Sometimes It Takes Being Slapped with A Solution to Realize A Problem Is Solvable
“Fuck, this thing is powerful,” Peter muttered, rolling the yellow stone in his hand.
“Yeah,” said Isaac. “It’s like, anchoring the Pillars into reality, so…yeah.”
Peter nodded. “Where has Seth been lately? I’d like to talk to him about it. And just to be clear, I do mean that entirely in an exploitative way where I take everything he knows and write a treatise that I get the credit for. I’ll put his name in the acknowledgements.”
“I don’t know, I haven’t seen him much,” Isaac admitted.
Peter nodded, holding the stone up. “You really should have told at least Yancy that you had this. He’d keep it a secret.”
Isaac knew that. “But he’d hate keeping it a secret from Oliver. And he’d have to, because if he told Oliver, then Klaus would know I told someone.”
“Yeah,” Peter sighed. “Okay. There are a few historical instances of people binding the leystones to themselves. It usually ends badly. I can look through them and see if there’s anything about how to actually do it. But you’d be best off asking someone who actually has done it.”
“I’ll…ask James next time I see him,” Isaac muttered. Maybe it would distract James from noticing that he hadn’t shown up to his lessons again.
“Which really should be soon. You shouldn’t be…”
“Skipping my witchcraft lessons, I know,” Isaac said, looking away. “I had exams, Peter. They were hard.” They were also over now.
But Peter didn’t press him on that, just nodding. “Okay. Try something for me?”
Peter handed him the stone. Isaac immediately felt the Pillars close in around him. They hadn’t actually moved, they were just…more. He had more of them, somehow. The stone did that. “Try using the stone and doing a spell. Just some normal shit, I want to see what happens with the Pillars when you do.”
Isaac nodded. He gave Peter a second to take a breath, and then once he was sure Peter was watching closely, Isaac reached out and vanished Peter’s smallclothes, sending them to where he knew Kieran’s house was.
Peter rolled his eyes, but he nodded. “So it doesn’t change how you interact with the Pillars, then. But they were so much more responsive to you than normal. That’s super interesting. I’m guessing binding the stone is probably just about convincing the Pillars to be tied to you the same way they’re tied to the stone, but I don’t want to rush to a conclusion. We should…”
One of Isaac’s proximity spells went off and he handed the stone back to Peter, who slipped it into a pocket in his shirt. “Chez’n has fifteen verb tenses,” he said, pointing at a sheaf of paper in front of him. “Daolo only has twelve, so it’s a bit of a leap.”
“I thought we had three?” Isaac asked, trying to sound natural. “Past, present and future?”
“Yeah, so there are four versions of each in Daolo, and five in Chez’n, because they have an imperfect tense,” Peter explained. “Don’t worry about what that actually is, I’ll explain that later. What you need to think about from the start is the conjugation endings.”
“You…fuck verbs in Chez’n?” Isaac asked.
“Conjugation, not conjugal.” There was a knock on the door, which then opened.
Oliver poked his head in. “Hi,” he said. They were using an empty classroom. “I thought you guys were done exams.”
“Yeah,” Isaac said. “We’re studying a bit for next term so I don’t fail everything.” He hated how easily he said something that was true without being the truth. “What’s up?”
“Oh, I just…came to the dorm looking for you,” Oliver said. “And Nicholas said you were here. I thought I’d take you out to lunch if you weren’t busy. Peter would be welcome to come too.”
“Uh, I shouldn’t,” said Isaac, sighing. He wanted to. “I have all this work to do.”
“You’re supposed to be on break, Isaac,” Oliver reminded him. “Come on, you don’t get a lot of those.”
“Fucking tell me about it,” Isaac said, tugging at his hair. “Maybe tomorrow, Oliver? It’s just…”
“You should go,” Peter said, patting Isaac’s knee. “I should do some reading up on this before we keep going. And I’m going over to Kieran’s for supper anyway.”
Oh. Okay. Isaac nodded. “Sure. You going to stay the night?”
Peter kissed his cheek. “Yes, you can invite Nicholas to sleep in our room,” he said. He stood up while Isaac blushed, because that hadn’t not been what he’d been getting at. “I’ll pass on lunch, but thanks, Oliver.”
“Sure thing,” Oliver said, letting Peter pass him by.
Isaac gathered up all their papers and put them in his bag. Peter had left so that the stone wouldn’t be near Klaus, he knew that. But he also knew he wasn’t with Klaus. He was with Oliver. “I honestly don’t know if I have time to go out for super long,” Isaac told him. He wasn’t making that up. If he wasn’t going to do this, he should look over some of his wizard stuff for Ronaldo.
“I think you do,” Oliver told him, coming into the room and sitting down. “You’ve got a few weeks before classes start again. I know you like to be ahead, but you can take a few days…”
“I can’t, actually,” Isaac interrupted. “I have to get ahead on my classes now or I’m going to fail them all.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Yes, I do,” Isaac insisted. “I struggle to keep up as it is. I can’t afford to get behind and I don’t read as fast as everyone else, Oliver. It doesn’t matter what my teachers do to help me in exams or papers, I don’t read as fast as everyone else, so I need more time to do all my reading. I only passed this semester because I was so far ahead when I went into a fucking coma.” He hadn’t failed any of his classes in the end, but he’d only just barely passed Shadow and healing magic.
“Okay,” Oliver said. He leaned forward on the desk between them. “I hear you’re taking Catria’s class this term. You should maybe think about…”
“I’m not dropping out of the automation magic class,” Isaac told him, firm. “Why do you all keep telling me to drop out of the only class I care about? You all know why I’m taking it.”
“I do know why you’re taking it,” Oliver said, sliding a hand over and putting it on Isaac’s. It felt so warm. “But what I’m saying is that maybe you can get the reading list from someone who is in the class and avoid something that’s going to stress you out for four months?”
“I’ll learn more if I’m actually in the class for the lectures,” Isaac insisted. He would. He always did.
Oliver sighed. “Okay. Look, I’m not going to tell you what to do. But there’s nothing wrong with taking some easy classes once in a while so you can…”
“It doesn’t matter how easy the classes are when I’m taking eight of them!” Isaac didn’t mean to shout but he did.. “The archmage and everyone are all breathing down my neck about not showing up for my classes to learn other types of magic, so I have to be going to wizard lessons three times a week after all my other classes. I have to go to James’s place at least twice a week and he sometimes keeps me for four or five hours. Do you think I skip his classes because I don’t like him? It’s because they take so fucking long, Oliver, and then I don’t have time to do my homework. They’ve finally worked out something with some sorcerer who’s going to teach me sorcery, and Spencer really nicely offered to help augment my lessons if I needed it and I still have to take five regular fucking classes on top of it and one of them is an advanced class I have no right being in and another one everyone keeps telling me is impossible and I don’t have time, Oliver.” He stood up, started pacing. He hadn’t wanted to explode like this but here he was, exploding everywhere. “Everyone else gets to be in class for five, six hours a day and I’m there for at least ten. When I said I didn’t have enough time they told me that was okay, my witchcraft and sorcery lessons can be on my days off and of course I couldn’t tell them I also spend hours with Yancy and Lee trying to stop a fucking demon from possessing half the school, and when am I supposed to do my homework if I don’t get a day off? I don’t have time to take a fucking break because if I work really fucking hard right now I might be allowed to sleep for four of five hours a night when the term starts and that’s if there’s not another fucking catastrophe that puts me in the infirmary for weeks.”
He got to a wall and just leaned against it, breathing, but not very well. Fuck, he was crying, fuck. The room was so quiet.
Oliver’s hand was on his back. “Hey.”
“I’m sorry,” Isaac said, taking deep breaths. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to shout at you. It’s not your fault.”
“It’s not yours either,” Oliver told him. “You’re right, that’s a lot. I don’t think any of us thought twice about all the extra work we’re putting on you. We’re making you do more than twice as much as every other student.”
Isaac shook his head, though it was true. “It’s just what being the fucking chosen one is, I guess.”
“You’re damn right.”
Isaac blinked, looked up at Oliver. “What?”
Oliver turned him around, hands on Isaac’s shoulders. “Isaac, you’re the fucking chosen one. You’re not a normal student. It’s not fucking fair for them to make you do all this extra shit and still take a full academy courseload.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Isaac laughed.
“So don’t.” Oliver shrugged. “Just fucking don’t. What are they going to do, expel you?”
“Uh…they’ll…” What the fuck would they do to Isaac if he just told them he wasn’t playing along? “No? They’d never expel me, they’d never let me leave.”
“So don’t take any extra classes. What are you excited about this term?”
Nothing. “Uh. I don’t know. I mean Juno thinks I’ll do well in advanced Dark magic.”
“And…that’s kind of it,” Isaac admitted. “Don’t tell Yancy but I’m dreading his prophetic literature class. And illusion magic and Chez’n I’m only taking because they’re easy. I can learn illusion magic on my own and I don’t need to learn Chez’n.”
“Exactly,” Oliver said. He pulled Isaac away from the wall and put an arm around him. “You know what, I am going to tell Yancy you don’t want to take his class. Because you know what he’ll say? He’ll say ‘Ah, if the lad is finding the prospect of my class so daunting, of course he should remit himself of it. Though I shall miss his insights, I would far rather he finds himself hale and healthy than to be forcing himself into my classroom against his best judgement.’”
Isaac looked at Oliver for just a minute, wondering who the fuck he was, but not in the bad way. “That’s a really good impersonation of Yancy.”
“Thanks, I’ve had practice.” Oliver smiled. “The reality is, Isaac, your magic lessons are important. The stuff you’re doing with Yancy and Lee is important. Sitting in our class and learning about the redaction history of messianic prophecy is not fucking important. So you shouldn’t do it. You just shouldn’t.”
“I…” It had never even occurred to Isaac that he could just not do stuff. “Are you sure you’re really Oliver? Because normally Oliver wants me to be in class and do homework and have schedules and junk.”
Oliver kissed Isaac’s forehead. “Normally,” he said, while Isaac blushed, “Oliver wants you to be happy, Isaac.”
Well, fuck. Isaac had no response to that except to throw himself on Oliver, hugging him. “I still want to do Catria’s class.”
“Do it without enrolling in the class. Just go and listen to the lectures and learn what you need to learn. I dare them to try and stop you. You can do that with Yancy’s class too if you really want to, but…”
“I really don’t,” Isaac laughed. “Okay. Sure. So…what do we do? Like, go ask Yancy for…”
“No,” Oliver said. He stood Isaac in front of him. “I’m going to go tell Yancy that this is the plan. And you’re going to tell Lee. You know they’ll both back you up no matter what. And then we’ll all go to the archmage’s office and tell him that this is the plan. Nobody’s asking.”
Oliver had never been so assertive. It was extremely, extremely hot. “The archmage is going to throw a fit.”
“Who cares? If the chosen one can’t defy academic expectations, who can?”
That got a grin out of Isaac, and he nodded. “Okay,” he said, taking Oliver’s hand. “Let’s go do it, then.”
“Yeah,” Oliver said, and they left the classroom together, hand in hand. Isaac smiled as they walked. He felt so light. He felt so much better. He hadn’t even realized just how bad all this had been making him feel.
“Incidentally,” said Isaac, since he was feeling good. Today was a great day to tell hard truths, and he really was. “I’ve never wanted to fuck you more than I do right now.”
“Same, but let’s focus on the task at hand.”
“Oh, but Oliver,” said Isaac, taking that ‘same’ to play over in his mind later. “I’m about to have so much free time again, I can focus on a lot of different things…”