AN: So I had this idea banging around in my head. I got some free time and decided to jot it down. Let me know what you think.
If you read NATL: Soulmates, this first chapter might seem familiar. That story is a short one shot I wrote taken from this story.
Not Another TimeLine!
Chapter 1: Desperate Times
Eliot Waugh had finally woken from more than six months of possession by a monster capable of killing gods with very little effort. The monster had possessed his body, had frightened and killed gods, killed innocents with Eliot's hands, and hurt his friends in multiple ways. But the world he woke up to was so dark and depressing that he wished he could go back to being possessed. He didn't understand how people could be so hopeful, so cheerful. The world was bleak, gray, dark, never-ending darkness. Didn't they understand? Quentin Coldwater was GONE and the world would never recover from his loss. Eliot would never recover from the loss.
Eliot clearly remembers the day Quentin had made the first move- out on their blanket on their one-year anniversary at the mosaic. That night had been one of the best either had ever had up until that night. Slow kisses had given way to passionate kisses, passionate kisses led to passionate sex. An event Eliot was uncertain would ever be repeated at the time. They had not had a perfect time in the Fillory of the past, Eliot is not forgetting the hard times. He'd been so uncertain that Q loved him the same way, he had ended up pushing him into a relationship with Arielle.
He hadn't thought that was what he had been doing at the time, but he and Quentin had fought about it years later when a new fight brought up past hurts. When they calmed down Quentin had told him that just because he found a woman attractive did not mean he had wanted a relationship with her. Not that he hadn't grown to love Arielle, Quentin told him, but he loves Eliot more. Eliot had finally started to believe that Q loved him after that. Until they came back- until fifty years of marriage had been undone in the blink of his eyes. Once they remembered their lives at the mosaic, Quentin had wanted, more or less, to pick up where their mosaic selves had left off. Eliot hadn't been able to run away fast enough.
With weeks, or years, or however long it was (did it even matter?) spent trapped inside his own head, he had plenty of time for self-reflection. He hadn't wanted to screw things up with Quentin, his best friend that could be more than a friend. He had broken Quentin's heart because he had been protecting his own. Protecting his own heart was fine; breaking Quentin's heart was inexcusable. But he knew, even at that moment, how his words would hurt Q. It was a direct hit on his self-worth issues.
It didn't matter what anyone said, Eliot knew that moment had a great deal to do with why Quentin chose to become the Monster's new jailer. A decision that resulted in Eliot shooting said monster. An action that had released the monster into the world, however inadvertently. A monster that had tortured Quentin for six months, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Their friends didn't step up, didn't tell him to take care of himself, didn't ask what they could do to help, didn't notice Quentin was dying slowly under the weight of it all. When it was finally over Quentin was dead. It was the Domino effect, one thing leads to another which leads to yet another. Ergo, Eliot breaking Quentin's heart equals Quentin dead. Simple.
Worse yet, Eliot had none of his onetime friends to lean on through his grief. He had never talked about the mosaic with anyone, never even told Margo anything about it. As far as she knew she had stopped that timeline from existing altogether. As if it had never happened at all- but it had. Eliot had also realized that Quentin hadn't spoken a word to anyone about it either. They all seemed to think Alice was the grieving widow. He couldn't even mourn his once-husband in peace as his friends didn't want to leave him alone. They wanted to "help him" deal with "post-possession trauma". As if that pain could possibly compare to the loss of Quentin.
So, after more than a month of physical recovery from Margo's deposession axing and internal tears for his loss, Eliot had decided not to accept this world that did not have Quentin. Quentin would never have settled for a world that didn't include one of his friends without trying to fix it, and Eliot would not settle for one without him without trying to undo it. The only question was, "how to change it?"
He researched necromancy spells and rituals first. However, it took him almost no time to rule that option out. Most would result in something zombie-like that might look like Quentin but would be more akin to a soulless monster wearing his face- no thanks. There was no need to make their friends relive that trauma. That was only if it worked at all. Those spells also required the original body to start with- and Eliot didn't have one available from Quentin. He searched for days to find a way to make it work without that vital ingredient, but to no avail.
Finally, Eliot decided more drastic measures were needed. His mind turned to Horomancy- time magic. It was the only remotely reliable method. Go back to before Quentin went to the Mirror World and do something to change events that led to his death. But horomancy was no easy magic, this would require help.
Their group of questers had started off together to fight the Beast- a.k.a. Martin Chatwin- and had apparently gone through forty previous timelines in order to defeat him. If Jane Chatwin could rewrite time that much to stop the beast, what was one more to save Quentin? He would need to recruit Jane.
So Eliot searched the forest in Fillory to find Jane's little hidey-hole that existed outside of time, or something like that. Quentin had explained the principle to him at one point, but frankly time travel bullshit hurt his head so he had ignored the explanation. All that mattered anyway was that he could find the girl who could help him rewrite time here.
He found the cottage and was welcomed inside by Jane Chatwin, a.k.a. The watcherwoman. The cottage had been hidden behind strong magic wards in the forest. She led him inside and to her little dining area where they now sat across from one another.
"Where is my little volunteer tomato?" Jane asked him.
"Volunteer, um?" Eliot asked, confused. What the heck was she talking about?
"Quentin, my dear."
"Quentin's gone. He died saving me," Eliot told her. Wasn't that just the worst part. Quentin had died saving Eliot (who had broken his heart) from possession. Eliot didn't deserve his sacrifice.
"Oh, I'm so sorry. Thirty-nine times I saw him killed by the beast, and still I never get used to hearing that he died. How are you and your friends holding up?" Jane asked. She understood how much Quentin had been the heart of their group and that his death must be hitting their group hard.
"Everyone else seems to be adjusting just fine," Eliot said with bitterness. No one besides him had offered any thoughts on how to save Quentin. They had their little fireside memorial and then were ready to move on. Eliot wasn't going to just move on.
When Eliot had first brought up the idea to save Quentin, everyone had shut the discussion down so fast he almost got whiplash. It took him two weeks to convince them he had given up so that they would stop trying to stop him. They seemed to expect Eliot to just give up and move on. How little they know him.
"But not you?" Jane inquired.
"A world without Quentin is not a world I want to live in," Eliot said firmly. His heart had broken the moment he had heard that Quentin had died while throwing the monster into the Seam in the Mirror World. That pain now reverberates anew every time someone says his name, or anytime he sees peaches or plums.
"You've come to see if I can change time for you," Jane said with certainty in her voice.
"Can you?" He asked her. He tried hard not to hope, not wanting to be crushed if it proved impossible. It was a futile effort- that hope was the only thing holding him up and keeping him going. It was either hold on to a fleeting unlikely hope, and collapse when it proved impossible, or collapse from grief alone right the fuck now.
"The watch I've used before has already fulfilled its purpose and it's not a simple thing to reactivate. Even so, it would reset the entire timeloop, back to the very start, before you all came to Fillory and confronted the beast. Once there, in the next timeline you would not remember this timeline at all."
"There must be a way to send my memories to the next loop," Eliot said desperately. "Please, I need to fix this. I need Q." he confessed. It was the first time he had said that aloud since returning to his own body.
"Forty timelines later and you two are still as close as you were the first time. I remember in that first timeline Quentin was mourning the loss of his best friend. He was so lost that I suspected there was more there than friendship and I was a bit surprised that he came to Fillory at all. But I guess he hoped to either die or be saved by the land he loved so much. And he did come to Fillory, and he died. My first change was to save that friend- save you, and see if he would still come to Fillory. He did, and then he died, so many times.
"True, the rest of your group died often. Some of you died nearly every time like you, while others only half as much like Alice. But Quentin died- every single time, Eliot. The beast killed him in every past timeline. Are you certain you want to risk watching him die again if I reset the timeloop?" Jane asked.
"For the chance to tell him- to tell him… to tell him what I was scared to before, yes, I'll take that risk. Can you send me back?" Eliot asked hope impossibly rising in him.
"It will take more than just my magic- but it is possible. There are a couple of ways we can do this. A questing creature could theoretically be used to assist with the magic. Their magic is strong enough for that, though I'm not sure it would be compatible. Alternatively, we can use cooperative magic with several powerful magicians. Those are our best options. You do realize this will be like undoing all that you have done over the past three years, all the evils you have defeated, all the personal growth you and your friends have done?"
"I know. I realize this may cost more than most would think it is worth. But I have to try. Even if we all die attempting to defeat the beast- again- at least I can have one more year with him. I would do it for just one day, I really would." Only Quentin Coldwater could make partier Eliot Waugh such a sap. He didn't care, as long as he got to be sappy with Q again.
"You must also know that the beast is a powerful magician. As such, he will remember this past timeline- as he has remembered all the ones that came before. I cannot change that, you understand?"
"Fuck. Of course he'll remember. No matter, we will deal with it. Anyone else I need to be mindful of remembering?"
"Henry Fogg will also retain his memories as he is a master magician and the time loop revolves around Brakebills. You will owe him an apology-"
"What!? No fucking way will I owe that bastard anything! He betrayed us to the Library and wiped our memories. Do you know he convinced Quentin that he didn't need his antidepressant medications? So when shit got too bad, Quentin couldn't deal cause he was off his meds! Not to mention that he could have told us-"
"Fogg did tell you. We tried that tactic in several timelines. The only one who ever believed him was Quentin, and even that only worked twice. Neither timeline went well for him."
Eliot winced, he knew Quentin well enough that he could easily picture what he would do if he was the only one who believed the dean when he said a powerful beast was coming to kill him and all his friends. He would have tried to defeat him, alone. Quentin was many things, including a very capable magician, but it had taken six of them to stand a chance against the beast and one had been super-powered by god-juice. Even so, they still lost one of their group no matter how temporarily it ended up being.
"But if I remember, it might go better this time. I have to try, for Q."
"It might go better, it might go worse. I do not know. I cannot help you in the next timeline. I am unable to leave this area without destabilizing the timelines altogether. You will be on your own."
"I've been on my own before. Besides, Q will be there, and he'll help. I have to do this."
"Very well, then. Since you are so sure, I will help you. I think the cooperative spell would be our best bet. There is no guarantee that a questing creature can or would help with this. There are limits to their power. You will need the help of at least three of your friends or similarly powerful magicians. It will take at least a week to prepare the spellwork and gather the materials for the ritual magic.
"I suggest you think carefully about what you will tell your friends when you return to 2015. Decide beforehand what changes you will attempt in the past and what things to leave alone. Every change you make will alter all that follows. Change too much too soon and your future knowledge will become completely and utterly useless, understand? That doesn't mean you can't make big changes, but do not rely on what happened last time if you do. And remember the beast will not be coming at you the same way as he did before."
"Right. So while I know the beast will come for us one way or another, he may come a different way than I remember?" Eliot asked.
"Yes. He almost certainly will- as I said he will be aware of his past mistakes that led to his defeat."
"Okay, right. Well, will he know that I am aware of this timeline?" Eliot asked. If the beast was unaware, he would still have the advantage. But if he knew that Eliot had the memories as well, then it would be significantly harder.
"No, for him it will be like all the other timelines. Once you confront him I cannot know if he will be able to discover the truth or not. Be careful around him, Eliot. He is masterfully intelligent, give him too many clues and he may very well learn of your future knowledge.
"You need to be aware of one more thing before we start. No timelines are erased. This timeline will continue as it is while a new timeline (41) will split off. Eliot 41 will wake up remembering everything you do right up until we perform this ritual, and to him it will feel like he is Eliot 40. However, you Eliot 40 will continue to live in this world, with the beast long gone and Quentin gone, too."
"Wait, you're telling me that I'll still be here- alive, without Q?" Eliot felt his heart breaking all over again. That for one version of himself, it would be as if there was no timeline 41. He would still have to figure out how to live without Quentin. How could life be so unfair? Couldn't they get a break, just once?
"No normal magic can stop that, Eliot. If we erased the timelines then the memories of previous timelines would not remain stable. Only by keeping the timelines intact could we learn how to change events for the better. So it is your choice, do we prepare for timeline 41 or do you accept things as they already are?"
Eliot thought over what she had said. He had wanted to do this to stop the pain that living without Quentin was for him. It was a depressing thought that this wouldn't really fix that. He wanted to get that second chance to be with Quentin. Maybe it was selfish, they had over fifty years together and that was more than most people get. More than anything, he couldn't stand the thought that Quentin had died not knowing for sure that Eliot loved him.
So while it wouldn't feel any different to Eliot, and he would not be aware of timeline 41 outside of the fact that it exists, he would do it for Q. Even though he would have to wait to join Quentin in the Underworld to tell his Q he loved him. At least one Quentin and Eliot would have a chance to be happy together.
"Peaches and plums, I'll live with it for the chance of peaches and plums."
Jane searched Eliot's eyes looking to see if his resolve would be strong enough. "He will not know your history. Can you bear to look into his eyes and see no recognition?" she asked gently.
Eliot smiled wryly as he remembered meeting Quentin that first day. Quentin stumbled onto the campus and looked at Eliot like he was a dream. Quentin had come to Eliot after the attack on the first year class, not long after they first met, asking him for help. Q was terrified that he would be kicked out of Brakebills for having done the spell that had allowed the beast into the school wards. Quentin had made his first confession about his depression then, and Eliot had countered with his own traumatic discovery of magic.
"Time is an illusion. I bond fast." Eliot repeated what he had told Quentin that day.
She smiled at him in return. "That you boys do. Very well, gather these things and bring them to my cottage in two weeks with at least three of your friends. We will do the ritual to send you back then." She grabbed a notepad and pen and wrote down a list of ingredients.
Eliot took the paper holding it as the precious artifact it was- this could bring him to Q. There were things he recognized, cinnabar, crystals and psychic talismans, a few things found only in Fillory, like a rare flower and a peachplum seed. There was only one peachplum tree. It came from the very same tree that Eliot and Quentin had planted during the Mosaic timeline. They had magically fused peach core and plum core together and planted the result. It took three tries before it survived and thrived.
Eliot would gather them all and then some for the chance to see his Q whole again. Eliot didn't care what it required. If it required going to the ends of the Earth, he would do it. If it required going to distant worlds, he would do it. If it required going to the ends of those distant worlds, he would do it.
Now all he had to do was convince his friends to help with this operation. They had better agree or Eliot was going to show them why he had been king of Brakebills.
"You want to do WHAT?!" Margo shouted.
Eliot had gathered his friends (or not his friends, but were members of their save-the-world group) together in Kady's tricked out penthouse apartment. There he told them he needed their help to reset the timeloop.
"You heard him- he wants to reset the infernal timeloop! Have you gone absolutely mad?" Penny 23 asked. He, better than any of them, understood just how bad the other timelines went. His own timeline had been a clusterfuck that ended up with Quentin 23 as the new beast and everyone but Penny 23 and Marina 23 dead.
"Why? What good would that do?" asked Alice, the only calm one.
"To save Quentin. To stop Fillory from being so far gone that the gods are killed, to stop magic from being turned off, to stop the monster from ever getting out at all! Just like he would try and do if it had been any of us." Eliot said passionately.
"But it can't be so simple. None of us ever remember other timelines than the one we lived through. And from what we know about timeline 23 time won't stop for us in timeline 40- as far as we will know there will be no timeline 41."
"That's what Jane says," Eliot agreed. "For us it will be like nothing happened at all. Even me. My memories will be transported to before Q came to Brakebills but I won't be aware of it in the here and now. It might feel to Eliot 41 like he lived in timeline 40, but really it will be a different Eliot the minute he wakes up with my memories."
"So then why are we bothering? What can you possibly hope to gain?"
"Because he would do this and more if it had been any of us," Julia spoke up for the first time since Eliot had revealed his plan. "He wouldn't have accepted that it's over, he wouldn't just move on. Maybe for us it will look like nothing's changed, but we will know that there's another group of us giving it another shot. I don't know about the rest of you, but that's enough to give me some hope and peace of mind.
"Besides I owe Quentin. I know I failed him this last year. I should have noticed- but I didn't, and he died. So I'll help, Eliot. Anything you need." Julia declared.
Eliot smiled at her gratefully. He was hardly surprised that Quentin's childhood best friend was the first to agree. Julia had been particularly distraught over Quentin's sacrifice. She knew just like Eliot did that while Quentin had saved his friends in his "heroic sacrifice", he had also chosen to die. Maybe if they had noticed how bad Quentin was mentally and emotionally before the trip to the Seam, he might not have made that choice or might not have been there to give up at the worst possible moment. Quentin's death was effectively suicide-by-scarifice.
Julia had confided in Eliot privately that she felt guilty that she hadn't noticed him spiraling until it was too late. If Eliot was honest, he had blamed her a little, too. He blamed all of them for not helping Quentin when he needed it. Eliot was in no position to help until it was too late. Not that he didn't also blame himself, he did. If he hadn't been a coward and broken Q's heart, or if he hadn't shot the monster, maybe Quentin wouldn't be gone. That he shared the blame was the only reason he was able to even look at his friends.
"Quentin saved me from being a niffin. I didn't thank him for it at the time, but I know better than most the lengths he goes to for those he cares about. I wish more than anything that we could bring him back. But is this really all we can do?"
"If you have another plan, I'll happily entertain it. But I've been looking for months. No amount of Resuscitation spells or even necromancy will work. Time magic is extremely limited and it's the only one that can work given how…" Eliot said. Alice knew what he meant- any spell that could bring Quentin back from the dead in any form required a body. A body they didn't have because Quentin's body was disintegrated by the mirror world refracting his magic back at him.
"Eliot, be real here. It's still gonna feel like he's gone, you still have to find a way to move on-" Margo started.
"Seriously, Eliot? You think this is gonna help you cope?" She was worried he'd still try to put himself into an early grave if they did this. She just got him back. If he was hoping even subconsciously that this would bring back Quentin, he'd be even more lost in grief when he realized he still had to live in a world where Q had died on them.
"I don't know how much it will help, honestly, I don't. But it has to be better than doing nothing. And for our timeline 41 selves- maybe they can have one round where things don't go to shit afterwards. You realize that we haven't had a break since we left Brakebills to face the beast in Fillory? Is it really too much to ask that we try?"
"No it probably isn't. But I want you to be honest with me, Eliot, why do you really want to do this?" Margo knew that Quentin and Eliot had always been close. She had been a bit jealous at first with how quickly they bonded. The only one closer to Eliot was herself, and she wasn't sure that was true anymore but she didn't know why. There was something more than friendship there, always had been, but it seemed more defined now. What had happened to her two best friends when she wasn't looking? And why hadn't she noticed until now?
Eliot looked around the room. Everyone was eying him with curiosity in their expressions. He sighed, trying to decide what to do. The days of the mosaic were flashing through his mind. The two of them had been so happy, there with their family. Q had married Arielle but that didn't change the relationship between him and Eliot. And a few years after she passed away they had formally gotten married to each other. Teddy had been about 8. He had been so thrilled to see his dad and papa together formally.
On the heels of those precious memories was a far more painful one: when he and Quentin remembered their life at the mosaic and the sheer panic Eliot had that he would fuck them up and lose Quentin completely. Breaking his heart, telling him "That's not us. Not when we have a choice," because he was so scared Q would want Alice now that they were back. He couldn't go through having Q who he had been in love with long before they went to the mosaic and watching him pining for Alice.
What should he do now, he wonders. Tell the whole room, leaving his broken heart exposed to every one of his friends. Pull Margo aside to tell her privately and offend all his other friends. Tell Margo and everyone else to mind their own fucking business- he immediately ruled that one out as unfeasible and not unlikely to kill him.
"Because I need him, Bambi. He died before I could correct a monumental mistake I made. And I can't let it rest until I fix that."
"Eliot, that makes no sense! It's not gonna feel fixed to you. So why are you doing this?" She wasn't going to let him off with non-answers.
"Because I turned my back on peaches and plums. I stupidly ran from him and never got the chance to tell him I'm sorry!" Everyone eyed Eliot with confusion. Only Penny23 looked like he had any clue what was going on. Eliot eyed him, wondering what he knew.
"Coldwater never had the best mental wards. The past few months he's been leaking enough for me to understand what he was going through. I just didn't realize it was a secret. I figured the rest of you knew and forgot I hadn't been told cause I came from a different timeline." Penny shrugged.
"Given what happened… after… after, we didn't talk about it. I pushed it aside and refused to think about it at all. I just wanted things to be like they were before. I'm sure he tried to do the same."
"What are you to fuckers talking about?" yelled Margo in frustration.
"The key quest. The time key- we remember the life we lived out to finish the mosaic. Over fifty years to get one key. We somehow remembered it, and Q- He wanted to pick up where we left off-" But Eliot's words were too jumbled and his voice was too broken from tears he desperately tried to hold back to be understood.
"Do you want me to tell them?" Penny asked, unusually considerate.
"They were together, married and everything, for those fifty years. And when they read the letter they had written to you they remembered that life." Penny explained.
"Married?" Margo asked.
"To each other?" Kady questioned.
"For fifty years?"
"Yes, we were."
"Then were you-"
"No. He asked, but I ran."
"That explains it." Juila said face alight with sudden understanding.
"I knew Q was desperate to save you, Eliot. I just didn't know how or why it went so deep. He loved you, I didn't understand what kind at the time, but hindsight. You never told him-" Julia cut herself off.
"By the time I decided I'd made a mistake I was possessed. I never got to talk to him except for those few seconds in the park. It wasn't enough. It wasn't enough."
"And now you want to create a new timeline where you remember so you can tell him?"
"It's crazy!" Margo says again. Eliot was starting to get pissed at her objections. She was supposed to support him because she was his best friend. But she was objecting louder than anyone else. After the crap she pulled this year, he was fed up with her.
As far as he was concerned, Margo had abandoned Quentin. She knew that Eliot and Quentin were almost as close as her and Eliot. But she had left Quentin to be dragged around by the monster wearing Eliot's face while she ran to hide in Fillory. If it was so hard on her to see the monster wearing she had to know it would be equally bad for Quentin to see it. But she had left him to deal with it, hadn't checked in on him, hadn't helped.
"I don't care! I love him! I owe him. You owe him. Especially you, Margo." Margo's eyes went wide at the use of her first name. He never called her Margo, it was always Bambi. Unless she had ticked him off.
"What the hell do you mean?" she said in a dangerous voice. She had given up her crown for him, what the hell was his problem.
"You couldn't run to Fillory fast enough, could you? You couldn't stand to see the monster wearing my face, but you left him to deal with that day in and day out for months!"
"You are not blaming me for this. I had a fucking kingdom to run!"
"And you couldn't check on him? Not once? I thought you cared about him more than that."
"Fuck you, Eliot. I had crap to deal with and trusted he was handling his shit-"
"No, he wasn't! He was drowning, Margo. Drowning in front of everyone and no one threw him a life line."
"He didn't ask for one-"
"He couldn't. That's what depression does to him. Why didn't you ask?" he was pleading now. He didn't want to fight with Margo, but this anger had been bubbling inside of him for weeks. He wanted to understand why she hadn't asked Quentin if he was okay. Why hadn't she helped him cope with the monster possessing Eliot?
"I- I thought- I don't know! He seemed bad, yes, but not I-won't-come-back bad." She said a bit helplessly.
"Well he was. And so am I, if we don't do this. I need to do something, Bambi," Eliot pleaded. His normal persona and performance were long since abandoned. They didn't matter, Quentin did.
"What about us?"
"Timeline 40 will continue as if there is no timeline 41. We won't be aware of it at all."
"Then it won't be any better than not doing this crazy spell, right?"
"It will! I'll know it exists. I'll know that the other Eliot will tell Q. I may have to wait to see our Quentin again, but just knowing that another set of us has another chance…"
The rest of the friends looked at each other, each silently asking if they wanted to try this. Penny 23 probably best understood where he was coming from. Since Penny 23 arrived from another timeline, he knew what comfort just knowing that another timeline went better can bring you. Margo and Julia were cursing themselves for not having noticed that their best friends had fallen in love. But they had always been very close friends and the love had been there all along- they had just failed to notice the shift to something more than friends.
"If I agree to help- Eliot you have to promise me you won't give up. You will live here in this timeline. You can't leave me alone again." Margo said, finally acquiescing.
"I promise, Bambi, that I will try my hardest to live. And l I will not race directly to an early grave. Ok?"
It wasn't enough, not really. But she knew it was the best she was going to get from him without him lying. He couldn't promise he would be okay. He couldn't promise the grief wouldn't eventually kill him. He could only promise to try.
"Ok, then. Let's do this. What do we need?" Eliot smiled at her in gratitude. It wouldn't fix things between the two of them, but it was a start. He could work with that.
"I'll help, too," Alice said. "Quentin, wouldn't quit trying to save me when I was a niffin. How can I refuse to help now?"
"I already promised to help. Who else is on board with operation timeline 41?" Julia asked. She loved Quentin and knew they had to try, no matter how futile it might seem.
Kady and Penny also agreed to join in. "Thank you," Eliot said sincerely, grateful that he had such good friends, no matter how angry he was at them. Grateful that they realized they had failed Quentin once and wanted to make it right in whatever small way they could.
OPERATION: SAVE QUENTIN VIATIMELINE41
They divided up the work between them. Penny23 and Margo were on 'fetch the ingredients' duty. Margo promised Penny that any comments against her nerd would be met with Penny getting an up close and personal look at Sorrow 1 & Sorrow 2- the axes she had used to free Eliot from possession. One cut for every comment she promised him. Margo was the only one besides Julia he would listen to cause she could and would actually hurt him.
Alice and Eliot were on timeline duty. They were piecing together what to change and what to leave alone from timeline 40. Kady added her input here and there but mostly left them to it. It wasn't that she didn't want to help- she really did like Coldwater. But her expertise was little needed. She did tell Eliot to start the group meditating as soon as he could so they might be able to utilize battle magic. She also gave him the name of a few books they could use to get started.
Julia spent her time collecting the ingredients that didn't need Penny's traveling. She also prepared the ingredients that required more than just picking it up. The crystals needed to be soaked in a horomancy potion in order to work right. So Julia brewed the potion and placed the crystals as instructed.
Finally they were ready. They collected all the ingredients for the ritual. Everyone looked at the timeline Eliot and Alice made to make sure they weren't missing anything. The last thing they needed was Eliot making bigger mistakes and making things worse.
"You'll want to let us know what's going on before too much time passes. That way we can be better prepared for the beast. You'll have to find a way to convince us of the truth." Alice advised.
"How do I do that?"
"The best idea can think of is either revealing secrets we would never tell anyone, ones you could only have gotten from ourselves. Or telling us something that will happen soon in the future. That would be harder given that it was so long ago."
So Eliot talked with each of his friends, trying to gather some information that would convince their past self. He also pondered what he could do for each of his friends in timeline 41 to repay them. But those thoughts he kept to himself. He would tell them someday, when the pain of Quentin's loss had either consumed him irreparably, or had faded to a dull ache.
Finally, Eliot was as prepared as he was going to get. The group gathered their things and headed to the forest in Fillory. Accompanying Eliot was Margo, Julia, and Alice. Penny 23 was providing them with transportation, and Kady was tagging along to see if it would work. Josh and Fen wished them luck, but stayed behind so they wouldn't distract them.
Jane positioned them around the ritual circle she had drawn in the ground. Eliot was in the center, as the subject of the spell. Julia was just askew of true north. Alice was standing on due east. Margo was across from her at due west. And Jane was slightly to the west of South. Why some were on the points and some were not he didn't understand. Jane said something about it creating a gap or something- but Eliot didn't care about the particulars. He only cared that it worked.
Jane next walked them through the finger tuts they needed to perform. The spell mostly contained fairly simple tuts, arranged a bit unusually, and with much repetition. Finally, at midnight the circle glowed bright white, which Jane informed them meant the spell had worked. Eliot vaguely felt a gentle wave of magic wash over him. It was working.
The wave of magic passed and everything was quiet and still once more. "That's the end," Jane said.
"No, this is the beginning," Eliot proclaimed. Their part in this story might be over. But the story was not ending, it was starting over. They may never know how timeline 41 fares. It was all in the hands of Eliot 41 now.
T.B.C. . . .