he didn’t.)

He never shares his crisps with me (if he did, he’d poison them first) (I never share food with anyone either though)

He’s trying to steal Agatha from me (but if it’s possible I don’t love Agatha, why is this a problem?) (it’s the principle of it, that’s why)

He’s better at magic than me (but so is Penny) (but Penny’s not a dick about it) (but then, everyone’s better at magic than me)

He’s a vampire and I’m not the sort of person to fancy dark creatures (goblins don’t count) (do they?)

He’s good at football and I’m not (he’s so fucking graceful) (how does he do it?)

He’s always sneering at me (I wonder what it’d look like if he smiled at me ) (I bet he’s got a nice smile) (it’d be nice to see his mouth do something other than scowl at me) (he’s got really pink, pouty lips so it must look nice)

He’s better looking than me (not when he gels his hair back though, he looks like a prat) (he’s well fit when it’s just falling around his face) (or when he ties it back) (it looks like feathers) (I bet it’s really soft) (I said ‘swoopy’ earlier and I wasn’t wrong) (I kind of want to touch it)

I blink. I don’t think I’ve ever written so fast in my life. There were just all these thoughts in my head, and for once all the words were right there and I just had to take them. Baz is just easy to think about. Probably because I’ve had lots of practice (he is the thing I think about most, after all).

I reread the lists. The short list about why I like Agatha. The long one about how I definitely don’t like Baz. The more I read that second list, the stupider it seems. Having gelled hair isn’t really a reason to dislike someone. As I reread the last few points, they seem more and more like a reason to--

No.

Penny always says that nothing helps you think things out like writing them down and Penny’s never wrong.

In this case, she might be right in the most horrible way possible.

I rip another page out of my notebook. My hands are shaking and I almost tear it in half, but I have a piece of paper to write with.

Reasons why I might, maybe, just like Baz, is the title.

It feels a bit much to write something definite when I’m not sure about this myself.

Even though he set the chimera on me, he did help me fight it. He could have been killed himself, but he didn’t seem worried at all. (It was really brave.)

When I came back from the nurse after he pushed me down the stairs, there was a mint aero on my bed. I asked Baz if he’d put it there and he just sneered at me. When I asked Penny if she’d done it (she can get into Mummer’s but won’t tell me how) she said she hadn’t. I didn’t eat it for a week in case it really was from Baz and he’d poisoned it, but after a week I caved (I love mint aeros) and it was fine. I think Baz did put it there. It smelt like his magic. Maybe he’s kinder than he seems.

He’s really pretty. It’s not a word I’d use to describe most blokes but pretty fits Baz. (And I think I like pretty.)

Micah was right. I do like Baz’s swoopy hair. And I definitely want to touch it.

And I think I want to kiss him.

I bring my hands to my face and let out a breath. One word is circling my brain like a flying monkey about to dive.

Fuck.

This can’t be happening to me.

PENNY

Simon’s been acting funny all day. He wasn’t paying any attention in Poli Sci this afternoon, completely focusing instead on some piece of paper in front of him I tried to have a little peek at what he was writing but he was so hunched over it I could only make out the word ‘Baz’ if I leaned at the right angle.

“If this is about another of Baz’s so-called plots…” I’d thought.

But he hasn’t mentioned Baz at all the whole day. Really, I should be celebrating, but he looks so awful I can’t make myself be happy.

He barely ate all day. Or at least, he didn’t eat anywhere near as much as he normally does, which is the most worrying thing about this whole thing. Simon without food is just...wrong. It’s never happened before, and it throws the whole world off balance.

I asked him what was wrong and he didn’t answer. I’m not even sure he heard me.

SIMON

“What’s wrong, Simon?” Penny asks as we walk out of Poli Sci.

She asked me the same question at lunch and I pretended not to hear her, so I feel like she deserves an answer now.

“Nothing,” is the response I come up with.

My eyes are on Baz, at the end of the corridor. He was one of the first ones out of the classroom, shaking his head and muttering under his breath. I hung back--I couldn’t walk near him. Couldn’t look at him.

I suppose I’m looking at him now, though. I guess my problem was more that I couldn’t have him looking at me. And if he spoke to me, I think I’d collapse.

What the hell is wrong with me?

It’s just Baz.

Just Baz.

Baz.

Poli Sci is my last lesson of the day, thank magic, and I head straight back to my room once it’s over. I need somewhere to think in private, and Baz has football practice right after lessons so he definitely won’t be there. Penny goes off to find Micah, after I reassure her I’m fine for the fiftieth time.

“What about tea?” she asks.

“Tea can bugger itself,” I say, then regret it. I do love scones. But I can’t eat.

Maybe I should tell Penny what’s going on. She’ll talk me out of...whatever this thing is that I’ve thought myself into.

No. No, I can’t.

Because what if I’m right?

It’s not fair to distract Penny with something so stupid anyway. She only has a week with Micah before he and his dad go back to America, and I know she’d rather spend time with him than listen to me talk about Baz.

When I get to my room (our room) I sit down very heavily on my bed. I don’t even bother to take my shoes off (though I rarely do) (Baz always takes his shoes off first). I don’t know how long I lie there, with the two pieces of paper over my face, thinking.

I never just think, not like this. Normally, I do things. Think about them later, after. But this is maybe the most important thing that’s ever happened to me, and so it deserves a good think.

I don’t think I can be here when Baz gets back from football practice. If I have to look at him for too long, I think I might go off.

I think that shows how awful this whole situation is. Baz has made me lose control of magic before, yes, but not because I looked at him for too long.

That’s ridiculous.

Five minutes before he’s due back, I decide I can’t sit here stewing, waiting for him. I shove my list, face down on top of my bedside table (he never comes on my side of the room except to get to the bathroom, so there’s no risk of him reading them) and go find Agatha.

If my thinking session told me anything, it’s that I have something very important to say to her.

AGATHA

I’m standing on the ramparts when I hear Simon approaching.

“Been looking for you,” he huffs as he comes to stand next to me.

I nod. I can’t speak to him. There’s a block in my throat that’s stopping any words from coming out. There’s so much I have to say to him, I know, but it’s buried somewhere deep inside me and I don’t know how to make it come out. I decide that smiling and turning to face him will have to do for now.

I hope he kisses me so I don’t have to talk.

If he kisses me I might scream. I might vomit. The words I need to say might come.

Please don’t kiss me Simon.

He doesn’t. He just stands there, looking at me.

Words come, but they’re not the ones I really need to say.

“Are you alright?” I ask.

Simon’s never alright. But hopefully he’ll start talking and I can pretend to listen and we can get away from this horrible silence that feels loaded with things neither of us can bring ourselves to say. I can pretend to care.

It’s not that I don’t care at all. I do care. I do. But I don’t care as much as I should. I don’t care in the right sort of way. I want Simon to be fine, I do, but it’s just a background feeling, like how I want a good mark on my Magickal Creatures homework or to have a bath or something. It’s not all consuming. It’s not the only thing I think about.

There are lots of things that I care about more than I care about Simon. And maybe that’s an awful thing to think about your boyfriend, but I think it’s the most honest thing I’ve let myself think about him ever.

“I--” he begins to speak, then stops just as suddenly.

Just say your piece and go, Simon.

“I think we should take a break,” he says, all in a rush. His words fall over each other.

I think I might fall.

There they are. The words I couldn’t say.

Thank you Simon, for saying them for me.

“A break?” I repeat. My voice feels very far away.

“Yeah, a break.”

He looks nervous, embarrassed. He looks pitying.

Don’t pity me, Simon. I’m not upset.

This is probably the best thing you’ve ever done for me.

All of a sudden, I can breathe again. The block in my throat is sliding away and no air has ever felt as refreshing as the cool gulps I take now. It’s like I was wearing a very heavy coat and it’s just fallen off me, like I can stand straight for the first time in the two years since Simon asked me out.

“It’s just, well, I don’t think this is working out. Us, I mean,” Simon continues, “And it just doesn’t seem fair to you to keep up with it when I just...I don’t think I feel the same way about you anymore. The same way you feel about me.”

“Simon, it’s OK, I agree with you,” I say, quickly, before he can persuade himself that I’m heartbroken and still madly in love with him.

Still? I don’t know if I can use that word if I don’t think I was ever really in love with him. I think I just agreed to go out with him because I thought I had to, because I thought it would make my parents happy. And it did. But it made me unhappy.

He stops, “You do?”

I feel so calm. I didn’t even realise how overwhelmed I felt before. It’s so refreshing, to feel so at ease.

“I do,” I say, “But I...I didn’t know how to tell you.”

Really?

“Yeah. For a long time,” I add (maybe I shouldn’t have said that last bit).

He looks relieved that I’m not crumpled at his feet sobbing.

“Great! That’s...great!” he says, grinning widely. I’m not sure he should be so enthusiastic, but I’m so glad he doesn’t seem to be upset either that I can’t find it within me to care. I find myself grinning too.

“We...we can still be friends though, right?” he asks, “Just...without you I’ve only really got one proper friend, you know?”

“Friends sounds great,” I say. It does.

Simon and I are friends again. And that’s it.

He pulls me into a hug. I return it more enthusiastically than I ever returned one of his kisses. And even though his grip is tight, for the first time ever I feel like I can really, truly breathe in Simon Snow’s arms.

BAZ

The room’s fucking freezing when I get back from practice. Snow, the buffoon, has left the window open again.

The first thing I do, obviously, is close the window. As I slam it closed (it’s old, you have to use a bit of force) some leaves of paper float off Snow’s bedside table and onto the middle of our floor. Normally, I’d pick them up, but I’m covered in mud and dripping from the rain and a long, hot shower is my top priority. Probably Snow will have returned from wherever he is by the time I get out and he’ll have picked them up. Probably he’ll think I moved them on purpose. And he’ll probably shout at me for taking an evening shower and making him wait his turn.

Whatever.

But when I get out, warm and dry and in clean clothes, he’s still not back. He’s probably gone off on some stupid quest for the Mage. It’s a surprisingly frequent occurrence for Wednesday evenings.

His papers are still lying on the floor. I suppose I should put them back before I head down to dinner. I bend down to pick them up, turning them over in my hand as I stand up again, giving them a cursory glance. I freeze.

The one on top is a table, titled by Snow’s scrawl. One column is headed ‘Reasons why I like Agatha’, the other ‘Reasons why I definitely don’t like Baz’. Typically, the second column is very full. The first, however, is almost empty. The whole table is covered in a big cross. At the bottom, Snow’s writing adds one final comment: ‘this is stupid’.

All the first sheet of paper does is puzzle me. The second rips away everything holding my stomach up. I can almost feel it falling through my feet.

This piece of paper is even more ripped than the other. The writing is even messier. But there is no mistaking that title.

‘Reasons why I might, maybe just like Baz’.

The list is long. I can hardly read it, but as I scan it words leap up at me.

Brave. Kind. Pretty.

I want to touch his hair. I want to kiss him.

Merlin.

There is no way in all of magic that this can be real. It must be a prank. Any minute now Snow is going to jump out and laugh at me, cry ‘fooled you’ and my heart will shatter.

It’s shattering now.

How could he have found out about me? He must know. He figured out I’m a vampire, for Merlin’s sake, he must have worked out that I’m gay as well. Maybe he’s trying to manipulate me into doing something for him. Spying on my family, perhaps.

They know. I have nothing to hide from them. Except Snow.

I’m frozen in place. I think I’ve stopped breathing. Am I dying? I think I’m dying.

I may have died twelve years ago, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it all over again.

I’m just thinking that this can’t be real for the hundredth, thousandth, millionth time when I hear the door open. I don’t have to look up to know who it is--I can smell him. Butter and cherry and smoke and Simon.

It’s Simon.

And he’s staring, open-mouthed, at the sheets clutched in my hands.

SIMON

I can’t keep walking around school forever. I figure it’s safe to go back to our room--dinner’s starting about now and even though he never eats much (vampire) I know Baz’ll be there and I don’t want to see him, even if it means missing dinner.

Agatha and I are over now. She was a lot better about it than I thought she’d be--I’m just glad I could be honest with her. There’s nothing between me and Baz now.

Well, except for Baz himself. He hates me. And I’m in love with him.

I’ve accepted it now. What my lists told me. That I’m in love with Baz.

I don’t know how I’m going to do this, go on living with him while pretending that everything’s fine, that nothing’s changed when I know that everything’s different now. I’ll just have to find a way to manage. I always do.

I won’t be able to fulfill all my destiny now, though. When Baz and I have our final battle, there’s no way I’ll be able to bring myself to kill him.

He was always going to win, though. I may be more powerful than him, but it’ll only take one spell from Baz and I’ll be dead. He’s ruthless when he fights. I can’t believe I only just realised how beautiful that is.

The first thing my mind registers when I walk back into the room is Baz, standing in the middle of it. My first instinct is to turn around, to leave as quickly as possible, but the expression on his face stops me. Shock. And fear. Pure, open fear. I’ve never seen him look like that, and it makes my breath stop for a moment. That’s the second thing my mind registers.

But the third thing I notice are the pieces of paper he’s holding, the pieces of paper he’s staring at. The pieces of paper covered in my handwriting.

My lists.

Oh no. Magic, please no.

He’s read it. I can tell he’s read it. There’s no point in me running forwards and snatching it out of his hands because he’s read it. I think I might die right here.

What do I do?

‘Maybe he hasn’t read it’ is my last, hopeful thought. Which is crushed immediately when he lunges at me, shoving the papers into my face. I fall to the floor, Baz on top of me, narrowly avoiding smashing my head on the doorframe.

What the fuck is this, Snow?” he hisses.

No, he’s definitely read it.

I wonder if I can play it off as a joke. Except I think he’s going to kill me.

BAZ

I don’t know what’s going on. But I will find out. Even if I have to kill Snow to find out what’s going on. To hell with the Anathema.

My hands are gripping his shoulders tightly. I can see the knuckles on my hands turning white. But I can grip much harder than this.

I’m going to make Snow pay.

He hisses in pain below me (I’m on top of Simon Snow) (shut up, I’m going to destroy Simon Snow, not deflower him). But I loosen my grip ever so slightly. Because I’m weak. And when Simon Snow is in pain all I want is to fix it. To make him better.

I don’t know what to do.

Maybe he’s not trying to hurt me. Maybe he didn’t mean to. But Snow’s always trying to hurt me. One day, he’s going to kill me. I’ll have to pretend to try to kill him, but I know I won’t be able to. Nothing will stop him, though. Nothing can.

Maybe this isn’t a hoax. Maybe this is real.

His face is so close to mine. Not the closest it’s ever been. But lying on the floor together feels far more intimate than pushing my face into his in the middle of the corridor and sneering at him.

His eyes are wide, his pupils are so large I can barely see the blue behind them. His lips are parted (mouth breather) and I can see all the way to the back of his throat.

Stop staring, Baz.

What do I do? Snakes, what do I do?

Before I can stop it, my head has begun to move towards his. I suppose this settles it; I have nothing else to lose, after all. My breathing feels like the loudest thing in the world. His breathing, too. It’s hot on my cheeks, on my lips. We’re so close. All I can see is Simon.

I’m going to kiss him.

I’m going to kiss Simon Snow.

SIMON

I think Baz is going to bite me.

He’s slowly lowering his face (his mouth) (his fangs) to mine. His mouth is open just a little, and I can see the gleam of white teeth. I can’t quite whether it’s his fangs or his normal teeth, but it must be his fangs.

At least I’ll get to see them before I die. To be completely sure, finally, that he’s a vampire. (There’s a part of me that’s always questioned it.)

The look in his face is an amplified version of the expression he always seems to wear when he looks at me. Like he’s about to attack me. Only this time, it’s been turned up to a hundred. He’s not just going to attack me, I think he’s going to annihilate me.

I don’t think he cares about the Anathema.

If Baz is going to bite me, well. I want to do what I want first. Before he rips my throat out with his teeth.

I’ve spent the whole day thinking, which isn’t anything like me at all. It’s time to do what I normally do in situations like this. It’s time to act.

And it’s not my fault. How can I help it, when he’s right there, hair in his face, eyes wide, lips that look so soft.

I can almost pretend that he’s leaning in for a kiss.

If I’m going to die, then I might as well. I might as well...

I lean forwards, up, and press my lips to Baz’s.

BAZ

Simon Snow’s mouth is on mine. Simon Snow just kissed me. Simon Snow is still kissing me. Willingly.

Never mind him slicing me open with the Sword of Mages and leaving me to bleed out on the floor--I think he’s going to kill me right here, right now. If his mouth was any hotter it would be burning me from the inside out. My grip loosens on his shoulders even more, enough for him to move his right arm and slide his fingers through my hair.

Crowley, it feels so good that I can’t stop myself from letting out a little gasp.

I feel all the muscles in my arms give out at once, and I flop down on top of his chest, letting out a very unattractive grunt as our bodies knock together.

This is what Simon Snow has done to me. Made me lose all the grace I ever had and make the most revolting sounds on this earth.

SIMON

Baz just made the sexiest sound I’ve ever heard. Even if he did just fall on top of me.

Baz Pitch is lying on top of me.

He seems half-stunned, and I take advantage of the fact that he’s no longer holding my shoulders so tightly I can hardly feel them to flip us over so it’s me hovering over him.

He looks so beautiful like this. His hair (even smoother than I thought, like ribbons) is fanned out around him, his cheeks are flushed and his lips are pinker than ever. He looks like something out of a painting.

He’s not just pretty anymore, he’s beautiful.

I can’t help it. I bend to kiss him again.

His mouth is so soft, his lips so gentle. I can tell he’s nervous in the way he grips my forearms, in the way he shudders into each kiss, how his mouth doesn’t move as seamlessly doing this as it does when he’s mocking me or saying something cruel.

I like him much better like this. Quiet, under my thumb. Sighing with every breath . There’s no space for him to insult me like this. I don’t think he wants to insult me. Not when he’s--

Jesus. Not when he’s moaning into my mouth.

I move my head in the same way as before, carefully, angling it against his slowly (what is this, I’m never slow or careful) and he makes the same sound again. I love it. It’s the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever heard. I do it again. And again, for luck.

Then I start kissing my way down his neck. He writhes, gasping, below me.

“Simon--” he chokes out.

I undo the top three buttons on his shirt and lick a stripe across his collarbone, and I could swear he whines.

“Simon,” he whispers again.

I didn’t know someone saying my name could make me feel like this, like there’s electricity jolting down my bones.

Simon?

A pair of feet has just stepped into the doorway we’re pretty much lying across. Two pairs of feet. I jerk my head up.

Penny. Micah.

Penny’s expression is nothing less than stunned. It was her voice I heard, and it looks like saying my name was all she could manage. If her mouth was open any wider, it’d be on the floor.

Micah, in comparison, looks smug. He’s standing half behind Penny, eyes fixed on me. One side of his mouth is pulled up and he looks like he’s trying not to burst out laughing.

I’m not about to start laughing. This is bloody humiliating. I don’t know what we were thinking, kissing with the door to our room open.

I guess we weren’t thinking. Which I suppose is fair since this is the only room at the top of the tower and no one ever comes up here except for us. Sometimes Dev and Niall. Sometimes even Penny.

Like now.

Baz is staring up at them too. It’s harder for him though--they’re standing right next by his head, which is half sticking out of our door. There’s a horrible look coming across his face though. As if all his worst fears are coming true.

“Having fun, Simon?” Micah laughs.

That seems to do it for Baz. He practically leaps up from where he’s lying and I almost fly into the wardrobe. He stares at Penny and Micah, then turns back to me.

“Good joke, Snow,” he sneers, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have places to be. I’ll leave you to laugh about this with your little friends.”

He practically runs down the stairs. It sounds like he’s taking them two at a time, maybe even three.

“Baz!” I shout. I try and jump up from where he threw me, and this time I do whack my head on the wardrobe.

Fuck.

My head spins.

“Simon!” Penny says again, “What--are you alright?”

I have to follow Baz.

“No, Simon,” she says. I think I might have spoken out loud.

I’m not really sure of anything at all as the floor moves up to catch me.

BAZ

I should have known it was too good to be true. For someone who’s always accusing me of plotting, Snow certainly does a good job of it himself. Leaving the lists lying around, then coming back to our room so he could catch me looking at them, then kissing me--it worked. I almost fell for it.

I did fall for it.

Until, of course, we were interrupted by Bunce and her American friend. Clearly, they were in on it too--Snow isn’t clever enough to have planned all that on his own. Of course, they didn’t factor in their terrible acting skills. Bunce’s surprise almost had me fooled, but one look at the smirk plastered on Cordero’s face and I knew. The only thing I can’t work out is what the whole point of this was. What Snow wanted. It can’t just have been to humiliate me, surely, although he certainly managed that. I can’t believe I gave in so easily. I can’t believe I let him kiss me, kissed him back, let him draw those sounds out of me.

I suppose I can believe it, in a way. It’s Snow. I’ve always been weak for him. Like when I gave him that chocolate bar after he fell down the stairs during our fight. I’d just realised the depths of my infatuation for him, and was desperate for him to notice me properly, to love me the way I love him. To trust me.

He didn’t. It took him a week to eat that chocolate. That kiss (those kisses) just now is the first time we’ve been truly honest with each other. The first time I thought I trusted him and thought he trusted me too.

Thought.

Because whatever trust I gained in him during that brief snogging session has gone right out of the window.

I almost fall down the stairs from our room as I run. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what I’m thinking.

It seems too peaceful outside for the thoughts tumbling through my brain as I run down the path to the courtyard. Luckily, everyone seems to be inside thanks to the rain and there’s nobody around to catch me looking the worst I believe I’ve ever looked in public. My hair’s a mess and the top few buttons on my shirt are still unbuttoned. I do them up quickly--the rain is like ice against my skin.

Snow unbuttoned these.

I brush the thought aside, along with the memory of his careful fingers working the buttons apart. No matter how gentle his touch was, how loving his gaze appeared, all that fell apart when Bunce and the American entered. Snow didn’t even follow me.

I don’t know why I thought he would. Why I hoped he would.

I need to get out of the rain, find somewhere dry but where I can be alone. I need someone to talk to. Someone I can tell anything to, who won’t, who can’t judge me.

SIMON

My arm’s half dead and crumpled under me when I wake up.

Penny’s waving her ring over me, muttering very quickly under her breath. Micah’s on my other side, bending over me. He looks concerned.

“Simon, hey,” he says, putting a hand on my forehead, “Are you alright?”

“Of course he’s not alright, Micah,” Penny says. She sounds hysterical, “He just fell into a wardrobe!”

“I’m fine, Pen,” I say, propping myself up on the arm that isn’t numb. The room swims a bit, but I immediately feel much better than I did before, “I’ve had worse.”

“You’re not fine!” she insists, “You just fainted, right after we saw you...you--and...Baz--

Baz.

“Baz!” I say, getting up properly. This time I don’t hit the wardrobe, “Where’d he go?”

“I don’t know, I was a bit more worried about you!” she says, “No, Simon, don’t move.”

“How long was I out?” I ask. A minute, surely. Maybe two. It didn’t feel any longer than that.

Ten minutes is not the answer I’m expecting. It’s not the answer I want.

“Ten minutes?”

“Simon, will you sit down!” Penny reaches up from where she’s kneeling on the floor to tug at my arm, “You could faint again!”

“I have to find Baz. I have to talk to him,” I say. Now I’m the one getting hysterical.

“I’d say you’ve got more than talking to do with him,” Micah says. He stood up with me, and unlike Penny, doesn’t seem to be at all worried about my health. Good man.

I hardly hear him. I’m already halfway down the stairs.

I’m out of Mummer’s before I realise I have no idea where Baz has gone. Fuck. He could be anywhere.

Come on Simon, think.

It’s raining pretty heavily and I can feel the drops weighing my hair down. I bet I look like a right twit. And if I’m worried about my hair, then Baz must be raging. There’s no way he’s outside.

So, if he’s inside, where would he go?

Somewhere private, away from people. Where he can’t risk being seen by anyone. Baz likes being on his own when he’s angry, when he’s upset, when he’s feeling vulnerable.

That’s the look I saw in his eyes, when he was underneath me, Penny and Micah standing by his head. Vulnerability.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Baz look like that. So helpless. But somehow, I know he’d want to be alone.

I’m going to find him. I have to speak to him.

I don’t know what he thought was going on, but I know that whatever he was thinking is wrong. I have to make him see the truth.

So. Somewhere inside, dry. Somewhere private. Somewhere no one else would ever go.

I turn towards the White Chapel. To the catacombs.

BAZ

My mother’s tomb is cool beneath my forehead. In the dimness of the underground it seems to glow, white marble surrounded by eyeless skulls. The name ‘Natasha Pitch’ carved into the side.

I’m such a fool. Oh mother, I’m such a fool.

This would never have happened to you. You would never have done this. Given in to your emotions so easily, let them take you away.

I did. And look how that turned out.

I want to cry, but that would mean giving into my emotions again and I’ve done quite enough of that for today. Instead I close my eyes and let my breathing slow. The stone beneath my fingers is comforting and grounding, and makes me feel as if my mother is really listening. Each breath comes easier than the last.

My mother’s tomb is off a smaller corridor from the main tunnel of the catacombs with only an open archway separating her resting place from that of others. It’s not the most glorious of graves, but its symbolism is second to none. She earned this place beneath the White Chapel with her last breaths. She deserves to lie here--her bravery assured it. It doesn’t change the fact that I can hear rats moving in the walls. Scurrying over loose bones. Moving in the tunnels. The crunch of bones underfoot.

That's not a rat.

Someone is coming.

“Found you,” comes a voice from the archway.

I half turn my face to see who it is, even though I know the voice. He’s in my dreams, he’s in my nightmares, and now he’s standing in front of me. Simon Snow.

I know I said I would kill him, but I don’t think I have the energy. I think I’m dying myself. His kiss killed me. His betrayal destroyed me.

“Come to gloat? Sending me running to my mother not good enough for you?”

“I’m not gloating.”

He’s right, he’s not. His frowning. His tone is what I might perhaps call contrite, if I didn’t know any better. He’s a much better actor than I’d have given him credit for in the past. But this is all part of his plan.

If only I knew what he was trying to achieve.

“Well, what are you doing Snow?” I ask, “Go on, I want to hear all about your clever little plan.”

He really does seem to be genuinely confused, “What plan? What are you talking about Baz?”

“You know exactly what plan I’m talking about Snow,” I say, “To...seduce me. For information, I presume. Well I’m afraid you’ll have to try harder than that. I don’t just give away my secrets to the first person to jump on me.”

“I wasn’t trying to seduce you!” He takes a step forward.

I use my mother’s tomb as a support to help pull myself up and take a step forward too. There’s not much space between us. I could close it easily, if I wanted.

I don’t want.

I don’t.

“Then why,” I say, voice as icy as I can make it, “did you force yourself on me?”

“Force? I--you kissed me back!”

Well, I suppose he’s not wrong.

And never mind the fact that I was planning to kiss him first.

“Well, if you weren’t trying to seduce me,” I say (never have I hated the word ‘seduce’ more ), “then kindly inform me of your intentions.”

“My intentions?” He tugs at his hair, as if he’s about to rip it out of his scalp.

I want him to pull my hair.

I take another (small) step forward. Calm down, Basilton.

“Yes, Snow, as you so eloquently repeated, your intentions, please.”

“I don’t have some ulterior motive!” he snaps, “Not everyone is a serial plotter, Baz. I just wanted to kiss you!”

I feel any colour in my cheeks disappear as his words shoot through me.

“You--what?” is all I can say. What happened to Wellbelove?

“What about Wellbelove?” I ask.

He utters some groaning, exasperated sound. Then he closes the distance between our chests.

“We broke up,” he snaps.

His face is so close to mine, his mouth opened in some sort of soundless snarl. His eyes are blue, so blue.

All I can say is ‘oh’.

“You may be one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, Baz, but sometimes you are so fucking stupid,” he says.

I don’t know if he was planning on saying something else. I’ve already kissed him.

His lips are chapped as they slide beneath mine, and yet they’re still somehow so soft, so warm. I gasp at the feel of their movement, my own lips parting, and he takes the opportunity to slip his tongue into my mouth, the sneaky bastard.

Snow’s much better at this than I am. I only had my first kiss today, and he and Wellbelove have been going at it for years, probably in an attempt to make up for their pitiful chemistry (there, I’ve said it). The practice wasn’t wasted though--he can do things with his tongue I’d never dreamed of, and the way he moves his head, pressing it into mine--it’s all I can do to keep myself from moaning.

But what’s the use in holding back, in remaining restrained? He knows by now. Snow’s an idiot, but he’s not blind. The way I feel about him is in the way I press him to me and myself to him, in the strength of the kisses I return, in the fact that it’s my hands tangling in his hair rather than his in mine like earlier.

And I’ve made these sounds before. Scarcely half an hour ago the things I am scared to do now came so easily. All that has changed is that I’m more sure of myself and more sure of him. He came to find me, after all. I’m not nothing to him.

I cut myself loose and let out soft whimper. Quiet enough that it might go unnoticed.

He notices it, of course. Brushes his tongue across my lower lip. And I can’t help but groan again, louder this time.

He likes it. A similar sound slips out of his own mouth.

“Baz…” he moans.

I like it like this. Him in control, gripping me so tightly I feel alive. His hands are in my hair too, tugging on the strands. Crowley, I love it. I never want him to stop touching me.

I slide my arms down from his hair and twine them around his shoulders, pulling him even closer to me. I don’t want there to be any space between us. I want to be him, and him to be me, and for us to be us, together.

Everything is Simon, Simon, Simon.

“Simon,” I whisper. I whimper.

Crowley, I’m weak. I’m so weak for him. Anything he wants, he can have.

If this is how Simon Snow is going to destroy me, then it’ll be a blaze of glory. I’m burning. Merlin, how I’m burning.

For him. All for him.

He pushes me back and I pull him with me, stumbling back, back, back. I just can’t have him let go of me. I need him to hold me. I need to hold him. Clinging to him as we drown together.

I’m still kissing him (he’s still kissing me) when my back hits something behind me--taller than a bed but not a wall. He doesn’t even break the kiss, bending me back over it as he moves his kisses down my jaw to my neck.

I whisper his name again, and feel his lips curve into a smile as he licks his way down my neck. I can hardly contain myself, and wrench my arms from his shoulders, splaying them instead against the surface I’m lying on, gripping it tightly in a weak attempt to keep myself from falling apart. Holding onto something real in this world of kisses and curls and bronze skin and blue, blue, blue eyes.

My fingers graze something etched onto the marble Snow has pushed me against, letters, and I begin to trace them. An attempt to keep myself awake. To hold myself in this moment.

N-A-T-A-S-H-A P-I-T-C-H

My mother’s name.

My mother’s tomb.

I’m kissing Simon Snow lying on top of my mother’s tomb.

“Mmf--” I splutter, and push him off me, standing up as quickly as I can.

My hair is a mess, I can feel it. I reach up and do my best to pat it down into what seems like some form of neatness.

Mother, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.

“Baz?”

Merlin, I’d almost forgotten about him. (How? he’s Simon Snow.)

“Simon…”

“I’m sorry!” he says, “That was...probably a lot for you, I won’t...I won’t do it again.”

That’s all I want him to do. To shut up and do what he just did all over again.

But not on my mother’s tomb.

“No,” I say, adding quickly, when I see his face fall, “Yes. But not here.”

I move away from the tomb, towards him, and I see his eyes flick to it. His mouth drops slightly, and I can see he hadn’t realised where we were.

I take his hand. It feels so much more intimate now we’re not kissing, just standing together, silent together.

“Baz--” he begins, apologetically.

I don’t want to hear his apologies. I’m tired of Snow being afraid of me.

I’m tired of being afraid of him.

“Come on, ” I say.

SIMON

Baz is holding my hand.

I’m holding Baz’s hand.

I just kissed Baz. Baz just kissed me.

And I think he liked it.

I know I did.

Until I realised I’d just snogged him senseless on top of his mum’s tomb. I felt a bit shit when I realised--as soon as I found him all thoughts of where we were disappeared. All I could think about was kissing him and the big block of stone didn’t register with me at all. The look on his face when he realised was horrible, like he’d betrayed his mum, and I wanted to kiss him again to make him feel better.

I’m glad I didn’t though, because it probably wasn’t the right thing to do though. It would probably have made him feel worse.

He’s leading me up, out of the catacombs. I’m walking a pace or two behind him--it’s dark, and I can’t see that well (he must be able to--he is a vampire, after all). But if I squint really hard, I can make out the shape of his arse.

I can’t believe I never noticed how nice Baz’s arse is before.

Well, I suppose I have. I did go to all his football matches and practices to make sure he wasn’t plotting, but thinking back on it, I did often get distracted by how good he looked in his kit.

I trip a lot as we walk, but it’s worth it. Anything’s worth it, for him.

We’re approaching the exit to the White Chapel when he stops, suddenly, and turns to me. His hand slips out of mine. It was cold, but my hand feels even colder without it. I take it back, but his grip is loose.

“People will know,” he whispers, “If they see...they’ll know.”

I kiss the corner of his mouth, “They can say whatever they want. I don’t care. Besides, it’s chucking it down. Everyone’s inside somewhere.”

We’re lucky we haven’t run into anyone yet actually.

Baz’s grip tightens around mine, “You don’t mind?”

“Are you nuts?” I ask, “Course I don’t mind. I don’t snog just anyone like that, you know.”

I’ve never snogged anyone like that. I’ve never felt like this about anyone else before.

One side of Baz’s mouth is pulled up in a little smile. It’s a bit like one of his classic smirks but warmer and much happier. I feel a tug on my heart and all I want to do is kiss him again.

He pulls on my arm first though, and we step outside. The rain’s drizzling rather than pouring like before. It’s quiet apart from that, until--

“Simon!”

Penny and Micah are coming up the path from the Weeping Tower. As soon as she sees us, Penny’s walk changes into a half run. Her glasses are spotted with rain.

“Simon, we’ve been looking for you everywhere! You can’t just run off after fainting, it’s not safe--” her voice cuts off as she spots Baz standing behind me. Her eyes get even wider as her gaze drops to our hands.

“You fainted?” Baz says behind me.

“Long story,” I mutter, “Tell you later.”

I can feel his palm slipping out of my grasp at the sight of Penny and Micah, so I hold onto it even tighter. They’ve seen it now, and I’m not letting go for anything.

Micah grins at me. He looks very proud of himself. I suppose I should be grateful to him (it was him who put the thought of liking Baz into my head), but really I just want him and Penny to go. I want it to be just me and Baz, so I can get back to snogging him.

I want to ask him if he’ll be my boyfriend.

Penny’s managed to pull herself together.

“What on earth is going on?”

BAZ

Well, this all feels painfully familiar.

Snow’s spluttering, trying to explain to Bunce why we’re standing outside the White Chapel holding hands. I really ought to put him out of his misery. Half of this is on me, I suppose. And I just want to kiss him again.

I clear my throat. Bunce, the American and Snow all turn to me.

Crowley, Snow looks gorgeous when he’s flustered. All flushed skin and bright eyes (some of that might be me, I’ll admit it).

“Sorry to interrupt,” I say, “but Snow and I were just in the middle of something. Would you excuse us? You can have your cosy chat later. When I’m done with him.”

That’s if I can bring myself to let Snow out of my sight for one minute.

“You called me Simon before,” he mutters.

“I can assure you that I most certainly did not,” I say, “Now, we’d better be on our way.”

Snow follows me up the hill towards Mummers. We’re still holding hands and I can feel Bunce practically exploding behind us.

I’m never letting go of his hand.

“Baz,” he says, “I need to ask you something.”

“Not now, Snow, let me get out of the rain first,” I say. I could cast a spell to keep it off us but I want to be alone with him.

Also I think he was going to ask me to be his boyfriend earlier and I think I’ll collapse if he does it now. And I most certainly will not faint into his arms in public. Especially if that public includes Bunce and her boyfriend, who are still staring at us.

The walk back to our room is painful. The need for me to keep Snow’s hand in mind battles the fear that someone will see us, but thankfully we manage to get back unseen. I don’t want anyone spreading rumours. I want to be the only person who gets to break the news of...this. Of whatever we are.

I suppose Snow can help me break the news. Tomorrow, perhaps. At breakfast.

Tonight, though, he is all mine.

The first thing I do when we get upstairs is close the door. No more surprise interruptions, thank you very much.

The next thing I do is push Snow against the door and kiss him.

It’s our messiest kiss so far by miles. I can hardly tell where one of us ends and the other begins, what with the arms and legs and tongues everywhere they can reach. At one point, Snow actually reaches into his own hair, pulling his fingers through it. His eyes bug when he realises that it was neither my hand nor my hair. I would have laughed if I could have torn my mouth away from his.

I feel his absence the instant he pulls back.

“No,” I groan, bending to fit my mouth against his once more. I’ve waited years for this, and he is not going to stop me now.

“Baz--” he says, pulling away again. He’s panting slightly (mouth breather) as he continues, “Got to...I’ve got to ask you something.”

Crowley, here it comes.

“Will you--” he says, then stops.

“Do you want--?” he tries again.

Come on, Snow.

“I was wondering if, maybe--well, you see I thought...I’d like, maybe, if we can keep doing this?”

“This?” I breathe.

“I mean…do you, maybe want to--well, you know--”

“Spit it out, Snow.”

He sighs. I can see every muscle in his body tense as Snow prepares to use his words.

“Do you want...do you want to be my boyfriend?”

Crowley, yes. This is all I’ve wanted for years. I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want this, as much as I want him.

My lips curve up into an arch. I’m beaming (beaming) at Simon Snow.

“I suppose so,” is what I say to him.

He grins (grins) at me.

“I was right,” he says.

“Right? You’re never right, Snow.”

“So you don’t think you have a pretty smile?” he asks.

“What?” I say. What?

He smiles again, “I thought you’d have a nice smile, and I was right. You do.”

He kisses the tip of my nose and I swoon (I actually swoon) into his arms. I’d be disgusted with myself if I wasn’t so happy.

Simon kisses me again.

I kiss him back.