Since you mentioned it, how do you think Ivan would react if Fedyor died? 👀
My dear anon, I mean this in the nicest possible way, but wHAT IN THE ROLLER SKATING JESUS CHRIST IS WRONG WITH YOU. We don't think about that here. We do not acknowledge it. We do not see it. No sir. NO SIRREEBOB. Unless it was just like... temporary and then fixed with many Feelings. AS IN THE BELOW, THANK YOU, THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE FORM OF THIS:
Ivan is lost in the darkness, and the only thing he can hear is screaming.
He looks from side to side, increasingly frantic, but he can't see anything, no matter how hard he blinks and scrubs at his eyes. The acrid aftertaste of a battlefield burns in his throat: the curling edge of decay, dried blood and staring corpses, the crown of crows circling down from the blank sky to pick at the leavings. He staggers among the corpses, almost at the end of his strength, but he can't stop. Not until he finds his better half. Not until he knows.
His kefta is stained with sweat and grime, blood both his own and that of many, many Fjerdans, and sweat runs stingingly into his eyes. He can see a little more now, a nebulous, ghostly grey shape, the nearest pile of bodies. He can hear their heartbeats, or rather the absence of one in particular, the steady thrum that has run like a shining golden cord through his life for years and years now. And in that moment, he knows it for sure, and Ivan runs, and Ivan breaks.
Fedyor's eyes are open, staring glassily at the empty black sky, as Ivan crumples to his knees and lets out a choked howl of agony, his chest shredded into too many pieces to manage a real one. He lifts the body into his arms; the head lolls emptily against his elbow, the red cloth of the kefta almost matching the black embroidery thanks to all the filth and grime and smoke. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no no no. By stupid reflex he tries to raise the heartbeat, to stimulate blood through the body, but it only works on the living. And Fedyor is --
Fedyor is --
It feels like holding a glass sphere in your hands, and then it shatters everywhere. It feels like the world has folded in on itself and vanished into dust and darkness. How much, how much, how much, will the Saints demand from him? His father, his uncle, his brothers -- was that not enough blood for their pitiless gazes? No, fuck them, fuck everything. Ivan will burn every church in Ravka to the ground before he forgives them for this, make them whisper his name with even more fear than Kirigan's, wreak havoc, ruin and rising, and then let them rue that they ever dared to do this. No stone in Fjerda will be left standing on the other, and their very name will be spoken like a curse; they will be scoured from the annals of history forever. He's falling, he's falling faster and faster, drowning and screaming, he can't even feel Fedyor's cooling flesh against his own anymore, and then --
Ivan wakes up with a horrible jerk, drenched in cold sweat, the quilts tangled around his legs, as he heaves and wrenches for breath and tries to reassure himself that it was just a dream -- his worst nightmare in more ways than one, the one and only thing he is truly terrified of, but still. Not real. Not real. He stares at the familiar curtains above him, his bedroom in the Little Palace. And Fedyor is --
Fedyor is --
Fedyor is fast asleep next to him, alive and real and breathing deep and slow, but he senses Ivan's distress and skyrocketing heartbeat and rouses groggily, blinking in confusion and concern. "Vanya?" He reaches over, putting a hand on Ivan's wrist and automatically bringing his pulse down to more soothing levels. "Vanya, are you all right?"
"Fine. Fine. Just a bad dream, that's all." Ivan lets out another shaking breath and rolls toward Fedyor, gathering him up in his arms. Fedyor is warm from sleep, boneless, cuddly as the devil and twice as adorable, nestling his soft dark head under Ivan's chin and making happy, sleepy noises, and Ivan holds him as tightly as he can possibly manage. It's all right. It's all right. They're here, they're together, they're alive, for one more day, one more night. And that, here in the silence, the softness, is all that will ever truly matter.
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/whispers/ So maybe I now have to ask for Ivan and the No Good Terrible Very Bad Day Attempting to Babysit a Grisha Child Who Can Summon Light and Shadow. How could this possibly go wrong.
Once again, this got long, so here's the first chapter of A Day in the Life of Ivan, Or: Ivan’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.
The worst day of Ivan’s life begins years before the fateful day itself, if that’s possible. He’s grateful not to know the precise day, but he knows who—or what, rather—is to blame.
It’s the damn heterosexuals. They just won’t stop fucking, and they’ve made it everyone else’s problem now.
The heterosexuals in question are, of course, Kirigan and Alina, or as they’re known now, the Tsar and Tsarina.
About three years before the Worst Day™, Ivan is minding his own business, just trying to find some decent food after returning from a mission to the northern border. It wasn’t a bad trip; Fedyor had been with him and they’d enjoyed the opportunity to spend some time together outside the political games of Os Alta.
Nevertheless, Ivan is eager to eat some food that isn’t dried and to sleep in his own comfortable bed. He’s already debriefed with the Tsar and bathed, so he’s delighted to find it’s time for dinner. It’s to be a small group tonight, just the king and queen, Nikolai, Zoya, Tamar, Nadia, Fedyor and him. He can tolerate them all (except Fedyor, who of course is the light of his life), though Alina remains permanently on thin ice. She makes the Darkling light and happy, and it’s just unnatural.
They settle around the table and fall into comfortable conversation. Tolya is on an assignment and intends to travel to Kerch after this. Tamar and Nadia are beginning to formalize their union and are looking for a house. If their bickering and the obscene looks Zoya and Nikolai are giving each other are any indication, Ivan expects some kind of announcement from them any day. The Tsar intends to invite some dignitaries from Novyi Zem to the palace in a few weeks.
And Tsaritsa Alina is pale and...unwell. She looks queasy, and Ivan feels a moment of alarm. Grisha can’t get sick, not unless they don’t use their powers. Given that Alina is the Sol Koroleva, the renowned Sun Summoner, that seems unlikely. Few things lead to such ill appearances. Maybe some kind of poison? If she or her food are being poisoned, they need to know as soon as possible.
Ivan does his usual first step; he counts the heartbeats, checking their speeds. One, two, three, four, everyone is normal, five, six, seven, eight, nine...ah, the ninth is faint and fast.
Wait. Nine? There are only eight of them here at dinner, and the attendants have long since departed.
It hits Ivan like a lightning bolt, and he gasps aloud in shock and horror. The most reasonable explanation for the extra heartbeat and Alina’s ill looks is—oh, saints protect them all—a baby.
Everyone turns to look at him, as though he is the one who’s done something strange and dangerous.
Ivan gapes at Alina and points a finger accusingly, “You’re pregnant! With a baby!”
Beside him, Fedyor closes his eyes and shakes his head, letting out a sigh. Tamar and Nadia exchange a knowing, amused look, though they manage not to laugh. Zoya raises one shapely eyebrow.
Nikolai grins. “One generally is pregnant with babies, as opposed to anything else. Except perhaps with genius ideas, in my case and David’s. Alina, moi tsar, congratulations to you both.”
Alina glares at Ivan. What? He’s not the unholy saint about to unleash terror onto the earth from their womb.
Once he glances at Kirigan, though, Ivan stills. The Tsar is ashen and looks as though someone has dropped an iron on his head, or told him that his beloved horse is Grisha too.
“Aleksander, I wasn’t sure. I was waiting until I was to tell you,” Alina says, one hand on her husband’s forearm. “Are...are you all right?”
The Tsar opens his mouth, but no sounds come out.
Tamar and Nadia stand, hand-in-hand. “We, ah, think we’ll take our leave now. Thank you for a lovely dinner, Sol Koroleva, my King,” Tamar says, and she and her fiancée flee.
Zoya clears her throat and gives Nikolai a look that is very different from the hungry one Ivan so despises on faces that aren’t Fedyor’s.
With a nod at her, Nikolai stands and helps her to her feet. “Indeed. Your hospitality is, as always, boundless, though I can’t help but feel we’re trespassing on it every second we linger here. Erm, do let me know when I can get you a gift.”
“Congratulations,” Zoya says, and to Ivan’s disgust, she actually sounds sincere. He watches as she and Nikolia leave, one of the Lantsov pup’s hands at the small of her waist. One would think the heterosexuals would have learned from this evening that touching each other is dangerous, but apparently some of them are just utter fools.
Fedyor elbows him, and Ivan turns to scowl at his beloved. “Wha—”
A point of his head in the direction of the Tsar and Tsaritsa quiets Ivan.
Alina is kneeling beside her husband’s chair, stroking his arm. Aleksander Kirigan, King of Ravka, Shadow Summoner, the Black General, sits still as a statue, eyes wide with shock.
“We’ll head out now too,” Fedyor says.
Ivan nods, grabbing Fedya’s arm and hauling him from the room. Over his shoulder, Ivan yells, “Good luck!”
Fedyor smacks him, whispering furiously as they close the door behind them. “‘Good luck’?! You’re supposed to say ‘congratulations,’ or ‘have a nice evening,’ you utter troll.”
“I’m a troll now? See if I give you a massage when we get back to our rooms,” Ivan grouses. He pulls Fedyor along, pulling him away from where he seemed inclined to linger by the door. Eavesdropping, pah. He can’t believe he’s married to such a busybody.
Who would want to stay to hear whatever nonsense the Darkling and his wife are about to say or do? He’s had enough of that for one lifetime, thank you very much.
Ivan shudders. The two most powerful Grisha on the planet, one a sun summoner and the other a shadow summoner, having a baby? The world is definitely doomed.
The next day, Ivan receives a summons to go see the Tsar. Dread churns in his stomach, and he rubs his eyes. He hadn’t slept well, especially after he and Fedyor had a tiff about “inappropriate behavior and outbursts.” And now he’s to see his boss, probably about said outburst the previous night.
He accompanies Anton, the young oprichnik to the Tsar’s quarters, and the boy brightens with excitement to be talking to one of the Tsar’s most favored Grisha. “Thank you, Andrei. I’ll make my way from here.” The boy’s face falls, but Ivan dismisses him with a nod. If the oprichniki got any more friendly, they’d start calling him Vanya without his permission. Appalling.
Ivan takes a deep breath, then knocks at the door. He’s long since learned the value of knocking after Alina and the General got together, especially now that they share their quarters. Unfortunately, no healer has yet to find something to wipe certain sights from his brain.
“Come in,” Kirigan’s faint, disembodied voice commands.
Ivan lets himself into the room, waiting while the Tsar steps around the corner from the bedroom he shares with his queen.
“Good morning, Ivan.”
“Good morning, moi soverennyi. I hope you rested well,” Ivan replies, tone funereal. Saints, he prays he’s not about to be sent to Tsibeya permanently. He runs his hand under his collar, annoyed to find he’s actually sweating.
Kirigan’s face gives nothing away. “I did, thank you. The Tsaritsa is with Genya and one of the healers.”
“And she...she is well?” Ivan gulps.
“Yes. She was apparently a bit surprised last night herself, as she’d only just begun to suspect she might be pregnant.”
As much as Ivan hates when the Tsar’s feelings show—it’s usually him making soppy, annoying faces at Alina—he wishes Aleksander would just say what’s on his mind.
“My apologies, sir, I was also surprised. She seemed unwell, and I wanted to make sure she wasn’t, say, being poisoned.”
“You thought someone might be poisoning my wife?” Kirigan is incredulous.
“Things have been very calm with Fjerda lately. I don’t trust it.”
The General mutters under his breath, something about not trusting anything.
Ivan waits. Finally, Kirigan breaks the not-so-silent silence. “Well, thank you for your concern. And, ah, the surprising news.”
“You’re most welcome,” he replies gloomily.
“You don’t seem thrilled.”
“Forgive me, moi tsar, but I don’t see a need for excitement at a natural result of your conjugal activities. Sir.”
Oh, saints, is Kirigan frowning at him? Ivan mentally starts packing his belongings when the frown becomes a smile and then a laugh.
Perhaps Aleksander still isn’t quite recovered from the shock of his impending fatherhood.
He’s not paying attention to Ivan anyway. Kirigan makes his way to the table, shuffling the papers there unseeingly. “I didn’t think it was possible, you know.”
“I did not.” And Ivan would like to keep it that way.
Alas, Aleksander seems inclined to continue talking. “In all my long life, longer than you know, I’ve never fathered a child.”
Ivan grimaces. The world is probably grateful, though now it has much to fear. “It would have been challenging to have had a child during the wars, sir.”
Kirigan waves this aside, and unfortunately continues speaking. “Still, for it to happen with Alina...I’m so thrilled, Ivan.”
“And I am...happy for you, General.” Make it stop. Ivan is queasy.
“Of course, it’s probably for the best that it didn’t happen when Alina and I first got together, especially now that I know how possible that was.”
Ivan wants to cover his ears and sing “la la la la la,” but the implications of what his boss is saying finally sink in, and his horror at this whole situation increases exponentially. “Wait. Do you mean to say you weren’t using, ah, preventative measures?”
Kirigan’s face grows sheepish. “Until my conversation with Alina last night after you all departed, I wasn’t aware there was such a thing. In my day, one simply planned around the time of the month or withdrew from—”
“I beg you to stop talking. Moi soverennyi,” Ivan adds as an afterthought.
The Tsar falls silent, and Ivan sighs with relief.
But something bothers him. “Did you not get any sort of talk about how to prevent pregnancy when you were training? Even I did when I was young, before everyone knew I wouldn’t have to worry about that.”
“Like I said, there weren’t those kinds of options when I was young, as far as I know,” Kirigan says with a shrug.
Ivan begins to realize that his boss is, in fact, much older than he thought. That explains the herring and rye, too. He hesitates before venturing to speak. “Do...was Alina—the queen, that is, did she explain the different kinds of birth control, or…?”
“Well, I can’t get her more pregnant, Ivan.”
It’s too horrible to even contemplate, and Ivan shudders.
Kirigan laughs and slaps his shoulder. “Don’t worry, you don’t have to give me The Talk. Alina was so upset I didn’t know that she told me everything last night.”
Ivan’s lips twist in dismay at Aleksander’s rapturous expression that indicates there was a demonstration of some practical applications. Ugh. “Small mercies.”
“Well, hopefully you’ll consider this next a mercy: I want you and Fedyor to stay close through Alina’s pregnancy, especially once word gets out.”
Staying in Os Alta won’t be so bad, but the idea of dancing attendance on Alina, all while some parasite hijacks and distorts her body...well, hopefully he’ll get a good field assignment once this pregnancy is over. “Of course, moi tsar. And when will it end? I mean, ah, when is the blessed event?”
“In seven and a half months or so, perhaps eight. She’s about five or six weeks along, the healer says. And that, well…” Kirigan smiles at what is clearly the memory of this child’s conception.
Ivan fervently wracks his brain, desperate to keep his boss from offering more information that will give him nightmares about heterosexual intercourse. “And is there any way of knowing whether the babe will be a shadow summoner or sun summoner? Or both?”
A stricken look comes over Kirigan’s face. “Both?” He clearly hasn’t considered this possibility yet. “But that…” He doesn’t continue, instead going to fall into his chair and stare into distance.
It’s going to be a long few months.
It’s roughly eight months after that when Ivan is rudely pulled from sleep by Genya bursting into his and Fedyor’s room like she has the right.
It’s obscenely early in the morning, Ivan is, as is his usual habit, sleeping on his side facing the window. Fedyor, as is his usual custom, sleeps with his arm slung over Ivan’s waist and his head buried between his shoulder blades. It’s very soothing, normally.
Not today, though. The door opens with a bang, and Genya yells, “It’s time! She’s here!”
Ivan, suddenly wide awake, goes to jump out of bed. Instead, he finds that Genya has slowed their heart rates enough that hurrying is impossible. He glares at her. “What the fuck are you doing in our room? Who is here?”
“The baby is here. The tsarevna.”
“It’s a girl?” Fedyor asks with a smile.
Genya grins back. “Yes. She’s adorable.”
Ivan does not smile. “I’m glad she’s arrived. But why are you here in our bedroom at—” he glances at the clock and continues, “4:52 in the morning?”
“Everyone is going to see here. You’re the Tsar’s right-hand man, Ivan, so they’ll be expecting you.”
“Well, Genya, darling, you’ll have to let our hearts do their normal thing if you want us to do that,” Fedyor adds.
She shakes her head and drops her hand. “Of course. Sorry. See you there in fifteen minutes, and please be wearing pants. And shirts.”
Ivan grumbles, but gets out of bed. It’s difficult to want to leave when Fedyor is looking over him like that, but Kirigan probably will be upset if they don’t come to fawn over his spawn in what he deems a reasonable amount of time.
He and Fedyor make their way down the halls of the palace to Aleksander’s and Alina’s private apartment. The door is open, but Ivan nods at the guards and knocks anyway before stepping inside, Fedyor on his heels. He walks back to the bedroom, where he can hear hushed, happy conversations.
Alina is lying on the bed. She looks sweaty and disgusting, but in a radiant and maternal way that the Tsar seems to find beautiful, since he can’t look away from her. Typical, and exactly what got them into this mess.
The mess in question is wrapped in a blanket in her mother’s arms. Ivan glances at the small bundle, which seems to be sleeping. It is certainly very red.
Kirigan sits in a chair beside the bed, as close to it and his wife and new daughter as he can. He’s resting one hand on Alina’s shoulder, while the other trails along his daughter’s tiny head.
“The tsarevna is lovely,” Fedyor says, smiling down at the family.
Ivan thinks that’s a bit of a stretch, but he nods. “She looks like a baby. A healthy one.”
Fedyor elbows him, but Alina just rolls her eyes. “Thank you, I think.”
“She’s beautiful,” Aleksander says firmly, his face still disturbingly dreamy. “We’ve decided to call her Anastasia.”
Nastia. That seems about right.
Just then, the wee girl stirs and starts to wail. As her cries grow louder and Alina shifts to be able to feed her, shadows creep into the room. Then through the darkness, Ivan sees little flashes of light coming from the baby.
Fuck. This tiny child can summon shadows and light.
Nasty little Nastia indeed.
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Hi! I love your writing and adore your Fivan one shots so if your still taking prompts I would love to see one where everyone in the little palace ( Genya, Zoya, The Darling etc ) finds out about Fivans relationship. Please and thank you!
Aha, my request for prompts was quite a while ago, but since I can never resist the opportunity for Shenanigans, especially of the Fivan variety, here you go.
Nadia finds out first. She, in fact, does not even need to be actually told. Fedyor is creeping down the stairs in the early morning with tousled hair and a kefta that has spent all night on the floor of Ivan's bedroom, mind filled with nothing but jumbled images and sensations and oh Saints did that finally really happen?, and as a result, is not paying attention in the least to where he is going. He walks bang into his friend, there is a mutual moment of consternation as they stumble backward and clutch their heads and apologize, and then Nadia gets a good look. Fedyor has tried to arrange his collar to hide the most obvious bites, but it doesn't matter. Her eyes go wide as saucers. "Oh my," she says. "Did it finally happen?"
"Did... what... finally happen?"
"Fedyor Kaminsky, don't even try that." Nadia points a finger at him. "You know damn well what I'm talking about."
Fedyor looks at the floor, which doesn't help. A small smile starts to overtake his mouth. This is as good as hiring the entire First Army drum-and-trumpet brigade to parade around announcing the news, he knows, but he can't help it. "Maybe."
"Maybe." Nadia utters a scoff that is twice her size. "That is a question with a yes-or-no answer, you idiot."
Fedyor's lips pull wider. So do Nadia's.
"Oh," she crows, punching the air. "I knew it."
Zoya, Ivan's old nemesis from training and their shared but completely exclusive belief that Kirigan should pay attention only to their advice at all times, also picks it up by inference. In her case, it's because she sees Ivan actually smiling when Fedyor is standing closely next to him, filling him in on some item of Heartrender miscellany, rather than looking as if this is the worst thing to happen in his entire life. When Fedyor touches Ivan's wrist briefly and slips off, Zoya's suspicions are confirmed. She stomps up and demands, "Really?"
Ivan whirls around, sees her, and glares. "Did you need something?"
"Fedyor?" Zoya still hasn't processed. "But he's so nice! Did he hit his head or wake up having forgotten his entire life to this date? I'm having a hard time thinking what else he can possibly see in you."
Ivan crosses his arms across his chest, fixing her with an even greater stare of total death, but she refuses to back down. "I don't know what you're talking about, Nazyalensky," he barks. "If you're not going to train that new cohort of Squallers, then -- "
"Fine." Zoya turns on her heel, then adds over her shoulder, "He's much too good for you, you know."
Ivan stares at her implacably. He does not, however, deny either this fact or the reason for it, and Zoya, smugly, takes that as a win.
Genya knows soon too, but then, Genya knows more or less everything that happens in the Little Palace by virtue of her position. The queen and her ladies are very gossipy, and when one of the younger ones starts going on about that Fedyor Kaminsky, he's such a dish, so handsome, what's his situation, Genya feels obliged to speak up and provide some gentle clarification. "I'm afraid he's already taken," she says. "And you won't want to tangle with his partner. It's... well, it's Ivan, the general's right-hand man."
The reactions, of course, are predictable: "Ivan?" spoken in increasingly incredulous tones. "Ivan? Ivan! IVAN. IVAN?!!"
"But he's so...." one of the ladies protests. "So terribly rude."
Genya smothers a wry smile. "Apparently Fedyor doesn't mind."
Kirigan finds out last, and most mortifyingly. Fedyor and Ivan have been together for four months at this point, are returning to the Little Palace from their first separation as a couple and have some making up for lost time to do. They have not managed to make it to a bedroom and are getting started on said actions on the wall of a nearby antechamber, when Kirigan thinks of something he apparently forgot to tell Ivan on the road and pushes the door open imperiously, not bothering to knock. "Ivan! If those Fjerdans were already at Arkesk, then we need to -- "
There is a monumentally panicked scramble as Ivan, the stern, unflappable, terrifying Heartrender captain of the Second Army physically dives away, hits the ground, rolls over and over while frantically trying to lace his trousers up, and Fedyor has lunged with equal dispatch behind a sofa. There he crouches, likewise attempting in vain to restore his clothing, as Kirigan comes to a halt and looks around quizzically. "Ivan?"
"Moi... soverenyi," Ivan pants, climbing to his feet and brushing floor dust off his kefta. "I did not -- I thought you were -- "
"I seem to have interrupted something?" Kirigan arches a sleek dark brow. He catches sight of Fedyor, then shakes his head. "Oh, Ivan. You really could do better."
At the look of pure rage on Ivan's face, a look he has never seen before in relation to him, the Black General blinks, and even he thinks better of picking this fight. "Ah," he says. "My apologies. Congratulations, of course. I hope you two will be very happy."
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Okay but what if Fedyor was trying to give Ivan a heart attack and seduce him...just two comrades sitting in a tent 0 feet apart...
*hands you a card that says "not sorry for the enabling"*
You are all the very, very worst and so is Julian Kostov. I hate ALL of you. And yet. Literally nobody is surprised.
Under the cut for smutty reasons.
Ivan is running late, and he's in a worse mood than usual, even for Ivan. He's been put in charge of the latest crop of baby Heartrenders, the ones who have just declared their discipline and are beginning their specialized training (perhaps the feeling is that if they can survive even one day of Ivan, nothing they meet outside the walls of the Little Palace can possibly be that terrible). In Ivan's opinion, however, they're all terrible and the Grisha are doomed to abject failure. Surely he wasn't that bad at sixteen? What are they teaching children these days? Why are children even still a thing, anyway? Hasn't society evolved past the need for children yet?
Consumed in his angry thoughts, Ivan pushes the door of his bedroom open without paying much attention. He is only intending to change into a clean kefta and get back out --
Then stops dead. A faint whirring noise between his ears is the only sign that his brain has abruptly and completely stopped functioning. To be precise, shut directly the fuck down, and it all has to do with his husband, who is standing on the carpet in nothing but a pair of high-waisted black trousers and suspenders and looking obnoxiously proud of himself. "Oh, Vanya," he says airily, as if this is a complete surprise. "Getting ready for your big day of teaching, are you?"
"Fff." Ivan coughs. "Fedya," he croaks. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, sorry." Fedyor saunters closer. "I was just waiting for my husband. Have you seen him? Heartrender, very grumpy, answers to the name -- what was it? Feliks?"
Ivan actually growls at the thought of anyone else, even in jest, laying claim to what is rightfully his. He shoots a hand out and grabs Fedyor by the suspender. "I don't think it was Feliks."
"Oh?" Fedyor tips his head back, dark hair tousled, dimples flashing, and eyes absolutely glittering with sin. "Are you sure?"
In answer, Ivan grabs him by the other suspender, jerks him closer, and crushes his mouth to Fedyor's in a ferocious, hungry, possessive kiss. His hands let go of their purchase on the suspenders and roam on the trim, taut muscles of Fedyor's torso, around ribs and abs and around the back, trying to fit everything into his fingers at once. Fedyor makes little murmuring noises of agreement that drive Ivan practically insane, but as he starts trying to unclip the stupid things from the even more idiotic trousers and push Fedyor back toward their bed, Fedyor catches his hands. "Ah, no. My turn."
"What?" Ivan pants, mind absolutely addled to a pulp with lust. He doesn't even know why -- he's been with Fedyor for almost a decade, he has seen him shirtless on many, many pleasant occasions -- but something about the sheer surprise and his pent-up frustration is really doing it for him right now. "Fedya, if you're going to tease me, I swear to the Saints that I will -- "
"Oh, shut up." Fedyor leans up and steals another kiss. "I don't make promises I can't keep."
With that, he deftly unlaces Ivan's breeches, reaches in, and draws out Ivan's erection, already stiff and hot in his hand. Then he drops to his knees, gives Ivan the wickedest of all imaginable looks, and takes him deep and sweet in his mouth, all at once.
Ivan swears. He clutches at Fedyor's hair, trying not to pull too much, but Fedyor is being particularly hot and relentless, and he is only human. Fedyor grabs the back of Ivan's knees, bracing himself, pulling himself closer as he glides his mouth up and down Ivan's aching cock, licking and sucking like the absolute menace to public health (read: Ivan's health) that he is. Nobody should permit him to walk around like this. It's just not fair. It's obscene.
Ivan comes in a shuddering, wrung-out gasp that almost knocks his legs out from under him, as Fedyor gives him one last, long luxurious suck in extra-sensitive regions that makes him whimper pitifully. Then Fedyor plants a light kiss on the tip and opens his mouth, letting Ivan slide wetly out, and looks up, eyes dark and deep and absolutely, unbearably evil. It's official, this man is the Black Heretic in human form. Ivan keeps wheezing.
"Well?" Fedyor says. "Suspenders, yes or no?"
In answer, Ivan grabs him under the armpits, hoists him to his feet, and pins him roughly against the nearest wall, kissing Fedyor until neither of them can breathe (not that they were doing so well on that front before). Then, much as he absolutely hates it, he pulls back. "I have a job to do," he informs the deeply-pleased-with-himself Fedyor. "But tonight, you are going to pay for this."
(None of the Heartrender recruits dare to ask why Ivan is in such a good mood that day. After all, they definitely don't want to die.)
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Ok, ok, but... hear me out: During one battle, Fedyor pushes Ivan out of the line of fire/way of an attacker and gets hit himself. Obviously his kefta is bulletproof, but there's still a moment of shock. And gruff, concerned cuddling later on.
The ambush comes at dawn, just when the unit is still mostly asleep and the Fjerdans have managed to sneak through the lines during the night. Fedyor himself is fast asleep one moment and leaping out of his bedroll the next, sprinting out into the mud and mess of the camp while he's still only wearing his nightshirt and breeches. It happens so fast that he hasn't even had time to get dressed, to don his kefta and hat and boots, and that is how he kills the first three druskelle with bare hands and bare feet. He ducks as the First Army soldiers return fire, glancing around wildly in the chaos for Ivan, and --
He sees his husband at the same moment the glint of metal, across the way, tips him off that a Fjerdan sharpshooter has seen him too. Ivan is likewise kefta-less, bareheaded and half-dressed, roaring orders at the otkazat'sya and spinning around to cut down a charging witch-hunter with a fluid and effortless gesture, but he doesn't look behind him fast enough. He doesn't see what's about to happen. And in that instant, which seems to take so long but lasts half a second, if that, Fedyor lunges.
He tackles Ivan flat into the mud just as the boom goes off, feels a blazing pain in the back of his shoulder, and doesn't stop to think or react. He keeps rolling, pulling them out of the line of fire, as they catch to a halt behind an olive-green canvas tent and Fedyor becomes aware that his shoulder does in fact hurt quite a lot. He can hear Ivan swearing extensively under him, but as it percolates that the large thing that just tackled him out of midair is in fact Fedyor, he pushes him off and scrambles upright. "Fedya! What did you -- "
"Teach you to pay attention," Fedyor informs him. He pauses, thinks about it, and adds, "Ow."
Ivan's eyes flick to his shoulder, then go wide in a look of total and badly disguised panic that almost nobody ever sees. He grabs Fedyor around the torso, lifts him up and covers him with his body in case any stray bullets reach them back here, and hauls him back into the tent. There's still a battle going on, Ivan's still needed, there's not much time, but he pulls the sticky cloth of Fedyor's bloodstained shirt away from the wound and hisses furiously, "This is why you wear the kefta!"
"Sorry. No time while we were getting disgracefully surprise-attacked." Talking is hard, he feels unaccountably breathless, and Fedyor decides not to continue doing so for the moment. Ivan's rough, callused hands move over his shoulder urgently, seeking the torn edges of the flesh and the exact location of the bullet. Ivan is actually a rather good Healer, but Fedyor (and a few badly injured field casualties who couldn't wait for official help) are the only ones who know it. Fedyor's shoulder burns white-hot, he hears a sick little plop as the bullet falls out, and the skin knits together in neat tendrils. Fedyor winces. "Ah. Saints. That stung. Thank you, Vanya."
As he starts to get up, Ivan slams both hands on his newly repaired shoulders and pushes him straight back down. "You," he orders in a voice like thunder. "Put on your kefta right now."
"Fine," Fedyor sighs. "If you do the same."
Two minutes later, both now fully clad, they emerge from the tent, Heartrend a few more Fjerdans as the skirmish straggles to a messy end, and take care of cleaning up the aftermath and bawling out the scouts who fell asleep on night watch and allowed the enemy to sneak up so close. Then it's a matter of packing up the tents and moving camp, and all the other logistics of the front. Over and over, as ever.
It isn't until that night, when they're in a more secure location, that Ivan finishes writing his field report for General Kirigan, rolls it up, and pushes it aside. Then he gets up, crosses the tent, and picks Fedyor off his feet, carrying him over to the bedroll and cuddling him close in silent, grumpy, stubbly silence, his face nuzzling the back of Fedyor's neck. "Do not," he says after a while, "do that to me again. You hear?"
"Yes." Fedyor muffles a smile. Truly, the entire Little Palace would never believe their eyes if they saw the terrifying Ivan Sakharov right now. But they never do get to see that, only Fedyor, and he enjoys that more than he can possibly say. "I absolutely do."
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Since you’re actively trying to Kill Me Dead with your fivan fic prompts, I’ve decide to embrace a ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ philosophy. Ahem. /clears throat. It’s truly a tragedy that I’ve not yet read a fic where Jesper compliments Ivan’s pretty face and Fedyor overhears. /bats eyelashes (is this working???). :)
It is two months since Fedyor and Ivan have been reunited, trying to stumble their way into understanding what on earth they're going to do now and what side they are supposed to fight for, whether these rumors of Kirigan being alive are real and what that means for them, when they arrive in a tavern close to the Fjerdan border and decide to stop for a drink. And it's there when Fedyor looks over, does a double take, and hisses, "Nina? What are you doing here?"
His fellow Heartrender, his friend, who he valiantly tried to save from the maniacal druskelle in their last meeting like this, stares back at him. "Fedyor," she says. "What are you -- ?"
"It doesn't matter," Fedyor says. "Are you alone? You should come with us. Ivan and I will keep you safe."
"I'm not..." Nina looks deeply uncomfortable. "Not... alone."
"What?" Fedyor follows her eye line to the other five people gathered at a table across the way, who seem vaguely familiar. Then he catches sight of the same maniac druskelle, the very same, and leaps to his feet. "Nina! What in the name of the Saints is -- "
"Shut up!" Nina hisses, jumping up with him and putting her hand over his mouth. "You don't know what's going on here!"
"That's the druskelle, Matthias Helvar, who -- "
"Fedyor, if you ruin things for me with him again, I swear -- "
While this is going on, a sudden, sepulchral roar echoes through the tavern, rattling off the roof. "YOU!"
Everyone whirls around, just as an utterly apoplectic Ivan leaps to his feet, throws out both hands, and the tall Zemeni man across the way chokes and staggers sideways as he suddenly can no longer breathe. Nina shrieks, then grabs Ivan's arm and pulls it down, breaking his stranglehold on the other man's heart. "Ivan! Don't -- "
"That," Ivan roars, "is the bastard who shot me three times in Ryevost and then pushed me off the skiff in the Fold! I am going to KILL HIM!"
The tavern patrons are scrambling for every available exit, desperate not to be caught in the middle of a Grisha throwdown, as Fedyor snaps upright like a hunting dog catching the scent. "He did... what?"
"Oh no," the Zemeni man says. "It's Kirigan's crazy sidekick. I knew I really shouldn't have been such a softie, but the pretty face -- "
Fedyor doesn't bother answering. His eyes turn as red as his kefta, as he slams his power at the other man so violently that it launches him bodily across the room. Someone yells, "JESPER!" and the Zemeni man -- Jesper -- barely manages to catch himself. Then he throws out a hand in reflex, and the knives on a nearby table speed back toward Fedyor, who ducks. What the -- ?
"I knew you were something!" Ivan bellows. "A Materialki, is it?"
Jesper stops short, swears, gets driven to his knees again as Fedyor redoubles his efforts to give him a serious heart attack, and the melee is only broken by Nina diving in the middle and disrupting Fedyor's line of sight. He tries to push her aside, but she pushes back, and Fedyor stumbles backward, still breathing like a grampus. "You did," he snarls at Jesper, "WHAT?"
"I wouldn't have if I knew he had an equally pretty but very fierce boyfriend. Saints." Jesper, panting, holds up his hands. "Come now. Truce? All right? Truce. In my defense, he was also trying to kill me."
"Maim," Ivan promises, face deadly. "At least."
"No maiming!" Nina screams, startling everyone. "I swear it's like nursery school all over again! Shall we start over?"
Fedyor and Ivan fold their arms and glare. Jesper and company do likewise. Nina sighs deeply.
This is going to be even harder than she thought.
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I may write this into a proper fic later, but since it’s been floating around in my brain for a while, here’s what everyone in Phantomverse is up to as of 2021, three years after the end of the story:
Matthias and Nina: Currently living on a houseboat in the Caribbean. (They spent some time in New Zealand, Argentina, and South Africa beforehand.) They had just gotten to the Caribbean when COVID hit, so they ended up staying, bought an old boat and fixed it up, and are living their best digital nomad lives. Nina works as a contractor for a private cybersecurity firm and teaches social activists how to hide their data from Big Brother. Matthias has remote-work jobs for Norwegian firms. They are semi-sort-of planning to move back to Norway permanently and finally apply for Nina’s settlement visa when the borders reopen, but they’re also not in a hurry to leave where they are. They have talked once or twice about whether they want to start trying for children, but that’s still a way in the future.
Kaz and Inej: Actually kind of really together, and not even if you squint. It’s been three careful years, but they’re working on it and doing better in lots of ways. Inej has finally been home to London to see her parents, though they’ve also had to deal with quarantine hassle and closed borders. Kaz still works as a hacker, but the Crows are trying (slowly) to get out of the crime business, at least sometimes. They’re always down for taking out assholes. They still mostly live in Amsterdam, but they’ve bought a new house in the Dutch countryside that they’re working on fixing up together.
Jesper and Wylan: Got engaged just before everything went to hell in 2020 and have been desperately trying to arrange a wedding in the Age of COVID ever since. It’s turned into a running joke, since every time they get something booked, it gets canceled, a new restriction comes up, or they realize that their friends will not be able to get into the country to attend. Travel circumstances permitting, they currently split their time between Ireland and Amsterdam. Jesper is still close to Kaz and Inej, though he’s vainly attempting to “go straight -- no, not that kind of straight” in preparation for his life as a married man. It remains debatable how well this is actually working.
Ivan and Fedyor: Have in fact gotten a cat, whose name is Rasputin. They adopted him from a Brooklyn animal shelter and yes, it was Fedyor’s idea, and yes, Ivan complained the whole time, then immediately fell in love. They’ve had a bit of a rough time; Ivan, as an essential worker, got COVID in March 2020 and was knocked on his ass by it. It took him several months to recover and it’s been generally stressful. They’re also disappointed that Fedyor’s parents had FINALLY just agreed to come out from Russia and visit them in Brighton Beach when the plague hit, so that is once again indefinitely delayed. Ivan, once he got better, quit his job with the repair company and started his own home renovation business, which is becoming unexpectedly a hot ticket among Williamsburg hipsters. He hates this deeply, but there you have it. [NAME REDACTED] looks forward to performing again when the clubs reopen.
Nikolai and Zoya: Got married in a lavish destination-wedding bash in Bali in 2019, which was the last big international trip everyone got to have before you-know-what. Zoya then got offered a prestigious job in Los Angeles, but Nikolai didn’t want to leave his job in Manhattan, so they spend most of their weeks on opposite coasts and get together on the weekends. However, for obvious reasons, this isn’t going to work out long-term, so they’re having intent discussions about whether they’re both going to move to California or what. Nikolai still holds that if Nina and Zoya ever run off together, he is more than willing to comfort Matthias. If you know what he means.
Poppy: Still living their best and most fabulous life, though they left the red-light district in Amsterdam and went to school with the money they had saved. They semi-dated Matthias’ friend Christian for a few months, then separated amiably. They now live in London, are pursuing a master’s degree in social work at King’s College, and work for a trans/queer mental health charity. They spend a lot of time annihilating J.K. Rowling and Piers Morgan on Twitter.
Aleksander: Idk, probably still brooding somewhere in the GRU about how he’s never going to get Alina back. I’d like to think he’s made a few better life choices, but this is Aleksander we are talking about. My hopes are not high.
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86 with fivan, per favore? 👀
Anonymous asked: ohh those writing prompts are amazing !! Maybe No. 82 & Fivan?
Tagging @mearcatsreturns for Reasons.
82. “Just breathe, okay?”
86. “Don’t be scared, I’m right here.”
Ivan Kaminsky has long lived in abject terror that this day might come.
He saw it far-off, lurking in the future but creeping inexorably closer, after the war was ended, a peace settlement was made, and the former enemies ascended the throne as king and queen of Ravka. He hoped he was mistaken, but a growing panic in the pit of his gut knew that he wasn't. Now it has finally, incontrovertibly come, and he's staring down the barrel of utter despair. This can't be right. This can't be happening. If he truly has to endure this, it will shatter him.
What? What are you talking about? No, no, no. God no. He doesn't mean losing Fedyor. That would be, bar none, the single worst event in the history of the universe. This is just the worst day of Ivan's life, although nobody else seems to see it that way. They're gathered in the chamber in their best clothes, whispering excitedly about the safe arrival of the little tsarevna, how beautiful she is, how she is -- well, until the arrival of a brother, though there are murmurings about changing the law -- the heiress presumptive to the crown of Ravka. And, of course, that tiny little detail that while nobody can be sure, this child can probably summon both Sun and Shadow. Together. Or at once. While also being the daughter of the two most powerful people in the world. And in line to become so herself.
Ivan can't see any way for this to go terribly, terribly wrong. That was sarcasm, by the way. He absolutely very much can.
This is why, he mutters furiously to himself, certain classes of people (let us call them, in accordance with the latest taxonomic science, "heterosexuals") should not ever have sexual intercourse. It leads to horrible things like children, and even more horrible things like Ivan being expected to look at them. As Genya comes out with the news that the tsaritsa is ready to receive them, Ivan contemplates spinning around and just fucking booking it directly out of the Big Palace and into the wilderness, never to return. Unfortunately, he can't, because his husband already has hold of his elbow. "Just breathe, okay?" Fedyor mutters, failing miserably at trying not to laugh in his face. "Don't be scared. I'm right here."
Ivan shoots him an absolutely filthy look as they enter the antechamber, still crowded with doctors, attendants, and other hangers-on. "You make it sound like I'm the one giving birth."
"Saints forfend." Fedyor chews his cheek, manfully wrestling back his smirk, then steps up and bows deeply to the woman in the bed. "Congratulations, moya tsaritsa! We're so happy for you."
Her Imperial Majesty Alina Starkov Morozova, Queen of Ravka, Sun Summoner, so forth and etcetera, raises a dark eyebrow, considerately deciding not to ask whether it is in fact both of them. She is perched in weary but triumphant repose among the pillows, holding the swaddled bundle of her infant daughter, while His Imperial Majesty Aleksander Morozova, King of Ravka, Shadow Summoner, Realm's Biggest Idiot, so forth and etcetera, sits adoringly at her side and gazes at her like -- well, like the actual sun. Ivan feels nauseous.
"Here," Alina says, holding the baby out. "Do you want to meet her?"
Fedyor, damn his traitorous hide, immediately accepts the little princess into his arms and starts making funny faces at her while referring to himself as "Uncle Fedya." Saints, this is awful. Ivan looks at the ceiling and does his best not to move or speak at all while Fedyor embarrasses himself with young Tsarevna Anastasia Aleksanderevna Morozova, Princess of Ravka, Summoner of Some Dangerously Powerful Sort, so forth and etcetera. Despite her number of names, she will be known, as she grows, simply as Nastia. Ivan fears that Nasty is greatly underselling it. He has never in his entire life been more devoutly grateful that Fedyor is not a woman.
Seeing that people are starting to look at him funny, and since he is the king's most trusted general, Ivan decides loathingly that it is incumbent upon him to perform the minimum of social courtesies. He advances upon Alina's bed, places one hand militantly on his heart, and inclines his head half an inch, struggling for the correct things you're supposed to say to heterosexuals when they insist on spawning and making it everyone else's problem. "My felicitations, moya tsaritsa," he comes up with. "For your offspring who is... not dead. Who is, in fact, perfectly healthy. I'm sure you're.... very pleased."
Alina and Aleksander both glare at him. Ivan takes it to mean that he has succeeded, steps back, and counts the minutes until Fedyor is forced to relinquish his goddaughter (Ivan fears even more that this designation is going to be involuntarily likewise applied to him). The infant starts to make an appalling noise. Is it dying? No, nobody seems more alarmed than usual, and Ivan would be able to detect it in its heartbeat. Nonetheless, he seizes Fedyor's arm and propels them swiftly out, barely breathing until the door slams shut behind them.
"What do you think?" Fedyor asks, the instant they are alone. "Should we have one of our own, Vanya?"
The prospect suffuses Ivan in a mantle of despair even darker than the now-vanished Shadow Fold. He stops short in the corridor and stares at his beloved in utter horror. "Tell me you don't mean that."
"I'm not an idiot, Vanya." Fedyor laughs and takes his arm again. "Of course I didn't. But that doesn't mean that we aren't going to spoil little Nastia rotten and, of course, as I volunteered, babysit for her at every opportunity."
Ivan's internal scream can probably be heard in Novyi Zem.
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Slides on up to your inbox like the darkling in a good mood (preens with expert cape whirl). Hello your eminence. Ivan and Fedyor each meet Kirigan for the first time. Ahem. If you’re still taking prompts about those two loverender heartbirds.
I hope you don't mind if I altered your prompt slightly, since I figured that they met Kirigan for the first FIRST time as boys brought to the Little Palace. Instead, they meet Kirigan for the first time as a couple in order to ask a terrifying favor, especially since this plays nicely into my recent Thoughts about them + him.
Also on AO3 as a chapter of the better half of me.
The pair of Heartrenders come to a final halt before the tall carved doors, look them up and down, and draw identical nervous breaths. The oprichniki on guard know Ivan well, of course, though they are less used to seeing him with Fedyor – and more to the point, for the two of them to be holding hands. But they rap on the doors, call, “My lord, your visitors have arrived,” and swing them wide, permitting entrance. And in such fashion, formal keftas stiff with laundry starch, palms sweating but backs straight, they go on in.
Inside, General Kirigan is bent over an ornate table laden with charts and books, but he straightens up when he sees them. “Ah, Ivan.” His tone is both friendly – so much as Kirigan goes in for, at least – and questioning. His dark eyes flick to their clasped hands. He obviously must have an inkling of what they are here to ask him, but he arches an eyebrow nonetheless. “And – Fedyor, was it? Fedyor Kaminsky?”
“Da, moi soverennyi,” Fedyor answers formally, in Old Ravkan, though the odds that Kirigan doesn’t know the exact name and specialty of each and every Grisha in the ranks are slim-to-nonexistent. He lets go of Ivan’s hand, as if eager to be considered on his own merits and not only as the other man’s shadow. “Thank you for receiving us.”
“Of course.” Kirigan tips his head to the oprichniki, who close the doors, indicating that the General is now occupied and will not be disturbed. “Sit. Glass of kvas?”
“No, sir.” Despite the invitation, neither Ivan nor Fedyor take a seat, hands stiffly clasped behind their backs, the way they stand on parade when the tsar reviews the troops in spring. Ivan clears his throat. “Fedyor and I have come to ask your permission to…”
He’s not scared of most things. Almost none, in fact. But this is different.
“Permission to…” Fedyor picks up helpfully, trying to cover the moment of silence, the way the two of them have each other’s backs whether in battle or in horribly awkward conversations with their commanding officer. “To be…”
He glances back at Ivan, and Ivan takes the last of it. “To be married,” he says, as flatly and firmly as he can. Then, feeling it perhaps necessarily to specify in case this is not something Kirigan has been asked before, he adds, “To each other.”
Both of Kirigan’s eyebrows jump this time, though he doesn’t respond aloud. In theory, the Grisha are allowed to be married, but they are required to seek permission from the general first, and if he deems the liaison hasty, ill-judged, detrimental to morale, or otherwise prejudicial to the interests of the Second Army, Ravka’s most elite and feared military force, that permission can be denied. The last thing you want is lovers making too much of a stink, trying to pull special privileges or abandoning their responsibilities to the unit in favor of their partner. Then there is, of course, the added fact that Ivan and Fedyor are both men. They spent hours in the library before venturing this request, and so far, they have found nothing explicitly prohibiting two people of the same gender from being married in the formal Ravkan liturgy, but then, they didn’t exactly rush off to find a presbyter or an archimandrite and ask for detailed theological opinions. The traditionalists won’t like it, but they were never going to like it. Among the Grisha, one’s personal preferences are largely irrelevant, as long as you do your job well. And indeed, Ivan’s general nature is forbidding enough to make it unlikely that their compatriots would dare to ask, or that they even suspect. But still.
“Married,” Kirigan repeats, after a painfully long pause. “Ah.”
“With your permission,” Ivan repeats, to stress that they are doing this by the book, the exact same way he would if Fedyor was a woman. “Moi soverennyi.”
Kirigan considers them, tapping his fingers together. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Fedyor rushes, a little too eager to answer, as he steps forward, eyes blazing. Ivan feels a renewed surge of adoration for him, the way you can almost hear the heroic music swelling in the background. “I – I love him, my lord. I would die for him, and he for me.”
“That is very sweet,” Kirigan says, in the tone of a man watching a mildly interesting ballet. “I am glad to hear it. Fedyor, do you mind giving myself and Ivan a moment alone?”
Fedyor snaps his mouth shut and looks worried, but doesn’t, of course, refuse. He swallows hard, steps back, and jerks his head in a nod, touching Ivan’s hand in a brief, silent gesture of reassurance. Then he withdraws through the inner doors of the chamber, and they shut behind him, leaving Ivan and the Black General alone. They regard each other in the pale sunlight slanting through the diamonded windows, and though it runs his nerves ragged, Ivan waits for Kirigan to speak first. He braces for any question he might be asked, no matter how intrusive. If this is what it takes for this, for them, he will do it. He will. He is no traitor. He is loyal to his tsar and to his general, and he loves his country. He just loves Fedyor too.
At last, Kirigan turns away, opens a jeweled box, and removes a small dark item, curved and sharp-looking. He holds it up. “Do you know what this is, Ivan?”
“No, moi soverennyi.”
“It is an amplifier,” Kirigan says. “One that I made myself, in the oldest of the Bonesmith’s ancient arts. It comes from a claw of Morozova’s bears, killed in the deep wilderness of Tsibeya. It would be a significant addition to your own considerable power. I am prepared to make a gift of it to you, in celebration of your wedding.”
Ivan’s jaw drops, though he does his best to reel it up again and not stand there gaping like an imbecile. “To – to me, moi soverennyi?”
“Yes,” Kirigan repeats, looking amused, as if there was someone else in the chamber he could possibly be addressing. “Are you interested?”
“Yes. Of course I am.” Ivan pauses. “My lord, is there some sort of – ?”
“No catch, of course,” Kirigan says airily, as if anticipating that was Ivan’s next question. “Merely a reward for one of my most talented and loyal servants, who, it seems, has finally found happiness. I was wondering if it was even possible.”
Ivan shifts uncomfortably. “Is that so unimaginable?”
“To hear some of your colleagues talk, yes.” Kirigan still sounds amused. “No, do not apologize. I would not have you be otherwise. It is a useful talent and one that you should cultivate, which is why I offer this as a token of my esteem. If you agree, I will call David Kostyk, the Fabrikator, and have it sealed into your hand. A mark both of your wedding and your renewed loyalty to me.”
“Yes, yes. Absolutely.” Ivan almost feels relieved, when this could have been much worse. “My lord – ”
“Of course,” Kirigan goes on, as if he has not spoken, “you know perfectly well that the lives of Grisha are dangerous, especially in these times of war. If I grant my permission to this marriage, especially in contravention of established tradition, I need to know that you are also still mine, Ivan, and that you will use this gift of power in my aims and for the safety of all of Ravka. After all, you will need that power to protect Fedyor as well. So yes. I do grant my permission, so long as it comes matched with an equal promise to me. Be my good and faithful servant, and Fedyor will be yours, and always safe.”
“Yes, my lord.” When the general inclines his dark head the barest bit, Ivan goes briefly to one knee and kisses Kirigan’s offered hand. “Thank you, my lord.”
“Well then.” The general turns on a heel, cape whirling. “Shall we call David?”
“Now, my lord?”
“Were you planning on changing your mind?”
Ivan thinks of Fedyor waiting in the drawing room, probably climbing the walls with nervousness, and how he wants nothing more than to return to him and tell him that it is done, that he is not just the general’s trusted servant but his most favored confidante. “No, moi soverennyi,” he says. “Not in the least.”
“Does it hurt?” Fedyor slips his fingers through Ivan’s, lifting his right hand to examine the bear claw now permanently embedded in the back of it. It looks red and raw, as if still steaming from the heat of the ritual, but the curve of bone is cool under Fedyor’s fingers. It remains alien to him, but it is part of Ivan’s body now, an unbreakable symbol of the general’s trust in him, in them, and so Fedyor will learn to love it just the same. He bends his head, musing a kiss along Ivan’s bare shoulder. “It looks like it hurts.”
“Not bad,” Ivan says. “It’s a strange feeling, though. Like our usual power, but magnified, changed, more sensitive than I have ever experienced it. I could find your heartbeat across all of the Little Palace, I think.”
He raises his hand, playing his fingers experimentally, as Fedyor kisses his neck. They lie together in bed, their legs entangled, the curtains closed and the fire low, just this small, sweet oasis of solace in their dangerous and turbulent lives. Fedyor doesn’t know exactly what he was expecting to see when the door swung open and Ivan came out, clutching his right hand but wearing a triumphant expression, but this –
He is happy about it, obviously. He is thrilled. But he caught Kirigan’s eye over Ivan’s shoulder, and he read the unmistakable look there. I have given him to you, but only after I made sure to keep him for myself. It’s a dark thought, a little unsettling, and Fedyor does his best to put it out of his head. He is also a loyal soldier, he understands the logic of making sure that a powerful second-in-command does not get distracted from his primary allegiances at this delicate moment, and Kirigan did give them permission to marry. They will stand in a church together, under the gaze of all the Saints, and join their lives together the same as any other who have engaged in that sacred rite. That matters most.
Fedyor shifts, sliding halfway on top of Ivan, as Ivan wraps both arms around his waist and settles him there more firmly. They kiss and kiss until it turns to something else, a shared union in the dark, comfortable and familiar and delightful as ever. After, as Ivan dozes and Fedyor holds his bear-clawed hand, something like triumph rises up in him. He can’t help it.
You will never own him, he tells the shadows, in case their master is out there listening. Not truly. In the end, he will always belong to me.
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pel!ivan and fedyor went through a lot of ups and some downs from the end of pel and 2021 but they also celebrated 10 years together 🥳 i hope fedyor shoved cake into ivan’s face and also you know, im sure they were mushy like the saps they are
Ivan was supposed to be out of here ten minutes ago – actually, at this point, more like twenty – but the clients are still fucking talking, and if they keep it up much longer, he’s going to add it to the bill for “initial consultation.” Drew has a man-bun and unbearably hip black glasses, and works as a developer for some start-up app that he’s tried to convince Ivan to download at least twelve times. (What does the app actually do? Don’t know don’t care.) Mia is thin, blonde, waifish, smells like essential oils, and has been flitting around with her smartphone the entire time, getting in Ivan’s way as she snaps perfectly filtered pictures of the “developmental process” and posts them nonstop on Instagram. They both have a lot of opinions on how they want the energy of the space to feel, and a preapproved list of ethically sourced suppliers. They have paid some ludicrous price for this converted loft in Prospect Heights and chose the location for its proximity to the best farmer’s markets and hippie coffeehouses. Did Ivan die? Is this hell?
Somewhat ostentatiously, he looks at his watch. “Okay,” he announces. “I think that wraps up. You have work number, so – ”
“Oh, just one more thing!” Drew has recently read one (1) book on home design and thinks he’s an expert, so Ivan is forced to suffer his idiotic opinions about the kind of tile they want to use on the kitchen backsplash. Somehow, he manages not to roll his eyes directly out of his head, for which he should be commended. Ivan has discovered that the secret of successfully dealing with people, especially clients, is to smile and nod at everything they say, while mercilessly mocking them in your head. Amazing, the things you learn as a small-business owner in Brooklyn in the year of our lord 2021. Especially when it comes to renovating overpriced tiny gentrified apartments for insufferable techno-douchebags and their vapid influencer girlfriends. And people think Ivan might want to live like this more often? No fucking thank you.
Finally (it’s another ten minutes after that, this is definitely going on the bill), they more or less wrap up, except for the fact that Mia then wants a picture with the three of them. “It’s just so important to us that we’re supporting the immigrant community,” she explains earnestly. “After all, being open, tolerant, learning from our neighbors, people who are different from us, that’s what life is all about. We just love that you’re foreign. The energy feels so right, you know?”
Ivan wonders whether to inform her that he has lived in this country for eight years and been a full citizen (passport and voting rights and everything) for three, then decides that this would venture into sharing-personal-information territory and he is having none of it. His English has improved to the point where he can handle almost all business transactions by himself, but feigning incomprehension can sometimes get him out of them when they turn really stupid. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option here, and so he diligently leans into the frame, smiling half an inch, while Mia snaps a picture of “us and our adorable Russian contractor!!” Ivan informs her of the correct flag emoji to add to the filter, decides that he’s going to add an extra fifty bucks just for that, and finally, finally, makes his escape.
It’s rush hour, and the Q is crammed as Ivan heads into midtown. So much for social distancing and not getting too close to anyone, which is the only thing from the pandemic that he wouldn’t mind keeping. Only about half the crowd is wearing masks, including him, and so he gets off at Times Square, dodges the latest lunatic standing on a soapbox and shouting about how it is all a hoax, and walks several blocks uptown, just to get some space. He finally reaches the restaurant, where he has to flash his vaccination card to get inside (Ivan, who remains Russian to the marrow of his bones, is a little irked that he couldn’t get Sputnik here and had to settle for Pfizer) and climbs up to the open-air rooftop terrace. It is only when he spots his husband, waiting at a table that overlooks the glittering evening lights of the city, when Ivan pulls off his mask and allows himself to properly smile. “Sorry I’m late,” he says. “They are the worst.”
“I figured it was something like that.” Fedyor musters a smile in return, though his eyes look permanently tired these days and Ivan would bet that he’s been scrolling through more depressing emails on his phone. Technically Fedyor is on a two-month sabbatical from work, but he can’t stop himself, and Ivan has had to pry it from his fingers on a number of occasions. “But you’re here now. That’s what matters.”
Ivan nods stoutly, they are furnished with the drinks and appetizers list, and when the waiter asks if there’s any special occasion tonight, tell him that they are celebrating their ten-year anniversary, albeit somewhat late. This was supposed to happen last spring, but obviously, nobody in New York was going out to a restaurant in the early months of 2020, and Ivan himself had barely gotten home from the hospital and still could be knocked over in a strong breeze. They’re celebrating a lot of things tonight, in other words, even if it’s now been eleven years, not ten, since the day Ivan marched into a Red Square coffee shop and engaged in – well, Fedyor has made sure to inform him that the first date didn’t go nearly as well as Ivan always thought it did. But it worked, didn’t it? Here they are, wedding bands on their fingers, a couple of successful American urban professionals who have built a nice life for themselves and are, if anything, even more madly in love than they were when this whole nutty adventure together first began. So really, if you ask Ivan Sakharov Kaminsky, it went just fine after all.
The waiter congratulates them, gives them two drinks for the price of one, and they both relax and start to talk, fully at ease in the way they only are in each other’s company. Ivan does his Mia impression in an extremely convincing falsetto (after all, [NAME REDACTED] has practice at this) and Fedyor almost dies laughing. They hold hands on the table – no need to hold them under the table – and gaze into each other’s eyes all they want, order dinner and dessert, and take a long time about it. They raise several toasts to this, to them, to ten years, may there be many more. Ivan pays the bill, his treat, and they walk slowly back to Times Square, hand-in-hand, Fedyor’s head nestled on Ivan’s shoulder. It’s New York. Nobody cares.
They ride the Q home, in all its smelly, secondhand glory, taking an hour to bang out to Brighton Beach and descending the elevated stairs into the familiar down-at-heel comfort of their Russian-American neighborhood, neon Cyrillic signs glowing in windows and somebody shouting about how if Sergei ever shows his face here again, she is going to cut his dick off. Ivan and Fedyor look at each other and snort, resisting the urge to shout up and ask what exactly Sergei did, and walk a few more minutes to their building. They climb up three flights of stairs to their apartment, unlock the door and the deadbolt, and step inside.
The instant they are home, Rasputin shoots out of nowhere, yowling as if he has been neglected for months, and curls himself around Ivan’s ankles (he is still liable to give Fedyor evil looks when he feels that this interloper has been stealing his human too often). Ivan sighs, trudges to the kitchen, points out to Rasputin that his food bowl is still half full, gets a wounded look in return, and adds an extra scoopful. Once the cat is happily snarfing down, Fedyor pulls Ivan by the hand, into the dim living room with its blowing curtains. “Come here, my love,” he says. “Hold me.”
Ivan does as ordered, because it’s his favorite thing in the world: cuddling Fedyor close, nothing but the two of them in all of time and space, swaying slowly in the blue hour with fingers and arms and hearts entwined. Ivan kisses Fedyor’s temple, and Fedyor nestles even closer, melted into his embrace. “I love you, Vanya,” he mumbles against Ivan’s collarbone. “I love you so much. I love you more than anything in the world. I love you, I love you, I love you.”
“I love you too, Fedya.” Ivan leans down and kisses him properly, sweet and slow and lingering, as they continue to waltz in stately time to a music that nobody except the two of them can hear. “I’m still not always sure why you married me, but I am very glad you did.”
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Aaaaa, these prompts are amazing, it's so hard to decide! I am absolutely in love with your heartrender husbands (both phantomverse and grishaverse) and as for prompts......... this is so hard, is it okay if I point to some and you see which one clicks with your inspiration? So, I think 9 can be great, but also 48, 53 and oh, I could see 81 happen in phantom. Such a talented author, so many prompts to choose from; I hope this tickles your inspiration the right way. Thank you for your blog and have a great day :)
Anonymous asked, "Why are you crying?", heartrender husbands?
Also the speed at which you write is formidable in every sense of the word
48. “Why are you crying?”
Fedyor Kaminsky doesn't cry often. For one thing, he is possessed of a naturally optimistic nature that enables him to see the bright side in most things, and for another, despite formally beginning his training as a Heartrender, he has the sense that the others think he's a bit of a soft touch, and he doesn't want to do anything that might encourage them. Besides, he's a sixteen-year-old boy, crying is stupid, and you can always go to the training yard and whale away on one of your classmates while Botkin yells at you. Foolproof way to deal with your emotions. Absolutely recommended by ten of ten Grisha teenagers.
Right now, however, he's hiding in the woods behind the Little Palace and curled up in a ball and praying that nobody can see him. He sniffs and scrubs at his eyes and tries to muffle his sobs, stuffing a fist in his mouth. For one thing, he had a letter from home the other day that Ekaterina is dead, and while Fedyor's memories of his oldest sister are scanty, she was always the kindest to him, looked after him the most while his mother was overstretched with too many children, too many chores, and too many cares, and he was not there. Will never see her again. It feels like his fault, somehow. He could have gone there. He could have tried to fix her. As for the other --
Soft nancy boy, Sergei Volkhin's voice sneers at him. An older Heartrender, and one of those who manifestly thinks that Fedyor is too feeble, in any number of ways, to handle the requirements of the job. His fist wrenching in Fedyor's hair, shoving his face into the well, as he thrashes and chokes and coughs on the brackish water. Fight me if you can, you pathetic little skiv! Ravka doesn't need the likes of you!
Fedyor sniffs again, furious with himself. Seryozha is just a bully, and he's met plenty of those before. He needs to go back and punch him harder, that's all. And if that's not the case --
"Why are you crying?"
At that, Fedyor jumps clear out of his damn skin, once at being startled and then again to see who it is. He has been conducting his stupid little rivalry-of-sorts with Ivan Sakharov for several years now, but seeing him here, scowling at Fedyor as if he's dropped in from outer space, is almost inexplicable. Fedyor startles to his feet like a frightened deer. "I'll go."
"That's not what I asked." Ivan folds his arms. He's recently hit a growth spurt, and he looks like a man, tall and square and strong and grumpy as absolute damnation. "What's wrong?"
Fedyor tries to calculate if Ivan Sakharov has ever voluntarily demonstrated interest in another human being's emotions before. He can't recall, but he doesn't think so. "Nothing."
Ivan stares at him. Fedyor stares back.
"Fine." Fedyor spins on his heel. "My sister Katya, she -- cholera." It aches in his throat. "She's dead. I just got the letter. Then Sergei Volkhin chose the moment to shove my head down the well again, so I'm in a bit of a bad mood. Sorry for getting in your way."
Ivan continues to stare at him. Then he nods once, spins on his heel, and marches away, leaving Fedyor to roll his eyes and feel oddly heartened that at least some things never change. Until he comes in for supper that night, discovers that Sergei Volkhin has unaccountably been beaten to a pulp and is on indefinite sick leave in the infirmary, and that (surely unrelatedly) nobody can locate Ivan. Fedyor sits down at the table and thinks for a second that Ivan actually --
No. Definitely not for him. They're rivals, after all. For whatever reason that thing got started -- when he put Ivan's face in the dirt, maybe? He can't be sure. But the point is that they're not friends. They don't do things like that for each other. Ivan probably had some other beef with Seryozha and wanted to assert his place at the top of the Heartrender heap. It would figure. He's a maniac, that boy.
Still. Fedyor smiles to himself.
It's not like he objects in the least.
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9. Lost in the forest fivan (happy end please)!
9. Lost in the Forest
"Well," Fedyor Kaminsky announces, stopping short with a disgusted look on his face. "No doubt about it, we're definitely lost. Good job, Sakharov. So much for being General Kirigan's favorite, huh?"
A waspish retort leaps to Ivan's lips by habit, as both teenage Heartrenders, tall and gawky in their training keftas, come to an uncertain halt under the glowering canopy of the endless trees and try to fix their bearings. Yes, it was Ivan's job to navigate them back, and yes, he may have been distracted enough by stubbornly proving that he really doesn't like Fedyor Kaminsky that he, uh, missed a few important signs, but he does not see how that is presently relevant. They shouldn't have been paired up anyway. They've had this stupid chest-beating juvenile rivalry ever since Fedyor put Ivan on his back in the training yard five years ago, and he had to endure a deeply unwelcome diminishment of his status as the scariest and toughest recruit of the entire bunch. Why would this work?
(Possibly, Ivan thinks, they have been put together for this exact reason: to come back to Os Alta alive and pledged to work together like real Grisha, or to kill each other in the forest and finally put the rest of the Little Palace out of its misery. He ignores it.)
"Stop walking. Idiot." Ivan hurries up and grabs Fedyor by the sleeve, pulling him to a halt. Their lantern is a very small spark against the endless dark, and they glance warily to every side, listening for the heartbeats of bears or wolves or just simple human poachers, seeing a couple of lost city boys as an easy mark. (Ivan is not a city boy, thanks very much; he is from Chernast. But criminals would probably not stop to enquire about his civic origin before violently mugging him, or at least attempting to. Saints, he hates this so much.)
Fedyor glares at him, chin set in that feisty way that Ivan does not at all notice and is not in the least affected by. "Fine then, Saint Grigori the Genius, what's your plan?"
"I just told you. Stop moving. You keep walking when you're lost, you get more lost." Ivan maintains his grip on Fedyor's arm. "We should stay here and find our way back when it's light."
A muscle in Fedyor's cheek twitches. "Spend the night together?"
"Not like that," Ivan snaps, although it is, sort of, like that. "Do you even know how to build a fire, or -- ?"
"Yes, thanks very much." Fedyor folds his arms. "In fact, since you got us into this mess, we should appoint me to get out of it."
"Not likely." Ivan tangles his long hair into a ponytail and ties the thong, continuing to glare at the other boy. Nobody who is that handsome should also be that smug. (Wait, no, that's not what he meant. Or is it? Fuck, he is just moving into this forest and living here as a hermit forever.) "You would just -- "
He can't think of what Fedyor would screw up, but it would be something for sure. Still bickering incessantly, they collect kindling for a campfire, jostle each other out of the way to light it, and sit down, shoulders brushing, in a way that sends an even more unnerving shiver through Ivan's body. Fedyor is -- he's annoying, that's all, with that dark hair and those dimples and that flashing smile and the way everyone seems to adore him and he's a chattering, charming, vivacious bundle of sunlight and talent and he just... he definitely wouldn't like Ivan Sakharov, undisputed champion of glowering and sitting sullenly in corners by himself while everyone else has a good time. And that's even more annoying, and that --
With a jolt, Ivan cuts off this train of thought at the pass, holds out his hands over the fire, and very determinedly does not look at his companion. As the cold wind blows, Fedyor edges closer, as if expecting to be asked to snuggle for warmth. He is a devious little demon. Ivan will not play his stupid games. He will not.
"You know," Fedyor says, after a long pause. He sounds like he's biting his cheek. "I am aware that you like me."
"What?" Ivan almost falls off the log trying to get away from him. "What would you -- I don't! I don't like you! Why would you even -- "
"And we," Fedyor points out, with magnificent patience, "are both Heartrenders. Your heart has been pounding this whole time -- every time you look at me, in fact -- and I don't think it's just because you're so angry. Also, you were hot and bothered even before we got this fire started, so..." He shrugs. "We've got time to discuss this."
"Shut up," Ivan says, running a finger under his collar. He is going to get up and run directly back to the Little Palace, dark woods or no dark woods. "You're making things up. You're crazy. Go away."
Fedyor folds his arms again. He waits. Ivan continues to panic.
At last, when it appears that either one of them has to say something or Ivan's head will literally blow off, Fedyor sighs and slides off the log, curling up in the leaf mold. "I'm going to sleep," he says. "You're welcome to sit there having an existential crisis all night, or you can come here and join me. So..." He shrugs, a little too casually. "It's your choice, but I know what I would do."
Ivan continues to sit on the log, shivering and doing his best to modulate his own body temperature. What is Fedyor playing at? They're Heartrenders, they obviously don't need to snuggle for warmth, this is the most transparent ploy in the history of --
Ivan sits there.
The moon rises.
Ivan sits there.
The wind comes up.
Ivan sits there. Ivan sits there. Ivan --
Ivan gets off the goddamned log in an almighty fury, slides down next to Fedyor, and wraps him in his arms as if attempting to break his spine. "When we get back," he mutters, "I am going to murder you."
"Oh?" Fedyor wriggles around to face him, eyes dark and glittering and stunning in the starlight, and grins. "Why not now?"
And Ivan -- Ivan doesn't really have a good answer to that. In fact, he has never had a good answer to that. And Ivan doesn't really want to be anywhere else then where he is right now, and that --
(The knowing looks when they finally make it back to Os Alta the next afternoon, leaves in their hair, twigs in their keftas, and stupid smiles on their faces, are the worst.)
[spooky season fic prompts]
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im sending you all the good moving vibes ✨✨ make sure to drink some water and stay hydrated
since you asked for some prompts/asks to distract, may i humbly request fedyor finally forcing ivan to let him spoil him after PEL (because ofc ivan needs to be forced to take a day off for once) and like…them just being playful and soft 🥺
Their apartment smells like actual death when they finally unlock the door and step inside, sweaty and tired from the Uber ride home from JFK (their flight from Oslo was late, their Metro cards are out, they got stuck in New York rush hour traffic, etc etc.) and Fedyor wrinkles his nose, gagging a little. "Ugh," he says, dropping his bag and waving one hand fruitlessly in front of his face. "I'm shocked that the neighbors didn't call the police on suspicion of one of us murdering the other and hiding the body in the floorboards."
Ivan raises one eyebrow at him, as if to remark that this is very unlikely indeed for any number of reasons, but he can't deny the reek. Since they were only planning to be away for a couple days, grab Nina and get back here somehow (the idea was for Nikolai to have an emergency American visa in hand by that time), they didn't empty their fridge, take out the garbage, or otherwise prepare for an extended absence stretching from mid-June to the end of August, as it now is. They've certainly enjoyed their impromptu Norwegian vacation -- you know, aside from the whole getting-kidnapped-by-Nazis thing, which put a bit of a damper on the start -- but this. Phew.
They're hot and grumpy, they've been traveling all day, and they just want to drop everything on the floor and go to sleep, but the stink requires urgently to be dealt with, and so they empty out the spoiled food and trash, spray Febreze extensively, turn on fans to blow the hot air around to be hot air somewhere else (it's the dog days of summer and Brooklyn is as wet as a soaked washcloth, their building is old and the air conditioning is chancy), and then order takeout to eat sprawled on the couch while trying not to touch each other too much. Even the most adoring of spouses has their limits in a heatwave.
Finally, once the chores are done, Fedyor has apologized repeatedly to Mrs. Terekhova from the apartment below theirs, and they have reached their limit for any more housework, they stumble to bed, turn on the box fans, and fall asleep. The next day is Monday, but since they're still on leave from work (Ivan has called his boss and assured him that they're not dead, but still), they don't need to get up and rush off. To Fedyor's shock, he actually wakes up before Ivan, which almost never happens. God, he really must be exhausted.
Fedyor eyes his sleeping husband tenderly, creeps out quietly so as not to wake him, and makes an emergency run to Brighton Bazaar to replenish their food supply. Then he throws together some of Ivan's favorite things and carries it into their dim and marginally-cool bedroom, just as Ivan is stirring in panic that he hasn't sprung out of bed at the crack of dawn like a lunatic. "What time is it?" he says groggily, fumbling for his phone. "Do I have to -- "
"You don't have to go anywhere." Fedyor puts down the tray and pushes Ivan back into bed as he tries to get up. "Rest, Vanya."
"I rested with you," Ivan says, one arm thrown over his face. "For almost a month. In Norway. Remember?"
"Rest now, I mean." Fedyor sits down next to Ivan. "For someone who rescued me from literal, actual Nazis, you sure are resistant to taking a mental health day now and then."
"I had help," Ivan points out. "With rescuing you, I mean."
"I know, but it's not relevant right now." Fedyor breaks off a piece of toast with whatever horribly hearty spread Ivan likes on it, and waggles it enticingly under his beloved's nose. "So eat."
"You always make me eat," Ivan mumbles, opening his mouth nonetheless and allowing Fedyor to insert the toast. He chews contemplatively, eyes closed, as Fedyor studies the silent weight of weariness on Ivan's shoulders, the release of all the worry that he has been carrying even after the end of the operation on Utoya, the arrest of Jarl Brum, their return to safety. He leans forward and kisses Ivan's head, and Ivan looks at him in surprise. "What was that for?"
"Because I love you, idiot." Fedyor bites his lip and smiles. "You're the best man in the world, you know."
"I don't think -- "
"The entire world," Fedyor repeats, very firmly. "I will not be taking criticism at this time. And you're going to relax and take it easy today, and I am going to spoil you. Because I adore you, and it is what you deserve. Got it?"
Ivan glowers. Only he would bristle at being asked to chill the fuck out, metaphorically and literally. But at last, he sighs. "Yes, Fedya," he says meekly, as ever. "I will do as you command me."
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Are you still taking prompts? We are thirsty and were hoping for “bite me” in a fivan vampire au. Pretty please? What’s that you say? That’s not on the list you shared? Um, oops? I said we are thirsty! 🤤
Ahaha, okay, I think this is going to do it for the prompts for now. I want to get back to working on PEL, and I have (mostly) given the people what they want. But before you hasten to my inbox to request more of this (which I know the Very Hungry Lot of you will do, and I love you so much for it): do know that this is indeed related to a larger project and this is just the first bit of it.
What is that project? Shh. I am not telling you just yet. It's a secret.
Belgrade, Kingdom of Serbia
The summer evening is warm and purple, lit atmospherically by both the older gaslamps and the newfangled electric lights (there is a Serb in New York, a man by the name of Tesla, whose great scientific inventions and experiments with alternating current may soon illuminate the entire world), and the well-dressed crowd flows toward the café in a tide of rustling satin, silk, and velvet, ladies in evening dress and men in top hats and monocles. The establishment is the Golden Cross, in Terazije, a bustling neighborhood just south of Stari Grad, and the attraction is an exhibition of the marvelous moving pictures of the Lumière brothers – the first such show in the Balkans, and indeed outside of Paris, after they were first premiered in great triumph six months ago. Or at least, so it is for most of the attendees tonight. Fedyor Mikhailovich Kaminsky has a different task.
He stands apart from the milling throngs, well dressed in a high-collared coat and silken cravat, dark hair parted ruler-straight and face freshly shaven, a old golden watch tucked in his breast pocket and his shoes polished to a perfect sheen. While the people hurry past almost close enough to jostle him, they have a peculiar difficulty in registering that he is there. They sense something, yes – a cold breath on the back of the neck, a prey animal’s inborn reflex to warily search the shadows – but it never quite clicks. They continue on their way without being troubled in their own sense of reality, or ever realizing who – what – is standing there with them. It is just one of the odd, disjointed experiences that Fedyor has had to come to terms with, in the twenty-two years since he became a vampire.
By habit, he checks the horizon. These summer days are late and long, and Fedyor is still young enough that he can’t tolerate more than a few minutes of sunlight. It has taken years to be able to go out by day at all, half-thinking he had dreamed the waking world, become wholly one with the shadows and the night. When he emerged in the last gasps of afternoon, when he felt the golden warmth on his face for the first time in almost two decades, he wept. It still causes him vestigial pain, but not as much. Not so much that it cannot be borne.
He pulls the slip of paper out of his pocket and checks the name again. Then he puts it back and slips smoothly into the crowd. At the threshold, he feels that faint, telltale twinge, the knowledge of entering another creature’s territory without being explicitly bidden to do so. The Golden Cross belongs to the vampire king of Belgrade, who is rumored to be five hundred years old and a veteran of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 (which, so far as Fedyor can tell, the Serbs have never gotten over losing to the Turks) and Fedyor is not interested in pissing him off. But therefore it is, by Conclave law, a place where all vampires in the city can freely congregate, so long as they haven’t committed some terrible crime. It also means that Fedyor may find the man he is looking for in here, and not have to cross into enemy turf.
A rich reek of wine and brandy, of hand-cranked ice cream in cut-glass bowls, of ladies’ perfume and men’s cologne, of sweat and starch and thrumming hot blood, rises into Fedyor’s nose as he inhales, as his senses have been honed a hundred times more acutely than what he was previously used to. He searches the crowded room, on high alert for another supernatural. Nothing, at least not thus far. But it is a delicate and fiddly bit of bloodsucker diplomacy for which he is here tonight, having to do with the rumor that a local group of creatures have formed a shadowy secret society called Црна рука, the Black Hand, with the aim of expressly interfering in human politics. This, of course, is strictly against the rules, and they need to be reminded of that fact. Fedyor would very much prefer not to fight an anarchist rebel vampire in the middle of a café crowded with oblivious humans, but the thought crosses his mind that this is an excellent soft target. The eyes of the entire city, the Balkans, the international art community, are fixed on this place tonight. If something went wrong – if the Golden Cross and all the souls within it were blown to smithereens –
Fedyor orders a drink at the bar – he has been promised that one day he will again also be able to eat human food if he craves the taste, but it will not nourish him – and sits down near the back, keeping a sharp eye out. Andre Carr, the Frenchman who has traveled from Lyon as the Lumière brothers’ representative, is setting up the unwieldy projector and barking at his assistants to be careful with the fragile, bulky spools of film, his mustache bristling in agitation. Fedyor gauges the mood of the crowd, the din of their heartbeats, their eager interest, their whispered gossip. Still no other supernaturals that he can sense, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not here. The vampire king and his underlings will have plenty of ways to conceal themselves from a relative child like Fedyor. As will the Black Hand.
He leans back in his chair and samples the whisky. Not bad, he thinks, though it’s been a long time since he drank human libations. It’s nice to be out among regular people, but he always has to keep strict watch on the part of himself that yearns to feed, that wants them to run, to fear, to fall. Fedyor has been a vampire long enough to control the hunger, to drink mostly from animals and space out his feeds on humans, to ask them for their consent or pay them for their trouble, but it’s still a struggle. He understands the urge that drives vampires to sequester themselves, to only live among their own kind, to keep drones and other willing human servants to feed from, so that you are not put to the trouble of chasing down a stranger and politely asking to bite them in the neck every fortnight or so, don’t get mixed up as to whether the mortals are your dinner company or just your dinner. It is a deuced bloody bother of a business. Fedyor always feels like an idiot whenever he tries.
Carr and his minions sort out their difficulties, and eventually the lights go down, provoking another eager murmur. Fedyor is not immune to the lure of whatever they are about to see, and he could have done much worse for a new home. He arrived here six years ago from his hometown in Russia, once his lack of aging became too difficult to conceal from his friends and family. Belle epoque Belgrade is a cosmopolitan, cultured world of stately opera houses and marble palaces, grand balls and gaslights, synagogues and streetcars, mosques and museums, bohemians and bordellos and broad balconies, telegraph wires and trolley cars and twisting lanes, churches and coffee shops in the Viennese style, with white-aproned waiters and colored mosaics and demitasse cups of Italian espresso. It is an ancient city, placed in a lethally strategic location at the confluence of two rivers, fought over in almost a hundred wars and razed almost forty times (and doubtless there are still more unmakings yet to come). Fedyor has found a place among the vampire community here, enough that he is trusted to deal with the Black Hand, despite his immortal youth. As to how that will go, well…
He watches the film with half an eye, impressed by the moving pictures just like his human counterparts, and then he feels it. The coldness on the back of his neck, the chirp of a sixth sense, the unshakeable awareness that he is being observed by a fellow bloodsucker. Though that term is considered somewhat dated and passé these days, mildly offensive. Vampires are eager as humans to participate in the scientific and industrial revolution, to concoct more enlightened regulations for themselves, to create an academic literature for their origins. There is talk among the sophisticated supernatural set of organizing an Academy for Preternatural Science, to hire vampire scholars, to establish a university. It’s a nice thought, if somewhat too ambitious (or so Fedyor thinks) for a race of beings that has only just decided that solving every problem with blood feuds to the death might not be the best idea. He wonders if one of those unreconstructed barbarians is behind him now.
Slowly, smoothly, so as to demonstrate that he is perfectly aware of being hunted, Fedyor turns around, and catches sight of the newcomer across the way. He is handsome – but then again, most vampires are, as it’s one of the benefits of the transformation. This one, however, is possessed of a roguish, rough-hewn attractiveness that seems genuine, still close to the face he wore as a mortal man, and not the eerie, glossy, imperturbable beauty that Fedyor sometimes finds so off-putting about his compatriots. This vampire is also wearing good clothes, and his overcoat is dark red, embroidered with curling black patterns. He looks at Fedyor, their eyes meet, and he nods once, half an inch. Game on.
Fedyor does his best to sit still until the lights come up, and the crowd claps rapturously and disperses to fetch more drinks and gush about the performance. Then he gets up and drifts toward a velvet curtain, slipping unobtrusively behind it. Back here, it is dark, dusty, and smells of candlewax and grease paint, the remnants of another performance, a conjurer’s closet. He steadies himself, turns around, and –
“Good evening,” the voice says, cold and curt. “I believe you were waiting to speak to me.”
“Yes.” Fedyor does his best to smile and appear charming and in command of the situation. “My name is Fedyor Kaminsky, and I am a representative of the Conclave. They have sent me here tonight in hopes of locating Ivan Sakharov, of the Black Hand. Is that you?”
The other vampire regards him flatly. His eyes are brown, as is his hair, which is cropped military-short and kept as sharp as his face. When he folds his arms, his muscles bulge, even through the sleeves of the well-tailored coat. “And if I was?”
“Then,” Fedyor says, “I am authorized by that same Conclave to deliver a warning to you and your associates that your current activities fall outside the bounds of the common supernatural law, and if you persist in pursuing them, there will be consequences.”
The other – well, he hasn’t denied it, so this must indeed be Ivan Sakharov – looks back at him with an utterly unimpressed expression. “Oh, so the Conclave found a new stooge to do their bidding? You’re a bit younger and fresher than the usual corpses those desiccated old tightwads usually send out after us, I’ll give you that. How long have you been in Belgrade?”
“How long have you?” Fedyor is almost sure he recognizes Ivan’s accent; they’re speaking Serbo-Croatian, but in both cases with a familiar cadence. “You’re Russian, aren’t you?”
That catches the other vampire by surprise. He hisses, baring a pair of white and very sharp fangs, and his eyes go briefly black. “You think so?”
“Yes,” Fedyor says. “But older than me, I think. Possibly quite a bit, though by how much, I can’t be sure. If we were to – ” he switches languages smoothly, in midsentence – “continue this conversation in Russian, would that be more to your liking?”
Ivan Sakharov eyes him icily. He must know that if he speaks their native tongue, he risks giving away his age by the style of his grammar, or perhaps his place of birth, and that is dangerous information for an unknown quantity to hold over you. There is a whiff of the emperor’s court around him, or perhaps the empress – does he hail from Catherine the Great’s day, Fedyor wonders, or earlier? There’s a long, crackling pause. Then Ivan says in brittle, too-correct English, “Or perhaps we should converse like this?”
Fedyor inclines his head, accepting that he has – for now – been outmaneuvered. They still haven’t taken their eyes off each other, standing close together in the dim velvet-draped shadows, near enough that if they were human, they would feel the other’s heat. There’s nothing but the faint wintry chill of unliving flesh, though a certain hunger rises unbidden in Fedyor’s stomach nonetheless. Then he says, “This does not have to be difficult. Cease your lawlessness and tell your friends to do the same.”
Ivan takes another step, close enough that their noses almost brush. “The Conclave has no power over me, Fedyor Kaminsky.”
“Do you want to test that?” Fedyor breathes, struggling to keep his focus at the other vampire’s threatening-but-thrilling nearness, the way his blood is singing under his skin in an entirely different way than he expected or frankly, that he wants. Just because Ivan Sakharov is annoyingly attractive (and also Russian) does not mean that he is not a dangerous, war-mongering, secret-cabal-plotting megalomaniac, and Fedyor does not need that sort of nonsense in his life. “If you did, I would, of course, be authorized to place you under arrest.”
Ivan looks at him goadingly. “I would like to see you try.”
Oh, so he is indeed one of those immortals (read: the kind who really need to experience mortality just to be kicked very hard in the balls). Fedyor struggles to contain his irritation. If he shows that this handsome bastard has gotten to him, this will only get worse. “If you promise to desist,” he says, “the Conclave will drop this matter and consider it closed. You and the rest of the Black Hand will not be subject to further investigation. That, or – ”
“How do I know that you are even from the Conclave? That you are who you say?”
“Why would I lie about it?”
Ivan shrugs. “I want proof.”
Fedyor grits his fangs. “What do you expect? A badge?”
“No. But I will accept your blood.”
That catches Fedyor off guard. Not that it should, necessarily. Since vampires can sense the thoughts and feelings of the creature that they’re feeding on, it’s a quick and time-tested way to prove that there is no funny business going on (or at least, no business that is funny beyond the usual). The obvious difficulty, however, is that it requires a possibly unfriendly rival to bite your neck or at the very least, your wrist, and one can understand why there would be a natural hesitation to yield one’s neck (Fedyor happens to be rather fond of his) to the clutches of the likes of Ivan Sakharov. But if he says no, he looks like he is weak or that he has something to hide, that he doesn’t trust Ivan or regard him as an equal, and the already-febrile situation with the Black Hand will only get worse. As bluffs go, Fedyor could call this one. But it would be very risky, and if it blows up in his face…
“Very well,” Fedyor says, chillingly correct. He pulls aside the collar of his evening coat and tilts his head, exposing the side of his throat. “Test me all you like.”
Ivan looks at him with something that makes that thing in Fedyor’s stomach rise up again, hot as an ember left burning in a brazier even when all the other lights go out. He hasn’t been warmed like this, not even by the sun, ever since he was turned in 1874 by a vampire named Dmitri Karamazov. He does his utmost to force it down. If Ivan bites him and senses that –
There’s a final pause, soft as tissue paper, fine as crystal. Then Ivan steps forward, looking almost impressed, as if he expected Fedyor to find some reason to back out. He flexes his jaw, bringing out those two impressively white and sharp fangs again, and reaches out, gripping Fedyor’s waist with his big hands and drawing him somewhat closer than is strictly necessary. Then he whispers, “As you wish, Conclave whore,” and bites.
He’s not entirely gentle about it, not that vampires usually are and not that Fedyor wasn’t expecting it. But all at once, as Ivan sucks at him, his mouth pressed hungrily to Fedyor’s neck, wet and raw and savage, Fedyor goes weak in the knees. He’s been fed on before, tested before, and this is different from any of those. He utters a mewling noise of need that he is shocked and deeply outraged to hear from himself, pressing still closer, knocking Ivan a few steps backward into the wall. His hands come up, seeking purchase on the other’s broad shoulders, a smoky curl of desire rising through him like rich incense. “Mmm,” he mutters. “Mmmgh. Yes. Like that. Yes.”
Ivan doesn’t answer for obvious reasons, since his mouth is otherwise occupied, but Fedyor can feel the little frisson of pleasure that travels through him at those words. That takes him aback. Not that he should rush to generalize, since most vampires are fairly flexible in their intimate preferences (you don’t live that long without wanting to sample everything that is on offer, carnally speaking) but for some reason, he just assumed that this tough, frightening, hard-as-nails secret anarchist supernatural idiot wouldn’t be inclined to gentlemen. Not that Fedyor is necessarily objecting. This feels far better than it has any right to do, considering that it started out as a naked challenge to his veracity. Agh, fuck, he should not think about naked. That makes the arousal burn even more hungrily, as he arches his back and presses himself wantonly against Ivan and knows that he’s hard as a rock and that this utter menace can definitely feel it. Ivan is in no hurry to pull away. He drinks for a few more seconds, past when there can be any reasonable doubt that Fedyor is telling the truth, and then slowly, deliberately breaks contact, fangs still half in Fedyor’s throat, as he withdraws with luxurious leisure. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and growls, “Ah.”
“Yes, ah,” Fedyor says, trying not to stammer, as pulses of hot and cold rush through him from head to toe. “Are you satisfied?”
Ivan gives him a wicked smile, drops of Fedyor’s blood still glistening heart-scarlet on his lips. “Maybe.”
God almighty, kill me now. Difficult, of course, when one is – strictly speaking – already deceased. (And now deceased in a different way, which makes it two kinds of dead at once, which makes Fedyor a prodigy.) He wants to ask if Ivan will perform the customary service of licking the bite wounds closed, but he’s also afraid that he may physically incinerate if Ivan does so, and since fire is rather famously one of the only things that can harm vampires, it is better not to take the risk. Instead, Fedyor pulls out his handkerchief and dabs at his throat, with as much casualness as he can muster. “Well,” he says. “You’ve had my word, Ivan Sakharov. Will you give me yours that you will bring your illegal organization to an end and return to the rule of Conclave law?”
Ivan looks him up and down, eyes lingering on the too-tight fit of Fedyor’s pinstriped trousers. Then he leans in, so close that Fedyor truly does think they’re about to kiss and momentarily blacks out, and whispers against the shell of his ear, “Absolutely not.”
And with that, and no more than a rush of air, he is gone.
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your recent fivan picture reblogs and tags make me realize that its a tragedy that there’s not a royalty rivalry au (ivan and fedyor being part of feuding families? Ivan being all business and Fedyor being the sunshine one who always goes out in the town?? Both of them find the other irritating but together they’d be a power couple?)
also how are they so cute???
Anon, I truly love how you remark upon it being a tragedy that there is not yet [insert AU premise here] while pointedly fluttering your eyelashes at me like we all don't know exactly where this is going. Also, I don't know why they're so cute, but I hate them.
Fourteen hours ago, Fedyor Kaminsky was absolutely not planning on being trapped in a coat closet in an uber-exclusive London nightclub in the company of his sworn nemesis. (For that matter, he wasn't planning on it an hour ago either.) Fourteen hours ago, he was on board his family's private jet on his way home from a wild party weekend in Dubai and congratulating himself that he had managed not to think about said sworn nemesis for the entire time, aside from checking his Instagram forty-six separate times to see if Ivan could possibly be doing something this fabulous. Of course he wasn't. His page has 6,402 followers (Fedyor's has 545,300) and mainly consists of black-and-white photographs of urban decay with terse Russian captions. Ivan Sakharov has so many problems.
One of those problems, however, is that Fedyor is currently stuck in a coat closet with him, and he doesn't know how it happened but he doesn't care. Ivan is wearing his usual black-leather-jacket-and-jeans getup, and he's not even trying to text somebody and order them to come get him out of the closet. (Yes, the irony is blinding, but shut up.) He's just leaning against the wall and watching Fedyor with a judgmental expression (or in other words, how Ivan customarily looks). "So," he says sarcastically. "If you actually wanted to talk to me, Fedyor Mikhailovich, there were easier ways."
"You think I did this on purpose?"
Ivan shrugs. "What kind of moron follows me into a coat closet and then proclaims he can't open the door?"
"Open the door yourself, then!"
Ivan just laughs. Then he says, "How was Dubai? Don't they arrest you for having sex in public?"
"I did not have sex in public."
"Oh?" Ivan looks at him goadingly. "Then what do you call that display?"
Fedyor opens his mouth, then shuts it, reminding himself that the only thing worse than being stuck in a coat closet nemesis etc is then having an utterly absurd limp-wrist slap fight. It occurs to him to wonder if Ivan has been Instagram-stalking him too, but that's crazy. For one thing, while it's not quite Montagues and Capulets, the Kaminskys and the Sakharovs definitely don't get along. They're both moneyed Russian families settled in "Londongrad," as it is now known for the concentration of oligarchs who have snapped up luxe properties and set up house, and they're usually butting heads. Fedyor is the outgoing, photogenic playboy heir to the Kaminsky fortune, and Ivan... well, presumably he does something besides sulking in corners, but if so, Fedyor has never seen the least sign of it. He may be a little (okay, a lot) more obsessed with Ivan than he wants to admit. For example, he kept seeing Ivan with an equally gorgeous and judgmental woman, twisted himself into knots wondering if they were dating, and scoured social media until he determined that she was Zoya Nazyalenskaya, girlfriend of fellow Russian Rich Kid (tm) Nikolai Lantsov, and she and Ivan just like to stalk around and stare at you angrily when you're not expecting it. Or whatever.
Nonetheless, there is more to Fedyor than just racing Lamborghinis through Kensington (that was once, and he was seventeen, but of course the tabloids will never let it go). His family is best buddies with Roman Abramovich, which means match-day Chelsea tickets whenever he wants them, and he flits among nightclubs and influencers and hot vacation destinations while definitely absolutely not thinking about Ivan and how hot he is while he's being a jerk. Ugh. Why him. Why this closet at a nightclub called Prism. Why.
"You know," Ivan says, stepping closer. "I think you want this, Fedya."
"I do not." If he was going to make anyone believe that, Fedyor should probably have at least attempted to step away, rather than reaching up to grip hold of Ivan's biceps. He hates that stupid jacket. He hates how goddamn good it looks on Ivan. "You're the worst."
"Sure," Ivan says. "We'll go with that." And then, even more outrageously, he leans down and --
Fedyor tries to moan, but Ivan bites it away, pushing him into a lot of obscenely expensive overcoats and grinding his hips into Fedyor's. They kiss savagely, break apart for air, glare at each other, and kiss again, as Fedyor shucks off that stupid jacket and thinks dimly that Ivan looks even better without it. He's going haywire with the lust he has unsuccessfully repressed for three years, since he first laid eyes on this idiot, and every nerve ending on his body is afire. He wants nothing more than to do this until he dies. Until he is nothing but dust and ashes. But not right now. Right now he's burning.
They're pressed up hard (in more ways than one) against the wall, uttering incoherent noises of need, when the door flies open. "Fedyor?" his assistant, Nadia, demands. "Is that you in there?"
At that moment, she catches sight of what is going on. Her jaw drops. There is really no way to pretend that he wasn't just caught red-handed passionately making out with his sworn nemesis in a closet, so Fedyor wipes his mouth and summons up a winning smile. "Ah," he says through gritted teeth. "Nadia. Excellent timing."
She looks at him, at Ivan, then back at him. Then she steps back, says, "You know what, I'm going to give you five," and slams the door.
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... Remember the Russian Revolution au? Which ended with Fedyor's sister very sick and Fedyor searching for Ivan in hopes of getting help for her from him? Fedyor finding Ivan and offering to do "anything" in exchange for his sister's medical treatment? Ivan secretly wanting Fedyor, but refusing to take what he wants like that? Soooo... I would also like the big the big 3 of your coming projects to happen, but... y'know... just.... wanted to bring this au up again... ;)
Behold, the oft-requested follow-up to the first two Russian Revolution au ficlets. Ahem.
Fedyor does not sleep that night. He does not even think about sleeping. He only leaves the army headquarters long enough to think hard about what he is proposing to do, wonder if it is worth it, and decide that it is. Katya needs the medicine, he has no other recourse, and he is categorically unwilling to return home to his family as a failure, when they have placed all their trust and hope in him. Ivan has hinted that he might be able to obtain it, and so that, no matter what it takes, is what Fedyor will have to get him to do. And for that…
He knows that he is not unattractive. He has dark eyes, dark hair, a dimpled smile, a personable and friendly manner that, in happier times, attracted the attention of many an eligible young lady who wished to ice skate or promenade around the park or take a carriage ride, as courting Russian couples are wont to do. However, while Fedyor was perfectly happy to chat with ladies, or escort them to a ball, or fulfill his essential chivalric duty, he was not otherwise interested in wooing them. It was partly for that reason that he signed up to the military, where an enterprising young man can have other opportunities in the darkness of the barracks. So long as his family was kept conveniently unaware.
For all that the Bolsheviks have overthrown the government without a clear plan as to what to do next, and accordingly plunged them all into this miserable civil war, Fedyor does secretly sympathize with certain of their beliefs on the remaking of family life. They say that marriage is outdated and bourgeoisie, that monogamy is unnatural, that women should not be subject to patriarchal systems, and that homosexuality is an equally valid state of nature. Such a possibility of sexual classification and divergence is much discussed in Europe these days, and there is even a small but growing scholarly literature, written by eminent scientists. Sexual Inversion by Havelock Ellis, published in 1896, argues that the man-loving man is indeed even a possibly improved form of human, associated with superior intellectual and artistic achievement, and that nothing about his attachment is wrong or abnormal. Two years before that, Edward Carpenter wrote Homogenic Love, and in 1900, the German Elisar von Kupffer published an anthology of homosexual poetry, Lieblingminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltliteratur. Such texts are relatively easy for an educated, French- and English- speaking young Russian intellectual, such as Fedyor Mikhailovich Kaminsky, to lay his hands on. He is not sure what can come of it, but at least he knows that he is not alone.
The question remains as to Ivan Ivanovich Sakharov’s proclivities. Unless Fedyor is very much mistaken, Ivan was at least considering the possibility of accepting his offer, and turned it down for honorable, moral reasons, feeling it unjust to sexually extort a young gentleman in exchange for his sister’s care, rather than physical horror at the idea of such a coupling. If he’s a Bolshevik, he’s probably acceptably tolerant of their philosophy on an abstract level, but it’s less clear as to whether that extends to its personal practice. If Fedyor turns up in his bunkhouse – which, come to think of it, is probably shared, curse these Bolsheviks and their dratted communality, highly inconvenient for a midnight seduction attempt – scantily clad and willing, will Ivan’s objections hold out then? Or… or what?
Fedyor doesn’t know, but the uncertainty adds to the frisson of shameful excitement, rather than detracting from it. He searches through the streets of Chelyabinsk for some bread (it does not seem in much greater supply than in Nizhny Novgorod) and waits for the sun to go down. In March, the days, though getting steadily longer, are still short and chilly, and it’s bitingly cold when it gets dark. Then he pulls up his muffler, tells himself not to be unduly precious about it, and heads for the makeshift army quarters on Kirovka Street.
The buildings in downtown are beautiful, built in the Russian Revival style of neo-Byzantinian splendor, though the onion-domed Orthodox churches have all been converted into stables and armories, and anything that whiffs of an ideology contrary to the Red one has been economically discarded. Fedyor reaches the door, knocks, and when a disgruntled sergeant comes to answer it, expecting him to be a soldier out too late and in line for a ticking-off, Fedyor raises his hands apologetically. “I’ve come to join up,” he says. “The great socialist cause of the world’s workers is the only true one for a patriotic Russian man, and I vow it my full allegiance, if you will have me. I was speaking to my friend earlier, Ivan Ivanovich, and he suggested it. Is he still here?”
The sergeant eyes him squiggle-eyed, but they cannot afford to look gift horses too closely in the mouth, or turn aside willing recruits. It takes a while, but he shouts for someone who shouts for someone else, and this finally produces the startled personage of Ivan Sakharov, who clearly thought it was for the last time when they parted several hours ago. Upon sight of Fedyor, he stops short, looking alarmed, angry, and wary all at once. “What are you – ?”
“Can we talk?” Fedyor is resolved to do this, he truly is, but he feels it best to get it over with before that wavers in any degree. Whether he wants it too little does not seem like the problem; on the contrary, he fears that he wants it too much, and if he stops to reflect on it or delude himself with any nonsensical notions of it being more than once, that can only hurt the cause. “Somewhere… private?”
Ivan hesitates, as if asking to commune out of sight of the others is tantamount to heresy (though it’s not as if these damn hypocrites didn’t plot in secret, away from their own countrymen, for months and months, Fedyor thinks angrily). Then he jerks his head. “Fine. Five minutes. This way.”
He leads Fedyor up a few narrow, creaking staircases, past closed doors that echo with snorting and snoring and coughing, the cacophony of his comrades, none of whom seem to be enjoying their glorious victory quite as much as they thought. Ivan, however, appears to be sufficiently high-ranking in the Red Guards that the room they finally arrive at, though not much larger than a closet, is at least private. It reminds Fedyor forcibly of Ivan’s room back in St. Petersburg, the one they slept in together, that first night after the Winter Palace. It sounds more intimate in his recollections than it actually was. Nothing happened, of course. But Ivan was kind to offer it, kind when he did not need to be, when a young tsarist soldier alone in the ferment of riot and revolution, such as Fedyor was, would not be likely to see the new red dawn. It is that which Fedyor keeps in mind as he shuts the door with assumed casualness, then turns around, meets Ivan’s eye in a significant fashion, and shrugs off his coat, cap, and muffler. Then, unmistakably, starts to unbutton his shirt.
He has almost gotten to the bottom by the time Ivan, who is staring at him as if he’s lost his marbles (it is unclear if this is an encouraging fashion or not) finally recovers his sense. He strides forward and covers Fedyor’s hands with his own large, callused rifleman’s fingers, sending a shock of attraction burning through Fedyor from head to toe, along with the death of any more illusion that he could continue to be casual about this. “What are you doing?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Fedyor’s throat is as dry as a bone, but he forces himself to speak. “I said that I would do anything for my sister’s care, if you would help.”
He lingers suggestively on the word anything, just as he did before, in case there was any doubt (as if the undressing wasn’t enough) what he means here. Ivan looks like a cornered bear, but as his eyes catch Fedyor’s and flick across the lean, muscled torso thus revealed beneath the shirt, he swallows hard and has to glance away. The attraction trembles silently in the air between them, tense as a piano string, tuned to snapping. In the old days, that is, when people played pianos, and did not burn them for firewood, as Fedyor’s parents were preparing to do with theirs when he left home. It chokes raw and painful in his throat. He is attracted to Ivan – desperately attracted, in fact – and yet he still hates what the Bolsheviks have done, even if the Romanovs and the Provisional Government were no better. The deposed Tsar Nicholas II is under house arrest with his wife and five children, the four tsarevnas and the tsarevich, in Yekaterinburg. Little sick Alexei Romanov, whose hemophilia opened the door for Grigori Rasputin to control the queen, the royal household, the government of Russia, and so bring about the end of their house. He was like something from a fairytale monster, that Grisha. The rumors of his death, not quite two years ago in December 1916, is that it almost did not happen, he was so hard to kill. A demon. A beast.
“You cannot do this,” Ivan says, his voice too rough, his eyes still struggling to remain decorously averted. “It is not – it is not right.”
“Not right?” Fedyor flares. “So a little spot of armed treason and overthrowing the man who, however deficient he might be, was the heir of one of the oldest and greatest empires in the world? That part was entirely aboveboard, but this, when you want this – don’t lie to me, I’m well aware you do – to help my sister? That would be a sin?!”
Ivan backs up a step, glancing around shiftily. These walls are thin, and he clearly does not want his beloved brothers-in-arms to hear this. “Fedyor Mikhailovich – ”
“Have me.” Fedyor is done playing games. “I’m here, I’m yours for the taking. You can do whatever you want to me, as long as you give me the medicine at the end.”
For a long, spellbound moment, he thinks Ivan is on the brink of agreeing. Then once again, he shakes his head. “No,” he says. “I could not in good conscience consent to this. But I will fetch you the medicine. You do not have to give me anything in return.”
Fedyor gawks at him, shocked – and, it must be confessed, more than a little disappointed. “I thought it was fair trade,” he says. “Tit for tat.”
“It is…” Ivan shakes his head, eyes once more straying to Fedyor’s bare chest. “Button your shirt up,” he says, half-laughing, not angry, breathless and soft. “It is very distracting.”
“Good.” Fedyor takes another step. “I think you deserve it, you obnoxious bastard.”
“Be that as it may.” At least Ivan has the good sense not to dispute it. “I cannot do this,” he repeats, more gently. “You are a fine young man, Fedyor Mikhailovich. Perhaps in another life… but it would not be honorable to trade your virtue for this.”
“My virtue?” Fedyor has to laugh. “What makes you think I have that?”
Once again, Ivan wavers. But to give him (loathing) credit, he will not be swayed. “Button it,” he repeats. “I will arrange to have the money and medicine sent by your lodging by tomorrow, if you give me an address in the city.”
“I don’t have one.” Fedyor folds his arms. “Only here.”
Ivan looks even more startled. His lips part, he takes a step forward, and for a brief, wild, exquisite yearning of an instant, Fedyor thinks he is actually going to kiss him. They’re almost close enough – not quite, but almost – for it to happen. Then Ivan says, “Your family must be very proud of you.”
“I…” It catches in his throat. “I don’t know. I hope.”
“I would,” Ivan says. “I would be.”
And that, somehow, is all that seems to matter. Even as Fedyor spends a night in Ivan’s narrow camp cot of a bed, Ivan insisting on taking the hard floor out of an excess of gallantry, an echo of their first night in St. Petersburg. Ivan does as ordered, gives Fedyor some rubles and some medicine and a train ticket back home to Nizhny Novgorod. He personally escorts Fedyor to the train station to make sure he does not come to grief, then stands on the platform, staring after him like Vronsky watching Anna leave one more time. The train begins to huff and puff, spitting soot and embers, and Fedyor keeps his nose pressed to the glass, leaving a smudge, until long after, as it seems he is never destined to do anything but, Ivan Ivanovich Sakharov has vanished into the mist.
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i love how easily enabled you are because it ups my happiness level like +100 everytime. Like now there’s 2 more fivan aus to think about?? and like ok the russian revolution one is angst and pain, but now i also get to imagine rich!Fedyor trying to force his new rival-turned-bf to “just fucking smile and take a selfie” for the gram which is the modern day equivalent of the cookie scene and i love that for me.
also the speed you can churn out such quality words and small ficlets is amazing. you a flawless queen, have a lovely weekend!
"Vanya. Come here."
"Vanya, come here."
"Oh my god." Fedyor rolls his eyes at the ceiling. "It is just a selfie. Not the end of the world. Now come here and cuddle up with me and let me post this so my followers can gush about how adorable we are."
"Are you sure about that?" Ivan glares at him from where he is sitting determinedly on the far side of the bed and reading a deeply boring book about Soviet economics. "They could hate it."
"Ray of sunshine, my love, that's you. As always." Fedyor wriggles closer. They may have just recently progressed from rivals-who-hate-makeout-in-closets to kinda-dating-but-shh to definitely-dating-but-shh, but Ivan has been a monumental crabby-pants the entire way, because apparently anything else would cause him to drop dead or something. "Trust me. We're cute, we are gay, and we are mildly famous. Plus, we are Russian. The internet will go crazy."
Ivan stares at him with a face of doom. He glances around shiftily, as if Fedyor's bedroom at his family's ultra-plush mansion in Holland Park might contain secret spy cameras or other instruments of scurrilous blackmail. Then he sighs deeply, with a face like a man walking up the gallows to be executed, putting his book aside and scooting up grimly next to Fedyor. Yes, Fedyor thinks wryly. That is him. My new boyfriend. Light of my life. Great fun at parties.
Fedyor grabs his phone, turns on a filter, snuggles up to Ivan, and snaps the perfect couple-y selfie. "There," he says, showing it to him. "I look adorable and you look like they gave away your favorite table at Chiltern Firehouse. It's so us."
"I don't understand why you're so obsessed with Instagram," Ivan gripes. "Or rather, your own face."
"Oh?" Fedyor raises an eyebrow at him. "I seem to recall you're a little obsessed with my face, Vanya. And my Instagram."
"I only look at it to laugh at you."
"Sure you do." Fedyor taps to post the picture of the two of them, tags Ivan's grossly depressing account, captions it #pridemonth, and sits back in smug anticipation. "That's why you went through all my selfies and liked every single one of them, wasn't it?"
Ivan opens his mouth, entirely fails to come up with a satisfactory retort, and shuts it, looking furious. While his phone starts to ping with "omgs!!" and "IM DYING" and whatever else (there will of course be the requisite stupid comments, but he's pretty good at filtering those out), Fedyor crooks a finger. "Come here and kiss me for all that epic nonsense you just put me through. You owe me."
Ivan wilts. Clambers closer. Scoops Fedyor into his lap, mumbles something under his breath that it's definitely for the best he can't hear, and cuddles him. Kisses the back of his neck, as Fedyor hums in deeply self-satisfied victory, leans against him, and pulls Ivan's arm around his waist. The idiot still drives him crazy on a regular basis, but you know. He absolutely does prefer it this way.
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#92 for fivan!
(you really said to come at you with the prompts, idk if you should have done that 😂)
92. “You make me happy.”
It's a freezing, snowy night in the absolute arse-end of winter, just a few days from the Fete, and out there in all the villages of weary, war-torn Ravka, little children are nonetheless praying for Ded Moroz to bring them presents just like he once did. Fedyor stands at the window, watching the heavy snow beat down on the gilded domes of the Little Palace and the distant crookbacked roofs of Os Alta. Even here, he can feel the chill, as the place is old and draughty and even possessing your own personal army of Durasts cannot quite patch all the cracks. He's glad to be inside.
Fedyor remains where he is for a moment longer, then turns away and kneels to stoke the fire, throwing on a few extra logs and jabbing it with the poker. Then he crosses the floor, pushes aside the heavy red bed curtains, and whisks the book on the great deeds of some dead man from Chernast directly out of his husband's grasp. "Pay attention to me, Vanya," he orders. "Or I'm putting my cold feet on you."
Ivan looks at him with an expression of mild horror. "You wouldn't."
"Would I?" Fedyor lunges, which is entirely a feint so he can stick his cold hands down Ivan's back instead, and the roar which he lets out will practically bring the oprichniki running in fear that the general's right-hand man has been scurrilously murdered in his bedchamber. Fedyor hisses at him to shut up, Ivan nips at him, Fedyor keeps his freezing paws glued to the hard, warm muscles of Ivan's torso until feeling starts to return, and Ivan's furious thrashing has subsided into a sort of resigned flopping. "Mmm," Fedyor says. "That's better."
"You are the worst, Fedya."
"That's too bad." Fedyor kisses him. "Because you make me happy."
The fearsome Ivan -- well, he's flat on his back, twisted up in the comforters, doing his best to look furious, and uttering occasional pitiable whimpers where Fedyor's warmer-but-still-chilly fingers creep up his spine, so he's not as fearsome as usual, but we're going by overall reputation here -- actually melts. Just a little. He sighs deeply, reaches up with one hand, and cups Fedyor's head in it, pulling him back down. "You make me happy too," he grumbles, low and deep in his chest. "And no, I still don't know how that happened."
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why draw me to that promised land by @qqueenofhades
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How about 23. “What’s cookin’ good lookin’?” for modern!Fivan? (Fedyor using food to flirt is canon so I feel we need some version of that in the modern setting) You are a gift! Your fics are giving me +10 to happiness :)
23. "What's cookin', good-lookin'?"
The setting is not what one would ordinarily call festive. It's a rainy, freezing Brooklyn evening in early January -- January 7, to be exact -- which, for the rest of the country, means that the holiday period is officially over and they're dragging themselves back to work and groaning about how much weight they gained and whatever else. However, in Brighton Beach, there are plenty of glowing windows and warm kitchens and families gathering around tables. It's Orthodox Christmas, this is Fedyor and Ivan's first one in their new home (they got this apartment about a year ago, but at the end of the month) and that means that they get to have a good time.
Or rather, Fedyor gets to have a good time, and somehow trick Ivan into possibly, maybe, having one too, which really shouldn't be as difficult as it is every single godforsaken time, and yet he loves this ornery bastard anyway. "What's cookin', good-lookin'?" he asks, slipping his arms around Ivan's waist and nuzzling the back of his neck. "It smells heavenly."
"Food," Ivan reports tersely, as if that was somehow in question. "Leave me alone, Fedya, or it will never get done."
Completely ignoring him, Fedyor appraises the array of bowls and skillets that have occupied his husband's attention. It appears to be pirozhki (stuffed buns), peljmeni (dumplings), and priyaniki (gingerbread spice cookies), none of which he had any idea that Ivan knew how to make. "Oh, those look delicious," he says, picking up one of the priyaniki. "Here, Vanya. You need to sample."
Ivan swats at his hand. "Those are not done. They need the jam, and the icing sugar."
Fedyor helpfully goes to fetch the items in question, fills the cookies with jam and dusts them with sugar. He has taken care of the main course items, all of which are either hot out of the oven or about to be, and he ferries the dishes to their small kitchen table. Then he returns, picks up the completed cookie, and wafts it tantalizingly at Ivan. "Come on. Reward for the chef."
"Not before dinner, Fedya."
"Oh, come on, you total Grinch." Fedyor grabs Ivan's arm as he tries to duck, forces Ivan's mouth open with the other hand, and just shoves the fucking cookie directly into his face. "Eat it."
Ivan, left with no choice but to do so, meekly chews the cookie. His look of startlement is then replaced with one of almost shy surprise and delight. "Hmm," he says, licking his fingers. "That actually is good. I wasn't sure if it would be."
"You're such a loser." Fedyor puts both arms around Ivan's waist and snuggles closer. "Merry Christmas, Vanya. I love you."
"Merry Christmas, Fedya." Ivan looks at him, eyes crinkled in a smile, and leans down to give him a priyaniki-flavored kiss. "I love you too."
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