tick rock

Your Move

The nine times Simon and Baz prank each other and the one time they don’t

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10

March 24

Baz

Curses are an interesting breed of magic.  They require a certain level of creativity.  Like a charm, curses are often made of the mage’s own words rather than the scripted lines of a spell.  The tricky thing about curses, though, is the choice of words.  Curses thrive on poetry.  They have a flair for the dramatic, eloquent lines of verse instead of magic thrown haphazardly into a few words.  

           Curses are showy and elegant, which is why they are so well-fitted to villains.

           This morning I’m out the door before Snow has even begun to stir, my wand tucked into my pocket.  The passages are cold with the morning frost, and birdsong echoes off the stone of the walls.

           I spent all of last evening crafting this curse, after I’d dumped the rest of my tea out the window.  Salt.  He’d turned the sugar into salt, and I hadn’t even had the sense to stop after the first sip. I just had to keep drinking, even before I was sure he had done anything to it.  Pride and spite are just two sides of the same coin.

           I’m the first one in the dining hall, which is exactly what I’d hoped for.  The tables are set, the chairs are tucked in, and the mouth-watering aroma of pastry wafts from behind the closed kitchen doors.  Immediately my eyes are drawn to a particular seat towards the right of the hall.  It’s the first place I look every time I enter, and from that moment on it’s the place I avoid looking at for the rest of the meal.

           As I make my way over to Snow’s seat, I find myself stepping lightly and my heart starting to pick up, like I think I might get caught.  The involuntary adrenaline of the oncoming curse increases as I reach the spot. What luck that Snow hasn’t sat anywhere else since our first year.

           Pulling my wand from my pocket, I cast a quick look around the room to make sure no one has snuck up on me, and take a breath that reaches deep within my belly, igniting that familiar spark of magic.  I lower the wand to tap Snow’s plate.

“Tick tock, hard as rock,

Stone and glass and marble block,

Soft and fluffy cherry scone

To his teeth be hard as bone,

Any food to touch this face,

Toughness of cement encase,

And when hands do wash this plate,

Return then to your former state.”

           I don’t see any obvious change in the plate I’m cursing, but I know it will work.  The spark has fanned into a flame, dancing through the wand and sinking into the glass.

           It takes a few seconds longer for my magic to burn out and my heart rate to slow back down, but as soon as I feel it soften I turn and leave the dining hall.

*** 

When I return later, I do the same thing as I always do.  I glance at Snow’s seat to find it empty still, and then make my way to my own table on the far side of the room.  Dev and Niall are already there, and they both give me a silent nod as I slide into my seat.  I can’t help but look back at Snow’s table, my eyes darting from the door to where Bunce is already waiting and back again.

           “Everything alright?” Dev catches me scanning the crowd of students.  “You look jumpy.”

           “Didn’t get much sleep,” I tell him, and he shrugs like he doesn’t particularly care if I’m telling the truth or not.

           When Snow appears in the doorway, I automatically drop my gaze back down to my empty plate.  I don’t see him sit down at his spot, exchange pleasantries with Bunce, jump back up to retrieve the famed sour cherry scones from the front of the hall, and yet I still manage to see all of it.  It’s in my periphery, it’s constantly on the edge of my awareness, biting through the shell I keep trying to put up around myself.

           I can’t help but watch when he brings the first scone to his mouth.

           The effect is visibly immediate.  His eyes widen and his free hand flies to his mouth. Bunce looks concerned, and Snow is staring at the scone in betrayal.  Tentatively he goes in for another, much smaller bite.  Once again he is the picture of dismay.

           My tea for your scones, I think.  Fair.

           But he looks so miserable that it almost takes some of the fun out of it.

           I see Bunce drop one of her own scones onto his plate, and I can’t help snickering at her mistake when he can’t bite into that one, either.

           I remember to look anywhere else just as Snow casts a withering glare in my direction.

           We’re even, don’t you dare try to pull anything.

           But if we don’t settle it officially, he will do just that.

           I push my chair back from the table and stand, mumbling an excuse of “not hungry” before stalking to the doors.  I feel Snow’s eyes on me the whole way.

           When he catches up with me, I’m leaning casually against the stone wall just out of sight of the dining hall, my arms crossed, a bored expression smoothed onto my face.  Snow marches up to me, red-cheeked and scowling.

           “What the fuck did you do, Baz?” he growls, his tone accusatory.

           “Magic, Snow,” I tell him, not wasting time pretending it wasn’t me.  “It’s what we came to Watford to learn, did no one ever tell you?”

           “You spelled my food?” he says like it’s the worst offense in the world.

           “Cursed, actually, and it’s the plate, not the scones themselves.  That’s why Bunce couldn’t help you.”

           He backs off an inch or two, crossing his arms over his chest in a mimic of my own posture.  “So that’s how you want to play?”

           “Don’t peg this on me, Snow,” I raise an eyebrow at him, “you’re the one who had to start something.”

           “But you responded,” he retorts, a lock of bronze falling into his eyes, “and you made it personal.”

           “Because what could be more personal than scones?”

           “I’m not kidding, Baz.”  He takes a confrontational step closer and I’m glad no one is around to see my shoulders stiffen.  “This isn’t over.”

           Of course it’s not.  Because he’s Simon Snow and I’m Baz Pitch, and we’re enemies.  It can never just be “over” for us.

           So I lean as close as I dare, holding his blazing gaze in my own.  “Fine,” I murmur, “have it your way.”

           “It’s on.”

           “Your move.”