Warnings: non-consent sex and rape; violence; criminal activity; alcohol; PTSD, warnings to be added as series progresses.
This is a dark!fic and explicit. 18+ only. It features Tommy Shelby x reader. Your media consumption is your own responsibility. Warnings have been given. DO NOT PROCEED if these matters upset you.
Synopsis: when your father went away to serve in The Great War, you took over his side business in the shed. After the war, he struggles to recover from the damage of his trauma as an unexpected investor shows up at your door.
Note: Thanks to all who are following along. I'm having fun writing this show and the time period.
Thanks to everyone for reading and thanks in advance for all your feedback. :)
I really hope you enjoy. 💋
<3 As usual, I’d appreciate if you let me know what you think with a like or reblog or reply or an ask! Love ya!
The biting cold of the English countryside sends a layer of dampness through the house and crawls up the wooden walls of the barn. The grass is frosty and yellow from the looming winter. The rains come harder and more often as the chill grows constant.
You sit by the window and stare out at the sky, the sun hidden behind the sheet of billowy clouds. The clink of dishes sounds from the kitchen along with the voices of your family. Much has changed in the month since Shelby’s broker and yet nothing at all.
Your father’s silence permeates the airy rooms and adds another edge to the cold. It’s mostly aimed at you, the one he blames. You didn’t expect any different.
“Waiting for the boss?” your father’s voice cuts through your isolation.
“Da,” you warn as you sit back and sip your lukewarm tea.
He has the grace to look guilty. “Shelby business is dangerous business,” he sits in his rocking chair, now inside to keep it from rotting through the wetter months.
“I know, da, you keep saying,” you murmur, “it wasn’t my choice, just like it wasn’t yours.”
“I didn’t show you how to work a still to work for a man like him,” he growls.
“So what do I do, eh? What are you gonna do? You know that rifle is as good as a feather against those men,” you shake your head, “he takes his whiskey and goes. It’s better than we can hope for.”
“And those brutes he’s left in the shed, yeah, they bother you?”
“I got Ali, da,” you argue, “and you.”
“Mmm,” he hums and nods, “that’s right, so that means you tell me if they try anything.”
“Da, look at me,” you snort, “they’d rather mess with one of our mares, even the stud.”
“You overestimate men,” he shakes his head, “I still don’t like the arrangement, never will, but I’ll be calmer if you keep me aware.”
“Alright,” you say, “you wanna see the new stills? You never did come out.”
“Perhaps,” he answers and closes his eyes, the chair creaking as he rocks, “if my wound does cease its throbbing.”
“Hope so,” you stand and kiss his forehead, “you know, I don’t like him either.”
“Aye, I see it your eyes,” he smiles at the ceiling, “never seen that before. Not in you.”
“Better get ready, those dullards can’t do much more than watch,” you squeeze his shoulder, “I’ll be back at noon, yeah?”
“Might come out,” he says, “might do.”
Dawson and Darren. Those are the two men sent by Shelby to assist your manufacture. Unfortunately, they’re more in the way than any help. The shining new vats are bigger than their predecessors but the output is just as slow.
You guide Darren for the dozenth time in how to heat the still and the delicacy of your cyclical processing. The repetition seems to do little to seep past his thick skull and your exasperation boils over with the still that’s done the same. Another spoiled batch.
He apologises but you say nothing. Dawson instead begins his reproach as he is the more capable of the two. The heat of the shed speckles your skin with sweat and your frustration adds to your discomfort. You leave the two louts to argue and step out into the brisk air.
You have the crates filled for the pending deliveries while the excess will go to Shelby as demanded. Still, you have an itch to drain them into the mud of the pen and laugh in his face. Your thoughts are always bolder than you. Never overly talkative but wholly stubborn. Your father always said no words could cut as deep as your eyes.
You pull your jacket closed and do up a single button. You smell like rye and dirty hay. You never notice as your nose has taken to the stench of the farm but every now and then, you think you stink of a horse. Better for it, you like your space.
The distant noise catches your ear. At first, you think the wind is picking up and you come around the front of the house. You smell your mother’s stew even from there and hear Ali’s voice through the closed windows as he yammers at your father. Da always says the two of you were different sides of the same penny, though he would add that you were at least a halfcrown. That’s on the days he smiled, as rare as they are.
You see the black dot along the horizon and you know. You sigh and sit on the steps as you await the man. It’s better to keep him without, your father declares the house no man’s land for the Shelbys. You do your best to keep the two veterans apart. For all they have in common, they have more that sets them apart.
You know soldiers, your father’s friends were all in France. They all wear the scars and you hear how they speak. They carry violence even if it's not in their soul. The war made them that way and you knew that too long together and a new battle will break.
The only surprise about Thomas is that he’s alone. He’s not come unaccompanied since his first visit to the farmstead, that day your father made the short voyage back to the trenches. You watch him step out of his car and the metal door slams.
“Your men are in the shed,” you say as you lean your chin in your hand, “figure it was better to let ‘em burn it down instead of me.”
“They aren’t the sharpest but most soldiers only know how to take orders,” Thomas strides up to the steps and props his foot up on the bottom stair. His leather gloves brush over his jacket and he tucks a hand in his pocket, “I prefer to talk to the commander of the troops.”
“Well, there’s bottles for you in the barn,” you say tritely, “not much else to report.”
He looks ripe to smirk but he just shakes his head, “tryna decide if I prefer you silent.”
You tilt your head and shrug. You stare at him as he drags his foot from the worn wood and stands straight.
“Fine, the whiskey,” he flicks you up with two fingers, “I’ve not driven this far to argue.”
You stand and sense movement behind you. You glance back as your father pulls back the curtain to glare through as he stills his rocking chair. He scowls and Shelby waves to him smartly. You give your father a pleading look and he drops the linen back to cover the glass.
“Right,” you sat, “let us get your due.”
Thomas trails behind you, playing at a gentleman as you lead him to the gate and unhook the pen. He’s unbothered as his boots sink into the muck but you suspect he’s walked through worse. You lift the heavy bar across the door and he helps slide it open.
As you enter, Martha, one of the mares, puffs and you pause to pat her nose. He bares her teeth and her tongue swipes your cheek. She’s more likely to bite Ali but you prefer the obstinate creature.
Thomas comes close and puts his hand out to the horse. She chomps at him and he rescinds his hand. He tuts and chuckles to himself.
“Not many horses don’t like me,” he remarks, “same for women.”
“Mhmm,” you mutter and carry on past the stalls, “back here, Mr. Shelby.”
He follows you to a stack of crates covered in patched wool. You pull back the blanket and present the brown bottles to him. He raises his chin and considers his haul.
“That’s yours,” you say, “we keep the locals up in the loft.”
“You need more men?” he unbuttons his jacket and reaches inside. He takes out his cigarette case, clicks it open then closed, and replaces it under his coat.
“To get in my way?” you counter, “no. Mr. Shelby, I don’t think you understand. We get out what we put in, regardless of the size of our stills or the number of our hands.”
“Something I have considered,” he nods, “we’ve got packaging sorted at least. Bottles comin’ in from Manchester, labels too.”
“You’ll still get the same,” you affirm.
“First step, many to come,” he points a finger, “tell me, you have any dresses?”
You look at him dully. He lets a small grin play on his lips.
“Well?” he prompts.
“Might,” you answer shortly.
“Oh, well, I think you might search it out,” he says, “don’t think this,” he pinches the seam of your jacket sleeve, “will go well with society.”
You narrow your eyes and pull away from him.
“Take your whiskey, Mr. Shelby,” you cross your arms.
“A car will fetch you, Friday, I expect you to dress like more than a farmhand,” he carries on, “you’ll come to Birmingham and we’ll review our new processes.”
“Mr. Shelby, I see no reason for me to venture far. Bring your bottles and your labels and we will fill them,” you sniff.
“Do you recall my warning?” he lowers his voice, “about denying me?”
“I was of the mind that you were interested in whiskey, sir,” you snip, “you have the whiskey.”
“I am doing you a favour,” he insists, “I could as easily write my name on this whiskey but I am offering you a bit of grace.”
“I can read labels whilst in trousers, Mr. Shelby,” you scoff.
“There are people you need to meet,” he says, “so, you will come and you will pack another dress because the next day, we must travel to London.”
“Ali can go as my agent,” you meet his unbending gaze, “I think men are better suited for business.”
“You can go yourself,” he edges closer and you resist the urge to retreat, “and you will do so with ribbons in your hair.”
“Mr. Shelby,” you force through your tight throat and his eyes fall to the small constriction.
“I’m certain your date book is wide open,” he backs away and turns back to the crates.
He bends and takes a brown bottle. He uncorks it and inhales the scent, wrinkling his nose at its pungency. He takes a swig then offers it to you.
“No, thank you, Mr. Shelby,” you say, “I’ll have Ali help you–”
“I can’t fit all this in my car,” he chuckles as he pushes the cork back in, “I’ll send a man with a lorry.”
“Sure,” you reply.
“Perhaps a taste from your still might be good for you,” he muses as he hugs the bottle under his arm, “you surely need something to dislodge the rod from up your ass.”
“As you make it known, Mr. Shelby, I am no soldier, I’m but a woman,” you swallow, “so do not speak to me as one of your accomplices.”
“You might tell your father of my regards,” he surpasses you and receives a snort from Martha as he heads for the door, “I know where the horse gets her teeth.”
You stopped wearing dresses years before and there were two among the forgotten pile that still fit. Your mother sewed them by hand and so you kept them, even if you never had occasion to wear them. Now, you want to burn them.
They are sorely out of date, you’re certain. Gwenyth Harper used to get all the fashion periodicals and show off the ever shortening hems of modern style. The sleeves and skirts of the plain cotton garments speak of the farm and a time forgotten since the war rearranged the world. Worse than wearing a skirt, you will face the city in an outdated frock. You’re certain you get some jabs and japes for that.
As you fix the fraying cuff with a needle, sitting on your bed as the windows rattle, you hear the floorboards creak without. You look up as your father peeks in through the slightly open door. He eyes the fabric in your hand as you nod for him to enter.
“What’s this?” he asks as he pulls up the square stool from the corner.
You haven’t told him about Shelby’s demands or the one-sided argument in the barn. You’re barely willing to accept it yourself. Pulling out the dresses was enough to make you want to hit your head against the wall.
“Well, you know,” you lower your chin and focus on the stitches, “certain expectations for city folk.”
“‘City folk’?” he echoes, “what… what’re you goin’ there for?”
“Da,” you purse your lip as you tie off your last stitch.
“No,” he says staunchly as he sits straight, “no, not with that man.”
You raise your eyes and fold the dress over the edge of the bed. You frown as he stares at you. His face falls. For all the stubbornness you inherited from him, you both know it’s not within his will.
“Why’s he need ya in the city?” he asks.
“Something about labels, bottles, dressing up the fucking piss,” you sneer and your father’s eyes round.
“Ah, girlie, the mouth on you,” he lets himself chuckle, “I'd tell ya not to but can’t say I didn’t teach ya that myself.”
“I don’t wanna go,” you admit, “I told him as much but he listens as well as any man.”
“Truly. I don’t know how we made it through the war, the way men cling to their daftness,” he shakes his head, “I would go–”
“Yeah, I tried that,” you interject, “he’s playing his game, I know it. I’m not stupid like he thinks. He likes to hear himself talk, likes to make people listen. He’ll get bored of it.”
“Your ma won’t be happy, see ya away like that, with a man,” he clears his throat, “not that I am but… I just wish I could tell him to fuck off back where he came from. Not that I haven’t but do wish he’d listen.”
“I’ll be fine, da,” you say, “he wants to embarass me, that’s all. Wants to show me how much better he is, that he isn’t part of the caravan anymore.”
“Mmph,” he leans his elbows on his knees and holds his chin as he thinks, “you read people like books.”
“No, I just assume the worst,” you take the next dress, a citrine green cotton, “think if any man sees me in this, he might send me right back where I came from.”
He watches you and slowly sits up. He sighs and taps his fingers on his leg.
“Men are men,” he says, “you remember–” he holds up his fist.
“Aye, trust me, I remember,” you assure him, “just ask Ali.”
You pull out a new spool of thread as you recall your father’s lessons. The old sack he stuffed with hay and had you punch, to keep you busy, he said, but now you suspect it was something else.
“You shoulda told me,” he tisks.
“And what? You go off and get yourself hurt,” you poke the needle through the fabric, “you had your fight, it’s over. I don’t want you doin’ it again for me.”
“You’re my daughter, why do you think I went off in the first place?” you meet his glossy eyes.
You shove aside the dress and stand. You frame his square jaw and bend to kiss his head, “and where do ya think I get it from?”
“I’ll kill ‘im myself,” he whispers as he embraces you, “he pulls anythin’ and I’ll do it.”
You stay silent. He won’t. He can’t. It would be more than just his life, it would be your mother, your brother, and you. He knows his threats are empty but you let him say it.
It’s a nice fancy to keep close to your heart, like the tales of Excalibur or the pot at the end of the rainbow.
Signals Lost - III
Photo Edits/Graphics/Page Breaks by me. Gifs as credited.
Signals Lost: Sy x Reader
Synopsis: Set at the start of the Iraq war, and the years that follow. Y/N (Reader) and Captain Syverson meet on base as he trains for a new role in the military.
Warnings: 18+ Angst/Romance/Smut: (Update as I go) Slowburn, misogyny, swearing, drinking, smoking.
A/N: I've been sitting on this one for a while, um'ing and ahh'ing over whether I should publish. My first series so please be kind, like, reblog etc. Feedback is always appreciated! I am but a wee Sy fan with big ideas for his character.
Do not steal, do not re-post to external sites or claim as own.
Disclaimer: Not Beta’d, all mistakes are my own. Details of military life from personal experience not fact. I do not own any rights to Captain Syverson/Sandcastle.
Feedback and commentary are appreciated, enjoy BBZ. Saff x 🥸✌️
MINORS DNI! YOU WILL BE BLOCKED!!
Reading Time: 13 Minutes
III - September 11th, 2002:
If you hadn’t been in such a rush that morning you’d have noticed the mass of protesters lining the street, just like the ones at the base last week. Pushing on determined you rounded the corner, past the night club at the end of your alley and the bookies next to it. You normally parked your car on the high street, but realising it wasn’t in its normal place you remembered it was market day on Friday; the stalls covered the only parking spots for the shops. Practically running you carried on until you reached Broad St, there was your car, parked between a set of commercial bins. Thank God! Looking at your watch you curse yourself for staying up the night before. It takes 25 minutes to get to the base, and that’s not including the queue at the gate. Fuck, start you piece of shit! Turning the key in the ignition you pull the choke out as much as you can, gambling on it’s assistance.
It wasn’t the worst car in the world, an old Volvo 400, a welcome hand me down from your Grandfather. Despite its years ferrying all manner of small animals, feed and sheepdogs through the countryside, it still had some life left in it; but the suspension did creak whenever you hit the brakes. Thankfully pulling out of the space you make your way out of Broad St. avoiding the huddled bodies and slow into the queue of traffic headed for the slip road. Stopped up the way at the lights you see St Martins – one of the many churches in town, raised up behind the walls of the graveyard. Ivy and yew trees litter the small patch of land it occupies. Out front an archway of flags and soldiers line the cobbled path, a vicar leads the procession of military figures. Recalling the date and the protesters you suddenly realise it’s the anniversary. You turn down the radio blasting out, trying not to interrupt the ceremony - some semblance of respect for the occasion.
“You’re late” Brian is standing out in the heat hands in pockets, his red nose reflecting the sun under the bar canopy. He claps annoyed, ushering you in the direction of the doors.
“Brian, I am so sorry”, you try to think of an excuse but decide on just being apologetic instead. “I’ll stay after, I promise” you shout as you half run, half walk to the kitchen.
Securing your apron you make sure you’ve dragged all the sleep dust from the corners of your eyes and shake your head, willing yourself to wake the fuck up.
“Mar? I am so sorry.” You shout hoping she can hear your arrival.
“Y/N!” she emerges from behind an empty barrel almost twice her size. “It’s ok! Worry not! You’re only 15 minutes over” she pulls on the cigarette with her red lips, staining the white filter.
“I said to Brian I’ll stay later, is that ok?” you run your hands down your front, making sure you look presentable.
“Of course. Don’t take any mind dear”, she says with a sweet smile. “He’s in his usual grump today, it’ll be so slow, what with everything” gesturing her smoke wisped hand over her head.
“Right, I practically forgot this morning” you walk behind her to the front of the bar, mentally checking the counter for things to refill or clean. “You know there were protesters all over the street again? Out by the gate?” you said hoping to strike a conversation. She simply tuts and starts stacking hot glasses under the bar. “Outside my flat too, barely managed to get out of town this morning”.
“Well, I don’t know why they think today of all days is appropriate, but…” she trails uncertain - you assume, of whether to finish her thought.
“It looks like everything is sorted out here Mar, shall start on the cleaning?”
“I thought you’d never ask” she smiles wryly, passing the gloves and bucket into your hand. “Toilets first”.
Grabbing them you walk toward the customer loos first, then the one out back by the kitchen. You really don’t mind cleaning toilets, cleaning other people’s shit stains. It’s just not what you expected from your life this far. The menial part of the job allowed your mind to wander, especially as you got to put in your headphones and listen to music from time to time. Putting a compilation CD into the Walkman you clip it to the back of your jeans and settle in to the task ahead. Your current favourite was Don’t Fear the Reaper, but this was just a selection of rock songs you’d picked up from Woolworths on sale. Listening to the beat you imagine the scene in your head. The Reaper, a tall attractive demon, tempting the helpless woman to come with him into the night.
Apart from the odd family coming in to use the loo, there isn’t much actual bar work to do, and so you set yourself up with a can of pledge and a neatly ironed yellow cloth. You chuckle to yourself imagining Mary ironing the duster, she probably irons Brians tighty whities too. Paying attention to the window sills and then the wood on the pool table you try your best to find something useful to do, it’s not a big bar, but it gets dusty with the high ceiling. Picking up the stack of Stars and Stripes off the window ledge, you put them to one side, carrying on with the duster. Little balls of lint fly up into the beams of sunlight shining through the blinds. You look to the airfield and from this angle can only see a portion of the crowd. What must be hundreds of servicemen and visitors stand around a lone flag pole at half-mast. Knowing the day will drag, you refuse to look at your watch, turning it backwards around your wrist. It can’t be much later than 12 pm? A boom of shots ricochet outside, bouncing around the plaza. 12 on the dot, you congratulate yourself.
A brief laugh from the direction of the kitchen alerts you, and you smile. Brian and Mary are making themselves busy changing the oil in the fryer, diligently taking inventory on the supplies for the week ahead. Considering just how much of a grump Brian is, they really do love each other. It’s nice to hear them getting along even if it does involve a little manual labour.
The TV on the wall is next on your list, perched on a metal frame about 9 foot off the ground. Steadying yourself on a chair you climb up and pull back a horrifying amount of thick dust off the top. It glides on the breeze around you, lint sticking to your sweaty forehead. Gross! As you silently consider the reasons why dust freaks you out a lot more than the skid marks in the toilet bowl, your deliberations are interrupted by a deep voice behind you, an invitation to turn around.
“Shit!” you jump at his intrusion, grabbing onto the TV set to keep yourself upright. The Captain stands behind you in full dress uniform, a knowing smile painted at his mouth as he winks. “Jesus, sorry you scared me”. Oh god, he’s looking at my arse again…isn’t he.
“A lil’ jumpy are we?” he smirks holding out a white gloved hand to help you down. That raspy southern drawl, the words sliding easily off his tongue.
“Not particularly” you snap, “you’re…very quiet”. You raise your forearm to your forehead and wipe the mist of sweat and dust from your face. Holding onto the back of the chair you step down, refusing his hand. “Thanks, I’ll only get shit all over your blues.” Smiling half-heartedly you curse yourself for not wearing make-up today, before swiftly questioning why you suddenly feel that way; it had never bothered you before.
“You said that the other night” he quips, following you to the bar as you put down the can of pledge and clean your hands with your apron.
“Did I?” you cast your mind back to the Friday gone, and remember his voice in the dark. You hadn’t been able to get a good look at him before, but now, even in the dull light of the wood panelled bar you could see just how good-looking he is. The same dark curls slicked back under his beret, the long stubble from before now shaven, revealing a striking jawline. A fleck of dark noticeable in the iris of his deep blue eyes.
He props his arm against the bar, resting one leg in front of the other. “I wanted to come by and give ya this” he pulls off his gloves, neatly pressing them together and placing them in his trouser pocket. His sizeable hand searches on the inside of his jacket and he produces a tidily stamped letter, not breaking eye contact once. “It’s for you…” he presses, holding it out.
“For me? Oh fuck am I in trouble, because I swear…”
“Open it” he stops you mid ramble. You take the envelope, not before wringing your sweaty palms again on your apron.
Looking at your name written on the front you remember the parking ticket back home on the coffee table. His handwriting, not exactly messy but not particularly refined. You place the envelope on the counter pulling yourself onto a stool before picking it back up and fingering the ink mark on the corner. De oppresso liber? “From oppression, freedom?” you translate, an upward inflection gently encouraging his verification.
“Impressive” he leans down “You speak Latin?”. It’s that scent again, woody and masculine. Keep it together.
“Barely” you say scoffing at the thought, feeling the burn of his eyes on your face. “It was my least favourite lesson at school…a while ago now” you quickly add.
“Well, it’s the jist of it. At least it’s more about the journey…the journey of becomin’ a free man” he says gallantly, “through adversity…hard work”. You quickly realise that if he could spare the time you could listen to this man talk for hours. His deep voice was so hypnotising, drawing you in with each word. He spoke so persuasively for someone who sounded like…that.
“Per ardua ad astra” you point to the banner on the right hand side of the room. “RAF” a hangover from the previous occupants of the base.
“Right ya are, so…you gonna open it or am I to leave or summin’”. He raises his eyebrows at you expectantly.
“Oh yeah, sorry. I guess I’m not too sure what it is” Pulling a pair of scissors from your apron you turn it over, eyeing the thick paper.
“Scared of opening an envelope? OK, I’ll add that to my list” his Adams apple moves as he chuckles to himself.
“List?” He knows exactly what he’s doing.
“Whatever, just open the damn thing woman” Woman? oh god, please don’t be one of those types. He hovers as you cut open the neatly folded letter, thick watermarked paper with a short typed statement of regret from Cadet Bryant. At the bottom of the paper you note the signature. His squiggle over the printed lettering of his name.
“Oh. Him. You had to torture him to get this, right?” you breathe in a sigh, pulling your lips inward and thinking on the punishment he must have received. “I hope I didn’t get him into trouble with the Commander.”
“He’s pretty qualified to do that on his own, I can tell ya. Fuckin’ pain in my neck the last few months.” The Captain draws a bar stool from under his legs and sits as if to stay. “You think out of the hundreds of men I command, he’s the only one I ever had to worry about.” He pulls his thumb to his top lip and scratches the freshly shaved patch with the back of his nail sighing tellingly.
“I thought you were supposed to be good at taking orders, you know, to be in the forces?” you ask trying to avoid his blue eyes. You desperately want to step back and take a good look at him, the uniform, his triceps bulging at what was probably once a well fitted dress jacket. What you imagined you would see if you dropped your gaze just a few inches lower…fuck, this guy is so imposing. You stop yourself just as he responds.
“Or givin’ em” he’s so confident, so self-assured. Even sat there he towers over you, distracting you from what is probably another hour of cleaning; but still - you can’t help but want him to stay and make you uncomfortable for hours on end.
“Hmm. Well you can tell him thanks…for the apology. It wasn’t necessary, even though he did call me a see you next Tuesday.” He laughs at your gentility, you can tell he’s absorbing these little things, writing them on his mental list. Studying you.
You put the letter back in the envelope and rest it on the bar. Feeling something heavy weighing on your waistband, you reach back and remove the Walkman hanging from the back pocket, setting it on the beer mat beside Bryant’s apology. “Look, you’re probably really busy, but do you want a quick drink?” pushing a stray hair back behind your ear timidly. “I mean, I have to look as if I’m working or Brian back there will skin me”, you laugh a little more awkwardly than you mean too, expecting a firm but polite no.
He doesn’t wait long to answer “Sure, I’d love to, I can’t drink though. On duty…” he points to his chest, he means his uniform, but your eyes are stuck on the mass of colours on his breast, military ribbons. “I’ll take a coke unless y’got sweet tea?”.
“You mean cold tea?” he nods, knowing the answer. “Sorry, but we have coke” you say as indifferently as you can manage. “I have to go this way” you point behind him trying to ignore the turn of his head as it follows you to the kitchen door. Fucking smooth Y/N, you idiot.
Quickly checking in the mirror you try your best to rearrange yourself, sweaty and covered in filth from cleaning was not the look you were hoping for. Mary and Brian are squabbling over the correct storage of ketchup, fridge or cupboard. Brian is adamant it lives in the fridge, but Mary know best, cupboard all the way. You stealthily squeeze past them appreciating the distraction, perhaps you can keep the Captain talking for a while longer.
Grabbing a glass off the shelf you remember you haven’t really introduced yourself, and yet your full name is at the top of the letter. “I’m Y/N, well in case you forgot from the other night” you hold out a formal hand.
“I know” he says taking it in his and firmly shaking. You busy yourself pouring the best damn coke you can, trying to forget the feel of his hand on yours, the flush of electricity rushing from your fingers to your blushed cheeks. It feels like it takes forever, and a heavy silence fills the air.
“More Pantera?” he breaks the quiet. Flicking the lid on the Walkman. “Classic Rock Legends?” he reads the track list, subtly nodding his head.
“Hey? I like the old stuff” you counter, “The Eagles, Kansas…Kenny Rogers” you joke, as he presses the lid back down with a firm finger.
“Are you scared of me?” the question stops you in your tracks, you look at him beneath your dropped brow considering what to even say to that kind of a question. He has to know how he comes across? Come on he knows. Passing the drink to him you twist the top off a cold beer and sip it.
“I don’t know you enough to be scared of you” ok that was pretty smooth “you don’t appear to be armed and dangerous today though”. He sits back reflecting on your response. “I’m not used to this stuff. Guns, angry shouting men. Not scared per se, but that…makes me nervous, for sure”.
“OK, why work on an airbase then?” he starts, “if it makes ya nervous?” he’s studying you again.
“I don’t know. It came up.” You side step the question shrugging “It’s not like that over here. People come in with their kids in their civvies and watch football. I’m not a part of the Military stuff, I don’t understand it, I try to keep out of it.”
He downs the drink in one big gulp. “Yeah, it’s pretty sociable this side of town”.
“Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around, it gets fairly busy on the weekends, not your scene?” leaning on the fridge you gladly make some distance between you both.
“We have an Officers Mess, but I’m…too busy for that” He pushes the glass back towards you and you refill it, not daring to ask if he wants another. There’s something he doesn’t quite want to admit in his voice. “I have a bottle in my desk anyway.” He taps the rim of the glass as you pour the bottle, so close you think he might reach out and touch you. He’s lonely. “The guys don’t wanna see their boss on their night off. Kills the mood, ya’know?”
“I bet” you toss the empty bottle with a loud smash into the bin underneath, “especially when it ruins their fun harassing the local wildlife” you pointedly counter hoping he gets the point.
He leans back on the stool, “hey don’t get it twisted, that’s not a personal thing” he pulls his beret off and runs his hand through the gel coated curls underneath. “It’s a professional thing Darlin’. My Mom raised me better than that”. Is he talking about the harassment or the women?
“Go on then, where’s this mystery accent from?” you smile, happy to change the subject.
“Guess!” he sips his drink coyly.
“Alabama?” he shakes his head with mock offense. “Fine, uhh. Oklahoma? Louisiana? Carolina? Kentucky? Arkansas?”
The Captain chuckles with a grunt “No, nope, which one? No and fuck no.”
“Come on, there’s too many to guess. Besides I don’t want to offend you.”
“Doll you couldn’t offend me if you tried” he winks effortlessly.
“Ok, ok! I give up, white flag” throwing your hands in the air in false defeat.
“Lonestar State?” he hums, putting on his best southernly drawl.
“Utah!” you declare, teasing a rise out of him “Texas, I know…I know!” He looks relieved. No I’m not a fucking idiot, although you feel your attempt at flirting really isn’t hitting the mark. “So that’s why you’re so big huh?”. The words slip out before you even realise you’ve said it, adding to your already pink cheeks.
“Darlin’ you have no idea.” He doesn’t exactly wink, but the twinkle in his eye confesses more than he ever needs to say. Putting his beret back on his head, he straightens himself, chucks a 10 on the bar and nods a goodbye. “See ya around Doll”. You look at the note on the counter, far too much for the two drinks, besides…it was meant to be your treat, to say thank-you. Slipping the 10 into the envelope you gather yourself and prepare for the after-service crowd to spill in.
Tropetember Day 9 - Historical (Regency, Ancient Greece/Rome, Prehistory etc.) / Modern / Futuristic AU
Mr Hotchner, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance (Regency AU)
Pairing: Aaron Hotchner x Female Reader (dresses, mention of becoming an old maid)
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: General Audiences
AN: Day 9 of @tropetember. Yet another Hotch story that could be expanded into a small series. Not sure how effective it is a Regency piece? Any feedback would be much appreciated.
A widower with a good fortune and a son moves into the nearby great estate. Will that be any concern of yours?
Find this story on Ao3 here.
Word Count: 1.5k
When Jane Austen observed that a young man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, she was not incorrect. The question is whether all of those criteria needed to be met for similar conclusions to be made of men in similar circumstances.
Mr Hotchner, whilst in possession of good fortune, could no longer be classed as young, being in his mid-thirties. To further complicate matters, he was a widower and had a child from his first match.
When the inhabitants of the surrounding area became acquainted with the details of the new owner of the neighbouring great estate, they too were unsure. Some claimed he would be past his prime, grief would likely have ruined him, left crags upon his face and aged him beyond his years. Others, notably those with unwed daughters, argued that a mother figure for his son and match for himself would only increase the happiness and imagined handsomeness of the fine gentleman due to enter the parish.
As it is in most cases, neither party was entirely correct. On his arrival into the county, he was noted to be a handsome man, but he never smiled. He was charming and generous, but rarely spoke unless questioned. He may be improved by feminine influence, but did not seem to be in the market for such.
Whilst you were aware of the excitement of the new neighbour, you chose not involve yourself in the fray. At nearly 29, your future as an old maid had been declared by the villagers for many years. You were lucky that your younger brother was set to inherit your fathers modest estate upon his passing. You knew your brother would continue to look after you, and in return you did what you could to help your family in the day to day.
You had been so disconnected from the gossip, that it came as a surprise when your father notified you that the family had been invited to the estate for dinner and cards. Mr Hotchner was hosting one of his friends, Sir David Rossi, and it was apparently at his suggestion that the event was conceived.
As usual before an engagement, you select a nice dress, a new one you had been treated to a few weeks earlier, made of fine fabrics and with lace trim. Your maid, Sarah, had helped you style your hair and by the end of it, even you would agree that you looked pretty. You’d never be a beauty, but you were looking your best in the spring of your late bloom.
The carriage ride to the estate was quiet. Your brother mainly discussed business with your father as your mother and yourself admired the countryside. This admiration only grew as you entered the estate’s gardens. They were spectacular. A balanced combination of wilderness and cultivation.
Pulling up, you all clambered from the carriage and were led into the house by one of the servants. Inside, a modest party of the foremost members of the neighbourhood were gathered and you greeted them as you entered. It was not until around 5 minutes later that Mr Hotchner and his friend entered.
He was very handsome, something the slightly severe expression on his face could not hide. You could not help but watch as he slowly made his way around the room. He had a very authoritative presence, but not in an arrogant or rude way. It seemed more that he was aware of his role and status.
It was not long until it was your turn to be introduced to him. You curtsied and shyly met his eyes as you rose back to full height. For the first time in many years, you felt your breath catch slightly.
Your eyes were drawn away from Mr Hotchner’s as Sir David was also introduced to you. He was older than his companion, with a well maintained beard and a gentle grin resting on his features. He was also effortlessly charming but in a more extroverted manner than his friend.
You conversed with the pair for a while, polite conversation you make with new acquaintances about how they are enjoying the area and settling and such. It is not until dinner is called that you’re reluctantly separated. Good conversationalists were sorely lacking in this part of the world and you were already looking forward to getting to know them.
Dinner was a tasty and lively affair, with many laughs and much conversation. Afterwards the gentlemen separate off to have their whisky, leaving the women to gossip and you to nip out to answer the call of nature.
On your way back, you are met with an unexpected sight.
At the bottom of the main staircase stands a young boy in a dressing gown, stuffed toy in hand. Seeing that he looks upset, you slowly approach him and smile gently.
“Hello” you greet him. “Are you well?” you ask the little boy, not wanting to crowd him but unsure why he is upset.
He shakes his head shyly and his eyes stay trained on the floor. It breaks your heart a little.
Bobbing down, you pull a handkerchief from the hidden pocket in your dress to gently wipe his tears. Once they’re cleared away, you introduce yourself to him.
He reaches out a hand as his manners kick. “I’m Jack Hotchner. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
His voice isn’t full bodied but it’s a good start.
“Well, what a polite young gentleman.” He smiles at you for the compliment and holds himself a little taller. “Where might you be heading this late at night.”
“I," he pauses, "I want to see my father.”
You nod your head.
“Of course young sir” you give a theatrical bow to offer your hand to him which makes him giggle as he takes hold, “follow me.”
You head down to the room you saw the men head into and knock gently, hearing Mr Hotchner call for you to enter.
Gently pushing the door, you answer his questioning expression. “I found someone in the entrance hall who wished to see you.” He looks concerned until he spots his son’s head peeking around you. His face breaks out into a large smile which makes him appear far more youthful than you would have guessed. Sir David’s tales of him being a heartbreaker may not be as exaggerated as you first believed.
He greets the young boy, taking his hands as he lowers himself to his son’s level to ask what is wrong. On discovery of Jack having had a nightmare, he brings him into the room, thanking you for looking after him and releasing you to head back to the ladies.
Your mother immediately corners you upon your return and you do your best to divert her by claiming to have been appreciating the art decorating the corridors. It is not necessarily a lie, the house itself is beautiful enough itself to be considered such, but you doubt Mr Hotchner would appreciate you sharing his son’s nightmares with people who are strangers to him.
You do not have to distract your mother for long thankfully, as the gentlemen soon return and card tables are drawn up. There are slightly too many people for everyone to play so you offer to sit out and take a seat on a nearby settee with one of the books from the shelves. You are slightly surprised when a small body, now dressed in his father’s suit jacket, settles on the cushion next to you.
As you entertain the young Hotchner, you are unaware of the discussion taking place across the room.
“She seems good with him,” observes Sir David, deliberately keeping his voice down and pretending to contemplate his cards.
Mr Hotchner shoots him a withering glance before allowing, “she does. In general, she seems like a lovely woman. I am glad we have made her acquaintance.”
Sir David hums as his gaze drifts back to you, now teaching the young boy some sort of clapping game. “You know, I would be rather upset with you if you were not to throw a ball before I am to leave for London.”
“I believe you are meddling again Sir David,” Mr Hotchner plays a card as he continues, “but I will speak to the staff tomorrow about organising one.”
“You will be expected to dance, since you are hosting.”
Despite not normally being one to give into his friends' schemes, Mr Hotchner nods, eyes once again fixed on you.
“I’m sure I can find someone suitable,” he says and at that moment your eyes meet his. Yes, he thinks, he is sure you will dance as beautifully as you smile.
5 times a Tremblay sibling kept a secret and 1 time they did not - Sydney
The second part of this fic! And it’s Sydney’s turn. For the record, I know zero about hockey or Canadian prep schools, so despite some research there are probably many inaccuracies in this. Sorry!
CW: Pressure to go to university. Please message me if you would like any content tags added or feel I need to add to this list.
See my masterlist for future and previous chapters
Thank you to @the-mouse-in-a-jumper and @anderperries for betaing this for me :)
And last, but most certainly not least, a massive thank you to @lumosinlove for the creation of the sweater weather universe and the wonderful OC’s (including the Tremblay siblings) within it.
Sydney felt like she couldn’t breathe as she walked the halls. She was supposed to be heading to math, but her mind was spinning and there was no way she was going to be able focus on derivatives at the moment.
When her coach had sent for her, Sydney had assumed that it was a quick last minute question or update before the game this evening. That had been two class periods ago and she had only just left.
She found her favourite place to sneak an unauthorised break, a quiet corner where there were only bathrooms, and checked her watch as she slid down a wall. In fifteen minutes, the deserted oasis would be a jungle as students rushed to relieve their bladders in between classes. Sydney breathed in and out slowly, trying to control her breathing in the way her yoga teacher always told her to.
She had asked her coach to print out a copy of the email that she had received. The paper it was printed on felt like it had weight. One letter sized piece of paper had never been so heavy.
Thank you for sending Sydney's tape. After reviewing it, I would be very interested in coming to see Sydney play in person. I took the liberty of checking your fixtures and noticed you have a game this evening. I am watching another player in your local area this morning and as such, would be available to see Sydney in the evening. Please get back to me as soon as possible to confirm this would be okay.
Montreal Stars Scout.
As she read the words again, it dawned on Sydney that this was actually real. It was actually happening. She’d dreamed of playing hockey professionally since her first fumbling steps onto the ice. She had to tell her parents.
Of course her parents knew she played hockey. They even knew she planned to continue playing hockey after high school. This prep school; renowned for both its academics and its hockey programme, had been a compromise on the travel hockey that Sydney had wanted to play. It allowed her to play competitively whilst still leaving her eligible for NCAA schools in the US. The fact that she was going to college was assumed.
When she had given her coach permission to send the tape, it had been with the belief that nothing was going to come of it. It would put her on the radar for when she was ready in a few years time.
Sydney wasn’t self-depreciating, she knew that she had talent. A local newspaper had once described her as ‘a budding young talent. Quite the goalkeeper, even at fifteen.’ Scouting started early in hockey. American schools trying to halt young Canadians on their path to junior league hockey, so they could play for their colleges later. She'd spoken to schools and had good feedback. She was confident that she’d play hockey somewhere. This was different though. A professional team. It was too much for her barely 17 year old brain to comprehend.
"Squid?" Logan, her brother, interrupted Sydney's thoughts. "Ca va?" he asked, walking towards her. The students in this school came from all over Canada, and so, despite being in the countryside of Quebec, people usually leaned towards talking in English. Logan clung onto his native language more than most.
"Hey Lo," Sydney smiled up at him. He'd had a growth spurt in the last few months and her baby brother was looking more and more like a man as the days passed. "What are you doing here?"
Logan gestured to the doors further down the corridor, " J'allais aux toilettes," He glanced at Sydney before joining her on the floor, "I could ask you the same. C'est quoi?"
Sydney didn't have time to answer Logan's question about what the paper was before it was being plucked from her hands. His eyes widened more and more as he read.
"Sydney," Logan gasped. "The Stars! What did Papa et Maman say?"
Trust Logan to get to the tricky questions straight away. Sydney played with her lip between her teeth, "I just found out, Lo. I'm still processing."
"What about university? You know Papa will say that you have to go," Logan asked, playing with the edges of the paper.
"Don't do that," Sydney grabbed the letter back, smoothing the wrinkles out. Superstitions were rife in hockey, and she couldn't shake the feeling that if the paper got damaged it would affect her performance tonight. "You think I haven’t considered that?" she whined, pushing her knees up and dropping her head into them before letting out a noise of frustration.
"My sister, playing for the Montreal Stars. That is so cool," Logan said, and Sydney could hear the grin in his voice.
She looked up at him, "Calm down. They haven't even seen me play yet. It could be nothing."
"And it could be everything," Logan argued. "You have to be positive. I'm going to go to Harvard and then I'm going to play for the NHL.” The confidence in the words reminded Sydney of their older sister, Aubrey. Most would have dismissed it as the lofty dream of a fourteen year old, but if anybody was determined enough to make it come true then it was her brother. “Just tell Papa et Maman. They'll come around," Logan continued. There was that confidence again.
Sydney scoffed, "Easy enough for you to say. You could tell them that you had murdered somebody and they would help you cover it up. You're spoiled."
"I can't help being charming," Logan said with a laugh. "Non, mais sérieusement, tell them. Papa is not a tyrant, he wants you to be happy. He just thinks university will give you the best start in life. I’m sure he can be convinced otherwise.”
"When did you get so wise, little brother?" Sydney smiled, pulling Logan close to her side. He pretended to resist for a token few seconds, but he had always been affectionate and soon squirreled in to her. "If you plan on going to Harvard, you should probably stop skipping English"
"I told you..." Logan started, but Sydney waved him off.
"There are three sets of bathrooms between here and your classroom. Trois," Sydney smirked. "You might have the rest of the world wrapped around your little finger, but you forget I know you, Lo."
"You forget I know you, Lo," Logan mocked before his features morphed into a picture of perfect innocence. "You're still going to give me your English notes though, aren't you?"
"More than likely, yeah." Sydney laughed. "Maybe I'm not so immune to those puppy dog eyes after all."
"Thanks, squid, you're the best," Logan hugged her a little tighter. "And you're going to be amazing tonight. Papa et Maman are going to be so proud, I promise."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Just remember me when you're hoisting the Stanley cup, eh?" Sydney said, flicking Logan on his forehead.
"Oww, that is assault," Logan whined, rubbing at his brow far more dramatically than warranted, making Sydney snicker. "I think you'll be lifting a cup before me anyway," he added.
"Alright, enough with the sucking up. Class is about to change. Maybe actually go to your next one?" Sydney said, shoving Logan away from her with a grin.
harry and you go down to the countryside!
full of fluff and a little bit of swearing!!! feedback is welcome as always <3
“fuck. this place is beautiful” harry said as you were driving into the cabin driveway. You were surround by fields and trees, the driveway was narrow because of the fence keeping the sheep off the road — but it was beautiful nonetheless. The view from your cabin to the hills were breathtaking. you could already see yourself spending your mornings out there with a nice coffee. “so beautiful. we really got lucky with this.” you agreed placing a hand on his thigh. “thank you for doing this.” you say, harry didnt respond just lifted your hand up to his lips and kissed the back of it.
After a two minute drive up the long narrow driveway, you made it the cabin. It was small, but looked quite cozy. Just what you guys were looking for. The cabin looked so snug, you couldn’t wait to get into your pjs and cuddle by the fire.
You parked the car and made your way up to the door while harry got the suitcases from the boot of the car. It took you a minute to unlock the door as the owner told you that this was new and you and harry were the first to stay here, so the lock was a little rusty due to no one being here for quite some bit. When you walked in you were met with cold air and an unusually large hallway. There was paintings on every side of the wall and a long table under the window in the porch. “baby! you did so good” you yelled out earning a laugh from harry.
you walked down the hallway touching the paintings as you went — another beautiful thing. the paintings looked ancient and thats what you think made them so gorgeous. After a little fangirling at the paintings you were met with small living room, a couch in the middle of it just infront of the fire. when you looked up there was stairs at the side leading up to the master bedroom. under the stairs was a small bathroom. the kitchen was sort of in the living room only the floor changed letting you know you entered the kitchen. you loved it — small and cozy, just what you needed. The house you and harry bought recently is big, huge actually. it’s nice to go back to basics you thought.
“jesus — this is amazing” harry said from behind you the suitcases behind him. you turned around and grinned at him placing your hands on his shoulders. “this just earned you so many brownie points” you giggled pecking his lips. harry hummed and kissed your lips “good. i think i deserve some love for this place.” he responded making you roll your eyes and look up at the loft you’d be sleeping in.
“i used to want have a loft so bad.” you admitted walking up the stairs, harry tapped your ass and grinned “i do listen sometimes, honey.” you nodded and gasped when you reached the top. the room was so snug and had its own little fire place up here. and the view was so incredible.
“you’re amazing harry styles.” you say kissing all over his face. harry shrugged and pulled you down on the bed.
“heard that once or twice.”
you laughed and moved up the bed. you moaned when your head hit the pillow. “comfy?” harry asked getting up off the bed, down the stairs to get the suitcases. good think about this is that you can still hear him — you don’t have to move a muscle. “hmmm. so comfy” you hummed cuddling into the bed. “don’t sleep now lovey. hot chocolate and some new girl is on the way” harry said as he walked back up the stairs with the bags.
you just nodded and got up and opened up your suitcases. “you make the hot chocolate, i’ll unpack.” you say kissing his cheek. harry nodded and pecking your lips three times “teamwork.” he hummed against your lips. he slapped your ass making you squeal before making his way down to the kitchen.
After about 10 minutes you unpacked everything and drank half of your hot chocolate. “i head we have a hot date with nick miller?” you tease climbing onto the bed while harry opened up his computer. he just rolled his eyes “i don’t understand your crush with nick miller.” harry mumbled putting in his password.
“stop being so jealous.” you say kissing his shoulder. “i’m not jealous.” he said and you just rolled your eyes and kissed his shoulder again.
The sleep you guys got that night was insane. you felt so refreshed when you woke up, not even a little bit tired or groggy. Considering you woke at 6 it was a miracle.
you turned around to see harry still sleeping soundly. he looked pretty, you thought. you placed a hand on his cheek caressing it softly. “love you.” harry mumbled making you blush, you pecked his lips and smiled to yourself “love you more.”
after staying in bed for another ten minutes, you were reminded about the beautiful view waiting for you and that coffee. so you pulled the covers off and climbed out of bed. the floor was cold on your bare feet, it made you shiver a little seen as you were in one of harry’s shirts and little shorts you got as a birthday present. you should’ve back some fluffy bottoms — but they wouldn’t fit as you brought one too many shoes. after going through the closet you pulled out sweats and a dressing gown you packed, funnily enough you and harry have the same one. You’re definitely that couple, you thought.
after getting changed and quickly brushing your hair you make yourself a coffee and have a sneaky jaffa cake. You wait for what feels like an eternity for the coffee to be made and then head outside. the only shoes at the door were harrys so you were tripping over yourself when you stared walking. something you like to tease harry about is his huge feet — it’s really not human.
you sigh in content bringing the mug of hot coffee to your lips. You feel hands on your hips making you grin. “well don’t you look sexy.” harry teased resting his chin on your shoulder and kissing it lightly. “i think i look great” you say laughing to yourself.
you turn around and see harry in the same dressing gown as you. “we really are that couple.” you giggle shaking your head. harry feins offence bringing his hand to his heart “i love being that couple.” he said leaning down to kiss your forehead, you sigh in content.
“me too, baby, me too.”
2020 creator wrap: favourite works 🖤
rules: it’s time to love yourselves! choose your 5 (or so) favourite works that you created in the past year (fics, art, edits, etc) and link them below to reflect on the amazing things you brought into the world in 2020. tag as many writers/artists/etc as you want (fan or original) so we can spread the love and link each other to awesome works.
tagged by @howevernot , who is an absolute sweetheart 🖤 Thank you! I have created many, many works this year, and have written and created more than I have since... 2016, I believe, or thereabouts. It has been an incredibly year for me from a creator standpoint and I have met so many wonderful new people as I dipped my wide duck feet into the Northwest Passage that is The Terror, all of whom made the absolute mess that was 2020 not only bearable but exciting and fun at times. Thank you all so much! Words cannot even express my gratitude.
1. the paths of glory lead but to the grave (fanfiction, rated M; the terror; joplittle, 28k; art masterpost)
This fic was my pinch-hit for the Terror Big Bang this year, and marked the first time I’d ever had the privilege of participating in a Big Bang in all my years of writing fanfiction. I had missed the initial sign-ups because I was in the middle of my 1L exams when it was announced, and was very disappointed. Imagine my surprise and happiness when I was contacted in what I believe was late July, asking if I would be interested in pinch-hitting! I agreed, was paired with a phenomenal artist, and somehow by the grace of all that is holy managed to write just under 30k of joplittle angst in under a month. It’s not my most popular piece (probably one of my least popular pieces by kudos and comments, if not the least), but it is the one I am most proud of all the same.
In 1851, a small fleet under the command of Captain Horatio Thomas Austin located the survivors of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition and brought twenty-some corpse-like figures back to England. Given temporary leave to recuperate in the countryside following their ordeal, Edward Little and Thomas Jopson attempt to reconcile the past with the present and the fact that not all the ice was left behind in the Arctic.
Or, nearly 30k of survivor's guilt, intimacy, the softness and tragedy of the human connection, and learning to forgive.
“The men on Beechey,” Captain William Penney had asked him tentatively before they’d left King William Island, the two brigs under his command floating beyond Resolute’s sturdy decks, “who were they?”
Edward had thought back to those graves, dug deliberately into the frozen ground and lovingly, mournfully filled and marked; had thought about the care shown those young men, whom they had all thought to have the devil’s own luck at the time. He’d then thought of another man, buried alone in a wild and savage land with nothing to mark his resting place; of weathered bones and lonely stones, and the ghost of a man who had only ever wanted to be seen consigned to an anonymous oblivion.
He never asked what it was that William Penney had seen in his face; had never asked what had made Alexander Stewart take the smallest of steps back as Edward’d said, simply:
“The lucky ones.”
2. labefaction (fanfiction, rated M; the terror; joplittle, 5k+)
This was me wanting to put Thomas Jopson in a dress and have Edward Little slide his hands up his skirts, but it sort of turned into a surreal little piece set during Fitzjames’ Carnivale in a universe where Crozier recovered early enough for him and Thomas to decide to attend. Featuring Fitzjames also in the dress canon denied us, and yes, Edward’s hands up Thomas’ skirts :’) A fun little romp.
In the surreal realm of Fitzjames' Carnivale, Edward Little and Thomas Jopson share a dance.
Please, Thomas thought wildly, his own hands reaching out to grip the front of Edward’s vest and haul him forward, pressing as close as he could, desperate for the contact, the heat. It was everything he had built up in his head, and yet it was nothing like that at all, and he wondered for a brief moment if it was even real, or if it was just another illusion of this place.
A gust of wind from the outside was like a bucket of cold water, but instead of deterring him, it only made Thomas more determined for contact, for the heat and warmth of the man in front of him, who was pushing him back, back, until his spine connected with one of the wooden supports and Thomas broke the kiss with a gasp, quickly swallowed. There was a hand at his hip, at his skirts, sliding up against the thigh of the leg he’d hooked around Little’s waist, cold against his flushed skin. The chill was delicious, and he craved more, just like he craved more of Edward’s gaze upon him, only him. You’ve been seen, he thought, no, no.
3. we are gone (playlist, spotify; the terror; surreal; 2h+)
The playlist I originally made while writing my TBB fic (linked above). I was asked to post it, and so I did after making a quick album cover for it. I am ridiculously proud of it, and was surprised by the positive feedback it received! My personal favourite tracks include the opening track (Traust, by Heilung) and Myrkr, by Heldom. Also ft. a couple songs by The Amazing Devil.
4. the ruin within (fanfiction, rated E; the terror; joplittle, 9k+)
This was my fic for the Joplittle Fall Fic Exchange, my first fic exchange in almost five years! Because of how my pinch-hit for the TBB played out time-wise, I didn’t get to start on this one until a week before it was due, and I am honestly still very pleased with the results! I wrote it for someone who wrote one of my all-time favourite joplittle fics, too, so that was an extra treat for me!
As preparations for Fitzjames' Carnivàle get underway, Edward Little offers to teach Thomas the quadrille. Thomas just hopes he can survive the lieutenant's hands on him with his control intact and his secrets in check.
“And if I did? If I wished it? Alone, here, with you?”
There was that thing in Little’s face again, in the set of those cupid’s bow lips, swimming just below a surface that was not nearly as blank as most people believed, and Thomas, his own attentions sharp as a blade, made reckless by God only knew, pressed himself that much closer until—
A flicker. A crack in the wall, in the foundation, in Little’s eyes, which widened just the slightest bit as they caught on his hands resting against Thomas’ waist, on Thomas’ mouth, and Thomas, never as good a man as he should have been and selfish besides, rested his hands on Little’s broad shoulders, took the sharp blade of want in his own chest, and plunged it into Little’s own without hesitation and without mercy.
“Oh, Lieutenant,” he whispered, leaning up, his mouth by Little’s ear as the man all but trembled in his arms, “I’m not that kind of girl.”
5. this colourless light (fanfiction, rated E; the terror; joplittle, nearly 5k)
This was just something I could not get out of my head, and that I wrote for fun. It was, as I stated in the fic’s notes, entirely self-indulgent. Entirely. I just wanted some softness and tenderness, and so I gave it to myself, as I had been having a very bad week. I really do like how it came out!
Thomas Jopson takes care of a frozen Edward Little, and an Arctic whiskey caper ends tenderly.
“My love, my own love,” Thomas was whispering, the words only half-spoken as Edward continued to kiss him, still shuddering, still shaking, the wool blanket heavy where it was still draped over them. Edward slipped his hands up that trembling stomach, through the mess left there, a hot claim that he smeared over soft skin.
Honourary mention also goes to would you gain the tender creature, which I wrote in response to a prompt and which remains a personal favourite of mine, but that has featured in lists before so I figured I would spotlight some newer fics!
I am tagging @allegoriesinmediasres, @jamesclarkross, @rosewaterhag, @proudspires, @derry-rain, @thekenobee, @caravaggiosbrushes, @longstoryshortikilledhim, @distantsnows, @judiejodia, and any friends/mutuals/non-mutuals who see this and wish to participate, because I always forget to tag a couple of people despite my best efforts 🖤
Representing the Real
Critique Feedback Form
NAME: Jessica Hynes
PROJECT: Documentary Film
DATE OF CRITIQUE: 27th April
TUTOR(S): Sana Bilgrami, Thomas Sheridan and Joe Li
VERBATIM TRANSCRIPT OF FEEDBACK:
Sana, “I really enjoyed that, I thought it was good that you started off with her talking about having been born during the war. And then there’s a nice slow process of revelation. She moves to this place for peace and then you find out about the firing range. So that’s shocking and you really get the feel of irony. And then you get the whole war thing at the end. So, I think structurally the film works really well. Actually, my main feedback to improve the film is for a start. She starts literally when the film starts, and she starts speaking and she stops when the credits are rolling, and she doesn’t stop for a minute in between. You need to let the Film breathe. You could have cut out some of that and had started with her not speaking. You use the landscape beautifully in your film, I just wanted the film to start with silence. Just hear, you know get constructed, the ready-made sounds of nature and put us in that space. Like using ready made Library sounds. Let us be emersed in that country side before she starts speaking about being from London, and we can see her sitting there. I’m sure you might have a moment of footage when she’s not speaking. I really appreciate that you held the shots, like the cutaways. You said you didn’t treat them like cutaways, and I can see that. So I actually have nothing against the nicely held shots. You let us look at the stream and the mountains and so on. So really well done on that. And I guess maybe in alongside what you would do in those moments of silence, where she stops speaking is let us be emersed in the sound of the countryside, because your whole film is about sound. Your film is quite literally about the sound of silence that she wants, the sound of prayer that you didn’t get and the sounds of gunshots, which we never hear. But we don’t need to hear them. What she says is enough. Those signs. All of that is enough for us to imagine it. But you, your film is just like gasping for the sound of nature. I mean otherwise it’s totally engaging and really interesting. I mean the only other thing I’d say would be if you had any more shots of the temple and the praying that would help give us a little bit more. I liked the interview and the way you set it up and I didn’t mind the sound of the wind. Well, done for improving it, you know it didn’t bother me because we were outside. So yeh that’s my feedback.”
Joe, “So well done I like the film. The fact that you go all the way to the Scottish Border Its not easy for the shoot so well done. First the film is really about a delay in the voiceover for a few seconds. It’s just too fast and to have the empty shot using music or ambience first and then start the voice. And the other thing about the sound aswell is we are watching things that have sound, like the river, but we don’t hear any sound. So we need that sort of ambient sound. It’s quite bizarre we hear the wind see the wind cut to the river, there is no water. I think you did a good job anyway for most of the film. The water sounds you could have just downloaded you know.”
Tommy, “They have the sound they just couldn’t find it and so it was like the classic sort of sound last thing. And then you don’t have time for this. We know your Editor dropped out so this was really a time issue.”
Joe, “The other thing about the technical aspect was the shaky camera and shaky shots. It happened across the board the whole day. What you need to say is I’m going to be using handheld for empty shots. I will recommend for you to still take your tripod with you put your camera on the tripod and also imitate their movement. That makes is look natural as it’s like hey it’s on a tripod when at the same time you can just imitate a movement. I think that would really help with some of those shaking shots.”
Joe “I mean I have to talk to Tommy about giving you guys extra points for going on this adventure to make the film. Yeah, we will have to talk about it next week. My last point is really about across the board today is really the narratives challenge. It’s the way you tell a story maybe is not fiction film, so we are not conscious of this. You have such a conflict here that the place just next door is a shooting range and it’s a really big issue. Establishing this conflict at the start would have made the interview more intresting to listen to. You don’t establish the conflict; all of this is done through her interview. The gunfire is awesome its such an important element. Why do we not hear gunfire at all? I think there should have atleast been some gunfire or peaceful crowds.”
Tommy, “Ok, So first of all congratulations on the trip down there that was bold. I thought it was a bad idea to go all the way down there so you couldn’t re-shoot couldn’t pick stuff up. And I know you worked really hard while you were there to make it happen. Long Days. So well done. I totally agree with Joe on that. On the technical camera side, I think there was quite a lot of over-exposure what was meant to be peaceful seemed quite over cast. I kind of wanted the peacefulness because the shots and landscape were really beautiful just the brightness and colour and contrast put it down a bit you know. But I did find the cutaways very useful, but I would have left them for longer because of the peace. I kind of agree with more than with Joe than with Sana because of the creative potential with the sound of bullets. Especially because when I saw those metal plates for the bullets, for the shooting range those are like gongs. Like and when you hit them, they make noise and when you hit them from far away. You won’t know this but there are so many overlaps between the gun range and the prayer space and the Buddhist philosophy. So, when she was like ‘they told us to live and let live’ I felt the irony and when they were like ‘it should improve your meditation practices’, you know meditate through gunshots that’s actually kind off true in terms of meditating in noisy places. But I can tell she’s bothered by it being guns and I just think that subtlety is very nice in the storytelling and the storytelling and feel is quite a complex situation which I kind of like the way that it across. Definitely agree about starting later I would have loved; Duncan I know you’re not very experienced and were thrown into the deep end in this project. Sound design in a pro shoot has its own time. You lock the picture which means no more edits are going to happen the have about two to three weeks where it’s just sound design. Go find the sounds that the sound recordist made etc. I feel like this film would benefit massively by sound design. The silence and the noise and all the prayers, all of these things are really sounds driven rather than picture driven, and I feel creative sound design could enrich this so much. I feel like if the film started with birds chirping and silence and the pew and you hear the gunshots it would have been so much more effective. Yeh, I think there’s a lot of opportunity here to work with the sound design potential and work with the peace and non-peace. I thought the dealing from a technical point of view with the sound. I was very impressed with the recording in the wind. Like you can see horizontal laundry you know from the wind and the cleaning up was impressive because it was a very clean sound of that. Really like your pay offline or conclusion over the credits is really killing it. Not in a good way. It really undermines her story, and we should hear it. Then go back to the countryside then go to the credits like really give it breathing space. I’m aware that you were aware for time. Overall, I really thought she was a great character and appreciated all the tough outs you faced along the way, so im aware of that so I thought it was good.
Leo “I think it’s such a fascinating premise and I totally agree what Sana said about giving the film breathing time aswell and giving the peaceful shots some sound design. So, imagine having these beautiful shots. And then in the middle you just hear rapid gunfire, and your audience goes, what is that? What is going on? Then you kind off reveal it. This might not be a shared experience around here, but I think your subject was very boring to listen to. Like she has a very interesting story but the way she speaks dragging on sentences. So, in a sense I agree that you should have cut around it to make it more concise I don’t know how you would have done it. So, in a sense I feel for you because you had a lot of information to coney to make the conflict clear but it wasn’t easy to do so. I feel like it could have benefited from adopting a more abstract, more fictionalised approach to what you were showing. Don’t be afraid to push the fiction aspect a little bit more if it’s necessary. I don’t think in any way it would have been the case of lying it would just be placing sound so you can have at the moment. So, I think this film can be replanned around sound and play with that a bit more.
MAIN POINTS GLEANED FROM FEEDBACK:
Sound Design: Using sound effects to establish more of the plot. For example, the sound of a gong mirroring the shots of metal plates of the shooting range. More sound design of the cut-away shots, river with no sound etc.
Give the film some breathing time: Have some peaceful shots of the landscape at the start of the film and create some ambiance using music or sound library sounds.
Conclusion: Instead of going straight into the credits let Julie finish her sentence and cut away to more scenery before rolling the credits on a black screen.
Make conflict clear: This could have been done using sound design, making a contrast between the gun sound and peacefulness of the monastery.
The main criticism of our film was the sound design and there not being enough ambient, or complementary sounds in the film to make it appear more finished and add structure to the story that Julie was telling. I think the main problem was that we ran out of time in the edit leaving sound effects a last resort if we had our film finished on time. If we had more time our group would add more creative sound design and discuss creative ways to display the conflict out with Julie’s interview in the film.
-Re-edit the film using sounds we recorder on the day or library sounds to create a more ambient film as well as adding more layers to the conflict in the story. Going back to work on sound design will add a more finished feel to the film.
-Go into projects record and label every sound as it makes is so much easier for the editor.
-Make sure you time manage so that the sound designer has enough time to play around after the edit.
No one seems to know what emotional support is so let me clarify.
What emotional support isn't:
"That's just how things are"
"If you think THIS is bad, just wait until you're MY AGE"
"Just get over it"
"You're too sensitive"
"How long ago was this?"
"Are you taking your medication?"
"People only hurt your feelings if you let them"
"Don't send out negative energy"
"At least you don't have MY problem"
"I went through something similar and I turned out fine"
"I went through something similar, let me tell you about it... (completely dissimilar story)"
"Well I mean you're not entirely innocent here either"
"It wasn't that bad"
“Okay, lover boy”
For @bfharry boyfriendathon!!! A trip to Paris with your loving boyfriend Harry!
this gif bc sweetie! but also bc this is the coat he’s wearing :)
We’ve got fluff, (a little) angst, and smut for y’all and music always. I love Paris, was actually there this time last year so I was feeling nostalgic! Also Harry in Europe is always A+++ Hope y’all enjoy and feedback is ALWAYS appreciateddd
Word Count: 5.2k | Warnings: some self-doubt, oral!male receiving, mentions of sex, language?
Summer in Paris. The most romantic place in the world with the loveliest weather. Except, the weather wasn’t exactly lovely. But it was quite romantic and that’s what you decided to focus on. Harry and you had flown off to get away from the world by living in the South of France for the Summer. First, you had begged Harry to spend a good three days in Paris before heading to the countryside. He had obviously agreed. Today was your second day.
“Love, wake up,” Harry cooed softly in your ear.
You stirred in the plush bed and slowly sat up in the mess of sheets. You rubbed at your eyes and when you blinked them open you saw Harry standing before you. He was already dressed in striped trousers and a striped shirt under a sweater vest and seemed to have run out to bring you coffee in bed. He crossed to perch on the bed and leaned forward to kiss your cheek. Your body leaned in to receive the sweet peck of his soft lips.
“Good morning, love, y’look ravishing” he sighed sweetly as he pulled back from your face. You rolled your eyes and scratched at your disheveled hair.
Moving your head in a circle around your neck, you laughed breathily at all of his sweet words, “I look a mess, but thanks, H.”
“You don’t,” he protested, sliding his hands around your shoulders and moving to lay on top of you on the bed.
You giggled and wriggled in the sheets as he began to pepper kisses along your face, neck and collarbones. “You’re absolutely stunning. Like always.”
The pair of you rolled around in the bed, exchanging kisses and caressing each other tenderly. Then you heard the rain and sat up.
“Har...is it still raining?”
He sighed and sat up with you, pushing his mused curls out of his face with one hand while his other was wrapped around your waist. “Sadly, yes. But we can still go out and explore. I know how excited you were to finally be back in Paris...”
Your head turned to rest in the crook of his neck, sighing softly, “It’s alright. I love the rain, can’t get me down.”
“Yeah, we can just take umbrellas and have fun with it.”
“No, no umbrellas. Want to run from awning to awning. Get stuck in the rain and be drenched. With you.”
Your lips had curved up into a smile as you spoke. Resting your head on Harry’s warm body, you imagined the day that the two of you were about to set off on. It wouldn’t be perfect and that would be okay. It was going to be what the two of you make of it therefore you wanted to make it magical. You sat up to meet Harry’s eyes as he cradled you in his arms. His face held a soft expression, one filled with love as he looked down at the woman he had grown to love more than anything. It wasn’t fleeting, it was constant. He loved you.
“Alright, let’s get goin’ then,” he laughed and shifted along the bed, sitting you up more. The hint of teasing in his voice was exciting and made you want to listen to him.
You pushed out of his arms and bounced up, your shirt sliding to cover the top bits of your thighs. “Alright!”
“Okay, maybe one umbrella would have been a good idea!” Laughing in disbelief, you duck beneath the awning of the cafe across the street from your hotel.
“It’s really coming down...but you said,” Harry grins down at you and swipes at a strand of your hair that was already drenched from the rain. You swat at his chest, his yellow knit sweater vest dry as he removes his large blue coat. “Hush.”
The cafe plays a love song in French and you hum along softly as you seat yourselves. Harry’s hand instinctively envelopes yours as your other free hands begin to leaf through the menu. His hand is warm and soft as it entangles itself with your own, which squeezes his in response to the brushing of his thumb over your skin. After placing your order, you watch the rain hitting the pavement and the light city traffic before you. Harry only has eyes for you, his gaze never leaving your figure. He takes you in, the way you’ve done your hair, the necklace you picked out - the one you always wear, the way you decided to wear no makeup since you planned on getting wet in the rain.
Bringing him out of his adoration, the waitress brings your drinks and he watches you say something sweet in french before he also says a ‘merci’. You sigh in contentment and shift in your seat after taking a sip of your espresso. Your eyes meet with Harry’s over the top of your small cup and you giggle at how extremely small the same cup looks in his hand. His dimples appear as he mirrors your expression. Then at the opening chords of the new song beginning to play, you perk up, immediately recognizing “Aline”, a clichely French song, but a favorite of yours nonetheless. You place your cup down and begin to sing along. Harry watches on, sipping his espresso and allowing you to swing your intertwined hands back and forth to the rhythm. You tip your head back and mock scream out the words, your french accent changing how your voice normally sounds.
“Is that a love song?” Harry asks at the finish of the song. He never bothered to learn French, despite having a couple of girlfriends who had been able to speak it.
You wet your lips, dried from singing, and shake your head slightly. “No, not really. It’s about heartbreak... Aline - the girl - is gone, I guess, and he’s drawn an image of her in the sand. But rain washes that away as well and now he’s twice as sad”
“That could still be considered a love song. He still loves her, right?”
“Why do you like it so much?”
You hum, pondering the question, never thinking about what made her like the song so much to consider it a favorite. Harry stares intently, he loved talking to you about music. It was two of his favorite things put together.
“You won’t take ‘I just like shouting Aline’ will you?” Harry shakes his head, and you continue, “I guess I like it because it’s so tragic...and a little pathetic. Like, that sounds harsh, but this guy, he’s so in love with someone who’s already gone that he cries over her image washing away. He says he’s aching he’s so distraught and it’s just, it’s so relatable.” Harry stares at you, eyes soft, knowing you have more to say. Sitting so that your back is straight, you work to put your thoughts into words. “He’s calling out her name ‘Aline’ in hopes she will return to him and it’s just like you never want to feel that way in your entire life. But there are times that you do and you’re the pathetic guy crying over sand and watching it wash away into the ocean.”
“I will never make you feel like that, love,” Harry shifts your hands and brings them onto the table, leaning closer, a somewhat pleading look in his eyes.
“You never would on purpose, I know that. But that feeling it’s human insecurity, that’s the little fears I keep tucked away in the back of my mind, it’s how I’d feel if I ever lost you.”
“You’re never going to lose me,” he leans fully forward to bring his lips to yours. His lips easily brushed over yours, connecting perfectly as they always did. Your hand rescinds from his grasp and you place it on his chest, pushing him back slightly, “I know. Now enough with the mushy. Sights to be seen, clothes to be soaked!”
Laughing together, Harry settles the bill as you gather your things. You help Harry put his heavy coat back on after he finishes with the money, your lips pecking his as you fix the lapel. His lips curve into a smile against yours and his eyelashes flutter in excitement, never getting tired of the feeling of you.
You had finally arrived at the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower, where you had been meandering through the city to all day. Before you had arrived Harry and you had stopped in a chocolatier, a perfumerie, and another cafe - pair of you appreciated good coffee. Harry had begged to stop at a boulangerie to pick up bread, but you had insisted that you could stop at one on the way back to the hotel later, otherwise the bread would get all soggy. Eventually, Harry had agreed even though his argument was that he would eat it before it got soggy.
Running around with a canvas tote on your shoulder filled with the goodies you two had picked up was exciting and you spun around on the grass, your head tilted to the rain and your arms and bag flying out around you. Harry grabbed your waist and then slipped a hand up to cradle your wet hair. His hand carded through the tendrils and you tilted your face to look at him. His own wet chestnut hair flopped onto his forehead as he smiled down at you. You threw your arms up to hang on his shoulders. It was only you two out in the rain and you laughed as you watched a single droplet run the length of Harry’s nose. Craning your neck, you kissed the tip of his nose before it could fall.
“I love you,” Harry says only for you, completely unprompted.
“I love you, Harry,” you respond, lovingly.
“No, Y/N, I love you,” He repeats. Your wrists drop as your arms retract and your hands rest on his strong shoulders. You lean back slightly, confused. “I love you, I love you, I love you!” He starts to shout and picks you up by the waist, spinning you around in circles, slightly off the ground now.
“Harry!” You squeal, incredulous at his behavior. You loved it, but he wasn’t usually like this in public. Hand holding and short hugs, usually. Small pecks, at most. Shouting declarations of love, never - until now.
“Ok! I get it, lover boy,” You roll your eyes as he sets you down, placing kisses all over your rain soaked face. You tuck your head into your chest, feeling heat rise to your cheeks from his words and actions despite the cooling effect of the rain.
He smiles and leads the pair of you towards the Eiffel Tower. Halfway there he stops and snaps a few photos of you grinning, drenched in front of the site. Then you make him pose as well. He smiles for a few and then pretends to lean against it, which makes you roll your eyes again while you move to the perfect spot to make it look realistic.
You begin to move to head towards the tower again, but his hand snakes around your wrist, stopping you from moving. The rain was at a soft patter now, but you still were getting tired of being in it. Your brows raised expectantly at your boyfriend who was smiling adorably at you.
“Selfie.” He said simply.
“C’mon. It’s romantic. Not like there’s anyone around to take it for us.”
You shrug and fold into his chest as he slips out his phone. His other hand slips around your waist, pulling you even closer. Your head rests on the upper part of his chest as one of your hands slips underneath his coat and the other goes to rest on his sternum. Your entire body is pressed against him, as he adjusts his phone trying to get both your faces in it along with a good portion of the Eiffel Tower. You both smile at your reflections that are beginning to smudge with raindrops and you ruffle your hair trying to look slightly disheveled after a few snaps. Then, Harry groans sadly, “These aren’t working.”
“I actually have an idea,” you say excitedly as the rain slows to a complete stop, “You okay with your phone possibly getting some water damage?” Harry nods, unsure, as you pluck the phone from his hands. You stroll a few feet away from Harry and pluck two of the boxes of chocolate out of your bag. Mumbling to yourself, you set up the boxes like a makeshift stand, “Please don’t get ruined, mes bonbons.” Then you swipe to the video choice in the phone’s camera and turn it on. You place it gently against the two boxes, so that the image contains Harry and the Eiffel Tower behind him. Then you race back to Harry, your sneakers splashing the puddles as you move.
“You’re brilliant!” He wraps his arms around your shoulders and sways you back and forth. “Smile at the camera, lover,” you pull from his strong grasp and wrap a single arm beneath his coat again, fingers pulling at the warm fabric of the sweater vest beneath it. He smiles down at you before turning his focus to the phone a little ways off. He tightens his arm around your shoulder and pulls you off your feet slightly, causing one of your legs to kick out slightly. This video is going to be so weird, you think to yourself and laugh as you straighten back up. You turn your face to Harry and scrunch it up at him. He smirks back at you and then leans down to kiss your cheek.
After you mess around a bit in front of the camera, forgetting for a minute that you're recording and having a small makeout session, you run back to your set up and gather your things. Harry comes with you this time and hugs your waist from behind you. He smiles at the camera one last time before you press the red button to end the video; the last clip being his face smiling brightly while you’re laughing breathlessly at him, both sets of eyes filled with love and joy.
There’s a restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower. It’s really beautiful and classy, perfectly French. Harry decides it’s the perfect place to have dinner, despite its upscale interior and your complete dishevelment from the rain and lack of preparedness in your outfit choices. As well as, the fact that it’s really early and the French don’t eat until much later in the evening so you’re the only ones there. Harry knocks on the door still and the pair of you are seated after he tells them who he is.
You comb lightly through your wet hair and you shuffle your vans together, uncomfortably. Harry, while dressed down still manages to look effortlessly chic, his trousers and yellow sweater vest with a striped dress shirt underneath is still passable as nice, especially if you ignore his own vans. In your haste you had dressed cute, but not necessarily upscale enough to where you felt like you fit in in that moment. Your wet hair wasn’t helping to calm your nerves as the well dressed waiters moved around you, placing things at your table. Your nervous hands smoothed over the plaid skirt and frumpy brown sweater you had beneath your navy trench coat that almost mirrored Harry’s only missing the colorful bobbles.
“Hey,” Harry notices your fidgeting and reaches out across the table, motioning you to place your hand in his outstretched one. You oblige reluctantly, shifting in your seat. Money has never been a problem for Harry since the pair of you began to date which wasn’t a bad thing. You had a job that allowed you to live a comfortable lifestyle, as well, just not quite to the extreme that Harry was able to. Normally, it didn’t bother you, but right now you felt very out of place, feeling unwelcome in Harry’s life. Harry can read exactly what you’re thinking as all these negative thoughts race through your mind. The odd sense of fear that the pair of you had talked about creeping in, the thought of losing him because you couldn’t keep up with his lifestyle. Like you had told him earlier, as well, you hope to never feel that way, but sometimes it’s there. And right now was one of those sometimes.
His finger traces the familiar pattern over the back of your hand as he holds it tight. “You deserve to be here just as much as the next person. You look lovely.” He smiles at you, trying to convey just how sincere he is being. You release a breath and try to relax at his words, knowing ultimately that he was right. He always knew exactly what to say and you smiled at him and whispered a small ‘thank you.’
“If I Fell” begins to play in the restaurant and John and Paul begin to serenade the empty room. The host had placed you in the furthest back room by the windows, allowing you and Harry to stare out at the city as you enjoyed the food and leaving you completely alone except for when the waiter would come and check in. The two of you had just finished the third course and were watching the clouds shift along the skyline.
Harry sighed contentedly and leaned back against his chair, straining his neck to the side, the tendon on his neck straining, causing your eyes to flicker up and watch the way he clenched and unclenched his strong jaw. You were in awe. “How did I get so lucky?” You say suddenly, your voice wistful, eyes a moment away from misty. Harry hums, jade eyes flitting back to your face, lips curving into a curious smile. “To be loved by someone like you, by you. How’d I get so lucky?”
Harry blushes at your words, the smile growing larger, overtaking his features. “Love, if I could list all the reasons I love you...God, we’d never leave this restaurant. Let’s just say I’m the one who’s lucky.” You pouted at his words, feeling cliche but also, totally and completely in love, so much so that you didn’t care about what you looked like as you stood up and leaned over the table, crashing your lips to Harry’s. He leaned up quickly to meet your lips over the small table. One of his hands flew to your soft cheek and held you close as your lips locked, tasting sweet from the champagne the two of you had been enjoying.
“Today was perfect, H.”
You glanced up to look at Harry’s face as he held you in his arms, walking slowly down the street. He walked slightly behind you as he braced himself around you, he couldn’t get enough of you, couldn’t touch enough, feel enough, breathe enough, where he would feel satisfied.
His eyes flitted down to meet yours, the jade of them sparkling under the cloudy sky save for the moon that had pushed its light through finally. “Yeah it was.”
Reaching the hotel, the two of you scampered up to your room and threw everything down the minute you got inside. The rain had mostly dried from your clothes, but you still couldn’t wait to take them off and get into something clean and warm.
“Do you want to shower?” Harry calls to you as he unpacks your bag, separating all of the items the pair of you had bought today - including the baguette he had finally gotten on your way home. Your head appeared from beneath your sweater as you pulled it from your body, leaving you standing in your bra and skirt.
“Together?” Your voice was calm since Harry and you occasionally showered together and were capable of keeping it tame, but there was a hint of excitement too after spending the whole day constantly within each other’s grasp.
“Sure, why not? Then we can get in bed and try the chocolates we bought today sooner,” he shrugs, making his way towards you, tossing a box of chocolates on the bed for later. He licks his lips and smirks down at you. “I like the way you think...but no funny business, lover boy,” you tease and run a finger down the center of his chest, only his dress shirt covering the toned body beneath. Your eyes have a glint of mischief in them as your words come out rather jokingly. “No promises,” he breathes before placing a chaste kiss to your lips.
In the bathroom now, Harry closes the door despite the lack of need for privacy. For some reason your heart is beating extremely fast, nerves springing forward at the urgent prospect of intimacy. Your heart always beats a little faster whenever Harry and you are together like this, but right now it’s going especially fast. The love you have for him, the passion, it’s never faded. Everytime is like the first time, maybe even better than the first time if you really think about it because now he knows you and you know him. It’s not about the novelty or the exploration, it’s about the adoration and the feeling each other’s touch ignites within you. So, right now, as the pair of you undress each other before you shower together, your heart is beating so fast because this isn’t lust or fleeting passion it’s eternal intimacy and deep devotion.
His fingers softly and nimbly release the clasp of your bra and then reach around to slip the straps down. It slides down your arms and falls to the ground and Harry watches you as you now move to undo the last few buttons of his shirt. You’re pressing close to him, feeling cold and slightly vulnerable despite being safe in Harry’s presence. The movements are tender, only the sound of your breathing and the rain that started up again bringing any noise to your interaction. Your hands flit down to the buttons on his trousers, your fingers shaking only slightly from the chill. Harry’s toned arms rise up to rub your upper arms, noticing your shivering as you undo the buttons and zipper. After his zipper is undone, you move your hands down to your side, where your own zipper is located, but Harry pushes your hands away, silently telling you he could do it. Sighing, you turn from him and turn the shower on, hoping that it will warm up quickly. Harry follows and presses up against you, his large arms encircling your frame, warming you instantly. He kisses the tip of your left shoulder tenderly and then rests his chin in the dip between your shoulder and neck. He breathes you in, taking in the moment, committing it to memory. Your hands rest over his gently and you feel yourself tilting your head back and basking in his embrace.
“We should probably get in,” Harry whispers after you had been standing there for far too long, simply holding each other. “Yeah,” you respond wistfully. Stepping in, you instantly place a kiss on Harry’s neck once he’s in. He looks at you questioningly, “I thought you said-” “I couldn’t help myself, you look like an angel.” He tucks his head at your words and then looks at you with love filled eyes, “Giving me a toothache with how sweet you are to me.”
He takes the bottle of shampoo the pair of you had brought and begins to massage it into your wet hair. You close your eyes in contentment at his actions, you loved how gentle Harry was and how he always insisted on washing your hair when you showered together. As he works on the hair you take the bar of soap and begin to rub it across his prominent pectorals, the suds show up and glisten across his tan skin. You smile to yourself as you pass over the two swallows and then travel down the center of his chest and bring the soap over the butterfly. Harry lets out a breathy laugh and you mutter, “Always so ticklish…” But you don’t mind. You rub some of the soap on your hands and then rub back over the same places on his body, spreading out the suds, while Harry moves to wash his own hair. This time your hands travel further down his body, your soapy fingers massaging Harry’s bare hips, rubbing soothing circles over the tense muscles from walking all day. Harry releases a heavy sigh, your movements releasing a pressure he hadn’t realized was there.
Your hands travel inwards and dance over his two fern tattoos causing Harry to shudder again. This time you say nothing, focussed on tracing the patterns and being so close to your lover. Finally, you remove your hands from his body and rinse them of the soap, grabbing a washcloth, you finish cleaning his arms, neck, and torso. Moving slowly, you drop the washcloth and Harry’s breath hitches, knowing what you’re intending to do. Harry starts, “You don’t-” but now his voice is completely caught in his throat when you put your hands on his length.
He’s already semi-hard, and it stiffens immediately in your embrace. He has to actively think about not getting hard whenever you’re naked around him, especially when you bathe together. He thinks you’re sexy, of course, but the intimate touches you share under the water is what really does it for him. However, he knows it’s not a sexual moment usually and doesn’t want to press himself upon you. Today, though, you want to take care of him. “Hush, I want to,” you say as you pump your hand languidly, blood rushing to his tip instantly. He groans as you stare deeply into his jade eyes. You were beautiful and wonderful to him. He didn’t know how he had found you, but he was happy that he had.
Then you slip down to your knees, legs folding perfectly as you continue to stare up at Harry. His eyes widen, realizing only now that you intended to use your mouth. One hand flies to your freshly cleaned hair and the other trails down the side of your face, taking in your beautiful face that is now in front of his hard member. Slowly, you bring your tongue to lick over the now angry red tip of his dick. Harry hisses as you open your mouth fully and begin to bring him completely inside. Your eyes never leave his as you descend until he hits the back of your throat. He’s big, really big, but after all this time you know how much you can take and you sit there for a moment. You let his weight rest in your mouth, he’s warm and you enjoy holding him this close.
Harry groans, “Please,” and you begin to move, seeing the strained look on his face.
Bobbing your head, you take him in and out of your mouth with ease, sometimes taking extra care over his head sucking specifically there. Your movements make Harry moan out and grasp at your hair, keeping it from your face as you work him over. His hips buck into your mouth the faster you take him in your mouth, but he tries to remain still, wanting you to be in control. One of your hands grasps his thigh, over his tiger tattoo, while the other runs over the parts of his dick you can’t take into your mouth. Harry is always vocal, but right now he’s at a loss for words. He feels so loved and cared for in that moment, it’s quick to his release. Your hand on his thigh feels him beginning to shake a bit more and his hips are stuttering more erratically.
He whines out, “I’m close,” and you pull back until your lips are only over his head.
Your tongue flattens over the slit of it and then swirls around it. You suction your lips around his head and suck hard, your hand pumping quickly, your eyes still never leaving Harry’s face. He had closed his eyes a while ago, but opens them up slightly right at his moment of release. He bucks his hips one last time as you moan around him at the feeling of him inside your mouth. His orgasm wracks through him and you continue to suck, trying to take up every last bit.
“Oh fuck,” Harry whimpers, chest heaving and head hanging low as he stares down at you.
The water is still running in the shower over your erotic image. You swallow and pull off of him, placing a gentle kiss to his head before standing up, whispering something inaudible to just Harry’s dick. Harry takes your hands in his and kisses you hungrily as you stand up. The taste of himself still on your lips. His arms are wrapped around your waist and one of his hands cups your ass cheek needily.
Against your lips, he growls, his voice deep and accent thick, “Let me take care of you now.”
You giggle and place your hands on his wet chest. “You don’t need to. I just really wanted to make you feel good.”
“But making you feel good will make me feel good, too,” He whines, pressing you into him more.
“Oh, I know,” you laugh, “But we’re really wasting water now and I want to try the chocolates we bought. You can make me feel good in our bed, this porcelain really isn’t the most comfortable.” You’re completely enjoying Harry’s eagerness to give to you after he had just received, but you were starting to prune from the water and wanted to lie in bed with fluffy robes with him.
He huffs but nods. He kisses your lips a final time and begins to climb out of the shower. “Fine, but I know none of those chocolates can possibly taste as good as what I really want for dessert.”
“You can have your dessert soon enough...Okay, lover boy?”
Wrapped up in Harry’s warm embrace, you fall asleep under the Parisian sky. His lips ghost over your collarbones as his head is tucked into you. You sigh in contentment as his hands draw a familiar pattern over your skin on top of your hip. Your mind flits over the moments of today and settles on this one right now. Harry wrapped around you, your legs entangled, warmth surrounding you. It’s peaceful. You’re blissed out from the chocolates and love Harry made to you.
Your eyes flutter open for a moment to look at Harry. His curls and the side of his face are all you can make out in the dim lit room, the moon’s light peaking through the sheer curtains. The slope of his nose is prominent, as well as the stubble beginning to grow on his jaw and cheek. His little moles decorating his otherwise smooth skin. He nuzzles further into you and you feel his stubble rubbing slightly against you, scratching lovingly onto your skin. It feels nice as your eyes close once again beginning to drift off to sleep. But you know no dream could possibly be better than the feeling you have right now, with Harry.
💛 love y’all (also I really didn’t proofread so like I maybe contradict some shit I say bc I wrote this over weeks lmao)
Pairing: Laurie x Reader, Jo x Reader
Summary: Summer has always been your favorite season in Plumfield. Perhaps it’s the lovely, sunny mornings and cool, calm nights, or perhaps it’s the fact that you and Laurie and Jo are practically inseparable in midsummer.
Follows the summers from childhood into young adulthood, with turmoils of the heart along the way.
Word count: 6.1k+
A/N: hi, everyone. I hope you’re all staying safe and well! Right off the bat, I want to mention that I’ve pinned a post on both this blog and my main blog @sarapii-peachy about resources for the BLM movement to raise awareness and petitions you can sign to help make a difference on a smaller scale. Everything counts!
i’m back and now with a bachelor’s degree :’) class of 2020 high school and college esketit!!! we did it!!! in this historic pandemic!!! Sorry I’ve been gone for a bit, this fic has been my rocky transition/attempt out of writer’s block after my INSANE last semester of uni and with all the craziness going on in the world. I hope you can channel and take in some of this innocent happiness and childhood glee into your own lives as we navigate the shitshow that is 2020. Saoirse x Timmy x Reader here to cure me of my depression lmao
this title is also based off a chapter in the Little Women book where Laurie, Jo, and the girls go to a park and gaze at the passing clouds and talk about their futures...it’s honestly really sweet. Loosely based off of that!
Comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated on this💛! Not that you guys don’t leave love, but this fic like I mentioned is my attempt at kicking writer’s block in the ass, please let me know how I did! :) talk to me I missed you guys :)
tags: @ravenmoore14 @monikakrasnorada @dangertoozmanykids101 @toozmanykids @adawn1970 @mrchalamet-mrstyles @chavezlikesthings @[email protected]
@statisticlytimmy @ceexreverse @bamposworld @lilttletimmy @cindere-llaaa
gif credit to @sheisraging
You love New England for its rich, distinct seasons, how they each paint the countryside in eloquent sweeps of shade and hue. Snow, sun, and breathtaking landscapes of fall color that tinge the treetops throughout the year. You love Plumfield, Massachusetts more for the warmth and love the March sisters have shown you, each alike in personality, nature, to the equinoxes that have shaped your girlhood, each tender memory from your youth synonymous with Meg, Amy, Beth, and Jo.
Autumn. Cozy and comfortable, where motherly Meg showed you how to heat and dip caramel with the apples you’d carefully picked from the orchard for a rare treat, the kitchen swirling with the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and spices that left you feeling aglow. She’d taught you how to use an embroidery hoop, how to let dough rise, how to bake a proper pie and how to fix any clothing tear with a simple needle and thread, her compliments quick for your ever growing domestic talents.
Winter. Like cool, ambitious Amy with her painting and taste for luxury and pleasure, how she would praise you for being the only subject suitable for her artwork. Laurie would moan and complain about sitting for hours by the fireside, begging to be excused to go play in the snow, but never you. Amy called you her muse, arranging your hair and skirts to her liking, softening your lips and cheeks with a touch of rouge. It was always such fun to make a day out of modeling for Amy’s portraits, talking and laughing as she’d set up her paints.
Spring. Sweet and angelic like little Beth, windows wide open as her piano trills would float on the warm air, curtains ruffling in the breeze. You’d sit beside her on the piano bench and turn her sheet music for her, to which Beth would give you a shy, rosy smile in thanks. She taught you how to play Chopin and Tchaikovsky, duet pieces where you’d accompany her on the keys, harmonizing with chords and your fingers flying easily together.
Summer. Your favorite season, refreshing, bright, where you and Jo would spend balmy days and long, cool evenings tucked beneath the shade of tree trunks and willows as you’d read in the sun, listen to Jo’s carefully crafted stories. Her creativity and imagination never failed to amaze you, how her writing could transport you to the farthest countries, or keep you grounded in whatever fantastical setting she’d constructed for herself. She’d often write about the two of you; two young girls, best friends who’d have all sorts of dazzling adventures exploring the corners of the world, without the taxing responsibilities of chores, or schoolwork, or the foreboding, inevitable reality that one day you will be young adults and childhood would be gone forever. You’d have picnics and excursions to the nearby fields, dozing in the sun and picking wildflowers, splashing and wading through the rivers and creeks when the heat became unbearable. Before Laurie would come and spoil your fun, of course. Then, you and Jo and Laurie would be like three rowdy boys playing in the woods, your laughter echoing off the trees and sparkling waters.
You first meet Theodore Laurence as a young girl in the fields connecting the March’s property and your own. You live just down the road from the March sisters, your house tucked away beyond the bend and you’d make the trek across the meadow and grasses daily to visit your neighbors. Being an only child with your father off fighting for the Union, the March house was like your second home and the girls and Marmee and Hannah always made you feel like part of the family, your own loneliness long forgotten as soon as you’d step through the door and you’d be welcomed back with laughter, squeals, and embraces.
Today, you are seeking the company of your friends as usual, returning a book Jo had lended you with a basketful of scones you’d baked in repayment. A recipe you’d learned from Meg. The autumn air is surprisingly warm against your skin, indian summer, flushed and golden and dappling the plains. It makes you smile softly, your mood pleasant as you gather your skirts in time with your step, adjust your basket.
Then, you see him. A boy making his way in the same direction, dressed smartly in a black woolen coat and matching trousers, a silk scarf tastefully tied around his throat. His curls are windswept and tousled, his gait relaxed. He feels your gaze and looks up, eyes finding yours and the corner of his mouth ticks up in a friendly smile. Warmth floods your cheeks. You quickly duck your head.
He looks to be your age, but you’ve read tales of highwaymen and bandits roaming the countryside, how they’d feign kindness, only to strike unsuspecting travelers. Perhaps it was the work of Jo’s overactive and contagious imagination playing at your nerves, but why was he heading towards the March’s? You think of little Beth, how boys and newcomers made her nervous, timid. Your resolve hardens protectively. You have to keep this stranger away from the girls.
Your pulse hammers in your throat as you lift your head to see the boy still looking your way. He waves his hand in greeting.
“Hello!” he cheers.
With your eyes still locked, you pick up your pace and keep your silence. Curiously, the boy finds this amusing, laughing, making it into a game as he too begins to walk briskly towards the house, of who will reach the door first. You narrow your eyes, summoning as much hostility and wickedness to your expression, demeanor as you can muster. The two of you are running now, his grin wide and eager, your own mouth twisted with hard concentration as you race each other.
Your chest is heaving when you brace yourself against the doorframe, blocking his way with your arm, back against the wood. He’s not a second behind you and is already on the stoop when you turn to face him.
“Are you Jo’s friend?” the boy asks you with a breathless, easy smile. “You’re quite fast, even faster than her.” He adds. He’s practically bouncing on his feet, jovial and buzzing with energy. The mention of Jo’s name curbs your distrust further. Bandit may now be off the table, and the thought makes you feel a bit foolish now, but how could Jo befriend such a strange boy without you knowing? How did he already seem to know who you are?
Up close, you notice his eyes are green and mischievous, reflecting back the shimmering plains in flecks of amber as he gazes at you, your pulse fluttering ever so slightly…
You scold yourself internally.
Handsome or not, he was undoubtedly a boy of trouble who had somehow won over Jo’s attention. And no easy feat, might you add. Headstrong and resolute, Jo’s circle of friends was quite small outside of you and her sisters, and you liked it that way. You’d like to keep it that way as well.
You feel a sharp, ugly pang of jealousy curl in your stomach. You stick out your lower lip in a pout, turn up your nose in a way that would certainly earn a scolding from Marmee if she were to see your impoliteness.
“Who are you to ask?” You snap.
Your words do not take the desired effect on him. Instead of hurt, or embarrassment, the boy smirks at you, amused. He cocks his head to one side and leans back on his heels, studying you like you’d just asked him why the sky is blue. His mood is breezy, amiable.
“I’m Laurie. Is that better?” he offers with a comical pout of his own. You wrinkle your nose. This boy was starting to irritate you more and more.
“Laurie Laurence? My, how silly and dull.”
He laughs, a low and pleasant sound that threatens to melt your angry facade. He shakes his head, hands in his pockets.
“It’s a pet name. Jo calls me Teddy, but you may call me whichever you like,” he says. Your jealousy burns brighter, flushing your skin, twisting together with a hint of desire and yearning.
You were once Jo’s everything, her favorite companion. She made this clear with how she’d tell you plainly, how she’d spoil you with compliments and stories and affection. And now, it seemed Jo knew another, this Laurie, well enough to call him Teddy when you had no pet name of your own. She seemed to speak of you, which would explain Laurie’s cordiality, but did she tell him how you were the only one she felt comfortable enough with to critique her writing? How she would encourage your aspirations of becoming a dancer by arranging the foyer into a stage and cheering for you while sitting atop the staircase like an admirer in the box seats? How the two of you could jest and play for hours with nothing but your imagination, crying from laughter until your bellies ached?
You feel a sense of betrayal and heartache at this, an intrusion, a tirade of emotions you can’t quite explain. Did you want Jo all for yourself? Did you want to befriend Laurie as well? Did you just want to be someone’s everything again and to be doted on and loved?
Then, Laurie’s voice tapers into a quiet hum, a touch of softness. You hear the first indication of bashfulness as he looks down at you through full, dark lashes. “I hope the three of us can be good friends. I’d like to know you as well.” He murmurs.
You don’t know what to think of him. Your chest feels tight and your cheeks burn, from anger or passion you can’t quite tell. You’re contemplating leaving your basket on the doorstep and shoving past him to go back home when you suddenly hear a clamor of voices and the turning of the knob and then the door falls open behind you.
Laurie catches you before you can tumble through the entryway, hands finding your waist. Jo, vibrant and chipper as ever, lights up when she sees you and her sky blue eyes shine like glass. She has her cap fitted over her wavy blonde curls, skipping into your arms and for a moment you’re sandwiched between the two of them. You flush scarlet.
“Oh, good! You two have met. Goodbye, Marmee! I’m going out!” Jo calls into the house, her voice overlapping with her sisters’ as they all greet you in a burst of chaos. But before Jo can usher you outside, you feel your childish temper flare and you squirm out of her reach and back through the open door and into the house. You set your basket onto the table, turning to hide your face in Amy’s shoulder with a flutter of your skirts as you feel the hot sting of tears prickle your eyes. You weren’t going to let this Laurie boy see you cry upon your first encounter.
“I’m not coming.” You mumble. Amy’s hand comes to soothingly pet back your hair with a hush of surprise and you sense her look to Jo with a characteristic glare.
“Jo, what have you done?” Amy presses.
“I’ve done nothing!” Jo retorts with a huff. Then, her voice turns gentle, curious as she speaks to you. “Dear, what’s the matter?”
“She wouldn’t be on the verge of tears if you hadn’t done nothing, would she?” Amy replies. You laugh weakly, tightening your arms around her. “See?” Amy says. “You’ve broken her heart, the poor thing.”
“Jo’s made new friends,” you sniffle, embarrassed when Laurie’s eyes meet yours. Amy’s arms around you make you feel comforted and safe, brave enough to voice your true burdens when you say, “I’ve been replaced,” and gaze back at Laurie in defiance, protest. He frowns and shifts his weight, looking genuinely sorry with a guilt that touches his eyes. Good, you think. Let him think twice before stealing away your best companion.
At this, Jo’s expression softens with understanding and warmth as she sees you curl into Amy once more. Jo takes a step into the open doorway, leaving Laurie on the stoop.
“No one could ever replace you, dear,” she says. “I only keep Laurie around for when I’m bored and you aren’t around to play. Look at him,” she gestures in his direction. “He’s aloof and vain, he’s lazy, he doesn’t have an ounce of the imagination you do-”
“Don’t forget arrogant.” Amy pipes up.
Jo nods, wagging a finger at her sister. “Right you are, Amy. We mustn't forget that.”
Laurie starts to puff up with a temper, his lips twisting together and you can see him struggling with whether to speak up and defend himself, or let the girls have their fun for your sake. Jo goes on, saying he was devious and too pretty for his own good, making you and Amy giggle as she rubs soothing circles into your back. It’s rather polite and charming as you watch Laurie suffer silently, biting his tongue as Jo continues to defame his character before she finally turns back to you.
“I should have introduced the two of you properly, and for that, I’m sorry,” says Jo. “You must have had quite the surprise running into him.” Laurie again glances to you with an apologetic softness, wringing his hands together. “So, what do you think, Teddy? Are we ready to start afresh?” Jo asks him, hands on her hips.
This makes you laugh, bubbly, your mood perking up as you finally lift your head from Amy’s shoulder. Of course, Jo would be able to comprehend your grievances and somehow peg Laurie with the blame, how she knew your heart was delicate and tender and so full of devotion that you were quick to hold grudges. Your envy dissipates and you feel a bit sorry seeing Laurie now in such low spirits, his theatrical demeanor now quiet and modest.
“If she’ll have me,” Laurie murmurs, glancing up at you with such a pureness in his glittering eyes that regret starts to settle in your stomach.
“And I’ve written more of that story you enjoyed so much,” Jo holds out a hand to you. “Won’t you come hear what happens next?” she asks. Slowly, like the pull of a magnet, you untangle yourself from Amy’s arms and cross the room to take Jo’s outstretched hand.
“Alright.” You say at last. Jo beams and cradles your face with her other hand, swiping away your tears with her thumb. You let her baby you like she would with Beth, enjoying her touch against your cheek.
“That’s my sweet girl.” She smiles.
You then look to a sheepish Laurie and extend a hand, filled with new courage. You tell him your name and echo back his words that you hope the three of you can indeed become good friends, that you and Jo could do well with another acquaintance. The smile Laurie gives you is genuine, sweet and gentle, the corner of his mouth turning up in crooked delight. He clasps your hand warmly.
“I would want nothing more.” Laurie laughs.
And with that, nestled between Jo and Laurie, you step back outside into the rich and golden light of a warm autumn afternoon, curious, excited for what adventures the day will bring you.
Laurie joins your duo swimmingly and the rest of the year passes in pleasant tranquility as the three of you spend nearly every waking moment by each others’ sides. All Hallow’s Eve finds you dressed in a costume of French royalty, a pompous and comical gown of ballooning fabrics, complete with a powdered wig of pins and curls. You’ve painted your face with overlined lips and the trademark mole below your eye and the March sisters double over with laughter as you enter the foyer, fluttering your paper fan with an aristocratic pout, Laurie saluting your entrance with a roar of, la plus belle fille du monde! Jo is dressed as a fearsome pirate, outfitted in boots, breeches, and a captain’s hat, the wooden sword you and Laurie helped to paint swishing through the air as she parades into the room. Laurie enters last with a bang and a flash of white powder, appearing before your eyes in true magician fashion with a top hat and cane, a false mustache pasted onto his upper lip. All six of you then march across the field to the Laurence residence, now alight with carved pumpkins and lanterns, for your All Hallow’s Eve party of sweets and games.
Christmas brings festivities, flurries, and cheer. Sledding, ice skating, days of cold and winter fun making snow angels and snowmen, decorating the March house with holly, mistletoe, culminating into a hearty turkey dinner as you sit perched next to Laurie. The candlelight is homely, the sound of laughter and clinking silverware washing over you and you catch Laurie’s eye as he lifts his fork to his mouth. The two of you grin, leaning into each other with quiet happiness, heads bowed. You and Laurie both mirror each other in being only children, meaning these times together have been filled with welcome camaraderie. Where your instances of yearning for the companionship of siblings that only those without can understand, you’ve found company in each other, never a dull moment, never lonely.
The thaw of spring keeps you tucked away indoors with torrents of rain pelting against the roof. Jo reads to you aloud from her novel, asking for your thoughts every so often as you and Laurie lounge on the sofa. When you articulate a point of slight critique on Jo’s use of character, Laurie teasingly tugs on a lock of your hair with a smirk.
“How perceptive.” He murmurs, grinning.
You swat his hand away, glaring at him in mock anger.
And as the days grow warmer, so does your heart. You’ve learned to share your affection between Laurie and Jo in a way you think is equally matched and that autumn day where you’d been so sour to both of them seems like ages ago. Soon after that incident, your bravado had quickly morphed into appreciation and Jo had been eager to break the ice between you and Laurie. And like all children, your differences and jealousy had been set aside as you’d discovered he was quite fun to be around. Laurie shared Jo’s quick wit and intelligence, like an androgynous mirror, so much of yourself also reflected in both of them in time and they in you. And yet, Laurie had a certain charm about him; how he could have the two of you in stitches and still maintain the air of sophistication that was so often expected of the Laurence boy. Admittedly, you were thrilled to have them both as your best and favorite playmates.
In turn, they had done the same, showering you with loving attention and teasing, keeping you entertained with their bickering, quarreling over how they both wanted to occupy your time with their respective ideas for sport. Fighting over you. The thought of it makes you blush furiously. Yet, you feel cared for, like the most precious thing in their lives.You’ve also selfishly enjoyed being the apple of their eye and all the privileges that has bestowed; Jo writing you into her stories, featuring you as a beautiful sugar plum fairy, and Laurie promising to write you a French ballet, to someday whisk you off to Europe to experience high art and culture.
At last, spring turns to summer and the three of you are back to mischief and horseplay in the great outdoors. The days are lush, agreeable, bright and pleasant with flashing sunshine and lofty clouds. You’re again reminded why summer to you is synonymous with Jo as you run together through the waving fields bursting with flowers, Laurie right on your heels as he too gives chase.
“Jo! We were only kidding about the toads!” Laurie calls out from behind you. “It’s not like I have one in my pocket this very moment who’s squirming to get free and might have bitten me earlier when I caught him by the river and-”
He gives a shout of surprise and you hear his footfalls pause in the grasses. You and Jo both turn, breathless, already laughing when you see Laurie hopping about like hot coals are burning beneath his feet.
A small pond frog wiggles out of his pocket seam with a croak and then disappears into the meadow, waddling with great speed. With out-turned pockets and wrinkled trousers, Laurie stands there with his hands on his hips, confidence and humor masking his faults as always.
“My, they grow up so fast, don’t they?” Laurie says as he looks out over the crest of the hill with a humorous glint in his eyes, like a mother watching her child leave for the vast, cruel world. You and Jo collapse into a fit of giggles, holding each other upright by the shoulders and gasping for air.
Eternal summer and sun, a tender paradise. And as midsummer arrives, so does the heat. It’s stifling, heavy, the kind that suffocates and forbids any excessive movement or play, when being idle is perfectly acceptable, a rarity for you three young adventurers. Today, even nature herself seems to be drowsy from the stifling weather. Sunflowers droop from the weight of honeybees as they float lazily over the fields. Birds chortle from the treetops, as if too tired to fly, their song intertwining with the rustling grasses, tousled by the rare cool breeze. The sky burns a dome of brilliant blue above you, filled with towering, cotton white cumulus clouds. You watch as they drift slowly over the horizon. Like colossal ships at sea.
You rest your head on Laurie’s chest and he toys with your hair. Jo dozes with her arms pillowed across your stomach and the three of you are a sleepy dog-pile of limbs. The feel of Laurie’s fingers makes you relaxed, drowsy. You hear Jo then give a soft snore and you chuckle.
“What is it?” Laurie asks. You can already hear the smile in his voice, how just your laughter is enough to amuse him too. You shake your head against his chest and the movement makes you giggle again. Laurie joins you, flopping out his legs, the heat making you both delirious and loopy.
You reach up blindly and give him a firm nudge, your hand landing just under his chin.
“Stop it, you’ll wake her.” You scold him with as much seriousness as you can muster and failing miserably.
“Ow,” Laurie groans. He grasps your wrist, moving your hand to place it against his cheek and he puckers out his lower lip. “You’ve hurt me, I’m unwell.”
“Oh...Laurie, I didn’t mean it..” you sit up and coo, caressing his skin. Laurie looks pleased, a flash of playfulness in the green of his eyes as you lean towards him. “Let me take a closer-”
You cuff him on the ear ever so lightly, catching him by complete surprise and Jo wakes, cackling, throwing her arms around you.
Later, the three of you gaze up at the passing clouds, a comfortable silence settling over you all as you enjoy the afternoon.
“If we could fly up into those clouds and there was a castle with anything your heart desired, what would it be?” Jo asks. “Where do you two see your lives leading you?” Her tone is pensive, romantic. You and Laurie both hum in thought.
“You first, Laurie.” You murmur.
Laurie turns to look back at the bright blue sky, to the billowy clouds that look like spun sugar candy.
“I want to live abroad in Europe and be surrounded by music, my music. I want to compose, I want to be renowned for my operas.” He declares with a proud puff of his chest. Jo nods, you give his hand a reassuring squeeze.
“That sounds very much like you, Teddy,” Jo says. “A bachelor making art in Europe, how capital.”
He makes a face, then winks at you out of the corner of his eye. You stick out your tongue.
“You can do it if you stay focused,” you add. “No more billiards, for a start.”
Laurie wrinkles his nose. “And what is it that you want, prima donna?” he asks you in challenge.
You turn away with a roll of your eyes, gaze to the heavens. The thought comes to you easily as you listen to the birds, feel the breeze tickling your skin, drinking in the sky.
“I want to be a ballet dancer in a prestigious company. I want to tour the world.” You say softly. Before, you would have felt embarrassment to share such an ambitious dream. But something about this moment, of being with Laurie and Jo makes you feel brave and safe enough to speak your mind, to put your words into the universe and have it come to fruition. Like a magic spell of sorts. With them here with you, you feel like any dream is possible.
Another chorus of hums and Jo looks pleased at your response. Laurie smirks up at the horizon.
“No fair if it’s likely to happen,” he laughs. “That’s cheating.”
“Oh, hush,” Jo chides with a rather hard sock to Laurie’s arm. She ignores his whines as he recoils and grumbles dramatically. “You’re well on your way, dear,” Jo tells you. “Now that you’ll be in that New York production next summer, I’m sure your opportunities will be plentiful.”
You hope she’s right. You’d secured a role as an ensemble dancer in an upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet, your most prestigious show as of yet in your young and budding career. Jo’s warm praise makes you blush like the flowers surrounding you, pink and full. Laurie’s quick eyes catch this, envious, and he changes the subject, a muscle ticking ever so slightly in his jaw.
“And you, Jo?” He asks tightly.
Jo exhales, crossing her arms behind her head. “Being a writer, of course. A great one. I don’t want to settle for less.”
“Doubtful,” snides Laurie. “I don’t see it.”
You and Laurie look to each other with a quiet smile.
“No, not with all the prizes you’ve won,” you add. “Impossible.”
Jo shoots upright, too quickly for the heat. She slugs Laurie again.
“Ow...Jo, it’s too hot for your beatings,” he moans. “Don’t be a poor sport.”
She doesn’t answer him, only gives him a final push and hunkers back down onto the grass, turning her back to him with a huff.
“Why am I the only one that ever gets hit?” Laurie grumbles, opening his shirt to cool himself off and throws his forearm across his eyes for shade, frowning. You giggle, curling up beside her.
“I believe in your abilities, Jo.” You whisper to her. She takes your hand.
It’s not long before the three of you are fast asleep in the sun.
And as the seasons and summers roll on and the fruits of childhood begin to slowly ripen with the passing years, you find your companionship with Laurie and Jo changing and growing like never before. Your friendship starts to blossom into fondness, adoration. Indeed, you’ve loved them as playmates and companions since the three of you were children, but as you flourish amidst that quaint, strange, and budding pocket of time when young men and women come of age, where you and Laurie and Jo are now struck with bashfulness and an awareness of being alone with each other, your love for them arches and glows like summer sunset.
This makes you acutely conscious of your appearance and dress, your posture, how you carry yourself, your mannerisms. How did your hair look? Did you laugh too loudly? Would Jo think your comments about her writing were too harsh? Why did you feel such warmth in your chest every time you saw her? And why were you starting to anticipate Laurie’s company? Why did you always have a sharp hope that he would come around with every visit of yours to the March residence? The constant whir of thoughts and worries was enough to make your head turn with heaviness, make you collapse from the pressures of simply existing.
“You’re acting odd,” Laurie tells you one day.
The two of you lay in a meadow with summer buzzing all around you, resting beneath the drooping leaves of a willow tree. Jo had been unable to join you as she had Beth’s lessons to teach that afternoon, much to her own disappointment and promising to make it up to you soon with an affectionate pinch to your cheek. You’d considered going home then. The last thing you wanted was to be left alone with Laurie, that familiar crush in your chest, an inkling of dread coupled with a shortness of breath, fear and excitement. You were terrified. But when he’d taken your hand and asked you so sweetly to accompany him to the meadow’s waters, how could you possibly refuse?
But of course, Laurie was quick to notice your nerves.
“The heat is getting to your head,” you say evenly with eyes closed, enjoying the warmth of the sun on your face. “Besides, that’s rather rude.”
You hear him move and feel his presence directly in front of you, as if leaning in.
“It is a bit hot, do you feel up for a swim?”
This makes your eyes snap open. Following Jo’s mannerisms, you give him a shove in the chest. “You’re vile,” you grin.
To your surprise, Laurie’s teasing, playful demeanor is nowhere to be found. His gaze is instead thoughtful, holding your own like you are all he sees. Immediately, you feel your pulse kick up in the side of your throat.
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” he continues with a shake of his head. “You don’t seem like yourself. I thought a change in our routine could be refreshing.”
You give a light shrug of your shoulders. “I feel fine,” you say.
He brushes the back of his hand against your forehead. He hums, then curls his fingers down along the planes of your face to rest on your cheek.
“You’re flushed,” he murmurs.
Time seems to slow. The roar of blood deafens your ears and the fragrance of the sweet waters and blooms around you is overwhelming, sunlight refracting like prismed rainbow. Laurie kisses you then, a gentle touch of his lips, tilting your chin up to meet him. A sweetheart’s kiss, one that tastes of summer secrets as you’re shaded by vines and mist. When you break apart, he keeps his hand cradled against your cheek, his thumb circling the corner of your mouth.
You don’t know what to say. You’re speechless, your chest rising and falling softly, staring back at him with wide, surprised eyes. Laurie looks reflective, emerald irises half-lidded.
“What am I to tell Jo?” you whisper to him. Heat diffuses through your body like desert wind. You feel elated, cherished, frightened, embarrassed. Guilty. Laurie’s eyes flicker once more to your lips, his dark lashes fluttering with the movement. His smile is melancholy, yet knowing.
“You love her, too.” Laurie hums. It’s a statement, a confirmation of your feelings for both of them. The fact that the boy you’ve adored for so long has uttered your very thoughts out loud should have you completely mortified, yet there’s a small sense of comfort knowing he’d understand. Laurie knows this because he himself feels the same way, knows you or Jo or himself could never bring themselves to choose.
Laurie’s smile prompts you to lace your fingers together in the grasses and you give him a light peck on the cheek. He brightens up, raking a hand through his black curls.
“You love me.” Laurie beams.
When you tell Jo about the kiss, she’s dancing with you on the porch in the evening light. Inside, you can see Marmee and the girls entertaining themselves through the windows as you practice your pirouettes. Jo is dressed in her writing jacket and trousers, keeping you balanced as she plays the part of the male dancer, perfectly competent.
“What an impish boy,” Jo says of Laurie. You laugh and the two of you continue your steps, running through the dance number in a private rehearsal. Laurie is due to rehearse with you the week before your performance and the thought itself is enough to make butterflies explode in your stomach. Jo is a strong, leading dancer, while Laurie is graceful and firm, both capable of making the palms of your hands sweat with nerves. You know in your heart if you could rehearse with them, you’d have no fear on opening night. You’d already be invincible.
“Again from the top, please, kind sir,” you curtsey to Jo. Her smile is giddy and she gives a click of her heels before returning to her starting position.
“Of course,” she responds. Taking your hand, she guides you through the steps once more, your heart soft and temperate like the evening around you.
The sound of applause is warm and full, washing over you as you take your bows. You feel weightless, aglow, eyes brimming with tears. You think you see Laurie and Jo leap to their feet in the audience, but the stage lights are too bright and you cannot see clearly and you think you may faint from happiness.
In the auditorium, you’re still in your costume of Venetian silks and flowers when you’re swept off your feet by a boisterous Laurie and he twirls you around in his arms, his riding cloak billowing out behind him.
“There’s our Capulet! You were phenomenal!”
“I’m so proud of you, dear!” Jo practically shouts with excitement, tackling you next in a bearish hug when Laurie finally sets you down. Their praise is boundless, endless, showering you in so much adoration that your heart feels close to bursting. You gather them close, tears threatening to spill down your cheeks.
“Thank you both for everything,” you choke out, squeezing them tight.
Over Jo’s shoulder, you spot Marmee, Meg, Amy, even shy little Beth with a bouquet of flowers and then you let the tears fall when you run to them and you thank your stars for the luck and love you’ve been blessed with.
Another year, another summer soon arrives. You and Jo and Laurie are back in the fields cloud-gazing, a lazy afternoon of heat and leisurely time well spent. Things feel familiar, recognizable between the three of you, yet there’s a sense of distance between now and when Jo had first asked about your castles in the sky all those summers ago.
Jo was now making a name for herself in the writer’s world, having won another prize in a New York newspaper. She’d been gaining the attention of devoted readers and critics alike and was now working on a proper novel, her longest project as of yet. She tells you not to worry, that she’ll be sure to feature you as a central character in the same way she’d done as a child, nostalgic tales of pirates and adventure and love.
“My sweet sugar plum fairy,” she’d gruffed, pulling you into another powerful hug.
Laurie had finished his opera, now with aspirations of pulling funds together and opening a production in Europe. He was still in the midst of planning and conversing with his grandfather about finances and departure dates, but it seemed like Laurie’s promise of spiriting you away to Europe could now become a reality. And with the possibility of your very own French stage debut!
Thus, you three souls were being tugged into three far corners of the globe, to your respective callings. The realization scares you, to know that this may be one of the few times you have left together. But underneath it all, there was a sense of excitement to see the world and make it your own. You were satisfied, proud knowing that the three of you had come so far with your aspirations and you had no doubt you would find success in your art.
In the comfortable silence, serenaded by the hum of cicadas and birdsong, you gaze up to the clouds gliding over Plumfield, Massachusetts. You feel an aching longing for those childhood days of carefree play, the countless rose-tinted memories of Laurie and Jo by your side, yet looking up at the sky, you know these memories of summers past will always be with you.
And there would be better and more to come.