#independent study or some requirement for a major i will never have
okay wait i just found out i could basically take private violin lessons for free
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Savanaclaw Dorm Headcanons Let’s Go
I have so many Savanaclaw headcanons but if I don't stop now I'll never get it done and thus need to curb my enthusiasm. Have 15K+ words of Savanaclaw dorm headcanons.
Having cultivated many star athletes, Savanaclaw tends to be a sports drink fiend. The multitude of students on sports teams mean plenty of sports drinks to go around. A lot of students can be picky about their diets as well.
The dorm has a tendency to also house students from more impoverished backgrounds (I mean, the dorm’s theme is tenacity after, and obviously people like Ruggie have the tenacity and resourceful nature needed to just get by. The ‘strongest of the fittest’ ideology can have mixed effects as a result, so despite it’s generally outspoken nature, you do have plenty of Savanaclaw students who steer clear of causing or involving themselves in anything. Unlike other dorms, the dichotomy between the two sets are rather stark.
More boisterous students lean towards being more independent and like their alone time, even if they have the close friend or two. The more reserved ones, surprisingly, prefer the comfort of circles of friends they stick to more often than not. Students coming from families and groups where the women are more dominant or proactive (hyenas and lions), while having strong personalities, are less likely to start something they cannot finish, but that doesn’t mean they avoid trouble.
Another distinction stems from students from the Afterglow Savannah, many of which are used to more community-based cooperation. NRC is notorious for its stubborn and independent students, but this demographic of Savanaclaw students tend to be easier to work with. More often than not they’re more helpful when it comes to keeping student responsibilities in check, but amongst themselves, growing up where Leona grew up with biased rumours against him, these students can be more outspoken against Leona’s approach as dorm leader when he really gets under their skin.
As of now, Leona’s been leader a long while, so second-third year students have, generally, strong support in Leona’s hands-off leadership. First years, especially ones like Jack that openly defy Leona when necessary, are a rarity, and most avoid being as confrontational as Jack simply because of Savanaclaw’s issues with hierarchy and not wanting to rock the boat against more experienced students.
Communication wise, Savanaclaw has a substantial number of outspoken students not afraid to speak their mind. This isn’t always a negative thing and makes their students incredibly expressive, and they make for good friends, generally speaking, when it comes to likeminded hobbies.
Despite being the ‘jock’ dorm, Savanaclaw has students not interested in sports. They tend to gravitate towards animal languages and biology. Other students that gravitate towards animal languages may just want to improve their own communication skills or simply broaden their experiences.
If you are in Savanaclaw, do not fuck up science experiments and spill stuff on yourself. You will be avoided like the plague in the dorm because no one’s putting their sense of smell through that. Since so many students have a sensitive nose, it’s actually important to keep the dorm and its surroundings tidy. Cologne isn’t very common amongst students either, but everyone likes a good body spray after bathing or showering. Students aren’t exactly neat freaks, a lot probably don’t even like all the work of cleaning the dorm up, but no one likes the chaos and discomfort of a dirty dorm either.
A lot of students like their showers too. Students with big cat traits are especially notorious for hogging showers much to everyone else’s chagrin.
Although Night Raven College itself has plenty of access to water, the amount of active, athletic students in Savanaclaw, combined with the dorm’s high temperatures, make it vital they keep a steady, readily available supply of water, especially in the magift arena. For this reason, they keep about four water tanks in near the dugouts. Only two are ever present, the other unused pair available to switch them out and clean the other pair. The tanks resemble ones found in the lower middle and lower classes areas of the Afterglow Savannah, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Coming from a wealthy background, Leona generally dislikes the hassle involved with water tanks. Ruggie tends to take the lead on educating new students on how to properly maintain them. Having a lot of Savannah Afterglow students within its ranks, other students with experience with them will show others as well.
Although mandatory and important, no one likes helping keep the magift stadium clean. Its takes forever, it’s tiring, and it’s tedious. But no one likes practising on a dirty, messed up field either, so eventually something has to give. Despite efforts to keep an organised snchedule to keep things ‘fair’, disputes happen often either between stubborness or believing it’s not actually ‘their turn’. It’s best to resolve these disputes quickly, however. Leona is a spiteful man and will use King’s Roar to make an even bigger mess of the stadium for everyone else to deal with.
Ruggie tends to be a bit of a bitch about cleaning the stadium, but a majority of Savanaclaw agrees he kind of deserves to be. He’s done it more times than he can count between his first and second years, and given how much he already does for the dorm, and namely Leona, he adamantly refuses to bother with stadium duty. He’ll tell students how to do it properly, sure, but there’s not a snowflake’s chance in hell of seeing him do it himself unless he absolutely has to. Let him have this. Loves to use this fact against students arguing about it and has the guilt card down to an art form.
Students enjoy hanging out in the acacia tree area, making it a popular area. It’s notably cooler under the trees’ shade, and the grass smells pleasant to most. On the flip side, the multiple rock formations in the area are off-limits for safety precautions. Leona seldom actively enforces the rule, but he’s quick to mockingly comment that he won’t be the one informing anyone if they’re dumb enough to hurt themselves falling and messing around on such high platforms. This usually does the trick in discouraging anyone.
The fire torches at the dorm’s entry are actually artificial and holographic in nature. Why? It’s hot enough as it is in Savanaclaw and these are stupid high school boys in a magical school, no one’s putting a real fire there.
Despite the daytime heat, the night can be rather pleasant. Beastfolk with more night owl tendencies find this to be an ideal time to study and get some work done since it’s easier for them to focus without as many stimuli. On the flipside, students on the diurnal side tend to use the acacia area to study in groups to get things done faster.
Students likes Jack, who aren’t used to the constant heat, can find relief in either their bedrooms or the lounge. The rooms have some pretty robust AC since they realise that if you’re from somewhere like the Land of Pyroxene or Rose Kingdom, where things are either mild in temperature or get pretty cold, you are fucked in Savanaclaw.
The systems used to be pretty shitty and old-fashioned and used fans instead to cut costs. Leona Kingscholar is an impatient bastard who wasn’t about to hear newbies complaining about the dorm’s climate and pretty much nagged and bullied Crowley into upgrading the system. He made for a very stubborn first year. The system’s incorporated into the dorm’s overall aesthetic, so you’d be hard-pressed to point them out.
The elephant remains aren’t exactly a standard design choice. They were donated to the dorm during Leona’s first week of becoming the dorm’s leader. The remains aren’t real, just well-crafted replicas of remains preserved in the Afterglow Savannah. The area they’re based off has a strong connection to the King of Beasts and his historical cooperation with hyenas, so it was meant to highlight the dorm’s unity whilst led by a Kingscholar.
Apparently, they were Farena’s idea, so Leona isn’t exactly fond of them, but the other students liked the impression they made on the dorm’s entrance, so they’re there forever now.
Plus Crowley wasn’t about to get rid of something given to the school by a royal family.
The waterfall in the lounge also requires care, considering the fact there’s literally no stopping students form hopping in. it’s discouraged, but not strictly off-limits. It’s not that deep, but it’s relaxing and the water’s never too cold nor warm. Since it’s an artificial waterfall, it’s filtered and clean for safety. At night, the waterfall’s illuminated by LED lights dotted around the perimetre. Considering the couches nearby, it’s common for students to just sleep there if they feel like it.
That being said Ruggie has a dedicated memory for knowing which students hop in when and happily gives them waterfall duty. This proves effective in lessening how many students take the risk.
It’s only strictly prohibited from messing around in the waterfall when there’s a match or tournament or whatever coming up. Then it’s the dreaded Heavy Duty:tm: deep-clean time, and the waterfall makes an ideal source for filling up the water tanks.
The hallway has lights shaped like lotus flowers. Considering the walkways consist of a bridge with railings set up with only rope, the lights in the hallway are always on. However, sunlight remains the primary light source during daytime, and bedrooms only have blinds to block out unwanted light, so the lotus ceiling lights are spread out where they’re most needed to avoid disturbing anyone at night.
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Part 2 - Yandere Vil x Chubby Reader x ???
Warning: Strong Verbal Abuse
Proofread and Edited By (Discord) spyratical
When Mr. Χάος proposed these "hangouts" (if you can even call them that), you did not imagine that each time you were invited over, the majority of the time would be spent in an awkward dead silence between the both of you. You sincerely make multiple attempts to make friendly conversation with the man, but with your lack of social skills and Vil's blunt answers, it made for poor exchanges. Whenever the hour was up, Vil would dismiss you, and you would call Mr. Χάος shortly after, whom would always be ready to pick you up at a moment's notice; it seemed that out all of your supposed guardians, Mr. Χάος is the one whom cares about you the most. As you would relay the events of said hour, he could tell that you're crestfallen with yourself.
Shortly after each session, Χάος would treat you to your favorite snack, and spend time with you afterwards; from taking you out to a new place to explore to simply making dinner at your place whilst you wallow in your emotions within the comfort of your own space, you simply said the word and Mr. Χάος would do his best to accommodate to your wishes. As professional as his job required him to be, especially as one of your parents' best advisers and legal consultants, Χάος always made time and put effort into caring for you, only with the best intentions in mind. He understood that with you coming of age, you would want to explore more of the outside world rather than the confined limitations of the studies your parents would allow your tutors to teach. With your inept social skills, he also understood that you needed a way to practice how to mingle with others who are not from the small circle of people your parents trust with the secrecy of your existence. Hence, how he came up with his offer for Vil; Vil, being your age, could serve as a familiar to converse with, and afterwards you could also go on small expeditions in the outside world, if you wished.
The only thing Χάος wished could go better would be Schoenheit's behavior towards the temporary arrangement. He expected this conduct to happen within the first two meetings but seeing the fifth meeting bear the same results as the previous ones, he couldn't help but feel weary.
Alas, today is a new day, and with that, the sixth meeting with Vil; you hold hope for a fresh start with your acquaintance. In all sincerity, with the given circumstances, you still could not care if the deal fell through, you just wish you will at least make a friend out of Schoenheit. To have a friendship outside of your limited circle, much less your age, would mean a lot to you, an amazing stride forward towards progress of becoming your own independent being. Much like Χάος, you too wished Vil would be more kind, you wish you could confide in someone from an outside perspective of your caged life and provide some words of comfort. However, with Vil still only giving you short responses and long silences, at this point the only thing that provided you with any sort of warmth was the tea you sipped.
That is until Vil finally was the first to break the silence, with a slip of venom.
"Why do you come here?"
Unprepared for the question, you ask him to repeat himself.
"Why do you come here?"
"I'm sorry, I don't think I understand-"
"Why do you keep coming over? The past five meetings have all been reticent and a complete waste of time; yet here we are again, and nothing has changed."
The man is starting to become heated, and you know little to calm him down, "I'm sorry, Schoenheit, I don't mean to upset you. It's just that in the agreement-"
"To hell with that thing!" You jump, startled by Vil's fist coming down on the table at his interjection. "I never want to hear about that contract ever again, not when every other adult in my life is constantly nagging at me about the bloody thing!"
Your heart is in your throat, and you don't know what to say. "I-I'm sorry, Schoenheit, I didn't know that-"
"Did you ask your parents to make this arrangement?"
"Don't think I didn't notice how you never spoke up against the engagement in the meeting!"
Your brain is pounding within your skull, and you don't know what to think. This isn't how this day was supposed to go.
"N-No, it's not-"
Yet the man still addresses you in disgust.
"Fucking Pervert. Wasting my time with what could be some semblance of peace and quiet for myself."
"Do you always do whatever your mommy and daddy tell you to do?"
Tears start to cascade down your cheeks freely, and your vision starts to blur. You couldn't argue against him at that moment, after all, that is what you have been doing with your life up to that point. "Please... stop."
"Of course, you still keep up formalities, even with a man whose face you still refuse to even look at and insults you to your fatty cheeks. Pathetic."
"Please... please..." Your pleads grow weaker as you fists clench tighter onto your being, hugging yourself; you feel helpless and weak. A small reminder goes off on Vil's phone, telling him to check the time. After leaving money for a toll phone in front of you, he stood up from his chair and begun to walk away.
"Times up… I'm done... Like I would ever want to marry the likes of you. Go call your lawyer, fat pig."
Once the clicking of shoes disappeared, you finally stood up and slowly started to step away from the scene. Steps turned into a walk, from walk to a jog, and naturally, jog turned into a run. None of this was supposed to happen, you were not supposed to be crying, you shouldn't be running away, Vil was not supposed to be so cruel. Yet it did happen, he was that cruel, and you're crying and running through the nearby forest as though your life depended on it. Perhaps your life did depend on it, seeing as you allowed thorns, twigs, and branches to scratch and claw at both your skin and clothes, all while running away from your current reality. It's only when you had tripped over an unearthed root that you came to a halt, crashing down onto the forest floor, whimpering for the putrid shame that overwhelmed you for your very being.
If only the ground could just break open and swallow you whole, then you wouldn't be in the predicament that was about to occur. If only you had called Mr. Χάος, like Schoenheit had you told you to, then he wouldn't have heard the soft and distant thump of you hitting the ground. If only you could stop whimpering to yourself in self-hatred, then he wouldn't be able to follow the sounds of your soft weeps. If only you had obeyed direct orders one last time, then he wouldn't have found you.
"Oh goodness! Are you okay?" Through your blurred vision, you see the vague shape of a man with splashes of yellow and blue rushing over to you.
Trying your best to wipe away any tears, dirt, and grime, with a raspy voice and a heavy heart, you answer with, "I'm sorry... yes, I'm fine." Though with tattered clothes, bleeding scratches, and puffy wet eyes, it would be hard to convince anyone that it was true. Slowly helping you up to your feet, the stranger puts your arm around his shoulder and allows you to lean onto him for support as he leads you out of the forest and into safety.
As he begins to aid you at his place of residency, he questions as to what events occurred that lead to him finding you so far away from the closest town. As he continued to press for reasons, the floodgates reopened and you recounted that day's events, though you did make sure to not bring up Vil by name, not wanting to tarnish his reputation even now. After the retelling of events, the stranger comforted you with genuine kindness, consoling you with lighthearted banter, getting you to feel mirth and relief, allowing you to welcome the distraction. Whilst exchanging pleasantries, you briefly brought up your desire for a friend, but just before you could move onto a different subject, the stranger asked, "How about we become friends?"
A twinge of guilt courses through you, afraid that you may have put him in a tight spot; you're quick to answer with, "No, you don't have to-"
"Sweetheart, please, I want to, truly!" Pulling out his phone, he's quick to unlock it and pop open an app. "C'mon, let me just add you on-"
"Oh, I'm sorry, but I don't have a social media presence."
"Well in that case, we can just start off by texting each other."
"I apologize, but I also don't own a phone."
"I guess I don't have any other choice..."
Feeling defeated once again, you lowered your head to hide revived tears, making themselves present at the brink of cascading, having already lost your first friend.
"We'll just have to visit one another as often as possible!"
"What-? I mean, you really don't-"
"Too late~ it's already set-in stone! Instead of going to meet that other man every two weeks, from now on, you'll visit me! In turn, whenever I get a chance, I'll go visit you, Chipmunk~!"
"Lots of people like to come up with nicknames for their friends as their bonds bring them closer. Since I'm going to be your first real friend, I figured that you would like to already have that kind of bond with me. Start out early so we can grow even closer as time moves on; plus, Chipmunk sounds like a cute and fitting nickname for you, doesn't it?"
Not willing to bite the only hand offering you any semblance of friendship, you nod in agreement instead of offering your discomfort on the matter. Was it normal for people in your generation to advance friendships so quickly?
"Great! Now, to commemorate our first milestone, let's take a picture together~!"
Quickly remembering your parents' rules regarding the public's knowledge of your existence being limited to what they would allow, you try to shut down the action, "I don't think that would be a good idea. I'm not really comfortable with putting myself out there all that much."
"Oh, don't worry! I won't share it with anyone, you can trust me, Chipmunk."
After some personal deliberation, with a light sigh, you situate yourself next to your new friend as he brings you closer with his hand on your shoulder. As the little timer starts to count down, he retorts a clever little joke that makes you genuinely laugh just at the nick of time of the photograph being taken.
"Thank you for becoming my friend-... I'm sorry, I don't think you ever told me your name."
"Oh right, where are my manners, I'm Neige LeBlanche."
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falling over, falling into
➳ In which Hendery falls over with his bike in front of you, and you realise that you are in the same major because you head to the same lecture hall afterwards.
♦ Pairing: uni student!Hendery x uni student!reader/you
♦ Genre: fluff, comedy, slice of life, uni au
♦ Words: 6.4k
♦ Warning: -
♦ 99 liners’ uni stories: Yukhei / Mark / Hendery / Xiaojun
You wondered whether it was that bad to be the only girl in the biochemistry major, whether the stares that you had gotten had been only because of the fact that you were the only girl, or maybe they had looked at everyone the same way considering that everyone was new here? Well, being a first year student at university was confusing and a bit terrifying. You knew no one in your major, let alone in the department, and your best friend was studying at a different university, so you didn’t see familiar faces around, and that one orientation day the past week was enough to make you feel small anyways.
So you were deep in thought, feeling a bit discouraged already as you were walking to a lecture, and you would have gone on your way without any mishaps if a random guy hadn’t just fallen over his bike right in front of you. Quite literally.
It happened so quickly; he was riding his bike on the street ever so casually, and then in the next second, he literally crashed into a pillar and fell over his bike, falling to the ground as if he hadn’t watched what was in front of him.
You didn’t think twice about it; you immediately curried over to his side, crouching down, ready to help him get up.
“Oh my gosh! Are you okay?” you asked worriedly, your heart beating so loud as if you had seen someone die in front of you. That fall was so abrupt though, you didn’t even have time to process what was going on, you already found yourself by his side.
The boy was up to his feet in no time, dusting off his light jacket and denim jeans, flashing a wide grin at you. He looked totally unharmed and not at all surprised; as if it hadn’t been the first time he had gotten himself into such calamity. Still, his state worried you, so you couldn’t help but furrow your eyebrows out of concern.
“Yeah, yeah, sure, it’s not serious. I just didn’t really look ahead,” he admitted through a light chuckle that was enough to ease your nerves a bit, but not enough to completely dissolve your worry.
“Are you really okay?” you inquired yet again, but the boy just nodded, his smile not faltering a bit. Gosh, how could he look so cheerful even after falling off his bike? You couldn’t quite understand. “Do you have a band-aid?”
“I don’t, but it’s really not that serious.” He shook his head, bright as ever. Even though he had an apparent scratch on his hand, he seemed not to mind the sight. Unlike you.
“I’ll give you one. Just one second,” you remarked as you reached into your tote bag, searching for a band-aid that you kept there in case of emergency - not that you wore high heels a lot of times, but you never knew neither with shoes, nor with minor bruises, so you always had some plasters on hand. As you found a piece, you reached it out to him, hoping that he would at least put this on.
“Thank you.” He flashed an even wider grin at you as he got rid of the protective covering of the band-aid and put it on his scratch. You were immediately more relieved when you saw it happening because come on, it was basic decency to help someone who had fallen over his bike right in front of you! Not that it had happened before, thus you hadn’t known what you should have done, but you hoped that your assistance was enough.
On the other hand, you knew that you didn’t have more to say to him, so when awkward silence filled the air, you cleared your throat.
“Then, I’ll get going.”
“Yeah, sure. Thanks again.” The boy bobbed his head a bit as a sign of his gratitude, his smile ever so radiant. You let your lips curl upwards as you gave him one last look and turned on your heel to head to the science building, not quite believing what had just happened in under a few minutes. It couldn’t be any longer, could be? It was probably just another one of those chance encounters in your life that seemed all too surreal.
Before you would enter the lecture hall for your class, you paid a visit to the bathroom, but when you came out of it, you saw the same boy from before looking around the line of lecture halls with his phone in his hand. You wondered whether he was a first year just like you or his memory was rather bad for not remembering the numbering system, but you didn’t want to ponder over it for too long, so since you knew where to go (the little campus tour during the orientation day had done you good), you walked to lecture hall III confidently.
However, the boy was still lurking around the area between lecture hall III and V, and when he caught sight of you, he flashed a wide grin at you and inquired, pointing at the door in front of you:
“Yes.” You nodded after a bit of hesitation, trying to mask your surprise. So was he in the same year with you, studying the same major?
“Thank god.” He let out a huff in relief before he reached for his locks to brush a few out of his eyes. You had to admit he was kind of cute, but such assumptions never helped with your non-existent social skills, especially not when it came to boys, so you tried to shush away your thoughts, focusing on not bumping into the door instead as he held it for you. What a polite boy.
“Oh right! I knew you were familiar from somewhere! You’re the only girl in our major,” he chattered joyfully when you two finally entered the lecture hall, spotting a few guys occupying some seats in the back and one guy sitting in the front row with his headphones on. You should have known that it was easier for him to remember the only girl in the major than for you to remember all the guys’ faces.
As you walked up the stairs, the boy continued on talking as if you had been friends for ages.
“Which is odd because I have a friend from KU, and they have a lot of girls there. I don’t know what happened to SNU and the biochem major. Though I’ve heard a rumour that it was more difficult to get into biochem here than elsewhere because of all the extra requirements. Not that you should feel bad or anything for being the only girl. I think it’s pretty cool. Just let me know if any guy bothers you, I’m gonna fight them for you,” he offered all too passionately, his supportive words catching you off-guard, your steps halting a bit on the stairs.
Since you were with your back to him, you didn’t have to worry about him seeing your flushed face for now, but you knew that it was inevitable for you to face him anyways, so you turned around, saving yourself from further overthinking.
“Okay, thanks,” you attempted to sound extra grateful instead of shy, gifting him with a side-smile. His lips curled upwards even more, his face filled up with his radiant, beaming smile.
“I know I don’t look like the type, but I can fight,” he clarified, patting his arms covered with the jacket he wore, and despite him looking like a quite lanky guy, you believed that he was a rather muscular one because it was easier and less awkward if you had done so. He didn’t need to prove you in front of everyone else.
You didn’t know how to comment on this newfound information, so you turned back to the stairs until you reached the rows in the middle and sat down, putting your bag on the table, the boy following you earnestly.
“Well, I hope you don’t mind having me as a seatmate because in that case…” He plopped down next to you without waiting for your approval, but you wouldn’t have minded either way. You quickly glanced at his hand as he was packing out of his bag, but it did seem like he wasn’t in pain because he didn’t hiss when his plastered hand came in contact with his pile of textbooks.
“I’m Hendery, by the way.” He turned back to you with his trademark smile, and since you were staring at him, you caught his eyes as he looked into yours, seeing nothing but kindness and affection in his orbs. You decided to follow your heart and trust him that he was indeed a friendly guy, introducing yourself in return for his name and letting him accompany you for your classes for the rest of the day.
After that, Hendery was practically glued to you. At first, you assumed that he would go away like the passing wind - coming and going smoothly and leaving nothing but memories of his trademark scent and cosy atmosphere behind -, but he stayed, and soon enough, you found yourself looking forward to your classes solely because he would be there. You became lab partners and you worked on assignments together, helping each other through the pile of work the professors threw at you. Before, you couldn’t have imagined why university students would crumble under the amount of assignments and revising they would need to do, but now you understood why.
You had never been the type to sleep through classes, but you seriously felt like falling asleep a few times as weeks went by, and you stayed up later and later as you tried to squeeze everything into your day. It wasn’t easy, but you liked that you could be working your way around your classes, setting up a schedule on your own. Besides your studies, you also became more independent and since it was the first time you were away from your family, you needed to learn - for example - how to do the laundry on your own, and you also had to take care of your meals. Which might have seemed trivial to others, but your mother would never let you do any of those, so you got a taste of real life without your parents’ supervision, and it felt both odd and good.
You didn’t make any friends apart from Hendery, but you wouldn’t have had it another way. His company was more than enough to fill your days with laughter and joy, and even when you needed to stay at the library together, working together on assignments late into night, his presence provided you with something that you couldn’t quite put your finger on. Not yet.
“I’ll buy something to drink,” Hendery announced as he leaned back into the chair and stretched his arms over his head. You had been in the library for a few hours now, but you still needed to revise another chapter for your exam the next day.
“You forgot your water bottle again?” You furrowed your eyebrows, a hint of an amused smile hiding in the corner of your lips.
“Hey! It’s been only a month since I got it,” he declared dramatically, putting a hand over his heart as if you had hurt him with your words. That’s just who he was though, extraordinary in the best way possible.
“No. I’m good, thanks,” you replied to his previous question, shooting a weary smile at him before turning back to your textbook, muffling a yawn. He walked away giddily, and if you hadn’t known him, you wouldn’t have known how he managed to stay so energetic even at 10pm. But it was Hendery, and he was always on cloud nine, his energy the same as a little kid’s who was on sugar high. His restlessness could make you crack a smile even in your most frustrated moments, so despite him being very different from you, you were thankful that he was being this way.
You were concentrating hard on memorising an equation when you heard footsteps from behind and there was a bottle of your favourite smoothie in front of you in the next minute. You looked up at Hendery, your eyes wide in surprise.
“I’ve noticed that you often buy this one,” he explained with his trademark smile, casually sitting back into his chair. You were so shocked that you kept staring at him, and your eyes wandered on his boyish features, the crook of his nose, the fluffiness of his chocolate-brown locks, the arch of his lopsided smile and the gentle touch of his when his hands brushed yours when he put down the bottle in front of you.
“Thank you,” you croaked out, still surprised by the fact that he had noticed such little things about you in the first place, and that he still remembered this detail. He sometimes seemed like he could lose his head any minute for how forgetful he was, so you felt extra grateful for him and his considerate action.
“Anytime,” he mentioned through the warmth of his gaze that invited streaks of burgundy onto your cheeks. You couldn’t bear to look at him anymore in your state, so you turned back to your textbook, trying to concentrate on the words.
Thankfully, the atmosphere was never awkward around Hendery, so you soon slipped back into the same cosy, almost homey feeling that you always felt beside him. Even something as mundane as revising seemed less daunting when he was around, and for all the fun stories you could listen to while you were walking back to the dorms together after your study sessions, it was all worth it.
“I’ve actually managed to walk into a shopping mall’s glass door once,” Hendery admitted that day, and you were nowhere near shocked anymore because it was him after all. You had met first when he had fallen over his bike in front of you.
“How? Couldn’t you see that there was a door there?” you asked between little fists of laughter. You knew Hendery wouldn’t mind you laughing at him because that’s exactly why he shared those stories with you, but still, you didn’t want to outright laugh into his face.
“I mean, it’s made of glass, and when I don’t wear my glasses or contact lenses, I really can’t see the difference between a glass door and well… the air,” he explained all too seriously for such a hilarious story, and you couldn’t bear it anymore, you let out a wholehearted laughter, earning a smile from the boy in the meantime.
“I can’t believe how such things happen to you.”
“Well, I’m a rather extra guy,” he boasted proudly, straightening his back as if he really wanted to show off. You kept giggling while he was holding the door of the dormitory for you, your stomach hurting from laughing so much.
“I know that,” you acknowledged joyfully, walking towards the elevator which meant the end of your conversation because Hendery would be going up to the fifth floor while you had your room on the first floor, and you always chose the stairs for the said distance.
You turned to him as you two waited for the elevator to arrive on the ground floor, and you found yourself smiling at his beaming self despite the tiredness that was taking hold of your body. Even the hours spent at the library seemed more bearable with him, but somehow, words didn’t seem to grasp what you were feeling, so you stayed quiet, sharing a gaze with him until he bid his goodbye, wishing you a good night. You waved as the elevator door closed on him, and smiled as you took the stairs to your room.
Before university, all you had wanted was to get into Biochemistry at your preferred university, and you had tried your very best - sometimes even more - to get in, your senior year filled with more sleepless nights than peaceful ones. Yet, now that you had been studying here for more than a semester, preparing for the midterms during your second semester, you had not been so sure why you had ever wanted to come here, why you had ever wanted to choose this major. Maybe you weren’t that qualified to be here or maybe you had expected more from yourself than you should have. It hurt you when your efforts didn’t pay off, and it bugged you because you didn’t know what else to do; you were already studying so much, you were already trying out different tricks and tips to study more effectively, to remember more.
With the midterms around the corner and these doubtful thoughts, you were more stressed than usually, and it showed in the way you didn’t have the energy to reply to Hendery’s messages each day, and in the way you smiled less, laughed less and constantly turned down the boy’s invitations to hang out more. You didn’t mean to distance yourself from him, but he seemed to enjoy himself so much that you didn’t have the heart to complain to him, yet you were terrible at pretending that everything was fine.
So you felt like you were stuck in the prison of your own feelings and boundaries, and there was no escape. No matter what path you walked down, you were either hurting yourself or the boy, and you wanted neither of those. Hence, you put up with everything, hoping that the feelings would just go away with the passing time, but then again, Hendery was Hendery, and he might not have wanted to voice out if he had noticed how you had been acting lately, but you couldn’t have not notice the way he always sent you encouraging messages and reminders to drink water, sleep enough and not to overwork yourself, and he was buying you your favourite smoothie and snacks ever so often when you were studying together in the library.
It was one of those days, staying in the library late into night, revising for a midterm exam. You let out a yawn as you finished revising yet another chapter, and despite your will to go through the whole section of the book that you had needed to learn for the exam, you found your head hanging lower, your eyes heavy. It surely had been some time since you had gotten a good night’s sleep because if it hadn’t been for studying, all those worries had kept you awake anyways.
“Should we call it a day?” Hendery caught onto your sleepy self right immediately, and you didn’t know whether it was because he had been keeping an eye on you, or you had merely yawned too obviously that he asked such a question so quickly, but you didn’t need much convincing.
“Yeah, we can. I mean, if you want to stay-”
“No, no. I was just hoping that you would finish too, so that we can go back to the dorms together,” he clarified with an almost bittersweet smile, and despite the gentle tone to his words, you knew what he might have been referring to. Lately, you had let him go back to the dorms earlier because you had wanted to stay in the library longer. You had always shrugged it off, thinking that Hendery might have been really fine with it if he had said so, but now it dawned on you that you might have been hurting him, too.
“Sure. Let’s do that!” You concluded then, letting a weary smile occupy your lips. The boy’s lips slowly curled upwards, and you couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was - maybe relief? -, but he seemed like he was back to his usual self yet again.
You packed your stuff quickly, throwing your bag over your shoulder, stepping out into the pleasant spring night with the boy by your side. Seasons had changed so quickly ever since you had become a university student, so already feeling the cheeky breeze of air play with the locks that had escaped from your ponytail was rather odd. Thinking back to those months behind your back, you felt quite sentimental upon seeing the seasons change.
You walked in silence for a while, but then Hendery spoke up gently, and you could already sense that he was about to say something because he was being fidgety.
“You can tell me what’s on your mind. I might not be able to help if it’s something that I can’t control, but at least I can listen to what you have to say,” he blurted out seriously, and you wished he hadn’t needed to come to this point.
“It’s okay. It’ll go away.” You shrugged, avoiding his eyes because you really didn’t want to bring him down. He had been making your days so much better, so much brighter, yet all you would be able to give him was a bunch of complaints? You didn’t want that.
“How do you know that?” Hendery counter-attacked, and the confidence in his voice triggered an alarmed reaction in you. You averted your eyes back to him, and as the way the light from the nearby street lamps was reflected in his eyes, you saw confusion, guilt and helplessness. “You might just bottle it up, and I don’t want that,” he added quieter, almost like a whisper.
You had no idea when you had become such important parts of each other’s life, but you wanted to see him smile and laugh and you wanted him to share his funny stories with you without feeling the weight of your studies. You wanted to be as carefree as the first time you had met, but now you had to realise that this might not work given the circumstances, and no matter how much you trusted him, you were afraid of bringing vulnerability into your friendship.
“It’s just…” You started, coming to a halt after so little because there was just so much to say, yet words failed you immediately. You looked at him again, and he nodded encouragingly, so you talked to him about how disappointed you had been in yourself and your performance, and how you had been questioning your choice of coming here and choosing this major lately, and how it had weighed you down because that’s all you had been working for in your life. Letting the words flow like the river helped your heavy little heart to let go of the burden a bit, but it wasn’t until he said the following that you actually let your shoulders drop in relief:
“I’ve been feeling that way, too. There’s no shame about it,” he admitted with an encouraging smile, and you were so taken aback by his confession that you didn’t even know what to say. Yet, it was enough for the boy to keep going. “I might not have looked like it, but I was also doubting my choice. I guess it’s only natural if you’ve put so much effort into achieving something, and it’s not quite how you imagine it to be.”
“How do you deal with these thoughts?”
You can’t help but inquire since he seems so collected, not someone who can be easily swayed. Of course, that could still mean that he felt a lot, too, just showed it differently.
“I think of it as an experience. Even if something doesn’t turn out the way you’ve wanted it to, even if that something was your one and only dream in life, at least you could say you’ve tried to make it come true. You would have regretted it if you hadn’t even tried, but if you are thinking that it might not have been a good choice, at least you’ve tried. Besides, we’re still so young, but we tend to think that our lives are determined at 20 or 25. For example, my mother found her calling at 40.”
Hendery talked so eloquently this time that you were surprised that he had such thoughts to himself. Not that you had assumed that he was a heartless robot, or that he took everything lightly because you knew all too well that he was taking things seriously even if he might not have seemed so, but still… It was a whole new side of him, and you were grateful that he dared to show it now that you were also being more vulnerable with him.
The walk to the dorms had never seemed so short than this day when you could have talked on forever about your worries and experiences and asking the boy how he viewed the situation you both had seemed to be in, but even that much peptalk was enough to put your heart and mind at ease, and for the first time in a while, you could sleep soundlessly without your worries keeping you awake.
Distance makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and it couldn’t have been more relevant in your situation because as your first year at university came to an end, both Hendery and you went back home - to different parts of the country -, and you worked as a cashier during the summer to earn some extra money while Hendery spent a month in China visiting relatives, so it was difficult to arrange meeting up. Summer break wasn’t that long, but it seemed so due to the lack of face-to-face conversations with him, the endless library sessions and the fruit smoothies, the chattery walks back to the dorms, the funny stories about him and his two flatmates - Yukhei and Mark -, and of course the rambling sessions about your assignments and lab reports.
At first, you didn’t pay that much attention to that longing feeling in your chest because you told yourself that it was only because you liked routines and spending time with him had become a part of your routine. You were working full-time, so that should have occupied your thoughts, but you often found yourself wondering what he could be doing in that exact moment, and when you were walking home from the store alone, you wished that he could be there with you, sharing hilarious stories about his days and childhood and his chaotic life with his flatmates.
You kept in contact through texts and videochats, and you didn’t realise how obviously he made your days brighter until your mom asked why you were smiling at your phone these days. You had never been one to befriend boys, so it was rare that you were talking to one so intensively, but luckily, your mother didn’t give you any odd stares, she merely offered that Hendery could come visit you if he wanted. That didn’t happen due to him spending that month in China, but you were thankful for the suggestion as per se.
Needless to say, you were looking forward to the new semester like never before, and you were so giddy and restless when you moved back into the dorms that your smile was literally plastered onto your face. What you didn’t expect though was for him to wait for you in front of the dormitory after you had let him know while you had been on the train when exactly you would be arriving.
You froze for a moment when you caught sight of him because you were so surprised. The familiar warmth filled your heart as you looked at his excited lanky self, hair a bit messy and longer than before the summer break, but his smile, oh his smile, it was the same as always! Comforting, joyful and a bit like home.
When you began moving again, he started walking towards you as well, so you met halfway, and before you knew it, Hendery had already wrapped his arms around your body. It might have been because of the months you had spent apart, but you didn’t remember that he had always been this tall, but you welcomed the scent of his trademark lemongrass and mint shampoo as if you had been waiting for this moment, and maybe you had.
“Ah, I’ve missed you so much!” He mumbled into the crook of your neck, and his words spread through your veins like salvation. It felt so good to hear him say that because you had often wondered whether it had been only you thinking about him all day long.
“I’ve missed you, too,” you whispered back, letting the serene moment be engraved into your mind before it was over, and Hendery took a step back, bobbing his head in the direction of the dorms’ entrance.
“My family looked at me as if I was an alien whenever I was trying to talk about biochem stuff,” he started chattering as you began walking towards the huge glass door, the familiarity of the situation making you feel all giddy inside. “And Yukhei, that dude, didn’t fail to send us half-naked photos of himself working out in our groupchat, and basically, all we did with Mark after a week was to leave it on seen because what can you say to those? It’s not like I’m the one he’s trying to impress with his big muscles.”
“Didn’t he send them to his girlfriend?” You quirked an eyebrow with an amused smile, already having heard of Yukhei’s girlfriend.
“I hope not. Or at least, not all of them. I hope so. I didn’t dare to ask,” Hendery admitted, laughter accompanying his words as he tried to imagine the situation. Then, he shook his head and turned back to you, asking about you with the widest smile possible. You had missed the sight so much, it wasn’t the same through pictures.
Since you had basically texted him up until you had gotten on the train, you decided to tell him about the guy across your seat on the train who had basically broken up with his girlfriend through the phone, and all the passengers around him could hear it because he was talking so loudly, getting all upset and sulky. That had been the most interesting thing during the train ride, but Hendery listened to as attentively as if you had been telling him a secret.
The boy helped you with your suitcase without you mentioning anything, but you let him, knowing that he did it out of politeness, not because he deemed you a damsel in distress. You let both of you into your room, and knowing that your roommate wouldn’t arrive until a day later, you beckoned him to hop on your bed with you. However, before he would have done so, he hit his forehead, looking startled.
“Oh, I’ve forgotten something! Just a minute, I’ll be back!” Hendery promised, already bolting towards the door, and he was out of the room before you could say anything. You blinked around in confusion, but you decided to make yourself useful and started packing out of your suitcase while you were waiting for him.
You heard a knock on the door a few minutes later, and indeed, it was Hendery behind it, holding up a bottle of your favourite fruit smoothie as if he had been posing for a commercial.
“I’ve got you this! This semester can’t be the same without it!”
“Oh my gosh! You didn’t have to!” You squealed, more touched than you would have dared to admit, but you had a soft spot for that smoothie, and you knew that Hendery had always remembered your favourite. Still, you wouldn’t have thought that you would receive one from him on the day you move back to the dorms. “I have something for you, too!”
You stepped back, so that he could walk into the room again, and you immediately went searching for the food container in your suitcase. When you eventually took hold of it, you reached it out to him.
“My grandma made some hotteoks. I know you’ve said it’s your favourite Korean dessert, so I’ve asked her to show me how it’s done, but basically, she made it in the end,” you explained with an amused laughter because your grandma could never let anyone be in her kitchen without her interfering, and since you had asked for her assistance, she had ended up doing the whole thing, not letting you take part in it.
“Thank you so much! You’ve made enough for a whole class though,” Hendery remarked as he looked at the container in his hands, looking up at you after doing so, flashing you the brightest, loveliest smile.
“Oh, you have Yukhei and Mark, too. I’m not afraid that you won’t be able to eat all of it.”
“You’re right.” Hendery giggled, and so you finally sat down on your bed, munching on your grandma’s hotteoks and chattering about anything that came to mind as if you hadn’t been talking throughout the whole summer. It was different now though, having him be an arm length away from you, hearing his laughter, seeing his smile and just feeling his presence beside you. Nothing could compare to that feeling, like the soothing first ray of sunshine after a stormy night.
It was odd to think that it had been only a year ago that Hendery had fallen over his bike in front of you and you had offered him a band-aid because it seemed like you had known each other for a longer period of time. Sharing the same experiences, suffering through the same exams, having the same concerns had brought you closer to him than anyone else in the past year, and even though you had your own high school best friend studying at a different university and you still kept in touch, it wasn’t the same as being around Hendery all the time.
Maybe that’s why you were so reluctant to hope for anything more with the boy even though you had never seen him act like this around another girl. Well, not in your major, of course, but you had seen him interact with other females, and even though he was casual and friendly around others, he even told you that you were the closest girl to him (apart from his mother), and you had no idea what to do with that information, but still, the confession made your heart flutter, and you came back to his words every time you doubted his feelings towards you. You didn’t want to be delusional, but you couldn’t not notice the way he looked in guys’ directions who gave you odd stares, the way he took care of you and reminded you to take a rest through midterms and exam season, and of course remembering your favourite smoothie and bringing it to you every time you had a library session together.
Your love towards him grew more and more each day, but you didn’t want to get your hopes up high only to encounter a heartbreak in the end, so you were content without any big confession, just casually spending time with him as always. Even if his friends were wiggling their eyebrows whenever you came by their room, you decided to brush it off. You didn’t want Hendery to feel pressured into anything that he might not have felt or might not have realised.
Eventually, that turned out to be true because one day, totally out of the blue, someone knocked on your dorm room’s door, and there he was, panting, resting his hands on his knees as if you had been running.
“Hendey! What’s wrong?” you asked worriedly, ready to step closer to him to take a closer look at him, but he straightened his back in the next second, and you almost bumped into him. Quite literally. Well, it wouldn’t have been the first time you had gotten yourself into such situations. Life beside him was always a bit chaotic.
“There’s nothing wrong. I just…” He started and sucked in a deep breath, letting out a long exhale afterwards. You waited for him to continue patiently, ready to bring him a glass of water or whatever he needed. However, the way he continued made you go speechless. “I just think I’m in love with you.”
Silence. Only your erratic heartbeat could be heard, but oh boy, that was loud! You felt as if it would escape your ribcage, drumming so wildly. You had imagined this confession in many different ways, but when it finally happened, you didn’t know what to do with yourself. You were utterly shocked and swoon at the same time.
“When Yukhei and Mark were talking about what to buy for their girlfriends for Christmas, and they started talking about when they knew they had loved them, it just hit me. I-I really think I’m in love with you, and I didn’t want to waste more time, so I rushed over. I know it’s not the most perfect way to confess or anything, but…” He rumbled on and on, and you were sure that he would have kept rumbling if you had not crushed him into a bone-cracking hug, hugging him so tight, not wanting to let him go.
“It’s perfect to me, believe me. It’s perfect because it’s you,” you mumbled, feeling totally touched. You had never been in love, but you just couldn’t mistake this feeling for anything else, and you were extremely happy and thankful that he felt the same way.
“Yes, I am.” You nodded a bit although he couldn’t have seen it because you were still hugging each other, but it didn’t matter. He knew it, he could feel it in the way you held onto his shirt so adamantly.
It seemed like he wasn’t the only one who had fallen when you two had met, you had fallen in love with him just as abruptly and just as chaotic as he had fallen over his bike. That was okay though because he was ready to patch up your heart with band-aids in case it got hurt anytime.
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Chapter One: I. Allegro
Pairing: Kuroo Tetsuro x Reader
Word Count: 3.2k
Summary: Kuroo used to think the best sound in the world was a volleyball hitting the court on the other side of the net. Now, he has other things on his repertoire.
Counter point: Good counterpoint requires two qualities: (1) a meaningful or harmonious relationship between the lines (a “vertical” consideration—i.e., dealing with harmony) and (2) some degree of independence or individuality within the lines themselves (a “horizontal” consideration, dealing with melody).
It was illogical really, Kuroo thought to himself, having to take a mandatory arts class. He was an athlete. He would probably major in STEM or business the next year if he didn’t go pro. But here he was, staring at the course catalogue, deciding between different bands, choirs, art classes, and orchestra. Irritatingly, Kenma had finished his arts requirement last year, taking a video editing class which Kuroo thought was definitely cheating since he figured Kenma already knew the basics. Plus, he not-so-secretly believed that Kenma would benefit from another non-electronic hobby.
Sighing, he assessed each class. He knew he was tone deaf and did not want others listening to him sing. Plus, he’s seen the red cummerbunds and bow ties the choir had to wear for concerts and refused to give his teammates the blackmail fodder even if Yaku thought it looked “refined.”
To be honest, Kuroo didn’t know much about the arts. He only had the vaguest understanding of the differences between Watercolor 101, Figure drawing 101, and Oil Painting 101. While he thought of himself in the studio, palette in hand with an apron tied around him, working intently at the easel on the next generational masterpiece, he remembered when Kenma threw his pencil-drawn mockups of promotional posters in the trash and told him not to show the rest of the team.
While maybe he could try digital media, he couldn’t help but imagine himself against the romanticized backdrop of more traditional arts.
He had to choose between the several band electives and orchestra. He couldn’t do marching band—he wouldn’t be caught dead in those uniforms, wind ensemble had auditions he surely wouldn’t pass, jazz band had mandatory solos, but symphonic band was for rookies. ‘Beginners welcome,’ was typed out with an asterisk under the listing. But, so did orchestra. Doing a quick search to figure out the difference between band and orchestra, Kuroo weighed his options.
He took piano lessons from ages four through ten before finally convincing his parents to let him quit—wearing them down by crying every week and throwing a mini tantrum at daily practice—not that he intentionally did it as an elementary school student. But, even from an early age, he knew volleyball was it for him.
While he wasn’t well acquainted with classical music, he had grown up with it from his parents. Well, when they were irritated with the bickering matches between him and his older sister, their parents would crank up the car radio, drowning their yelling. His mom would tell him she used to play Mozart for him when he was a baby which is why he grew so tall—which he would always say makes no sense—and occasionally, a film score would make the hairs on his arms rise even when he was trying to focus on the scene.
So he decided. He’d enroll in orchestra for the year, make himself unnoticeable in the back, and fulfill his arts requirement so he could graduate high school and maybe apply to university. Plus, he figured, as he ticked the box next to orchestra, he’d finally be able to wear his suit his parents bought him, saying that he’d need it eventually.
Folding the course registration paper and sliding it into an envelope to be sent to Nekoma High, he stood up from his seat at the low dining room table and decided to go to Kenma’s, figuring they could squeeze some volleyball practice before summer vacation ended.
The first day of his third year was unextraordinary. He woke up tired, coaxed his bed head into something manageable, and started his commute to school, picking Kenma up on the way. Double and triple checking his course schedule on his phone and reminding his teammates that they all had to help out in advertising the volleyball club—well, maybe except Yaku—he tapped his toes with a mix of nervousness and anticipation.
His classes were nothing special, most of them a continuation of the year before or courses he carefully picked with the advice of his seniors. But, walking towards the orchestra room at the far side of the building where all the music classes were, he felt a familiar rush of nervous adrenaline spike—not unlike the nerves before a big match. But this time, he couldn’t be confident in his own skills or rely on a team to back him up. Counting the room numbers until it matched the one on his registration, he found the room with its double doors propped open.
Striding in, the large open space was in various states of organized chaos. Other students were already moving chairs in uniform columns, two to a row, and were pulling instruments out of cases. Unsure of what to do, he immediately found the teacher.
“Hi Jouda-sensei, I’m Kuroo Tetsuro,” he introduced. “I’m new—where should I sit?”
“Hi Tetsuro-kun, it’s nice to meet you,” she said warmly. “Ah, yes I see you enrolled as a beginner.” Flipping through the pages on her clipboard she hummed, “Is there a particular instrument you’d like to play?” sweeping a hand across the room. “We could always use more violas, we have enough cellos, weirdly too many basses, but we could also stick you with the second violins?”
Kuroo didn’t quite know the difference between violas and violins but figured ‘second’ violins implied that there was also a ‘first’ violins group and that he’d be more likely to be able to hide in the back in a bigger group.
“Yeah,” he drawled out confidently, “I actually wanted to learn violin.”
“Okay, perfect. Here—” she motioned another student over. “Tetsuro-kun, meet Daisuke-kun.” Daisuke greeted Kuroo with a shallow bow and Kuroo responded with a head nod, mentally rolling his eyes at Daisuke’s subtle disapproval.
“He’s first chair of the second violins,” Jouda-sensei continued, “he’ll get you set up. Daisuke-kun, have him take one of the rentals and teach him the ropes. Today’s mostly getting people set up if they don’t have their own instruments and playing through potential setlists,” she explained while twirling her pen in her right hand. “Testsuro-kun, you’re our only new violin which means everyone can help you learn—take today to be comfortable with an instrument in your hands and observe your classmates!” she finished, walking away.
“I’m Sato Daisuke, a second year,” Daisuke reintroduced, emphasizing his year.
“Kuroo Tetsuro, third year,” he said smugly.
“Ah—okay,” Daisuke said standing straighter, “Kuroo-san, follow me,” turning towards the back of the room.
Chuckling Kuroo said, “Just Kuroo’s fine—you’re technically my senior here since I’ve never played violin before.”
Stuttering a bit and covering it with a cough, Daisuke nodded once. He stood in front of a wall of neatly labelled cubbies and pulling a black rectangular case out, he handed it to Kuroo. Explaining the rules of the rental and making him sign a form, Daisuke taught Kuroo how to properly tighten the bow, use rosin, clean the instrument, and taught him simple exercises to practice posture.
Fiddling a bit with the shoulder rest as Daisuke excused himself for a second, Kuroo ran through the exercises to get himself acquainted with the feel of the violin under his chin and a bow in his right hand. It was uncomfortable, he noted. His left shoulder wanted to scrunch up towards his face, his left wrist wanted to press towards the neck of the violin, and he couldn’t comfortably hold his bow. For the first time in a while, Kuroo felt out of his element—he felt as though his body couldn’t do what he wanted it to do. He felt awkward and unsure and the back of his neck prickled as he caught other students look his way.
Finally, Daisuke came back. Holding a thin blue book in his hand he explained, “This’ll teach you the basics of reading music. The thickest string on the left is G, followed by D, A, and E. Notes go in order of A through G and it just repeats.” Making sure Kuroo was following along, he continued. “So, If we start on the G string and put a finger down,” he moved over to place Kuroo’s index finger on the first tape, “what note is this?”
“Yup, great. Follow the tapes for where you should put your fingers, I taught you how to tune and you need to study and practice every night so you’ll be able to partially follow along in class.”
Head a little dizzy with the new information but also proud to have understood some of the basics, Kuroo nodded. Daisuke took Kuroo to the back of the group, explained to a student who Kuroo was, then took his place towards the front.
Kuroo’s stand partner was a first year—Hayato. He’d been doing orchestra since middle school, didn’t take private lessons like many of the other students, but enjoyed orchestra enough to continue in high school as a hobby. Although a little awkward, Hayato was patient when giving Kuroo a more detailed explanation of reading music, since six years of piano lessons had completely left him, and set him up with basic exercises.
“You need to make sure your left wrist is down and relaxed,” Hayato said, tapping a pencil to Kuroo’s inner wrist. “Also, your bow grip is atrocious, but that’s one of the hardest things for a beginner.” He showed Kuroo how the bow was supposed to be held, stressing how it should look relaxed and curved.
Making small adjustments while Kuroo shakily moved the bow across the strings, Hayato said, “Sensei will probably have you come during study hall to practice, but you need to practice at home too or Sato-san and the concertmaster will probably chew you out.”
Bow stuttering crookedly across the strings, making Sato tut at him, Kuroo paused. “The concertmaster,” he asked disbelievingly. “What is that?” imagining some despotic conductor in long tuxedo trails and a clipboard.
Laughing at his confusion, Hayato explained. “The concertmaster is the first chair violinist. In orchestra they’re like the leader of the group. They tune the group, come out second to last before the conductor during concerts, make decisions on bowings, and everyone kinda follows their lead.”
Nodding to himself Kuroo said, “Okay, so he’s like,” he trailed off, “the captain of the team?”
“Exactly. Except she’s a third year like you and pretty well known in the music scene in our area, y’know.”
Frowning at his assumption he admitted, “Ah, okay so,” he trailed off, “concertmistress? I play volleyball, I don’t really know music.”
Hayato laughed and Kuroo raised a brow. “I mean obviously—you don’t really look like a violinist.”
Affronted Kuroo said, “Oi, what does that mean?”
“Kuroo-san, you’re like, huge,” Hayato squeaked out.
Trying not to preen, Kuroo waved his hand and turned his head towards the front of the class.
Jouda-sensei stood on her podium and tapped her baton on the raised stand in front of her. “Hi everyone, good to see all of you again. We have a few new faces so make sure to welcome them and help them out. I’m super excited for our potential set list this year, but before I pass out the folders, let’s a hear a few words from our concertmistress!”
With scattered applause and stomping, a girl rose to the podium as Jouda-sensei stepped off. Holding her violin and bow in her left hand she beamed at the class. Briefly introducing herself and sharing her excitement for the year to make music with everyone, Jouda-sensei interrupted her return to her seat.
“For the first rehearsal, how about you formally tune us?” Jouda-sensei offered.
“Aw, no it’s okay—some people are beginners and all the section leaders already took care of it right?”
Next to her, her stand partner threw an eraser at the podium making her scowl. “Just do it, her stand partner complained,” drawing laughter from the class.
Giving her partner the finger, hidden from their sensei’s view, she laughed good naturedly and straightened her shoulders.
All of a sudden, Kuroo noted, the atmosphere in the room changed. Students were no longer whispering to each other, playing random tunes, or shuffling in their seats. Everyone’s eyes were on her at the podium. She offered an open palm and nodded towards the back of the room. A single note penetrated the silence.
She swept her hand towards the back and Kuroo was suddenly flooded with the sound of the deep and rich brass section. After a few seconds, she repeated the process and the woodwind instruments close to Kuroo in the back began to tune.
Hayato leaned towards Kuroo. “Before concerts and rehearsals everyone should’ve tuned beforehand. This more for last minute checks and also a show for the audience. The order and how many sections tune at once is usually decided between the concertmaster and the conductor—Kuroo-san, we’ll tune last.”
Nodding in appreciation, Kuroo turned his attention back to the podium. The woodwinds trailed off and after a beat of silence, she nodded once again for the tuning note to be played and she waved her hand towards the cellos and basses at her right. The gravelly resonance of the strings filled Kuroo with a strange sense of full contentment and marveled at the size of the basses, whose strings seemed to be quadruple the thickness of his own.
Finally, the concertmaster gave one last nod and tucked her violin under her chin. Hearing the drone of the pitch, everyone around Kuroo began to tune. Unsure of what to do, he stumbled to mimic Hayato who was adjusting his tuners. Since Sato Daisuke already tuned his instrument, Kuroo just played open strings and waited for the rest of his section to stop. Glancing to his left at Kuroo’s right hand, Hayato whispered sharply, “Keep your pinky curved!”
After tuning, folders were passed out to each student, filed with sheet music. Hayato organized the sheets on their stand.
“Since you’re on the inside—the left hand side of the stand—your job is to turn my pages,” he explained. “It’ll be good practice to see if you can follow along even if you can’t read, but no worries if you want to spend today just watching and listening.”
Thanking Hayato and teasing when he fumbled in embarrassment, Kuroo spent the rest of class in awe. Although the group was seeing the pieces for the first time, he couldn’t help the goosebumps on his arms as the orchestra came together. Even when he heard Hayato miss a note, noticed when the conductor would glare at a section, or when they had to stop and regroup, listening to individual instruments try come together as one left Kuroo wanting to be a part of it. From the inside, he watched as bows moved in unison and fingers slid up and down the necks of stringed instruments. He was hyper aware of the instruments behind him providing support to the main melody, and leaned towards them to catch their individual parts.
He set his gaze towards the front of the room and watched the concertmaster. Powerful yet graceful, her bow made sure movements across the strings, fingers moving quickly and accurately. Her body swayed with the music and her face, unlike Hayato’s, was not one of extreme concentration. She seemed focused as she watched the conductor and indicated entrances to her section through her body, but despite the multi-tasking, it was clear to Kuroo that she was having fun.
She trusted her section to follow along, for her stand partner to flip the pages at the right times, and for the rest of the orchestra to do their parts. When Jouda-sensei made the class begin again, she would lean towards her stand partner and share whispered giggles and Kuroo caught the glint of shiny pink polish and traced the way her hair fell across her shoulders.
He knew what being a captain was like—he had been captain since he was voted in at the end of his second year and he wondered how long she’d been playing for, how much she practices, and how she encourages her section. He wondered what the differences and similarities were between leading a team and an orchestra were—the differences and similarities between them, even.
At the end of class Kuroo promised to himself to practice a little every day to be able to play with the group and hold his own. For the rest of the school day, he idly hummed the melodies they had played in class and replayed images of bows and hands moving in unison.
In the club room before practice, Kuroo came in with his violin case. Greeting his teammates, he started to change.
Loosening his tie and pulling his sweater over his head, Kuroo heard Lev ask about his case. Swapping his school top for his practice one, Kenma responded.
“Kuroo’s taking orchestra for his arts credit.”
“Why would you take a band credit, you should’ve taken sculpture like I did,” Yamamoto exclaimed proudly.
“Your sculptures were ugly,” Kenma said evenly, over the sounds of his video game.
Before Yamamoto could respond, Fukunaga menacingly shook his water bottle at the two of them causing Kenma to turn his back and hunch defensively over his game.
Narrowing his eyes at Kenma, Yamamoto turned his attention back to Kuroo who was idly flipping through the practice book Daisuke had given him.
“Yeah Kuroo, band classes are so much work when you’ve gotta learn the instrument, why’d you enroll?”
Before Kuroo could respond Yaku jumped to Yamamoto’s side and jabbed him. “Band and orchestra are two different things you uncultured swine!”
Doubled over and grasping his stomach, Yamamoto glared tearfully at his senior, then directed his glare towards Lev who was slapping his knee in laughter.
“Kuroo-san,” Lev shouted, “can you play us something?” he asked excitedly.
Gaining the interest of the rest of the team, everyone crowded around Kuroo, nodding in unison. He rubbed the back of his head in uncertainty.
“I’ve literally just learned how to play. I don’t know if you’d really want me to.”
“We really want you to!” Lev said, encouraging him to open his case.
Begrudgingly, Kuroo went to his violin and briefly explained how to setup and tune, to the amazement of some of his teammates. Even Kenma peered curiously over his video game in the corner. He tucked the instrument under his chin, carefully held his bow and placed the hair on the A string and played. Kuroo focused intently on ensuring that his bow grip was loose, but secure, that his pinky and thumb were curved and that his bow was making straight lines across the string.
As Kuroo looked over to his teammates, he noticed Yaku’s shoulders starting to shake while he pointed a finger at him.
“I-Is that the best you can do?” Yaku nearly screamed, howling in laughter. “You’re not even moving your f-fingers!”
To Kuroo’s embarrassment, the rest of the team tried desperately to hold in their laughter and Lev deadpanned, “That kinda sucked, senpai.”
Stuttering out an indignant scoff, Kuroo’s brow furrowed, “I told you I just learned this today! A-and posture is important you heathens!” shaking his bow at Lev and Yaku.
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I honestly am not a hundred percent sure where this fic had developed from but I thought it was an interesting plot that could have been manipulated many ways. and of course your girl went put smut mode on this one.
That being said, the only warnings I have for you is smut, smut, smut, and some more smut.
Don’t forget to like, repost, comment. You feed back means everything to me and I love seeing what you all like and don't fancy.
Please enjoy and all my love,
I present to you, Escort Harry.
You were sitting at your dinette on the balcony of your penthouse, exceptionally frustrated. Sipping on your now cold coffee and pulling a cigarette from the gold case that was housing it. You lit the end with the matching gold lighter, slamming it on the table as you inhaled the nicotine to calm your nerves. You expelled the smoke from your lungs with an exaggerated sigh before picking up your phone to re-evaluate the email you just received.
You are cordially invited to the annual Forbes fundraiser for young entrepreneurs, blah blah blah…
Being that you own your own major company that has been featured in Forbes, blah blah blah.
We are expecting your attendance along with your plus one…
A plus one…
Well you are fucked now, aren’t you? You couldn’t remember the last time you had a ‘plus one’. You, this woman, fiercely independent, who built a company from the ground up on your own, and now you are expected to have a date to a fundraiser that you are being forced to go to.
You did the only thing you could think of at that moment.
You pull up Claudia’s number in your contacts, closing your silk robe over your nightgown while you put the phone to your ear and inhale the last puff from your cigarette before stamping it out in the marble ashtray.
The phone rings as you walk through the French doors from your balcony into your dining room, taking the last sip of your coffee before placing your mug on the dark mahogany dining room table.
“Hello, Y/N. To what do I owe the pleasure on this lovely morning at, fuck me, five forty?”
“Thank fucking god you’re awake!”
“Well, I wasn’t but —”
“Did you get that Forbes email too?” You put your phone on speaker while you pulled the email up for the millionth time that morning.
“I did,” Claudia said around a yawn.
“What is this shit with a fucking plus one? When has that ever been a requirement for these things?!”
You could hear her rustling around her bed, “I’m sure some man put it together and wanted to make sure everyone and the pope saw his new arm candy.”
“It’s ridiculous! Some of us don’t have time to have a ‘plus one’!” You sat on your suede sectional, curling your bare feet under your bum. Your long haired black cat jumped up and cuddled into your lap, both melting into comfort.
“I lay claim to Derek, he already said he would go with me.”
You began to stroke your cat’s ear, “Yeah well, you’re fucking Derek, so…”
“I can’t help that your assistant is young and hot, chickee. And so fucking good in bed…” Claudia began to stretch, letting out a moan.
“Thanks for that. Now what the hell am I supposed to do?”
“Don’t you have any friends? Second cousins?”
You stopped your petting, your fur baby giving out a little mew in protest, “First of all, ew. No family. Second of all, I don’t have time for friends. I have you because we have worked together for years.” You let out a frustrated sigh and went back to petting the angel on your lap. “What the fuck am I going to do, Claud?”
You could hear Claudia clunking around her kitchen, attempting to make her latte, cursing at her espresso maker. “Why not hire someone?”
You stopped your petting again, Lady getting annoyed and deciding to jump off your lap. “What do you mean, hire someone?”
“You know,” Claudia hissed after burning her tongue on her hot beverage, “like one of those sexy male escorts. You pay them and they are a nice piece of jewelry for the night.”
“Where do you come up with this shit?”
“That old bag that is always at these events, donates a shit ton and then falls asleep halfway through dinner? You know the one.”
You hum in understanding because you do know the one. Her overuse of minks and emeralds at every event, her hackneyed Chanel No. 5. Oh, and her dentures fell into her champagne flute last year. Yeah, that one.
“Do you really think that the strapping young hunk with her is actually her significant other?”
“I thought that it could be her grandson, maybe.”
“Oh hell no! She hired the boy! I hope she got her money’s worth, if you know what I’m saying...”
Claudia began to laugh as you started to make gagging noises. You sat there, thinking of any other option and you really couldn’t think of one.
“Let me do my research and I will email you the links. But babe, relax. We will figure something out, yeah? You can take my little brother if you need to.”
“No offense Claud, but I don’t really want to present to an event with a 17 year old and be labeled a pedophile… Thank you for helping me, truly.”
“Any time, sweets. Now go mastuarbate before you get ready for work. Got a big meeting today and need you to be calm and relaxed for it.”
“See you soon!” Claudia blowing you a kiss over the line before she hangs up.
You walked into your office with your go to Starbucks order in hand. Derek was sitting on the couch that was off to the side of your office, set up as a little meeting area with a set of armchairs and a coffee table in the center. Derek was sipping on his green smoothie and setting up your agenda for the day.
“I don’t know how you drink that shit. You’re basically grazing in the pasture,” as you take another sip of your overpriced corporate beverage.
“It is an energy boosting smoothie, thank you very much. It’s from the local smoothie place around the corner, it’s family owned.”
“Well good for you bud, but for me, it is about convenience and there are at least 50 Starbucks stores from home to here. A beautiful marketing plan if you ask me.” You smiled before taking another sip then placing it in its rightful place on your desk as you sit to turn on your computer and start your day. Derek stands up and places your daily planner in front of you.
“You have that big meeting today with the business partners. Claudia said she will be here in half an hour to help prep. And I have a list of escort services for you.” He had a folder in hand extended towards you.
You peered up at him, “Fucking Claudia.”
He began to smile and give a light chuckle, “Fucking Claudia. She never knows when to keep her mouth shut. There are a few men she had picked out as well, said she ‘knows what you like’. She will email you the links to their profiles.”
And sure enough, you get an email from her with an eggplant emoji as the subject of the email. You quickly exit the email, pulling up the documents you need for the meeting.
After getting home from dealing with arrogant, self centered pricks in meetings all day, you knew you needed to treat yourself to a relaxing bubble bath.
You ignored dinner, going straight to your wine rack and grabbed the first bottle handy. You filled the glass and began sipping at the sweet nectar as you were walking to the master bedroom. You padded your way to the en-suite to begin filling the claw foot bathtub. You added some vanilla rose bath melts and let the aroma fill your lungs before returning back to your bedroom.
You step into your walk-in closest to begin undressing, putting your jewelry in their rightful place and hanging the garments that need to go to the dry cleaners. After stripping, you throw on your silk robe and pull your hair up before walking back to the bathroom. You grab your phone and wine along the way, finding your ‘bubble bath’ playlist, which you connected to the Bluetooth that you had installed in your bathroom.
You put your wine and phone on the shelf next to the tub and hung the silk robe before melting into the warm embrace of the milky water. Lady had hopped up onto the counter to keep you company.
You close your eyes, take a deep breath and lean your head on to the bath pillow before slowly exhaling the air from your lips. You were finally starting to relax when the incessant thought about the fundraiser reared it’s nasty head at the forefront of your mind.
You look to Lady, who is curled up on the sink counter, the sound of Ol’ Blue Eyes lulling her to sleep. You take another deep breath before grabbing your phone and opening up that email.
So, this company seems the most legit and had the best reviews on multiple sites. Overall, had the best looking dudes too. I picked out a few that I thought that you would like, you know, best friends and all. I will only be slightly offended if you don’t pick one of my gentleman callers.
Good luck chickee! xo
You took another sip of wine before opening the links to these ‘gentleman callers’ pages.
Travis; he was cute in a ‘use to be a skater’ kind of way. Had some muscle, a decent smile. Age, 26. Perfect. Height, 5’3”. Well, that won’t work. You close out his link and go to the next one.
Bret; could be a model with the blue eyes, black hair look and a jaw that could cut glass. You sit up slightly, scrolling down further into his profile. Age; 19. Fuck no. You quickly close the link and go to the next one.
You go through a few more and you begin to feel hopeless. They were all good looking but none of them sparked the desire to take them to an event where you will be spending endless hours with them.
You were officially going to give up until you saw that there was only one link left.
Harry; this guy can’t be real. Beautiful green eyes, silky curly hair, a really cute smile with dimples. The perfect amount of muscle. You held your breath as you continued to read his profile.
Age; 24. You could handle that.
Height; 6 foot. Perfect.
Reason why you joined this company; Honestly, I’m getting my masters in business at Columbia University. A scholarship and work study can only pay so much of the tuition. So he is smart and can talk about business if needed.
What can you bring to the table for your date; I’m personable and will make friends with anyone in a room. I’m the perfect date for a work related event because I can talk about anything. If you chose me, I promise, you won’t regret it.
You took the last bit of your wine as your finger hovered over the message icon. “I better not regret this…”
Harry just got home to his rundown studio apartment from his day working in the college library. He threw his backpack on his mismatching dining set before striding into the kitchen to heat up leftover Chinese. He threw the container into the microwave and began to strip on his way to his bed. He pulled on a pair of old grey sweatpants and went back into the kitchen to retrieve his food and a beer.
He climbed into his bed and turned on the TV, throwing on Family Guy before digging into his food. He got up at one point to get his phone that he left in his jacket, where he couldn’t remember where he threw it.
After finding it, he climbs back into bed and continues to stuff his cheeks with lo mein. He unlocks his phone to see he has some texts, a few emails, a bunch of messages on his Tinder app that he has been ignoring and a new message on his work email. Not the library job, but the job that no one knows about.
He gets emails regularly on his work email. Usually older women who want to make a statement at an event. Like “I’m still young. Look at the young man with me.” He doesn’t mind it because they pay a shit ton for him to just sit there and look pretty, but it gets boring. He would rather work overnight at the library and he is pretty sure it is haunted.
He opens the message and he sees your name. He drops his Chinese container into his lap, cursing at the grease stains that are now on his sweats.
He knows you. He knows you very well. He has written multiple research papers on your work, how you built a company on your own. He’s even rubbed one out to you a few times because your so fucking beautiful and unbelievebly smart.
I apologize for how this message reads; I have never done such a thing before.
I have an event for a Forbes fundraiser and we are required to bring a plus one. Unfortunately, I do not have one and need to go to such lengths as to hiring one.
I have read your profile, multiple times if we are being honest, and I feel that you are best suited for the situation.
If you accept my offer, I will pay you handsomely and will schedule you with my tailor to get a suit for the event. Anything involved will be taken care of by me, you will just need to present by my side.
Please let me know if you accept my offer in a timely fashion.
All the best, Y/N Y/L/N
Harry’s mouth was gaping like a fish. You, you, need a date to an event and you asked him. He must be dreaming. He rereads the email a million times and tries to compose himself enough to respond.
It would be an honor to be by your side. Please let me know where I need to be and when and I promise, I will not let you down.
A few moments after sending the email he got notifications of events being added to his calendar. The first thing was his appointment with your tailor tomorrow morning.
Harry was standing outside the tailor’s shop, being a few minutes early and the door was locked. He could hear the clicking of heels and heard a familiar voice. You had presented at Colombia for seminars multiple times, considering it was your Alma Mater. He knew that voice because he attended every seminar that you were a speaker at.
You had your phone in one hand with your designer purse in the crook of the arm that was holding your phone. You had a tray with a few coffees in the other hand. He thought you looked powerful and beautiful in your burgundy blazer with a black tank top tucked into your houndstooth black and white trousers. A gold Gucci belt pulling the whole look together.
You smiled at him as you told whomever you were talking to that you had to go and that you will call them back. He about melted into a puddle when he heard you call his name.
He nodded with a smile while you put your phone in your purse and coordinated the drinks so that you were able to extend a hand to shake Harry’s. Your hand was so soft, he never wanted to let go.
“Thank you for being able to do this so quickly. The event is this weekend and I wanted to make sure that your suit was done in time.” You were smiling at him the whole time, like you have been friends for a lifetime.
“It’s no problem at all.” He smiled back as you took in a good look at him, seeming to be pleased with your choice. He unconsciously stood up straighter and clasped his hands behind his back as you turned to press the buzzer of the store front.
The door unlocked and he quickly grabbed the door to allow you to walk in first, as you gave your thanks. You strutted in like you owned the place and Harry could feel his cock twitch in his jeans watching you own the room.
A beautiful person was standing there waiting for you with gorgeous red flowing hair. They looked angelic with their light and soft features.
“Harris darling, this is Harry. You will be working with him on finding the perfect suit and tailoring it like the artist you are.” You sat on the white sofa, handing out coffees to the people around you, including Harry.
“I didn’t know how you liked your coffee, so I got it black but I have cream and sugar if you need it.” You pulled out the little paper bag the cafe had given you with the coffee fixings from your purse.
“Black is perfect, thank you.”
You smiled up at him as you handed him his coffee, he gladly took a seat next to you as Harris handed the two of you their portfolio.
“These are what I have in the shop now and the fabrics in the back are what I have at home, if you would prefer one of those.”
Harry scooted a little closer to get a better look that you quickly took notice of, so you moved so that the portfolio sat on both of your laps while your thighs touched. Harry’s breath hitched when he felt the contact but quickly brushed it off to continue looking at the beautiful suits.
“Is my dress done by chance? I would love to do the final fitting today as well.”
“Of course. I also have a few ideas of suits for you Harry that would go with the dress. Not so matchy-matchy, but to make sure you don’t clash.”
“Let’s try those, hm?” You looked at Harry with a sweet smile. All he could do was gaulp and nod.
You put the portfolio on the table in front of you before taking your blazer off and laying it delicately on the arm of the couch. You stood up and began to wander around, looking at Harris’ fall collection.
“I can’t wait to see these on the models. Absolutely stunning, Harris.”
“Wouldn’t have been able to do it without you, my love.” You smiled as you continued to explore.
Harry couldn’t take his eyes off you. You were so ethereal in your movements, so effortless. You seemed so gentle and he has only been around you for a few moments. He has always known you as a strong willed, fierce, badass woman. But now, he sees you as delicate porcelain. Not in a way that you could easily be broken, he doesn’t think that could ever be the case. But in the way that you need to be taken care of and adored fondly.
Harry was pulled out of his trance when Harris returned with an armful of suits, calling Harry to the dressing room. Harris helped him with trying them on, all of them being breathtaking.
You had gone into your dressing room with Harris’ assistant helping you put on your gown. You were never one for flash at events, so you asked for a simple black gown with some red detailing, red being your power color. You wore red lipstick or a red pair of heels to every event, so people would be expecting it.
You had walked out as did Harry and he was frozen. The black gown had off the shoulder straps and a sweetheart neckline, showing off your silky decolletage. It had a hip-high slit on your left leg showing off the delicious meat of your thigh, your heels making your legs look even longer. It was form fitting around the torso and hips with the fabric draping beautifully around you, cascading softly around your feet. The bottom of the gown and around the bust was detailed with delicate red stitching, creating a floral design.
And you couldn’t take your eyes off Harry. His suit was the same blood red as your stitching. The floral details of his suit were stitched in black and he had a black button up underneath with the top few buttons undone. Harris had already pinned the suit so it fit him perfectly. His thighs looked strong and thick, his shoulders broad. He was exceptionally handsome.
Harris squealed with how amazing you both looked and you matched without it being obnoxious. Harris walked you to the platform so he could do his final fitting on you. You and Harry couldn’t stop looking at each other in the mirror, the eye contact being strong and unwavering. The only thing that pulled you out of your trance was when Harris called your name to tell you he was done with you.
After getting back into your work clothes, you kissed Harris goodbye and Harry shook their hand. You told Harris that Derek will pick up the garments Saturday morning before the event.
Harry held the door open for you and let you walk on to the sidewalk first. You started pulling out your phone to check it, quickly turning off the screen before looking up at Harry.
“Do you need a ride? I walked here from my office but it isn’t far, I can drop you off.” You stood there waiting for a response and he was taking too long for your taste.
“Well come on then, I’ll take you wherever you need to go.” You started walking with a purpose, pulling out your phone again to give Derek a heads up of your plans. Harry quickly jogged to catch up with you.
“Thank you. Um, could you drop me off at campus?” You looked back up and smiled with a nod.
When you got to the parking garage, you hit your key fob to unlock your car. You had a nice black Audi that you gracefully climbed into. Harry was treating it like a work of fragile art, not wanting to touch anything. You noticed that he was admiring your car, causing you to smile. “Are you a car kind of guy?”
“Um, yeah. I suppose. I know a pretty car when I see one.”
This caused you to giggle. “I may have another event for you then. One of my colleagues has vintage cars that he submits to a car show, he asks me to go every year. Maybe I’ll go if I have you by my side.”
Harry beamed at the idea, “I would like that.”
“It’s in the Hamptons so I would have to steal you for a couple of days. I have a beach house there. That’s if you don’t mind, of course.”
Harry had the opportunity to go to the Hamptons to spend a couple of days with you? How could he say no to that fantasy.
“That sounds great, just tell me when and I’m there.”
You started your drive to Colombia’s campus when you felt the need to talk about the one factor of this you had yet to approach.
“How would you like me to pay you? I can write a check or direct deposit if you would like.” You give a quick glance over to him while at a red light and you see him adjusting in his seat.
“Um, whatever is easier for you.”
“I think it will be more discreet if I direct deposit. I will give you my number and you can text me your bank information. I will be sure to delete it and would never do anything other than deposit money to you.”
He nodded in agreement, not that he was worried that you would take money from him. Not that he had a whole lot of money to his name.
You pulled up next to the campus and asked Harry for his phone to put in your number. “Whenever you get the chance, text me the information.”
“I will, thanks.” He stepped out of the car, slung his backpack over his shoulder and began to walk to campus.
Harry got home and relaxed for a bit, wrapping his head around the day. He got fitted for a gorgeous designer suit, rode in an Audi, and got invited for a long weekend in the Hamptons, all by the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.
He finally sat up and began to dig through his piles of papers on his counter to find his bank information. He quickly texted it to you, double checking the numbers were typed out correctly. He set the phone down and went to hop into the shower.
When he stepped out with a towel around his waist and another in hand roughly drying his hair, he picked up his phone and saw a notification from his bank.
Direct deposit of $5,000.
He stared at the screen for an undetermined amount of time before going to his contacts and calling you.
“Hello, this is Y/N.”
“That is way too much, you don’t have to do that, please just —”
“Harry, it is my money and I do as I please. You are doing me a huge favor and you will be with me for a full evening. Plus, you have to deal with a bunch of assholes, it’s the least I can do. Now, don’t ever question my decisions again, okay? My assistant will drop off your suit on Saturday morning. Please text me your address so he can do so. Have a good rest of your day.”
The line went dead, Harry was still in shock. He has never seen four digits in his bank account before and it happened in the blink of an eye. He decided to text you his address and asked no more questions.
Harry was pulling on the perfectly tailored suit jacket and ran his hand through his hair one last time before spritzing on his cologne when there was a knock on his door. He walked over to open it, seeing a man in a black suit that he has never seen before. The man gave Harry a nod and he began to walk to the stairs. Harry quickly grabbed his keys and phone before following the unnamed, eerily quiet man.
When Harry reached outside, there was a black SUV with dark tinted windows. The uncanny man opened the back door, exposing you looking down at your phone. Harry gasped when you looked up at him, lips painted red, flashing him a dazzling smile.
“Well, don’t you look handsome.” You scooted over so Harry could climb in. He honestly couldn’t help himself, but he had to stare at you. You had your legs crossed, left leg over your right, exposing the full skin of both of your legs due to the slit on the left side. His mouth began to water looking at the soft glow of your legs.
“So, I apologize in advance if some wives try to take you home with them tonight. Those old hags probably haven’t been screwed properly in ages since their husbands waste their viagra on some girls who want their money.”
Harry raised his eyebrows at you with a smile growing across his lips, “Why do I feel like you're not kidding?”
“Oh,” you let out a scoffed laugh, “because I’m not.” You look back up from your phone to gaze at Harry, “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” You send him a wink, causing him to blush.
He beams back at you, “My hero.”
As you enter through the doors of the banquet hall, arm laced through Harry’s, you begin to get the urge for a cigarette.
You see previous partners to your company; ones that moved on to bigger and better things, others who screwed you over and you cut ties with. You see the old men that hit on you and the wives that stare daggers into you. They all told you that you weren’t going to make it and you proved them all wrong. Though some think you did it with a little help from what is between your legs or your harlot red lips.
You really need a cigarette.
You see Claudia standing across the way, holding out two champagne flutes for the both of you. You gently tug Harry with you, taking in how he is observing the room. He has an air of professionalism to him that can only come naturally; he’ll be a great business man.
“Knew you would pick this one! Had to save the best for last.” Claudia handed you both your bubbling spirit and put her hand out for Harry to shake, introducing herself and Derek.
“I need a cigarette and a stronger drink than this to get through the night.” You quickly downed the liquid, placing the glass on a nearby table, excusing yourself to the terrace.
Harry followed you out a few moments later, holding a rocks glass out to you. You smiled up at him reaching for the glass and taking a sip before handing it back to him so you could take a long drag. “Thank you.”
He leaned over the banister of the terrace to look out over the city, taking his own sip where your red lips had left their stain. You found it slightly erotic how he licked his lips after touching your mark, as if he had decided to take his sip at that specific part of the glass on purpose.
“So tell me, shall I be talking you up in there? Should be easy for me.”
You reach for the glass he is rolling between his fingers, taking another sip, “And why is that?”
He took the cigarette from between your fingers, admiring the vibrant stain before placing it between his own lips, slightly squinting his eyes as he took a drag. “I’m quite infatuated with you. I’ve followed your work from the start, wrote some papers on your business plans.”
You raised an eyebrow and watched him, studying his features that softened as the left side of his lip began to upturn, indenting his cheek to an adorable dimple. “To be completely honest? I started to follow you because I was terribly attracted to you. I saw you on the front of a magazine and…” he pursed his lips out with a smirk before he chuckled at himself. He looked up at you with his boyish charm before he stood back up and took his drink from you again.
“Oh, Harry, thought about me when you were lonely?” You gave him a false pout that grew into a smile.
He finished his drink before looking back at you, “Still do.” His smile and eye contact were never wavering as he stamped out your cigarette for you and took your hand to return inside.
Harry guided you to your table, hand on your lower back before pulling out your chair for you. He sat to the left of you next to another gentleman, who you had no idea what his business was. His wife was glaring at you as Harry was talking to the man, though the man was more focused on the cleavage exposed by your dress. Harry reached his hand to you, gripping onto the skin of your exposed thigh.
You could audibly hear the man whimper and his wife scoff as Harry’s thumb began to caress your skin. You could see Claudia’s smile grow as she takes a sip of her drink, watching Harry become possessive of you before her eyes. Derek caught her attention by kissing her cheek as the head speaker began his announcement for awards and donations.
As the night came to an end, you were thankful to have Harry at your side. He was holding his own, taking to other businessmen as if he had been conversing with them his whole life. He was able to talk business plans, discuss what he was currently learning in classes, he even gave a few men advice on future endeavors. To be completely honest, you were aroused by the power Harry held as he was working the room.
Harry had his arm wrapped around your waist as you walked to your awaiting SUV, holding your hand as you climbed in and he followed suit. You let out a content sigh, enjoying the silence in the car.
Harry reached across you, grabbing the back of your knee to pull both legs to rest on his lap. He gently unclasped the buckle of your heel, slowly removing it before placing it on the floor by his feet. He did the same with your other foot and began to rub his thumb up the arches.
You let out a satisfied hum at the pressure soothing your aching feet, resting your head on the window as you watched Harry focused on his work in hand.
“You did amazing tonight, Harry. Thank you.”
He looked up at you with his dimples on display, making the tightness you have felt in your stomach all night constrict even more. He looked proud, as he should.
“It was a lot of fun. Learned a lot.”
You smiled back at him, slowly blinking your eyes closed. “That old colleague I was telling you about with the vintage car show, Jack, he asked if we would like to go. It’s in six weeks if you are interested.”
“I’d love to.”
In the six weeks since the fundraising event, Harry had joined you on multiple smaller level events, including some work dinners and client matters.
His closest had grown exponentially in the six weeks, whether it was a suit for an event that you had purchased for him or he had found something designer he liked and he bought it with the money from his ever growing bank account, thanks to you. He has found pleasure in Gucci, also thanks to you. He has found that the luxuries he now has in his life was all in your taste, subconsciously wanting to please you.
You would comment on his attire he has purchased without your assistance, always beaming when you talk about what line it was from and how well it suited Harry. He loves the feelings he gets when you praise him.
He was packing his bag for the weekend trip to the Hamptons, having just gone shopping for some outfits for the occasion. He had also bought some things to spruce up his studio apartment, making it look more put together and modern rather than a frat boy's bedroom. Your taste even makes its appearance in his decor.
You had knocked on his door, waiting with coffee in hand for the both of you. He opened the door with a wide smile before allowing you to enter the apartment. He had his clothes neatly folded on the bed, waiting to be placed into the leather duffle bag you got him for the occasion, another ‘thank you’ on your part.
You sat on his bed, sipping your coffee while watching him put his toiletries in the matching leather shaving bag, which was also a praise gift. He was dressed in grey sweat shorts and a simple black T-shirt with his short locks held out of his face by a red bandana. He was still barefoot walking around while he was finishing up.
“Do you have the word ‘big’ tattooed on your toe?” Your ever present smile grew as you leaned closer to get a look.
Harry chuckled, scratching his jaw “I may have been drunk and did it myself.”
You shook your head with a giggle of your own before taking another sip of your coffee, leaning back in Harry’s bed.
Harry was trying to will away the semi he was sporting. He had never seen you in lounge clothes and the black leggings you were wearing were doing crazy things to Harry’s body. You were wearing your Columbia Alumni shirt, tied in a knot at the waist to show off the curves of your hips that the leggings were hugging. Your hair was up messily, making Harry want to pull it down from its restraint so that he could muss it up with his own fingers. Your Clubmaster Ray-Bans sat on top of your head and your skin looked fresh and dewy with no makeup on.
Harry took a moment in his kitchen when he was getting his hydro flask to take a breath and squeeze himself through his shorts to take away some of the ache. He’s not sure how he is going to handle a whole weekend if this is what it will be like.
You stopped at a local gas station before leaving the city. Harry offered to fill your tank while you went into the shop to get some snacks for the trip, getting your essential Swedish Fish and Redbull while Harry asked for gummy bears and orange juice.
Harry was already sitting in the passenger seat when you returned, him now having his Wayfarer Ray-Bans on; he only bought them when you said he would look good in them. He was playing on his phone and perked up when you slid in the drivers side.
You handed him his goodies while you promptly opened your bag of candy to set between your thighs and cracked open your can of liquid energy. You began your hour and a half drive to your beach house in the Hamptons. You had your favorite Spotify playlist playing through your speakers, both of you humming along.
“Want some?” Harry looked up at you confused as to what you were talking about. You smiled as you glanced over before returning your gaze to the road. “Some fishies, help yourself.” You nodded down to the bag between your thighs as you took another sip of your drink.
“Thanks.” Harry reached over, dipping his hand between your thighs that you involuntarily widened when his hand approached. He looked up at your face when he slowly dipped his fingers into the bag to grip a few red fish, reaching for the few that were closest to the apex of your thighs. He could feel your heat at his knuckles as he pulled a few gummies out, sticking his tongue out as the candy approached his lips.
You adjusted in your seat, shocked that you were turned on by a man grabbing and eating a candy. Then again, it was Harry. He has been torturing you with his good looks since you clicked on his link.
The ride was uneventful for the rest of the time, Harry watching as expensive homes, luxurious boutiques and restaurants whiz by as you enter the Hamptons and make your way toward the beach.
You pulled up to your beach house, clicking the garage door button on your phone before parking. You grab your trash and put them in the appropriate receptacles that you keep in your garage. Harry was already grabbing your bags out of the car, allowing you to unlock the door freely. You held it open for Harry, stepping into your small mud room, both kicking off your shoes before walking further into the home.
The first view Harry had was of the beach through the windows that filled the wall of your dining room. He walks past the open concept kitchen to go straight to the windows, watching the waves crash on the shore. You open the french doors that lead to your back porch that has stairs that lead down to the sandy beach. You let some fresh air waft in as you go to the kitchen to take stock of what you need to go shopping for.
Harry was still standing at the window with both your bags in hand before you went over to rub his back and grab your bag.
“Come on, I’ll show you your room.” You guide Harry past your open living room to the stairs, leading him up and to the right. “This will be your room. You’ll have your own bathroom and there should be fresh towels in there for you. I’ll be right down the hall if you need anything. I’m going to hop in the shower.”
Harry watched as you walked away, seeing you pull off your T-shirt as you were shutting your bedroom door, briefly exposing your black bralette. Harry ran his hand down his face, feeling the pulse return to his groin. He quickly shut and locked the door before situating himself on his bed, promptly pushing his shorts and briefs down his thighs, reaching for the high end lotion you placed by the bed for guests.
Harry had taken his own shower after relieving himself after he made a proper mess on his thighs and hand. He climbed down the stairs to the smell of curry and Elton John playing through the speakers.
“Figured we should eat a proper meal since we haven’t yet today, so I ordered some Thai.”
You both sat on your back porch, enjoying the view as you ate your take out. You chatted about the next day, telling Harry about the car show and what to expect when it comes to Jack.
“He's like that eccentric drunk uncle at the Christmas party that you love but don’t want to deal with.”
You enjoyed each other’s company, watching the sun start to set on the horizon before calling it a night and turning in.
After waking up from a restful sleep, Harry got dressed in his running shorts and hoodie, throwing on his running shoes before walking to your room to let you know he was going to go for a run along the beach.
Your door was cracked open slightly, Harry able to see you laying on your bed. He stepped closer to the door, about to push the door open further when he heard an ever present whimper. He wasn’t sure if the noise was due to your sleep, but his question was answered when he looked at you in your detail.
Your legs were spread open, two fingers deep to the knuckle as you were laid open on your comforter. You were pumping into yourself as you had your other hand up under your sleep shirt, groping your breast and rolling your nipple between your fingers.
Harry thought he was dreaming, seeing the delicious sight in front of him. Harry couldn’t help himself but to dip his hand in his shorts to start palming his hardening member. Your whimpers going straight to his cock, the arch of your spine off your bed making his mouth water.
You looked over at your door, eyes barely open, pausing your movements briefly when you saw Harry in the crack of the door. Your eyes trail to see him pumping his hand in his shorts, thinking that you should give him a good show.
He didn’t notice that you had seen him but he did notice that your legs had spread further as you pulled your glistening fingers out of your core to rub them on your clit, causing you to moan louder. You pulled your shirt up completely to expose yourself fully to Harry, all without him knowing that you were aware of his wandering eyes.
Having him watch you work yourself got you to your brink. Your eyes were glued to his pumping which was now frantic, causing you to lose control, snapping your legs shut around your hand as you came undone. You could hear Harry attempt to muffle his grunt as he made a mess of his shorts, causing a blissful smile to grow across your swollen lips. You gently rolled your fingers around your clit, spreading your legs again for Harry to watch as you ease yourself down from your high.
The next time you looked at your door, Harry was gone.
You got out of bed with an annoyed huff, getting a shower before wrapping yourself in your robe to head downstairs to make coffee and a quick breakfast. You grabbed your plate of eggs and toast with your coffee and cigarettes, stepping out on your back porch to enjoy the air while trying to calm your aggravation.
You don’t know why you are annoyed with Harry not making a move on you while you were self pleasing, but you were. You wanted that to be the moment to break down the walls built by the pure sexual tension between you. You knew he wanted you, he had told you he had touched himself to you, and now, you had seen him touch himself to you. You were on the brink of sinking on your knees and pulling him out to prove how much you wanted him too.
Harry climbed up the stairs, all sweaty from his run as you were finishing up your cigarette. He could sense the irritation coming off of you but he wasn’t sure why. Maybe you had caught him and you weren’t happy about it. He would just die if that was the case. He sat down in the chair that wasn’t taken over by your resting feet. He noticed that you were only picking at your breakfast as he untied his shoes and kicked them off so as to not trail any sand inside. He leaned back in his seat, taking a deep breath before pulling his hoodie off, T-shirt coming off with it.
You couldn’t help your mouth watering seeing him now topless and glistening with sweat, watching his chest rise and fall while trying to catch his breath. You sat up and ripped a piece of toast before popping it in your mouth, now refusing to look at him.
“Have a nice run?” You continued to poke at your eggs, acting like you're eating them but you are just trying to occupy your eyes.
“Yeah, it was nice. Been a while since I ran on a beach.”
You hummed at his response before standing up and grabbing your things. “We will be leaving in an hour, Jack wants us to meet him at the country club before the car show.”
Harry nodded at you but you promptly walked inside, ignoring his reply before dropping your dishes in the sink and going to your room to get ready.
You knew you were being petty. You knew that he couldn’t read your mind but god you wished he could. You were just finishing your hair when you heard a knock on your bedroom door. You walked over to see Harry clad in red and white gingham trousers and a white button up with the sleeves rolled up, just sheer enough to make the outlines of his black ink. His hair was perfectly slicked back with a few curls having some definition to them. He had a look of cowardice as he tucked his hands in the pockets of his trousers.
“Looking handsome, as always.” He gave you a soft smile at the compliment before fully taking you in. You were in a white knee length sundress that had big roses printed on the fabric. Your one shoulder strap annoyingly falling down, which Harry promptly grazed his fingers against your skin to slide the strap into place.
Harry’s gaze raked back up your frame before looking you in your eyes, “You ready?”
You nodded at him, grabbing your Michael Kors wedges off your bed before walking out of your room ahead of Harry. You made your way to the mud room to switch your purses and to sit on the bench to slip on your shoes.
Harry grabbed your shoes for you, kneeling in front of you, gingerly wrapping his fingers around your ankle to slide your foot into the wedge, pulling the zipper up at the heel. He had done the same to your other foot, this time watching you watch him. He gently placed your foot to the floor before standing up straight and putting his hand out for you to help you up before walking to your car.
The car ride was silent, omitting the random questions Harry had regarding the country club and Jack. You adjusted your sunglasses after you had parked, reaching into the back seat to grab your bag. You were about to climb out but Harry gripped your wrist, pausing your motions.
“Y/N…” you looked at him as he had reached to push your sunglasses off your face to look you directly in the eyes. “I’m sorry about this morning, when I saw you. I should have left you in private but I just couldn’t help myself. I needed to see you, need to see you like that. If it ruined any type of relationship we may have, I thoroughly apologize. You should know that I never meant to invade your privacy but… fuck, I just can’t help myself with you. My body takes over when it comes to you and I am so sorry. Please, forgive me?”
You sat there in silence, trying not to smile at how cute Harry was. He was giving you the puppy eyes as his thumb ran over your wrist in gentle circles. You were pondering on how you should approach it; Do you tell him it was no problem? Ignore it and act like nothing happened? Or…
“I only got off because I saw you pump your cock watching me.” You leaned over to kiss his cheek before stepping out of the car to the entrance of the country club.
Jack loved Harry. They were chatting it up outside, Jack with a cigar in his mouth and Harry with his mimosa in hand. You were ordering you both another one when Jack’s wife, Sharon, approached you at the bar.
“He’s a looker, sweetheart.” You smiled at her before telling her honestly how you met. Jack and Sharon were always supportive of you. You had been Jack’s intern at his company when you were in undergrad, Jack promptly hiring you when you were getting your masters. He taught you everything you knew and Sharon taught you how to enjoy the finer things in life, including Harry.
“Cut the shit with the escort thing and make him your man. He’s a looker, he’s smart. Jack already adores him and is calling him son. You know how hard it is to please that man.”
You looked back to Harry and Jack, both laughing at one of their dad jokes. Harry looked up to see you looking at him, smiling and twiddling his fingers in a wave. He finished his drink, prompting him and Jack to walk back inside to you girls.
Harry had adjusted the strap of your dress that fell down again and you were handing him a new mimosa, sipping out of your own glass. Harry placed his hand on your lower back, watching you as you engage in the conversation Jack and Sharon were having.
An announcement was made that the fairway was now open for guests to look at the cars. Jack quickly downed his drink before exiting like a kid being allowed free range of a candy store. Sharon promptly followed her husband as Harry guided you to follow, grazing his hand down to your bum to give it a soft rub and light tap.
Harry followed Jack around as he was explaining to Harry all the ins and outs of all the vintage cars on show. What gave them value, their rarity, what he likes and dislikes of each car. Sharon and you following behind, enjoying the sun and the wine slushies you had grabbed from a vendor.
Harry took a particular interest in a white 1966 Mercedes-Benz 230SL, stalking around it to take in the details. He smiled to the owner when they came over to talk to Harry, showing the car with the roof down.
“He’s got good taste. He’s enamored by you and the car.” Jack elbowed your shoulder, causing the strap of your dress to fall again. You looked at him as you adjusted the dress with a smile.
“How can you tell?”
“Well, I can tell he loves the car because that’s how he looks at you, doll.”
You look back to Harry, who is now sitting in the driver's seat, running his hands along the steering wheel. Harry shakes hands with the driver before walking back over to you, grabbing your slushie to take a drink himself.
You look up at him, pushing your sunglasses into your hair to take him in fully. “You like?”
Harry put his hand on your hip, taking another sip of the slushie. “She is a beauty. My dad has something similar but not as pristine.” He looked back over his shoulder to look at the car as his hand continued to rub at your hip.
“She is pretty. Looks like a pearl.” You looked over his shoulder with him to take her in.
Harry kissed the top of your head, handing back your drink before going to follow Jack and Sharon as you sneak off to talk to the owner.
You enjoyed your dinner with Jack and Sharon, catching up on your businesses as well as discussed Harry’s future plans. Jack had offered Harry an intern position at his company if Harry was interested.
Jack and Sharon wished you and Harry a good night before you went your separate ways to your cars. Sharon gave you an extra squeeze and told you to “be nice to that boy”, sending you a wink.
You climb into your car to see Harry beaming. “I think they liked me.”
You smiled back at him, “I know they like you. Wouldn't stop coming up to me to tell me how i should keep you around.”
Harry was leaning his head on the headrest to look at you, “Do you want to keep me around?”
“Should I keep you around?” You started your car and began to drive away, Harry still watching your every move. You could see him in the corner of your eye, both of your smiles growing. His hand made its way to your thigh, pushing your skirt up so that his hand could rest on your bare skin. You hummed at the warmth of his palm.
“So you liked when I was watching you?” His hand began to slide further up your dress and your legs had spread further for him, as they tend to do more frequently than not as of late.
“I loved it.”
He hummed at your response, “Do you like being caught? Dirty girl.”
You moaned and moved your left leg so Harry could touch every inch of you, you lifted the skirt of your dress to expose your lace covered core to Harry.
“Want me to finger fuck you here, dirty girl? Right in your car, while you're driving? You’re fucking filthy.”
He started to run his fingers through your folds and you tried your hardest to focus on the road. You weren’t far from your home at this point, trying to stay safe while focusing on Harry’s delicious fingers learning the dips and curves of your core.
“Should I wait to fuck you properly when we get home? Been thinking about it all day.” He unbuckled his seatbelt to get closer to you to nose at your neck. He started to dip his fingers into you as he was kissing any exposed skin.
You finally made it home, abruptly parking your car in the driveway. You undid your seatbelt, promptly taking Harry’s hand that was between your legs to plunge his fingers deeper into you. Your head tipped back as Harry’s fingers hit your favorite spot. Harry quickly made the come hither motion, rubbing his fingertips where you needed him.
“God baby… you’re my dirty girl, huh? Fucking yourself with my fingers.” Your grip tightened around his wrist as he nipped at your jaw. Your thighs began to tighten around Harry’s hand which caused him to remove himself from you. You let out a whine at the empty feeling and the pure desire that was burning in you.
You turn to Harry with lust filled eyes to see him shamelessly suck on each finger that was buried in you individually. “Going to give me a proper taste later. Aren’t you, sweet girl?”
Harry had climbed out of the car, grabbing the keys from you to unlock the door. He began to unbutton his shirt in the mud room as he was kicking off his shoes, you watched with a panting breath, still in the front seat of your car. Harry tucked his hands in the pockets of his trousers, bare chested, and gave you a nod to follow him inside.
When you finally entered your house, Harry was in the kitchen with his head in the refrigerator. He pulled out the container of strawberries and slid them onto the island. He closed the door before turning to lean on the island, popping the container open with a flick of his finger. He grazed the tips of his fingers across each strawberry, deciding which one was the juiciest berry.
“Go get in your shower. I will be there in a moment.” He gripped the stem of the red fruit, tongue grazing it’s flesh before he sunk his teeth in. He made sure to look at you as he licked his lips free of the sweet juice.
You thought that two could play at this game, standing in place as you unzipped your dress and letting it fall freely around your ankles, exposing you in your strapless bra and panties with your wedges still on before climbing up the stairs. Harry stood up straight as you began to walk away.
You quickly undressed as you started your shower, getting under the warm stream while patiently waiting. The anticipation was killing you. It felt like you had been standing under the running water for hours with Harry nowhere to be found. You decided that you would actually start your shower routine.
You were facing the water, rinsing off your face free of makeup and face wash when you felt Harry’s grip on the back of your neck. He pressed his body close to yours so that you could feel his erection on your bum and so that his mouth had access to your ear.
“What am I to do with you, filthy girl? Spent months thinking of you with your legs spread open, just for me and then you have to go and fuck yourself with not only your fingers, but mine as well.”
He used his left hand to guide yours to the wall for support while his right hand trailed down your body, immediately finding purchase between your legs. His middle finger was quick with making circles around your sensitive nub while he laced his fingers with yours against the wall.
“Dreamt about touching you,” his fingers dipped lower, grazing your glistening entrance. “Tasting you,” he began to pepper kisses along your shoulder. “Fucking you.” He thrusted his hips behind you, his hard on grazing perfectly between your cheeks.
“I’ve wanted to for so long my sweet girl, just know that it’s because I want this, not because of the job. Fuck the job honestly. I just want you, all of you.”
He gave a gentle push to your upper spine to have you lean over slightly as he grips his member, swiftly sliding himself into you and quickly gaining a rhythm with his thrusts. He was quick but not deep, causing you to press your cheek to the cold time for support. His thrusts became deeper and rougher, causing your gentle whimpers to become moans that bounced against the tiles.
Harry gripped your thigh, pulling it to spread you open further while he guided you to rest your foot on the bench of the shower. His moans were muffled by your shoulder that would have his mark by the end of this. Harry’s hand continued to rub circles on your clit, making your legs tremble and for your to lean back upright into Harry.
“Feel good baby? Fuck, you’re such a good girl taking me. Feel so fucking good.”
You could feel his hips stutter against you, causing him to roll his hips slowly into you. You let out a moan and grip the wrist of his hand that is making work on your mound.
“Mmm you like that? Going to cum for me, sweet girl? Let me feel you.” His fingers started to move in rapid figure eights, causing your leg that was propped up to quickly fall and close Harry’s hand between your thighs. The new tightness of your core with your legs closed caused Harry to moan out and still within you, feeling your orgasm throb around him.
He began to kiss down your spine so he could be on his knees. He gently gripped your hip to turn you around so you could finally face him. He looked beautiful.
As he was kissing your lower belly, you took in his wet hair slicked back, his cheeks and chest flush from orgasm, his lips red and swollen. He used both hands to spread your thighs open so that he could see his cum drip from your core. He looked up at you in awe before quickly running his finger through your folds, catching both his and your arousal. He extended his hand up to you, telling you to ‘open’ before he popped his slick finger between your lips. He let you suck his finger to your desire as he dipped his tongue between your folds, moaning at the taste of your mixture.
Harry had stood up and held your jaw before leaning in for your first kiss. He was gentle, holding both sides of your jaw as his tongue grazed your lip to allow him to taste all of you. He pressed you gently against the cool wall as he continued to kiss you breathless before pulling away and grabbing the shampoo to wash your hair for you.
It had been a few weeks and you had finally received the call telling you that you could pick up a gift that you had purchased for Harry. You had bought it prior to him giving you the good news that he had accepted the internship with Jack, but he doesn’t need to know that.
You called him and told him that you were on your way to pick him up with the plan to go for a celebratory dinner. You texted him when you were out front, climbing out of Harry’s gift to lean on the passenger door to await his arrival.
When he walked out, you beamed at how handsome he looked with chartreuse wide legged trousers with a black stripe along the side and a black button up. When he turned to look at you, he was frozen.
The white 1966 Mercedes-Benz 230SL.
You lifted your hands with a ‘surprise’ and a beaming smile. You acted as if you were one of those girls on the Price is Right, explaining all the details, ending with “And she could be all yours Mr. Styles, for the price of a kiss.”
Harry climbed down the front stairs of his apartment building, still in awe of the car but quickly grabbed your face and placed multiple quick kisses to your lips before wrapping his arms around you.
“Sweet girl, you didn’t…”
“You stop. I did and I wanted to, you deserve it. You’ve been working so hard and you got the internship with Jack. We’ll be working together before you know it.”
He looked down at you and gave you a gentle smile before giving you another longer, sweeter kiss. “Shall we go for a ride?” You held the keys up for Harry, who promptly took them before opening the passenger door for you.
Harry drove around the city, following your directions to a more secluded area by a park. The sun was setting as you told Harry to park the car. You looked at him adoringly, your fingers rubbing through his growing locks.
Harry turned to look at you with that all knowing glare, “Did you bring me all the way out here just to screw me, dirty girl?”
You were already climbing across the seat to straddle his lap, unzipping the front of your dress, exposing you had nothing on underneath. You pulled Harry’s head back by tugging at his hair to look up at you. “We need to break her in, don't we?”
Harry groaned before sitting up to give you a searing kiss, his hands trailing over your exposed skin as you were kissing the skin of his jaw and neck. “We could get caught, you know?”
You pulled away, looking down upon him with a devious smirk, you began to undo his belt and zip of his trousers. “Good.”
Harry let out a moan as you dipped his hand in his trousers, pumping him lightly before pulling him out.
“Fucking filthy girl.”
Harry was being added to all the invitations to your work events as if he were a part of you. At this point, he was. Claudia being sure that everyone knew that Harry was an up and coming businessman who was in love with New York’s finest and most beautiful businesswoman.
And everyone adored Harry. How could they not? He was charming, handsome, smart, and an amazing lover. But people didn’t need to know the last part. Well, except maybe Claudia, she was your best friend.
Harry was just as adventurous as you when it came to your intimacy. Always suggesting new things to try, always feeding your hunger. Tonight was no different.
You both had played with the idea of fooling around at a public event but never made any formal agreement. Tonight, you were invited to a gala at the Guggenheim so Harry had used it as an opportunity to fulfill your fantasy.
Harry had stopped by Harris’ to pick up both of your garments and he also stopped at Eve’s Garden on his way to your home. Harry had walked into your penthouse with the garment bags and a little black plastic bag in hand.
You were in your en-suite finishing up your bath, putting lotion on while sitting on the edge of your tub, humming along to Etta James as Lady was curled up on your vanity, licking her paw. She chirped when she saw Harry in the doorway, slinking her way to him for some loving pets.
“Hello, my sweet girls.” You beam up at Harry, rubbing the last of your lotion into your hands before standing up to give Harry a saccharine kiss, also giving Lady a pet. She would never forgive you if you didn’t.
“Thank you for picking up my dress, handsome.”
“Of course, my love. I picked up a little something else.” Harry gave you a small smirk before turning to your room, you follow suit. Harry sat on your bed, patting his lap for you to sit on.
He pulled black bag out from behind him as you sat in his lap. He handed you the bag, undoing your robe to kiss the skin of your collar. You pulled out the vibrant cube box that was nondescript. You rotated it in your hands to try to figure out what it was.
“Open it.” Harry continued to kiss your skin, opening your robe more to expose your chest to him. You opened the box to see a vibrator, a We-Vibe specifically. The box began to vibrate without you touching anything, Harry pulling his lips off your skin to show you that he is controlling it with his phone.
You let out a laugh in disbelief, “Oh, baby.”
Harry smiled at you before getting a good grip of you to lay you on the bed. “I figured we could have a little fun tonight.”
You laid on your back and spread your legs for Harry, who settled on his knees between yours. Harry had pulled the vibrator out of the box, going to the bathroom to sanitize it like the gentleman he is. He made eye contact with you on his way back to you, sucking on the vibrator as he crawled back up the bed.
He shamelessly rolled it against his tongue as his free hand ran up your inner thigh. Harry pulled the vibrator out of his mouth, hollowing his cheeks to spit on the tip of the vibrator before running it through your folds. He gently pushed it into you, watching you as you take a quick inhale.
“You okay, sweet girl?” You gave him a small nod before grabbing his hand to help him adjust it to a more comfortable position within you. Harry rubbed the tops of your thighs before leaning forward to give you a gentle kiss. “Let's get ready, hm?”
You both got up to get ready, you waddling slightly as you walked to your closet, adjusting to exciting new object between your legs. You let out a squeal when you felt it begin to vibrate.
“Just testing it!”
Dinner was really rough on you, Harry having his phone permanently attached to his hand under the table. You were starting to get sweaty around your hairline and upper lip trying to keep your moans at bay.
You were reapplying your signature lipstick after finishing dinner and Harry took it as an opportune moment to give you a pulsing vibrate, causing you to give a light moan as your mouth was open and your hand holding your mirror fell to the table soundly. Claudia, Derek, Jack, and Sharon all look at you as Harry tries to hold back his smile, clearing his throat and rubbing his two fingers on the tip of his nose.
“Are you alright, chickee?”
You also cleared your throat and nodded as you felt the intensity between your legs increase and the pulsing become more frequent. You closed your eyes and let out a hum, gently rubbing your lips together before suggesting you go to the bathroom, giving Harry’s thigh a squeeze.
You made your way out of the dining area, Harry quick to follow, telling your friends that he was simply checking up on you. You heard the click of his boots on the marbled floor, the vibrations being between your legs making your knees buckle as you feel Harry’s grip on your bicep to pull you in his direction.
He pulled you into a more private area that was closest to where you were, which happened to be a coat closet. He smeared his lips against yours, smudging your scarlet lips. Harry’s hand was quick to run up your skirt to pull the toy from you, promptly placing it between his lips to suck off your juices before sticking it in his inner jacket pocket.
Harry fell to his knees before you, hiking up your skirt around your waist, gripping your hands to guide you to hold the skirt up for him.
“You’ve been such a good girl for me tonight baby.” He was kissing along your thighs, “Stayed nice and quiet for me, though I hate it. Need to hear you scream for me now, darling.” Harry lifted your leg so it rested on his shoulder while his hands pinned you against the wall.
You felt his fingers tighten around your hips as his nose rubbed against your mound, pecking kisses, occasionally giving your skin a soft lick. You moan softly and look down to see Harry already peering up at you through his long lashes. “Going to need you to be louder than that, sweet girl.”
Harry sat up on his hunches to pull himself out of the restraints of his designer trousers. He lifted his palm up to you, “Spit.”
You gladly spit in his palm before he started to stroke himself, letting an unashamed moan out of the back of his throat. “Been so fucking hard for you all night. Was palming myself under the table all through dinner.”
You spread your legs further as Harry scooted closer, returning to giving you gentle kisses to your mound and lips. You could feel his moans against your skin as he was pumping himself and spreading you open with his tongue.
Your head tipped back as Harry began to dip his tongue into you, gently sucking your lips and clit individually into his mouth. You continue to let out tiny mewls, and Harry needed more.
“Louder, dirty girl. I want them to hear you in the dining room.”
“I need you to fuck me if you want me to do that, baby.”
Harry quickly removed your thigh from his shoulder and climbed to his feet. He still had a grip on your thigh, slinging it over his hip so he could simply slide into you, which was easy to do with how slick you had become from Harry’s incessant teasing all night.
You both moaned out at the feeling, finally having you full of him, just what you needed. What you both needed. You let out a loud moan when Harry started thrusting his hips into you, begging for him to go harder as you dug your nails into his suit jacket. You quickly pushed it off of him so that you could get your nails into him properly.
“Fucking hell, my dirty girl really needs me, huh?”
You nodded at him, letting out another moan that caused Harry’s hips to thrust erratically. His hand gripped your ass to pull you closer, his other hand went to your jaw, his thumb running over your ruby lips, smearing the color.
“You look so good when I fuck you baby girl.” You licked his thumb, tasting the remnants of your lipstick. You grind your hips against Harry, egging him on.
“I need you harder.” You begin to lift your other leg to wrap around Harry’s waist, him gripping your thigh and pinning your harder to the wall with his hips. He took your direction and began to thrust into you harder, hips snapping at a feverish pace. The sound of your skin slapping and your strangled moans sent Harry into overdrive, using his pubic mound to grind perfectly into your clit causing you to gush slightly around Harry’s member.
“Fuck, dirty girl. Got you squirting on me.” The look on Harry’s face was a look of awe as well as pained trying to hold back from his own orgasm. Your thighs clamped around his waist as your second wave came over you, constricting Harry causing him to come undone. Harry’s hand flew up to the wall to support the two of you as you slowly came down.
Harry kissed your cheek and jaw mumbling how perfect you are and that he loves you over and over. You grip his jaw as you unhook your ankles to plant yourself to the floor. Kissing him and praising how good he treats you, how much you love him.
“We should probably get back, hm?”
“I think that since we are both a proper mess,” he tried to remove some of your smeared lipstick with no luck, smiling down at you, “we should probably just head home.”
“So what happened with you and Harry last night?” Claudia had asked you as you were both eating your salads from Derek’s go-to local bistro.
“Hm? Oh, I wasn’t feeling well so he just took me home.”
“Not feeling well as in, ‘tummy not well’, or ‘he fucked you so good in the coat closet that you couldn’t walk’ not well?”
You choked on your salad, taking quick sips from your water to clear your throat.
“He said he wanted everyone to hear you and boy did we!” Claudia began to laugh, taking another bit of food and giving you a cheeky smile as you blushed.
“I wanted to check up on you, as girls do, and the next thing I know, I have my ear pressed up to the coat closet getting turned on by Harry’s dirty talk to you.” She shrugged it off as nothing as you covered your face in embarrassment.
“You told me you both are adventurous but lord have mercy. Getting everyone hot and bothered by it.”
You finally loosened up, giggling slightly as you asked her, “Did you notice how I was off throughout the night?” She nodded as she licked the piece of green hanging out of her mouth to guide it where it belonged.
“Harry got us one of those remote vibrators…”
“Oh my god! He was fucking with you all night?! I would take him in the coat closet too! Fucking hell! That’s so hot though. Was it nice? I mean clearly, but would you do it again?”
As you were about to respond, Jack walked in with Harry beside him. He looked so handsome when dressed in a more casual suit for work. His hair was growing longer and he was too lazy to shave that morning at your place before work, so he had a slight scruff to him.
“To what do we own the pleasure of you fine gentleman?” Harry winked at your cheeky remark.
“Well sweetheart, wanted you to be the first to know. Harry has accepted a position at my company and would like to discuss a business proposition with you.”
You couldn’t help but to jump up to your feet to run over and give him a hug and kiss, doing the same to Jack.
You clear your throat to appear to be more professional, which no one in the room took seriously. “So what is this business proposition that you have for me?”
Harry cleared his throat and you didn’t realize that Derek and Sharon had also made their way into your office. Harry tucked his hands in his pockets, getting a nod of approval from Jack.
“I know that our start was quite unorthodox in nature, being as you had hired me as a date to an event. That being said, I have come to learn a lot more about you than I had when I was just a simple fangirl of yours.”
You giggle at his natural joking nature but know that there is true sentiment to his words.
“I have been utterly in love with you before we even met but being with you and getting to truly know you has cemented my thoughts and feelings for you. I know that we have been official for less than a year but I don’t think I could handle another moment of my life where I can’t say that we will be each other's forever.”
You could hear Claudia and Sharon squeak and gasp as Harry pulls his hands out of his pockets, his left one holding a small velvet box.
“Y/N, my love, my sweet girl. I promise to love you and take care of you for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?”
You were beaming with your eyes brimmed with tears, sniffling with a giggle. “There is only one problem.” Everyone froze in their movements, anticipating what you will say next. “I get to keep taking care of you.”
Harry let out the breath he was holding, “Fair enough.” He reached for your left hand to place the perfect engagement ring on your finger. Standing up to give you the most perfect kiss from the most perfect man. And to think that you had ordered him online.
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Negar Arjmand's family initially had reservations about her choice of sport but have since come around to the idea (Mohammad Hashemi/MEE) On a chilly day in early January, two dozen female ice hockey players train at Iran’s only standard-sized ice rink, in Tehran’s northwestern outskirts.
A team of judges, including assistant coach Azam Sanaei, watch attentively as players perform on the rink, competing for a spot in the first Iranian women's national ice hockey squad.
The hopefuls are in their twenties and thirties and count among their number some of the country’s best athletes on ice.
Nevertheless, the standards they must meet are stringent, with physical fitness tests designed to filter out all but the elite.
“We’ve never seen everyone so filled with passion and enthusiasm during training before,” says Sanaei, 31, who also serves as the captain of the team. On offer is a spot in the squad that will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Challenge Cup of Asia, which was scheduled to be held in the Philippines in May but has been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Onlookers watch on as hopefuls shuttle up and down the 60-metre-long rink, trying to make the required six lengths within a standard time, some crashing into the billboards enclosing the rink in exhaustion. Teammates on the sides shout and bang their hockey sticks on the ice in support.
The squad will eventually be made up of 20 players, of whom six have already been chosen. In competitive matches, six players from the team take to the rink, including a goaltender, two defensive players and three forwards.
Members of the Iranian women's ice hockey team pose with hopefuls trying to make the cut (Mohammad Hashemi/MEE)
For those who make the cut, the struggle has just begun. For all their efforts on the ice, women’s ice hockey remains a sport that has yet to make an impact among everyday Iranians and sponsors, whether the state or private backers, are in short supply.
Iran only joined the International Ice Hockey Federation as an associate member in 2019, more than a century after the sporting body was established, and only after the opening of Tehran’s privately owned ice rink.
According to the IIHF, there are 103 female ice hockey players in Iran, just slightly more than the 100 male players on its books.
Transitioning from inline hockey
Many on the women’s team first cut their teeth in Iran’s inline hockey scene, including their captain Sanaei, who transitioned to ice hockey after starting in competitive inline hockey in 2005. She says that despite this change in environment, the team is showing glimmers of hope on ice.
“The pace of improvement in our training is very promising in light of the fact that ice hockey is totally new to us,” says Sanaei, who is also studying for an MBA at Tehran University.
Inline hockey, unlike ice hockey, is played on hard surfaces instead of an ice rink, and ice skates are replaced by inline skates. The two sports are otherwise similar, with minor differences in regulations.
The players come from across Iran and have different class backgrounds, but most face a shared struggle in trying to win recognition from their families and wider society.
A case in point is 26-year-old Negar Arjmand, who joined Iran’s women inline hockey national team in 2015, later participating in tournaments in South Korea and Italy as a defensive player.
A physical education graduate, Arjmand teaches skating to make ends meet and fund her hockey career. She has even set her eyes on emulating her hero, Russian NHL star Alexander Ovechkin, by attracting the attention of foreign clubs.
Negar Arjmand's family initially had reservations about her choice of sport but have since come around to the idea (Mohammad Hashemi/MEE)
Arjmand’s parents, both accomplished artists, suffer from polio, and her father especially was opposed to her choice of sport. He saw little in the way of financial remuneration and, perhaps due to his own physical condition, feared hockey would result in permanent injury for his daughter. There was also the issue of marriage and the concern that the sport would distract Arjmand from starting a family.
It was her performances, and a third-place finish in inline hockey at the 2018 Asian Games in South Korea in particular, that calmed the tensions and earned her family’s approval, as well that of the rest of the country, eventually.
“My parents were not in favour of this sport. Still, they didn’t want to prevent me from pursuing my interests,” Arjmand says.
“I think in their heart they saw me as an active person who could do extraordinary things. I believe that gave me the strength to continue.”
Asian Roller Championships
Maral Rasekhi, the team’s most senior player, says the team’s performances in South Korea in 2018 were a turning point.
The team went in as rank underdogs, but came out with a reputation as giant-killers, ending the tournament with a bronze medal.
Iran's third-place finish at the 2018 Asian Roller Championships included a 4-2 upset win over hosts South Korea (Courtesy: Iran national team)
“Our third game was against South Korea, the host nation, and a team we thought were invincible,” Rasekhi says. “They had come to the rink with the sole purpose of thrashing us but we beat them four goals to two.”
She calls the moment “an extraordinary feat that became an over-the-moon moment”.
Rasekhi began skating at the age of seven and overcame personal tragedy in the form of her father’s death when she was 10 to become a professional inline hockey player aged 19, making history as the first Iranian woman to play for a foreign club, in Hong Kong.
She credits her mother's and sister’s support for her success, as well as the mentorship of Kaveh Sedghi, the head coach of both the male and female national inline hockey teams - someone the players credit with doing more for the sport in Iran than any other person.
The culmination of those efforts was the 2018 Asian Games, where as well as the women's bronze medal, the Iranian men’s team took home the gold.
The response in Iran on the team’s return following the performance was modest. Heads only began to turn after the release of a documentary two years later about the squad's exploits in South Korea by filmmaker Sam Kalantari, called No Place for Angels.
Following the release, Iran’s female hockey stars became a source of pride for the country, drawing celebrity endorsements, including from actors such as Niki Karimi, Roya Nonahali and Behnaz Jafari, in addition to exuberant local media coverage.
Kalantari follows the players and their coaching staff, including their much-loved French coach Marina Fagoaga Jalinier, as they attempt to raise enough money to get to the tournament, and their eventual run to the semi-finals.
Captain Azam Sanaei says: “The main message of this documentary for women is to not give up hope in the face of obstacles.”
Azam Sanaei briefs players trying to join the Iranian women's hockey team in September 2020 (Courtesy: Iran national team)
In one scene, Sanaei talks about how hockey has become a symbol of independence for the women on the squad.
“From early childhood, it was really important for me that no one would tell me that I could not do something because I was a girl,” she says.
“I don’t need somebody to stand behind me to be successful. Instead, I believe not only in not relying on anybody else but also in lending my support to other people, allowing them to rely on me.”
Neither the film nor the team’s performance in 2018 changed the fact that major obstacles remain when it comes to women’s participation in sport in Iran.
Of 153 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index for 2020, Iran ranks 148th. The state has barred female spectators from watching live sports in stadiums for around four decades, competitors must cover their hair during sporting events even outside of Iran and TV channels do not broadcast sports featuring female participants. Additionally, issues such as women riding bicycles continue to court controversy, and athletes are among other personalities defecting from the country over its dress requirements, as well as other policies.
Nevertheless, Sanaei is keen to caution against painting a bleak picture of the situation when it comes to hockey.
“I believe our problems have nothing to do with our gender, at least in our field of sport. Others in different countries might have the same problems,” she says.
“In my opinion, if we are determined to reach our goals we could remove any barrier. Where there's a will, there's a way.”
Neither can responsibility for all the obstacles Iran’s athletes face be placed at the feet of the Iranian authorities.
Sanctions reinstated on Iran by the Trump administration have led to a devaluation of the Iranian rial against foreign currencies, such as the dollar and euro, meaning the price of hockey equipment, made up mostly of foreign brands, has risen drastically.
Azam Sanaei is optimistic about the future of women's hockey in Iran (Mohammad Hashemi/MEE)
For example, a single ice hockey stick may cost up to $350 (about 77m rials) - the equivalent of two months' salary for an ordinary Iranian. Around three years ago, the price was 15m rials. Hockey skates can sell for anything between $500 and $1,200 a pair.
The financial situation also means that what funding authorities may have provided is being diverted towards more pressing needs.
In the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic has also created physical barriers, which have made it difficult for the team to practice - leaving coach Fagoaga, who is currently in France, to relay long-distance orders to Sanaei.
All of that does little to dull Sanaei's or her teammates' optimism for the future of hockey in Iran.
“I think today there are roughly between 300 and 400 people who play hockey in Iran and I believe this field, especially ice hockey, will have a very bright future for women,” Sanaei says.
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since you mentioned that you used to identify as conservative, i was wondering if you could tell us more about how your political views changed over time and what created that shift for you
Sure! Get ready for a long post...
My parents are conservative, so growing up that was the initial worldview I adopted. It was the upper-middle class flavor of conservatism, which was characteristic of the area I grew up in. Everything revolved around lowering taxes and reducing the government’s size. The 2008 recession happened while I was in middle school and I remember vividly liking Mitt Romney when he ran against Obama in 2012. Sheesh. Perhaps the least coherent part of my “ideology” was my atheism that was spurred by growing up Catholic.
But I always loved discussing politics and learning more about it. I prided myself on being open-minded and willing to have hard conversations with my liberal-minded classmates (there weren’t many). Looking back, I now see how my education did us no justice on “social” issues. This was noteworthy because my liberal friends would bring up topics like abortion and gay marriage and I genuinely had only minimal awareness of them. I think about it now and recall rationalizing my views on those issues around conservatism. That is, I identified so deeply and confidently as “conservative” that I shaped any future issue around the ideology.
It’s hard to identify a distinct turning point, but things certainly changed right after high school ended. The summer before I started college, I discovered an important part of my identity - being gay. I think this, paired with my atheism, forced me to think about other issues differently. Being a gay atheist, I began to look at institutions (religion and marriage) critically, especially once I started college.
I started school as a psychology major and later graduated with my degree in it. Learning how people think and behave was fascinating. I learned about how culture plays into our American inclination towards individualism. I learned about child development and why I so easily adopted the conservative views of my parents. I also learned about social psychology and how issues like racism and sexism are learned through socialization throughout our lives. I learned about pseudoscience and how people can manipulate ideas to make them sound legitimate even though they’re completely BS. I learned about how our emotional state can make us vulnerable to psychological manipulation. I learned about drugs and the impact on the brain. Psychology also taught me how to think critically, formulate arguments, and to appreciate empirical evidence above all else. Note: I recommend this fascinating field to anyone who’s undecided about where to start their college education.
But like most college students, I also took some “general education” classes. While most students hate this requirement, it allowed me to fall in love with fields I never knew existed - political science, and sociology (I later added sociology as a second major and political science as a minor). Sociology is all about understanding institutions and how they impact our lives. My Sociology of Religions class confirmed much of what I assumed growing up - that religion is a tool to control the masses. It fascinated me, so I wanted to learn more about other issues. Broadly, sociology taught me to think about issues on a societal and global scale; to look at issues of crime and poverty, for example, not as individual anomalies but as systemic social problems.
At the same time, political science rounded out my understanding of government, ideology, history, and international politics. By the time I took a bulk of these classes, what I was studying was merely a confirmation of what sociology and psychology already taught me. That’s not a bad thing, it’s actually quite good. When fields independently draw the same conclusions, you have converging evidence that makes the case, whatever it is, much stronger. The bottom line was that there are no social vs. economic issues, like I used to think in high school. Every issue can be traced to economic hardship and most are interconnected. The conservative approach has been tried and has miserably failed. Neoliberalism is the current norm but even that is disastrous.
I think the irony of the situation was how I always prided myself on being open-minded, even during high school years. That open-mindedness was arguably what caused me to rethink my entire worldview and eventually abandoned my disastrous conservatism. I’m incredibly happy with the change.
One final, and crucial, factor that influenced my views was the 2016 election, the primaries for which started during my freshman year. As I was learning much of what I just mentioned, I got to know Bernie Sanders. Bernie truly set my leftist transformation into action. I came of age just in time to vote for him. He even won my state primary in an upset against HRC. I not only had a new worldview, but I felt inspired that I could make a tangible difference to address the many issues I learned about.
I could go on about this, but the period of my life I just described was the most significant in shaping the views I have today. Anything else was minor, in comparison. I strongly recommend studying psychology, sociology, and/or political science whether you’re in school or not. Lmk if you want any recommendations!
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Why the USSR had collapsed while PRC not only lives, but can potentially rival USA? Is there some difference in geography and natural resourses? Did Russia have some unique issues China lacks? Or was Mao just plain better leader than Stalin?
That is a....very complicated question, like you are basically asking something that would require a massive book as an answer, and I am not an expert on either the Soviet Union and the PRC (I studied Imperial China). Like this is beyond a Phd question, this is a full on a whole series of academic journeys involving dozens of experts in both fields). I have some ideas but don't take anything I say as authoritative, this is my speculation on some possible reasons.
Firstly, geographical answer. Ever since China became China, its more often than not been among the greatest and most powerful nations in the world. For a wide variety of reasons ranging from population numbers, natural resources, geographic placement, established history, and cultural reasons, China is more often than not a powerful centralized stable government. Meanwhile for its own complicated reasons, Russian goverment are often very unstable, partly due to size, partly due to population distribution, partly due to just the sheer difficulty of the weather. So you could make the argument that this has less to do with different styles of communism and more to do with Russian vs. Chinese governments generally, its a lot easier to run China than Russia
(The counter argument to that is that China was the victim of over 110 years of colonialism when it got independent which is not true of Russia)
Secondly is the US. The Soviet Union from the start was basically seen as public enemy number 1 by a lot of the major capitalist powers, and so once they win their brutal civil war, they are immediately facing threats from France, Britain , Japan, Germany and of course the United States. This doesn't excuse the really shitty Soviet Leaders ship that dominated the first few decades of its existence, but a big part of the problems facing them was the fact that they had to build a new country after a civil war with enemies everywhere. The PRC by contrast, started its existence with the Soviet Union as their ally and support, which helped them in those critical early months of its existence, as well as other international communist countries. Also while the US was 100% hostile to the PRC, it never focused on the PRC as its top priority. In fact, in the 70s, the US supported the PRC in opposition to the USSR, this is called the Sino-Soviet Split. So the PRC never faces an opponent as dedicated as the US was during the Cold War, and that allows them a lot of freedom that the Soviets never get.
Thirdly, and tied to the second is the culture as isolationism. Between the American hostility and Stalins own paranoid brutal dictatorship, the Soviet Union becomes a very isolationist country very quickly, which really limits it ability to function. The PRC starts with that, but upon Mao's death and the overthrow of the Gang of Four, China very quickly becomes MUCH integrated with the global economy which provides it with far more stability. It also prevents any of the really powerful countries from wanting to fuck with them, meanwhile the Soviet Union turns inwards and that really limits their power as a nation.
Fourth, is war. After their victory in the Russian Civil War, the Soviet Union gets itself involved in what on its own would be the largest war in Human history, the Eastern Front in WWII against the Nazis (Called the Great Patriotic War in Russia). In that war the Soviet Union losses somewhere between 26 million to 35 million people (some people even say 42 million) which regardless of the number....thats a lot. And I wasn't even counting wounded and people who just left during that war. So the Soviet Union has this massive demographic economic crisis which yes they survive, but it really devastates the nation, in some way Russia today hasn't survived from the damage of the Nazi invasion. And while it wasn't nearly as much of a demographic crisis, the invasion of Afghanistan was an economic and military disaster on the part of the Soviets.
The PRC meanwhile has been...pretty leery of fighting wars. They only had one major war since their independence in 1949, which was the Korean War, and all of the other war (Sino Soviet Wars, the Invasion of Vietnam, the war with India), but none of those wars involve battles on major parts of Chinese soil and none of them were huge nightmarish losses. And China hasn't fought a war since 1979, Wars tend to be really bad for a nation unless its an overwhelming victory. So The PRC did really well not getting involved in major conflicts. In fact until recently, they weren't even that involved in major military spending, certainly not the arms race with the US that so hurt the Soviet Union. The soviets spent billions if not Trillions on supporting various communist regimes abroad as a way of fighting the US, and the PRC just...doesn't really do that.
Fifth, after Mao dies, the PRC...basically abandons any attempt to really push communism as an ideology. Now the downside of this is that the PRC has basically abandoned any real attempt to improve the quality of life for its people via goverment means and is less a communist dictatorship than a mercantilist/capitalist dictatorship. On the other hand, it means the regime is less....offensive to the west than the Soviet Union was, and its economic policies, while immoral, aren't destabilizing the way that full embrace of communism tends to be.
Sixth, they have the example of the Soviet Union to learn from. The PRC made a bunch of changes after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Tiananmen Square Massacre, basically looking at what brought down the Soviet Union and going "ok, don't let this happen here".
Seventh, the PRC hasn't had a massive economic crash the way the Soviets regularly did, in fact their economy is linked so strongly with the US economy that it means the most powerful economic super power in the world is at least partially invested in propping up the Chinese economy which really helps as far as stability goes
Eight, the PRC leadership culture seems a lot less...toxic than the Soviet. Now that does not mean that they aren't a bunch of brutal authoritarian monsters who regularly murder their allies regularly purge their own party, as far as we can tell (maybe when more records are declassified) but it doesn't seem to have the absoultely murder spree that the Soviet Leadership was into, which might have to do with the legacy of Stalin or the weirdness of the Cultural Revolution and how it brought the leadership cadre together, or maybe just some difference in how the parties were formed, but the CCP doesn't seem to be quite as willing to murder the inner circle (as far as I know)
Finally, and this is a minor point, but the PRC seems to be a lot more content with indirect colonialism outside its own borders rather than the sort of open colonization that the Soviet Union got into. The Warsaw Pact was in my mind, a major weakness of the Soviet Union because it was a constant source of instability and a rallying point for anti communists. The PRC is doing its own version of colonialism (Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, possibly Taiwan soon) as well as the standard neo Colonialism playbook in Africa, but because its either directed at groups who China has "traditionally" oppressed or is oppressing the same people in the same way as the west (Africa) it doesn't relaly provoke the same outrage (its unfair I know) the way that the Soviet occupation of all of Eastern and most of Central Europe did.
That is not a definitive list and again do not take this as absolute, but those are some theories on why the PRC is doing so much better than the Soviet Union, though lets recall, the PRC is a dictatorship. Dictatorships have a habit of seemingly doing well and then suddenly collapsing.
For the record btw, I don't think Mao was a better leader than Stalin, I think they were both pretty bad in different ways.
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Okay, let’s talk about Beth.
I think the fandom tends to forget how fucking young she is.
Beth got pregnant with Summer when she was seventeen. Canonically, Summer is seventeen. That means Beth can’t be more than 35 in the pilot. At the risk of sounding like an old fart: dude, she’s just a baby.
Let’s see what we can infer from this information.
Did you guys know that the prerequisites for veterinary school and medical school are pretty much identical? Basically, it’s four years of undergraduate biology and chemistry, with maybe some math and physics thrown in for fun.
With this in mind, ti’s likely that Beth still planned to go to medical school after she had Summer. We know that Summer is Beth’s favorite child (Morty’s Mindblowers). On top of that, there’s evidence to support that Beth had a pretty big hand in raising baby Summer, while Jerry may have had more of an influence on Morty. Remember this little exchange in Raising Gazorpazorp?
Morty: What do I do if it cries?
Beth: Then you put it down and let it cry itself out.
Jerry: Yeah, right, we tried that technique on Summer, and she's gonna end up stripping, isn't she? Yes, she is. She's gonna strip for attention because she was denied it.
Beth: Stop filling it with your own insecurity! You're gonna turn it into Morty -- uh, mm -- more -- more of you!
This suggests that Beth kept baby Summer at hime during the day while Jerry worked. It’s easy to imagine Beth taking night classes as the local university, studying like mad to keep a competitive GPA, and justifying her indifference to Summer as “good parenting.”
Beth has Morty when she’s about twenty. This falls a little into headcnon territory, but I think that Beth was a year ahead if her peers academically and probably started college at seventeen. Based on this headcanon, I’m going to say she’s a junior in when Morty is born.
I think the show makes it pretty obvious that Morty is a mistake. If you really want to get dark, I kind of like the idea of Jerry sabotaging Beth’s birth control in order to get her pregnant because he’s resentful fo her desire for a career in medicine. He sees it as abandonment or some shit, and he also can’t handle the ego-blow of his wife being a doctor. But that’s just a personal theory. Regardless, I think it’s clear that Beth Smith didn’t want to be saddled with another kid.
She probably didn’t want to be saddled with the first.
Making it through medical school with a toddler is a fucking challenge. Making it through medical school with a toddler and a baby, with a husband who is nebulously supportive at best; well, Beth is a smart woman. She knows an impossibility when she sees one.
Beth is twenty years old, and her dreams have been shattered by her husband and children. I’m sure Jerry makes her feel pretty guilty about how much their family would sacrifice if she continued to pursue her goal of being a surgeon.
Four years, Beth, and the five more years of residency! And you’re talking about fellowship after that! The kids would be teenagers! And how are we going to pay the bills??
Beth settles on vet school for several reasons. First of all - and you better believe she tells Jerry this - what the hell is she going to do with a bachelor’s degree in biology? Teach high school? Even Jerry knows that’s off the table.
But Beth’s already got the prerequisites for acceptance into vet school. Unlike medicine, there’s no residency required to practice as a vet, just four years of graduate study. Some of that is clinical rotations, a much better schedule for balancing family life and academics. Beth tells herself that being a vet is the same as being a doctor; after all, humans are just primates. Besides, there are less than one tenth as many vet schools as there are med schools in the United Staes - it’s just as competitive, more competitive, vein, to become a vet than it is to become a doctor. Sure, she’ll take a pay cut, but she’ll rack up considerably less debt in the process.
Beth convinces herself that it will all balance out in the end.
She’s a competitive student with a stellar GPA. At barely 22 years old, Beth is accepted into one of the top veterinary promos in the nations, no problem. Jerry pretends to be proud. They don’t even have to move far from Muskegon, but Jerry takes a lower paying position that allows him to take care of the kids while Beth attends class.
Summer is five years old and startlingly independent. Already, she despises her father. Jerry tells himself that he’s always wanted a son anyway. Morty is young and impressionable, and Beth is never around.
“It’s just you and me, buddy!”
Beth finishes school in four years. She’s 26, Summer is nine, and Morty is five. She takes a job in a clinic, and for a while, things are okay.
But when she turns 29, something inside Beth snaps. Her twenties are gone. Here she is, mindlessly writing antibiotic orders and spaying cats. Summer is a preteen, Morty is whatever he is. Jerry got a promotion at work, despite his useless civics degree? And Beth?
Beth is bored.
She briefly entertains the idea of returning to medical school, but dismisses it instantly. Her classmates would be so much younger. They’d find out about her background as a vet and they’d laugh at her. Jerry would whine incessantly. It feels too much like starting over.
So, again, Beth settles for the next best thing.
“I’ve applied for a residency program,” she tells Jerry one evening over a glass of wine.
Three years, she promises. Three years, and then I’m done for good. Equine Surgery, she gushes to Jerry. It’s prestigious, the highest paying specialty in veterinary medicine!
“We’ll have to move!” Jerry protests. Beth justifies it by saying that the salary for horse surgeons is highest in the northeast.
It’s surgery, she tells herself. It’s what you’ve always wanted to do. Horses are big mammals, just like humans are big mammals.
They move to Washington. Jerry takes yet another pay cut. Beth is 30. Summer is 13. Morty is nine.
Washington State’s equine surgery residency is tough. Beth is challenged. She wakes int he wee hours of the morning and falls into bed, exhausted, in the wee hours of the night.
And for the first time in years, Beth feels alive.
Rick shows up on the doorstep on Morty’s thirteenth birthday. It’s a day of dual-celebration. Morty is finally a teenager, and Beth is finally finished with school.
Beth already feels like she’s in mourning. She’s 33, and she’s at the peak of her career (you’ll never be smarter than you are in this moment, her favorite mentor had reminded her the day before boards). She starts a job and the horse hospital next week. She’s signed a contract, already received her hefty sign-on bonus.
Then Dad shows up, and all of Beth’s accomplishments fall hollow from her lips.
She thought he was dead, for christssake.
She introduces Rick to her family: Jerry, her loser husband (cringe, cringe, cringe); Summer, basic teenage bitch (does poorly in school because the would rather be popular than smart); Morty, the fuckup with some learning disability that Beth had never bothered to pay attention to (the real reason that I never lived up to the potential you saw in me, Dad).
It’s enough to drive any woman to drink.
I don’t think I’m too far off the mark here. Beth is so tetchy and self-conscious about her job because she’s relatively new at it - remember the “we’re losing him!” scene in the pilot? She’s incredibly resentful fo Jerry, for all of the reasons. Summer is her favorite child because Beth spent more time with Summer when she was a baby, and she is independent and self motivated - traits that Beth values. She regards Morty with vague disdain, to the point that she hardly remembers his existence, because she was absent for the majority of his childhood. Beth view Morty as “Jerry’s child,” and Summer as hers.
(Quick headcanon that Beth thinks of Morty as looking like Jerry, which just adds to her aversion, when actually, he looks a lot like young Rick. Beth has no way of knowing this, though, because there are no photos of kid Rick Sanchez).
I don’t mean for this post to sound sympathetic toward Jerry, because I’m really not. He’s a hot mess, too. I just wanted to flesh out Beth a little bit, and maybe justify Rick’s choice to clone her. Beth is young; she still has a whole life to live, and she never got the chance to be the woman she wanted to be, or the mom that her kids deserved.
Rick chose to give her the opportunity to succeed at both.
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University tips for Freshers from a final-year student
1. Don’t study the course material the summer before the course start date
I’ve known so many well intentioned students to do this (including myself!), but it is a fruitless enterprise that ends up wasting precious relaxation time. For a start, lecturers and course coordinators are constantly changing the material that ends up on the exam year upon year, and so in most instances students end up studying subjects with little or no current relevance for the course they are about to embark upon. Furthermore, course prospectus’ are infamously vague, and on more than one occasion I have studied material based upon the course plan that has no relevance whatsoever! University is stressful no matter what year you are entering, and as a first year you may be facing many other new experiences, such as living on your own, being independent and self-sustaining, that bring challenges and difficulties of their own. So don’t spend the summer stressing; use it as a reset point to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed upon that first week of university, so you can face up to those changes! If you want to be proactive but not waste your time, I suggest looking at the reading lists for each course, and lightly looking over any topics that peak your interest. From my experience, reading lists are much less likely to change year to year, and can provide interesting background information for your course- but keep the stress to a minimum!
2. Try not to party too much in Fresher’s week!
This one is so tempting to do, but there’s a few reasons why this isn’t a good idea! First off, fresher’s weeks or ‘Fresher’s festivals’ are often very overpriced and aimed at getting naive students to spend as much of that new student loan as they can before they realise how expensive food shopping and laundry is (tip; it can get very pricey!). Also, in most universities, and definitely in my case, important orientation lectures are held where attendance is mandatory on that first week of term, and it is vital you attend. In the case of science students such as myself, this includes proper usage of microscopes, lab safety protocols, grading schemes and how markings work, your tutorial assignment and can even be work due the next week! I know you might be thinking ‘I’ve heard all this in A-levels’, but universities operate to a different calibration entirely; marking is ranked on percentages rather than a curve, there are no As and Bs, and lab protocols are ALOT stricter. You are working in a higher academic environment, and as such higher academic conduct is expected of you! And this does not just apply to science students; those studying classical subjects will have specific referencing lessons (science students also have this, but only use the Harvard format), new academic writing styles, research methods etc. With all this important information, you don’t want to be hungover or worse miss the orientation and start off on the wrong foot. But if you’re worrying that not going out every night will mean you won’t make friends, don’t fret; most students, including myself, made friends with those on their course after a few months, or through living arrangements. Freshers is by no means your only chance to make friends, there are plenty of opportunities at university to do that, and after a couple of weeks you’ll find great mates!
3. Wait a bit before buying all those expensive textbooks
I’ve been guilty of this, every single year! The fact is, you don’t need every single item on the reading list, and this can even rack up to hundreds of pounds! You can find out which books you might need to buy in the first few weeks of your course, depending on library availability, how much your lecturer relies on the text for course support and content, and your personal ability in the course. Books that are in high demand at the library and the ones you can never seem to get hold off you may need to pay for, but if the book is available the majority of the time you can often rent for weeks on end, and just renew the rent when the time is up. In that case, there is no reason to buy your own copy if the library has enough to sustain demand. In the case of course content and lecturers, the reliance on the textbooks recommended varies greatly; in one course the textbook didn’t feel necessary whatsoever, in another it was a great supporting body that followed the course accurately, and other times the lecturers had used the entire information within the textbook AS their lecture content. It is only when the textbook can be utilised as supporting information that it can elevate your study, otherwise it can be irrelevant or the exact information you just heard in your lecture. Get used to each teaching style in those first few weeks, and make an informed decision whether the information required by the textbook is already fulfilled, irrelevant or would prove to be an excellent resource. Furthermore, textbooks are dense in information, but lacking in higher qualities of information that can push your grade into those top marks, so adjust your need for the textbook according to ability. If you are excelling at a certain course, the information a textbook can provide will be too basic and I would encourage you to push yourself to reading academic journals and papers to earn those top-tier marks. However, if you are really struggling with a course, stick to the basics and give a good thorough read of the textbook; it is unlikely you will understand those higher materials without at least understanding the basics, and you can still get a good grade without reading those complex sources. Both of these scenarios occurred to me in second-year; I bought textbooks for both microbiology and molecular biology, and while I found my microbiology textbook too basic and looked to higher scientific journals, the molecular biology textbook turned out to be a godsend! Everyone has different natural abilities, so I suggest to adjust your study to those needs, and your wallet will thank you in the process!
4. Find a method of note-taking that works FOR YOU
I’ve seen so many peers struggling because they just haven’t found the right form of note-taking for them, and instead follow a method that most do which I highly discourage! The method in question is where the student preemptively downloads the lecture PowerPoint, and makes notes in the space below of details the lecturer may mention. Now, this method works great if you are really on top of your note-taking and have a lot of extra time, but there’s a few reasons why I don’t recommend it. First off, by only making notes on those specific details students often miss the main body of text that acts as the core material, and as such must complete this mass of information at a later date. From my experience, students don’t have the time to do this and as such the material never becomes completed, leaving notes weeks or even months behind. Another method is handwriting. EVERYTHING. While I do agree that you remember more when you are handwriting notes (because it takes longer), this is way too time consuming and results in the same backlog of the previous methods, where your notes are always constantly behind on the lecture material. What I would recommend is a note methodology that incorporates both handwriting and typing up lecture notes, in a way that is not time-consuming. My own personal method utilises a Cornell template, whereby I copy and paste or type up the main body of text from the lecture the night before, and handwrite details of what the lecturer is saying in the columns. If you have the extra time, try reading through the lecture the night before also, and thinking of questions you have for the lecturer about any information you don’t understand. There are multiple iterations of this that I’ve seen, such as using post-its or writing on typed lecture notes, but all the most efficient in terms of time and memory utilise both typing and handwriting. That way you avoid that nasty note backlog, and can experiment with structures and templates that work with your study style. So don’t follow the crowd, and find a method that works best for you!
5. Have Fun!
University is a life-altering experience where most find their independence, and make friends for life. Whilst you should study hard and invest in your future, I wish I had told myself to go easier in my first year; you can still get a First whilst having fun, and you’re only going to have this period of your life for a few short years before you enter the world of work, so enjoy it! Study should never be your entire life, and those rest days are just as important, so try not to overdo your first year and just focus on enjoying that university experience; you’ll have plenty of time for study and stress in those second and third years! (Trust me...)
Note from the author: I hope this article helped to quell some of those fresher nerves, and gives advice I wish I had known in my first year! Comment below if you’re a second or third year with your advice for freshers, and new students feel free to comment with your hopes for the new academic year! I wish you love and luck!
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When I Have You - Chapter 21
Read on Fanfiction.net or ao3 if you’d prefer!
I run an Instagram account for this fic called whenihaveyou.romione if you’re interested.
“Ron, are you okay? You’re staring.”
“You’re staring at me.”
“Oh, right. Yeah, I’m okay… sorry.” Ron grinned at her. “I just think you’re really beautiful when you’re all serious and do all that official stuff, you know?”
Hermione went very red, shooting an apologetic look towards the amused witch sitting across from them. Then she returned her gaze to the pile of papers in front of her and cleared her throat. “Yes, well, we need to do this now.” She passed Ron one of the official-looking papers. Ron didn’t miss the small smile she tried to hide as she did so.
Not at all sorry about his lapse in concentration, Ron drew the parchment towards him and scanned it quickly. He took out his wand and brought the tip of his parchment to it, but didn’t bind the contract.
“So,” he said, “I just bind my name to the contract and this place —” he gestured around the small flat where they now sat, “— is ours?” He’d never had to deal with this before, and honestly, he was just as confused about everything as he was about using the microwave at the Grangers’ place.
“That’s correct,” the witch said, now looking at Ron with a keen interest. “For fifteen Galleons a week.”
“And if we choose to move out —”
“Just do it, Ron!” Hermione said irritably. “You’re stalling.”
“I’m just making sure everything is in order,” Ron muttered, though he tapped the contract with his wand and watched as his name appeared underneath Hermione’s. He passed the parchment back to the owner of the flat.
She studied it with interest. “Huh,” she said, “who would have thought that I’d receive an application for my old little flat from two heroes of the wizarding world.”
“Yeah, well, don’t go telling people that,” Ron said. “And, Hermione here is really good at protective enchantments, so even if you did, they wouldn’t be able to find it.”
“Ron!” Hermione exclaimed, shooting the witch another apologetic look. “If you read the contract —”
“It’s fine, it’s fine,” the witch said, Vanishing the contract they’d both agreed to. “Of course, by signing it, there are privacy enchantments locked into it. Then, of course, I will always protect people who rent from me, regardless of who you are.”
“So, it’s ours now, then?” Ron asked, looking around the small living area. It wasn’t much — a tiny living room, an even smaller kitchen, with a single bedroom and bathroom off to the side — but it was perfect for them. Not to mention that if they needed anything, they simply had to go downstairs and they’d be in Diagon Alley. No Floo travel, no Apparating, or anything.
“Yes,” the witch said. “All yours, so long as you pay —”
“Yeah, yeah, the money,” Ron said.
Hermione glared at him.
“Speaking of, I do require a down payment of fifteen Galleons now, to secure the contract.”
Ron, who’d been warned of this prior to coming, extracted a small pouch containing fifteen Galleons from his pocket. He grinned as he passed it over to the witch. He only felt satisfaction at parting with it, knowing that it was his first major contribution as an adult earning his own money. Sure, he’d bought himself some new clothes and could now afford to take Hermione out, but this was theirs. Their own place, for which he was fully independent in paying for.
“I’ve never seen anyone look so pleased with handing their gold over to me,” the witch commented.
“Lucky you’ve got us then, eh?” Ron said. Hermione shook her head.
“Well,” the witch said, standing up, “here are your keys. Though, the place can also be accessed via spells if you so wish. You’ll just need to set them.” She smiled. “Enjoy. If you have any issues, owl me, and I’ll respond within two days.”
“And if it’s a leaking pipe?” Ron asked.
“You have a wand, do you not?”
Ron considered her tone highly rude, but chose to ignore it, along with Hermione’s laugh.
“Enjoy,” the witch said, and she left, leaving Ron and Hermione alone in the flat — their flat.
A silence ensued — one of the many, peaceful, and pleasant silences that had come to be a part of their relationship; a time for at least Ron to consider just how happy he was with the turn his life had taken after the war.
“We should celebrate tonight,” Hermione said after a moment. “You and me. We have Diagon Alley at our disposal, let’s not waste it.”
Ron looked at her, a smile playing at his lips. “You mean to say, you want to celebrate us moving in together by going out?”
“Well, we don’t have to go out. We can always stay in, and —”
“I’ve learnt to be an alright cook,” Ron said. “Since living with Harry. We both have.”
“Well, that makes one of us,” Hermione said. “Never had the desire to learn…”
“Well, you’re lucky you have me!” Ron said, beaming. “We can have a nice night in, in our new place. And I’ll cook for you. I’m not fantastic, but I’m sure I can get something together. Then maybe afterwards we could go down to the ice-cream place and — I love you.”
Hermione was looking at him with such a tender expression, apparently from his offer to cook for her, that the words — as they always did in a moment like this — slipped out. She had that effect on him. Just like earlier, when they’d been discussing the contract, she had been so serious and so focused that he hadn’t been able to stop himself from staring at her. He couldn’t believe he’d made it over a year with her, in a post-war world that was still trying to find its feet again. Sometimes, it was still hard to believe that they could be doing something as simple as finding a place together, when just over a year ago, he believed they were all going to die.
His words seemed to snap her out of some reverie. Her eyes regained focus and she looked up at him.
Ron smiled at her. “You alright there?”
“Yes,” she said. “Yes, I’m perfectly fine. More than fine, actually.” She shuffled towards him, allowing Ron to gather her in his arms. He held her tightly. “I love you, too,” she added a moment later, almost as an afterthought.
Ron laughed. “Come on,” he said after a moment, pulling away from her. “We should probably go and get our stuff. Though, we don’t need much, do we?” The flat had come fully furnished, apart from their personal belongings.
“No, we don’t,” Hermione said, frowning suddenly at the ugly sofa they were sitting on. “Though, Isadora did say that if we wanted our own things, we just had to contact her and she’d remove these ones for us.”
“Yes, but we don’t have our own things, do we?” Ron said. “I mean, most of the stuff at Grimmauld Place — including the bed I sleep in — belongs to Harry. And the stuff at your place is yours parents, isn’t it?”
Hermione looked up at him, thoughtful. He could tell an idea was forming in her head, and for once, he could guess what it was.
“We’ll have to make do with it for the meantime,” Ron said. “Maybe one day we can buy our own furniture. I had a look at that bed in there —” he pointed towards the bedroom, “— and it doesn’t look very comfortable, so that’ll be the first to go.”
She smiled, taking his hand, and they made their way down from the flat and onto Diagon Alley. “You surprise me, Ron,” she said once they reached the busy street.
“You’ve said that before,” Ron replied. “I amaze you, I surprise you, I impress you…”
“Well, you do.”
“In a good way this time, I hope.”
“Of course. Always in a good way.”
“So, what amazing thing have I done this time to surprise you?” Ron asked with a smile.
“Just that once upon a time ago, I had serious doubts that you could ever be so thoughtful, so caring… so affectionate…”
“You were looking at me all wrong,” Ron told her. “Besides, back then, I was not only younger, but I had no idea how to approach things with you. I had no idea, at sixteen years old, how to say ‘Hermione, I know we’re friends, but I really like you in a more-than-friends kind of way’. Nor did I have the confidence to do it, even if I had known how. But I always cared about you, and Merlin, I always thought about you.”
Hermione raised her eyebrow at him, to which Ron added, with a smirk, “Not even going to deny it, Hermione. There’s no point. That time between the end of sixth year, and Harry arriving before the wedding and Horcruxes… that time when it was just you and me, I had many thoughts about you — some innocent, like wondering what you would do if I just kissed you there and then. Other times, I got a little carried away with my imagination, and it ran a little wild.”
“Charming, Ron,” Hermione said, though she was smiling and looking rather pleased with herself.
“What?” Ron said. “Most of those thoughts became a reality anyway. You made sure of that, not even two weeks in.”
It seemed Hermione felt she didn’t need to give a dignified response, instead smirking as they weaved their way through Diagon Alley.
“Well,” Ron said as they reached the Leaky Cauldron, “at least I don’t have to wonder how you feel about me anymore. That’s one less thing to worry about. I mean, you wouldn’t have moved in with me if you didn’t feel something, right?”
Hermione squeezed his hand as she pulled him through the archway and into the pub, and for Ron, that was a good enough answer.
The idea had occurred to him later that day — a way that he could make their first night in their new home memorable. Their first year together had been rather dateless, with Hermione going to Australia, Ron’s exhaustion from Auror training, and then Hermione going back to Hogwarts. There simply hadn’t been the time to even go out to dinner one evening.
But now they had all the time in the world; all the evenings together, all the weekends to do whatever they wanted.
So, naturally, Ron decided the best date was staying in.
He didn’t know where the idea had come from, but right before starting on the dinner he’d promised to cook her, he decided that eating at the table would be boring.
A picnic, he thought, would be much more interesting, and much more romantic.
Hermione seemed to agree.
“This is why I keep saying you surprise me,” she said, grinning at him as she watched a blanket, two Firewhisky glasses (and the Firewhisky) and some cushions appear in the centre of their small living room. Simultaneously, the sofa, the armchair and the coffee table all jumped out of the way to make room.
“What part?” Ron asked. “The part where I can do all that non-verbally now, or this?” He indicated the picnic.
“Your romantic side,” Hermione said softly. “You’re a romantic at heart, and I like it very much.”
“Only for you,” Ron told her. “You make the effort worth it.”
She flushed with pleasure and sat down on one of the cushions while Ron Summoned the food. He had to admit, it wasn’t the best — his mother could have made something ten times better — but he was quite pleased with how it had turned out. He just hoped it tasted alright.
Ron joined her on the second cushion, and she beamed at him. Then she laughed when he picked up the Firewhisky bottle.
“There are a lot less potent things than that around, you know?” she said.
“And where would the fun in that be?” Ron asked, pouring some of the drink into each of the glasses.
“What, you want to get us drunk, do you?” Hermione said, sounding amused.
“Honestly, it was all they had,” Ron confessed. “There wasn’t much of a choice. Unless I wanted to pay two hundred Galleons for a tiny little bottle of something.”
Hermione accepted the now full glass of Firewhisky, still smiling.
Ron returned it, watching her for a moment. “You really are worth it,” he said eventually. “I just wish we’d done this sooner. Earlier.”
“You mean in the middle of a war?” Hermione asked.
“I mean, even earlier than that,” Ron said. “Around the… time of Lavender. I really liked you then, but I had no idea how to tell you. And I also had no idea how you felt and thought that if I said anything — even if I had the confidence to — it might have destroyed our friendship.”
“I asked you to the party, though, didn’t I?” Hermione said. “I mean, I thought I had been obvious —”
“Nah, you needed to have spelt it out for me a little clearer,” Ron said. “I thought you asked me as a friend. If I had thought it was anything more, even the slightest chance… well, I wouldn’t have gone for… Lavender.” He always felt so guilty admitting that, but enough time had passed, he thought, that it was okay. He’d been sixteen then — young and stupid and very unsure of himself. Besides, she was happy with Seamus these days.
“I’ll know that for next time then,” Hermione said. Her expression turned thoughtful, and Ron was suddenly aware that they had not yet touched the food, nor their drinks. He moved the plates of food in front of them.
“Can I ask you something?” Hermione suddenly said, ignoring the food.
“Of course,” Ron said. “Er, as long as it doesn’t embarrass me.”
She smiled, shaking her head. “If you didn’t like Lavender… in that way… why did you go out with her for so long? I thought… well, honestly, you never were good at hiding your feelings, and I at least strongly suspected how you felt about me, and then all of a sudden you were with her — after I’d asked you to the party, too. I was confused, to say the least.”
“There’s a story behind that that I don’t really want to tell you,” Ron said. “But to put it quickly, Ginny pointed out to me after the Quidditch match that I’d never kissed anyone before, which annoyed me. Then she added that you had… you and Krum… well, that annoyed me too.”
Hermione seemed to want to argue his statement, but he cut her off. “I didn’t seek her out or anything, if that’s what you’re wondering. She came to me, and… and I was upset with you. I admit that. I just wanted to forget.”
Hermione stared at him, looking rather surprised by that information. Ron never had told her about that evening, and he hoped he never would have to go into detail about it. He wasn’t proud of it, and whilst Lavender wasn’t a bad person, he’d never really liked her all that much and often found himself thinking about Hermione and wondering what she was doing when he was with Lavender.
“You should eat,” Ron said after a few moments of silence. He indicated the plate in front of her. “Before it goes cold.”
Hermione seemed to accept the fact that the topic was no longer up for discussion, nodding slowly, and turning to their meal.
They began eating, striking up less intense and less uncomfortable conversations than past failed relationships.
"You know what we should do?" Ron said as he cleared their plates away with his wand, along with the glasses and the Firewhisky that had been too strong for either of them to drink too much of. "We should throw a housewarming party next weekend. Have everyone over."
"There's really not much room," Hermione said. "By everyone, do you mean… everyone?"
"Well, you know, Harry, Ginny, my brothers and whatnot. Neville, Seamus, Dean, Luna… that lot. Though I doubt Bill and Fleur would come, but I suppose Victoire would be welcome."
"Hardly a place for a baby, don't you think?" Hermione said. “I imagine there’d be plenty of drinking — I mean, you saw the Common Room when we were all under age…”
"It's why I said I'd doubt they'd come." Ron grinned. “It will be good to celebrate with everyone. All of us together again, for something good for once, too. What do you think?”
Hermione smiled. “I don’t see an issue with that. It’s right before NEWT results are due to arrive, too, so might be a good distraction.”
“Yes, because you’ll need that from the one hundred NEWTs and one hundred and one job offers you’ll get afterwards,” Ron said.
“Don’t say that, Ron.”
“I love you.”
“You can’t use that as a way to change the conversation —”
“Yes I can, because it always works.” Ron shuffled on the cushion so he could kiss her. “I love you.”
“Didn’t you say we’d get ice-cream after dinner?” Hermione said, pulling away from him.
“Yeah, I guess, but we don’t have to.” Ron kissed her again, but she pulled away once more, looking at him, rather amused.
“So, I take it you’re not actually interested in ice-cream?”
“Not at all,” Ron said, and for the third time, he kissed her, and finally she didn’t pull away, instead wrapping her arms around his neck to draw him closer.
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I’m back! Okay I ✨tried✨
She/her | straight (sadly) | 5’6 | Aquarius | ESFP-A | Polyglot | analytic/ observant | sociable | easily amused | impulsive | Business & Global studies major
80% of my natal chart consists of air signs soooo 🙂 take that as you will. I like attention and affection but only from certain people and I’m not very open with my emotions,, I’m also very witty and sarcastic and I’ve been told I have “too much confidence” and “the ego of a white man” but it’s not my fault I’m always right 💁🏻♀️ (perks of being observant)
Although I’m quite intelligent I don’t tend to use more than one brain cell unless I really need to (think Osamu Dazai from Bungo Stray Dogs) I’m literally the girl version of Kuroo from Haikyuu or Hawks from BNHA if that helps. Sometimes it may seem like I have no filter but it’s either because I literally don’t care or bc I’ve already analyzed the people I’m with and subconsciously adjusted to what I can/should say in front of them
I’m very impulsive and a “go-with-my-gut” type of person so I have a bunch of hobbies I’ve picked up bc they either looked interesting at the time or bc someone said I wouldn’t be able to do it (I am also competitive and petty 😅) But I love drawing and writing!! I’m in the process of writing a book I’ll be pitching before I move abroad at the end of summer (another impulsive decision just because)
I love the fall but I get cold easily so I like to bundle up whenever I can. I’m originally from Cali so the moment the weather goes under 70 degrees the warm sweaters come out and the socks are pulled over my pants. I hate the rain and the snow unless I’m inside reading or watching anime/scary movies and I’m also not the biggest fan of sweet things but I’ll make an exception for hot chocolate during Christmas
I also love sports, I used to play baseball, soccer and basketball growing up but hockey has had my heart for the past 10 years. Because of this I always find myself gravitating towards chaos and I may or may not accidentally on purpose instigate a little chaos every now and then but I never directly take part in it
Okay I think that’s it. This was difficult. Again- I tried. And congrats on your milestone!!
your matchup was…. quite interesting to work with, HIGHKEY because I relate to a few of these points (the dazai one got me CRACKED UP HELP i felt this PLEASE) this matchup is,,,,,, long, to say the least
Best Matchup. . .
surprise! I placed him as first matchup despite the fact that his own MBTI (INTJ) and his own zodiac have nothing in common nor in compatibility… in theory
in theory, as in if I did not know of your other hobbies, skills, and other aspects of your personality, I would’ve never considered this drastic matchup
literally your ESFP vs. INTJ is everything in opposite in the theory of MBTI
one example of such opposing aspects involve the S and N of the MBTI:
S “tends to communicate in a straightforward, concrete way, focusing on facts, details, history, and real-life experiences” and “focus on the ‘what’ when discussing something, and convey information that you observed directly or can back up with real-life evidence” a.k.a talking about real things, not ideas or theories
N “tends to communicate in an abstract, theoretical way” and “focus on making connections and interpreting meaning, the ‘why’ of the thing in question” a.k.a. they communicate their idea, theory, or interpretation of what they see, rather than a direct observation
that’s just one huge opposing force out of the many, but in this case of Akashi, his personality is capable of not just keeping up with you a lot of times, but he is also more than capable of balancing out what you lack
and you’re also able of toning down your energy or be mindful of Akashi’s introvertness, since you say that you’re the female version of Kuroo (who’s very considerate of the withdrawn Kenma in not dragging him out to do things he doesn’t want to do)
where do I even begin? When you two first meet, Akashi simply thought of you as another Kise: boisterous, arrogant, but a lot sharper than you let on
in short, he hasn’t underestimated you since the beginning… he just KNOWS
when you first meet him, your observation skills kicked into overdrive, and you’re SLIGHTLY unnerved by his intense stare and how he seems to… analyze you
so you’re literally both analyzing the shit out of each other LOL
and the first words out of each other’s mouths cracked both of you up?? like not a huge laugh by any means, but chuckles are easy to get out of the both of you
you both… share similar humor
everyone around you two are thinking, “What the hell is so funny??”
the complete opposite of each other, yet way too similar
when he doesn’t need to speak, he GLADLY lets you do all the talking, and this is perfectly in line with your ESFP, since people of this type just love to be in the spotlight (and his MBTI lets their partner have all the attention most of the time)
Akashi finds out very early on that you make impulsive decisions as easy as you breathe air, and this is where his rationale would kick in to help you slow down the pace and talk out your options and potential gains and losses
see, normally, if anyone else would try to do the same, you’d brush them off because you’re extremely sure of your gut feeling and your observation skills
however, it’s due to the nature of Akashi that makes you more inclined to listen to him; since you know that he’s also equally (if not, more) observant than you, when his intuition tells him differently, you do at least stop to hear what he has to say
generally though, when your gut feeling kicks in and you try to do something impulsive, he doesn’t actually stop you often, because his intuition will almost always be on the same page as you (which is crazy?!)
so tldr; he likes your confidence and how you carry yourself through all the sarcasm and quips because 1.) you’re funny as fuck and you tell the better jokes out of the two (let’s face it, his jokes are terrible) and 2.) he knows you can handle yourself especially since he’s going to enter a very cutthroat world of basketball and business
if you get too cocky, he’s there to take you down a notch because he’s been there himself
he won’t hesitate (and this is where he’s a super good match against your headstrong personality despite him being an “introvert”)
speaking of business, he really finds his perfect match with you LOL
I don’t think I need to explain why having you by his side as someone who has an expertise as a business and global studies major would be super helpful for his family business as an upcoming CEO (also, side note: I heard that the language requirement as a global studies is absolutely ridiculously high, so mega props to you for that?! like I literally have to learn a foreign language for GEs and it’s too hard, I-)
that being said, when he first learns of your status as a polyglot, he’s like:
“Oh? I’m curious. What languages are you fluent in, my love? Do you mind teaching me a few phrases?” he would say, tilting his head slightly in curiosity before giving a lighthearted chuckle. “If it’s not too much trouble, of course.”
are we even surprised at this point that Akashi would be extremely fluent if you gave this guy a few weeks at the very least? he picks up a few languages because it’d be no doubt beneficial in expanding his work
“shaddup you scum”
“we are gawna waipe ze floor wit yoo”
and because he gets to spend more time with you and seeing you be so excited and cute speaking in another tongue… and maybe he gets to stare at your lips and how his brain is registering absolutely nothing and everything because the sounds coming out of your mouth sound so PRETTY
he’s so relieved about how independent you are and how you’re capable of handling your own stuff, because some of the nasty rumors and people associated with the public world of basketball and the world of business are so cruel and unforgiving… put them together? you got yourself a nightmare to normally handle
he’s always in the public eye, but he appreciates how tactful you are in knowing what exactly to say to particular people
he’s so amused… how you go from saying, “fuck you” to one CEO’s son in a banquet, to politely saying, “yes, of course” in an interview silently cracks him up
the duality of you acting unhinged, annoying people, and causing problems on purpose vs. being super serious and… professional
whenever a public figure or an interviewer tries to disrespect you or undermine you in any way, especially if they implied that you weren’t of the same “caliber” as Akashi (or whatnot) or pointing out your flaws... guess what you’re working on and coming back with a smile the next day to prove them wrong (or I mean, there’s always the option of turning the question around back on them…)
but since you do liven things up in the dreary estate, you remind Akashi to loosen up sometimes and just do some hobbies together
sorry, but he’s always lowkey trying to compete with you, even if he doesn’t outright declare it on you, just because he wants to impress you and/or see your reaction LMAO
he loves that you have so many hobbies and a career path because that means you can keep yourself busy in case things get hectic for him and can’t spend time with you
he’d TOTALLY be a peer-reviewer, editor, and proofreader all in one for your writings and he’d ABSOLUTELY would give you advice for pitching and wishing you good luck (and maybe paying for your plane ride unless you objected)
he’d secretly be a mega-talented traditional artist, but I think instead of competing, you’d have dates in the outdoors where you’re just drawing things together and sharing with each other your works at the end of the day
you’d never be bored with Akashi, like this guy has a kajillion random skills and hobbies that you can totally compete against with, and he’d accept all of your challenges because he secretly doesn’t want to lose LOL
did I already mention him being super perfect for your competitiveness? I swear you would learn and do a crash course on chess, checkers, go, and shogi just to pester him everyday for rematches
Akashi is perfect for your needs in which in the beginning when you two first met, he kept perfect boundaries and always respected your space, and as soon as you got together with him, he constantly gauged your level of tolerance of affection/attention and increased it slowly as you seemed to appreciate (and even reciprocated) these gestures
he’s mostly fine with the fact that you’re not as open with your emotions, since this guy literally has the Emperor’s Eye and can detect your current mood from a mile away
however, he’s not afraid to confront you to be honest about how you feel when circumstances arise
he understands your aversion to the cold, he gets it, because Kyoto (where Rakuzan is located in) is a really warm prefecture that’s always having near perfect, sunny days
he’s ALWAYS sending you the cutest, fashionable, and most practical scarves and jackets starting the fall onwards until spring because he knows your sensitivity to the cold like the back of his hand
when both of you are overseas for different career aspirations, you’re always looking forward to what scarves or jackets he’s sending over
*cue Akashi making sure his manor has all of its heating systems working perfectly*
*cue Akashi making sure that the menus/ingredients are increasingly more accommodating of warm foods like soups*
*cue Akashi always somehow ordering more books for the home library for you to “conveniently” find during colder weather… or mailing you packages of his book recommendations*
whaaaaaaat? do I hear of more potential opportunities for you two to start competing with each other’s hobbies in your free time? SPORTS? oh, it’s ON
it’s a nonstop cycle, truly
okay, but he’d at first go soft on you for basketball because he really doesn’t like the idea of ankle-breaking you LOL until you get mad at him and reassure him that you could handle it
you’re always so smug about winning against him in hockey initially, but then you get slightly worried that he’s catching up to your skill level way too quickly
“I only learn from the best,” he probably would say to tease you often
Hmmm, Akashi would ponder one day, looking over the documents due for the upcoming weekend. Another contract to sign for… and this one is about the agreed escrow the other meeting… I suppose I need to finish these up, so we can continue our halted game of shogi…
he’d widen his eyes before he’d start thinking out loud, “... It’s been too quiet around here as of late…”
and then he’d probably look out the window to see you sitting on Yukimaru with your feet and arms outstretched, NOT EVEN TUCKED INTO THE STIRRUPS, and are you trying to balance chess pieces on your nose and the chess boards on YOUR FOREARMS?—
he’s ditching his desk and running breakneck speed to the fields before Yukimaru gets any idea of galloping with you still on his back *cue him scolding you as you complain that you were just bored and that you knew Yukimaru wasn’t going to do anything anyways*
or somehow, all the fruit supplies mysteriously disappeared, and the entire staff is in a disarray… but Akashi has an inkling that you fed all of these to Yukimaru
so all in all, while you’re off doing your thing, Akashi would be a master planner, making sure he can balance both of your schedules and his own and figuring out how to make the relationship work
are we surprised that he was going to show up in this matchup? nahhh
a fellow ESFP himself and his sign is Gemini, another air sign, so already you’re already super-perfectly compatible with this guy, in theory
because in the personality theory, it does list ESFP one of the most compatible with another ESFP
you’re literally female Kise at this point PLEASE
Kise is super similar to how he’s a lot smarter than what he lets on, and he really loves you how you’re just enjoying life like he is, doing the things you want to do and love
he hates the super stuffy people or at least tries to not associate with them as much, so right off the bat, you two would magically click a little too fast
both of you would talk nonstop
initially, you probably wouldn’t be a fan of his random hugs and pounces on you once you two become friends, but he’d probably grow on you
other than that, it really does seem like a match made in heaven
both of you act… either stupid and/or dramatic just because, but if someone tries to fuck with any of you, it’s game over for the offender
Kise equally has no filter on his mouth, except unlike you (who has tact and knowing when to be polite to certain people), he has the mentality of only respecting the people he acknowledges, regardless of title and status
though, you’d probably advise him to be a bit more careful, Kise would be just as headstrong about his confidence as you are
what I mean is both of you can be too confident in yourselves
when you’re being impulsive, he’s probably the guy always encouraging it or even also making impulsive decisions himself too
you’d never be bored of each other in which both of you are always actively competing to see who’s better at what, ESPECIALLY for sports
unlike Akashi, Kise actively looks for you to challenge you first and always verbally instigates the chaos along with you (Akashi won’t go out of his way to compete unless you challenged him first)
cold weathers are the best to Kise because this guy would have a “legitimate” excuse to give you more of his iconic physical affection
“Hey, hey! (y/n)-cchi!! Isn’t it snowing today? Aren’t you cold??”
“I’m already bundled up though.”
“But you still feel really chilly…! It’d be better to warm you up, just in case.” and yes, there will be a sly undertone underneath that cheerful, worried voice of his
expect lots of nuzzling and cuddles with him
he’d be the type of person to try to juggle learning all the languages and try to learn art tutorials and try to write epic poetry to try to impress and “beat” you
when he sees you drawing, he’ll try to copy from afar your pencil strokes relative to their positions on the paper
he’d fail a lot more miserably in the academic areas though since he’s never took school seriously before, but I think he can manage the language-learning aspect since he can easily mimic pronunciation and grammar from how you speak
you’d probably cackle at him while he’d whine at you that it’s not fair that you speak way too fast LOL
again, you’d probably think that he can be too much at times, especially since Kise wears his emotions on his sleeve most of the time (and you have a more closed-off emotional state)
though, Kise is socially intelligent, so he’d most definitely would learn how to discern your emotions… but knowing how to approach you about those matters wouldn’t be as easy for him
I do put Kise as the runner-up because I believe there’s such a thing of being too similar to the point where the relationship would crash and burn
you are too similar to Kise to the point that both of you would have the same flaws, and the fact that you’re both ESFP does mean that both of you do actively fight for the constant “spotlight,” metaphorically speaking (especially since you share too much of the same hobbies and skill sets)
would you and Kise work as a high-school couple? oh, absolutely
long-term relationship beyond high-school? it’s... very dependent on how both of you handle priorities and goals, and since both of you are so impulsive, you guys will not stop to think about the standing of the relationship and just chase after your own career paths without a second thought (and this can potentially cause distance)
but since both of your career paths are so drastically different, it’d be a miracle to have a schedule that would line up to have time together
I’d see you and Kise more as long-term best friends and rivals more than a couple (unless again, certain circumstances allow this to happen)
Alert! Honorable Mention!
no, you did not read that wrong
yes, it’s Hanamiya
I just want to see how fast he can pick up the languages since he’s 160+ IQ
are you two… cussing at each other in different languages…?
he’d find your impulsiveness as a source for his own amusement, and when he sees you about to do something, he’ll NEVER stop you because he’s so eager to see the consequences of your actions
you’d find his team’s failures your own source of amusement that would probably piss him off so much but you also live for that
both of you would be at each other’s throats with all the snide remarks and passive-aggressiveness
but there’s this inner respect for each other because both of you know how intelligent the other is
he LIVES for your “ego of a white man”... until you turn that ego on HIM and then he suddenly hates it
again, he finds it absolutely hilarious when people underestimate you as some junkie on sugar because you don’t really… take things seriously (which is a plus in his books)
and he’d seriously bark a harsh laugh when he finds out you instigate trouble around sometimes because that would mean you’re not exactly a “goody-two shoes”
and when he learns that you’re also sneaky enough to always distance yourself away from the chaos, he’s honestly impressed (because he’s like that too)
Hanamiya would totally be into the business world, YOU CANNOT CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE
he’d totally make some offhand comment that you suck ass at your major and that he could do better (hey, maybe he could if he put his mind to it), and that would ironically motivate you to be successful out of pure spite
everyone’s scared for your life when you have no trouble calling him out at any point of the day with absolutely no filter
you’re going to… need thick skin to be around this guy, that’s for sure
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Waking Up the Winter Soldier: A Comparison of English and Russian, Part 2
Effectively Interchangeable Words
Alright. Let's start with the easy - well, easier - stuff and blast the three (more or less) directly-translatable words from the Winter Soldier activation phrase out of the way. Following that, we’ll dive into some meta discussion about why good translation can be so difficult to pin down, and some tips for writing with a language that you don’t actually speak.
(Need to catch up? Start here: Part 1)
Numbers: Seventeen/Семнадцать, Nine/Девять, and One/Один
Note that all of these number translations have the same logic behind them, so I'm not separating them out. Future entries in the series will give a separate subheading to each word as I reach it.
Each of these is a numeral. In most cases in the languages that I have knowledge of, the cardinal numbers, or the ones you use to count in the abstract, are identical to the numerals, or the base form of the number that you use for specifying quantities. I say it that way because the number 1 does sometimes present a unique case, and that's true of Russian: Один is the word for one, but if you're just counting, you'll sometimes start with раз (which means something like “once”).
In most cases, however, Один is the base form that you want, though you will have to inflect it for case and gender to match the noun if using it as a specifier.
Needless to say, counting with The Count on Sesame Street would work a little bit differently in Russian than in English as a result, since it would need to emphasize to children the connection between different inflected forms of the word, while in English we get to just say “one” in all contexts. For instance, bat is a feminine noun in Russian, so “one bat” would use the form одна.
Since counting and quantities are major constants of human thinking independent of language, the basic pattern of just counting to ten (or one hundred or whatever other number) is going to be pretty consistently and directly translatable. (Aside from maybe the onset, as noted above with раз.) After that, numbers actually can get kind of complicated depending on the language in question.
Unlike English, Russian uses different forms of numbers when counting items or naming years. These different forms are part of the language's case system, which inflects nouns. You can get a feel for what cases do by comparing the pronouns in English, which contain the last vestiges of our inflected noun system:
I am going/Someone called me/It's for me/That is my thing/ I think it's mine
You are going/Someone called you/It's for you/That is your thing/I think it's yours
She is going/Someone called her/It's for her/That is her thing/I think it's hers
He is going/Someone called him/It's for him/That is his thing/I think it's his
We are going/Someone called us/It's for us/That is our thing/I think it's ours
They are going/Someone called them/It's for them/That is their thing/I think it's theirs
It is going/Someone called it/It's for it/That is its thing/I think it's its
(this last one feels really awkward, but you get the idea)
In each of the rows, the bolded words functionally refer to the same person, group, or thing. Which pronoun gets used is based on whether the referent is first/second/third person, singular/plural, and (in the third-person singular, at least) masculine/feminine/neuter, but from there, each pronoun shifts through a set of forms that communicate basic grammatical relationships between the elements of the sentence. These form shifts are referred to in linguistics as cases.
Russian does this on steroids compared to English, because every noun in every sentence must be marked for number (as in singular vs plural, not 1-2-3), gender, and case, just like our pronouns are, and their corresponding adjectives must also match in form. This is why, for instance, if you want to make the numbers carry specific significance in a fanfic, my best advice to you is to find a Russian and ask them if the word would need to be inflected (and how), because chances are, it will.
Because these are just plain numerals in the English, however, whoever translated these words got to sidestep any deeper considerations about inflected forms and just use the regular, neutral, “counting” forms.
Direct Translation Is Incredibly Rare
As I'm sure you can see from just this surface-level overview of the differences between Russian and English numbers - a facet of language that we typically think of as pretty basic - there aren't a whole lot of things that can be simply plugged into Google Translate (or whatever you prefer) and come away with something that's going to be fully functional in your writing.
Even with categories that are more or less universal, you are still going to run into issues where pinning down an accurate translation may require information that isn’t necessarily obvious or available in the source language text, and a machine will always choose something to default to in those cases, which may or may not be accurate for your purposes.
Terms for mother and father are pretty universally translatable; every human being alive in every culture on earth had a biological mother and a biological father regardless of whether they knew or were raised by those individuals, so the terms for those relationships are probably as close as we get to truly universally-translatable words. But after that, it gets hairy:
Terms for brothers and sisters seem like they should be directly translatable, but some languages will use different words depending on if your sibling is older or younger than you.
Terms for extended family members are much less reliable; some languages use different forms depending on whether your grandparents/uncles/aunts are related through your mother or your father.
To make it even more complicated, affectionate terms are a whole different story. Think of the differences between each of Mom/Mama/Mommy or Dad/Papa/Daddy in English. These open up an entire world of semantic nuance that you cannot get from a dictionary or most online translation resources unless you start studying the language properly.
A great example of how this can really change the mood and character dynamics in a conversation comes from one of the scenes in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. When Sam refers to his Titi, we see a fantastic example of someone using an affectionate term that doesn't translate clearly to people who don’t share his linguistic and cultural background. You would never encounter that term in a machine translation or online dictionary; whoever wrote that dialogue knows that term from experience, I guarantee it, and it brings a level of realistic nuance to Sam’s character that would otherwise be lacking.
With a dictionary, maybe you could get to auntie, but that word is clearly too impersonal and maybe even too trite for the relationship he’s describing. Meanwhile, his familiar affectionate term is too specific for Bucky and Zemo to connect with in the same way.
Having Sam lead with a more generic term would have given a very different tone to the whole conversation and missed a great opportunity to give us a more personal sense of the culture that Sam comes from. Translating this scene into any other language well will, as a necessity, involve finding equivalently specific and niche affectionate terms to use.
Most staple foods have pretty direct translations from one language to any other that shares those staples, but even reasonably common foods can have dialect variations.
For instance, In the UK, it's courgette, not zucchini, and aubergine, not eggplant. They'll still understand if you use the other term, but they'll know that you're not using a local term. Writing a character living abroad involves identifying nuances between what the character would call things in their own dialect, and then contrasting that with whatever the dominant dialect in their area uses. In any other situation, using one of these dialect variations incorrectly will break immersion to anyone who knows the language well, especially if one of the dialects happens to be their own.
Pets that are common in both cultures will probably have a directly translatable word that's good enough. Even if you can't, say, track down the name for a specific breed or something, a dog is still a dog, a cat is still a cat, a chicken is still a chicken, a cow is still a cow.
That said, sex distinctions in animals where that's a salient feature of why we keep them around can play havoc, because a dictionary or speaker may again pick one to preferentially use over the name that applies to both: hens lay eggs – not roosters – even though both are chickens; cows give milk – not bulls – even though both are cattle. Consider the shifts in meaning between “I have five hens/cows on my farm”, “I have five chickens/cattle on my farm”, and “I have five roosters/bulls on my farm”.
It feels even more different than just the dictionary definition can account for, right?
You should notice a commonality here: all of these categories of “close to universal” words contain only concrete nouns, things which can be objectively pointed to. The ability to actually point to something is a huge boost to our ability to agree that there is a specific word for that thing even across cultural gulfs - and yet, notice how many ways there are to accidentally stumble on the wrong word anyway.
Abstract nouns such as love, anger, philosophy, or intelligence are even more likely to have nuances even between different dialects of a language, due to not having the defined, tangible parameters that concrete nouns do.
Adjectives and adverbs are even more subjective, since they describe attributes of items. How slow is slow, and how dim does light have to get before it's dark? The conclusions of another language might not be the same as the conclusions in your language. For an easily accessible example of different languages approaching something as seemingly basic as colors in different ways, check out the Blue-Green Distinction wikipedia page here.
Verbs are still more complex, since they introduce a world of different ways of thinking about actions and existence. Spanish distinguishes permanent and temporary categories when talking about states of being, which its sister languages in the Romance family do not. Russian verbs of motion are notoriously complex, requiring the use of different verb forms based on a number of factors, in sentences where English often would just use variants of the same word “goes” (see an overview lesson on Russian verbs of motion here).
Prepositions are effectively random and must be memorized in just about every language you learn. For every “oh, this word means this” in the preposition category, there’s an exception or a colloquial phrase that uses it differently. Trying to translate them without studying a language at all is equivalent to opening up a door to absolute chaos, especially since prepositions can sometimes entirely shift the meanings of verbs that they’re used in conjunction with.
The rule of thumb is simple: you don't know what you don't know and Google really doesn't know what it doesn't know.
You can at least admit that you don’t know; Google never will, and the algorithm will come up with something that may or may not be correct for what you’re trying to say, and I’m not even talking about subtle mistakes. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen someone use the wrong gender of an adjective or endearment for a character, I’d have enough money to travel the world. So if you're trying to use translation software as anything other than a fancy dictionary to fill in the gaps of your vocabulary in a language, it will steer you wrong, and probably much sooner than later.
So Then How Do You Write Using a Language That You Don't Speak?
I get it. There are definitely times and occasions when you might have a need or desire to include another language in your writing, so it's reasonable to look for tips to avoid crashing and burning.
First of all, always ask a native speaker for their input. If you don't know someone, we're on the internet: make the effort to go find someone. You might even make a new friend: win-win.
Skipping this step inherently guarantees that at some point you will make a mistake, and while that's probably no big deal for most of you writing fanfic, bear in mind that it can throw a reader right out of the story, and even make them feel disrespected. This is a real hazard for those of you writing original works who are trying to build an audience.
Plus, if you're going to spend all that time writing a story, don't you want every word in it to convey what you're actually trying to say?
But if you're not ready to find a native speaker yet, or you've looked and you can't find anyone willing to help you out (and you're not willing to let your project get tied up while you wait), what can you do?
Research the language.
Wikipedia has information on the grammatical structures of many languages, and makes a decent starting point. It’s usually my first go-to when I decide to start learning a new language, so I can get an overview of what’s different from anything I’ve done before, what’s similar, how it’s related to the other languages I’ve studied, stuff like that. Obviously don’t make it your one and only resource, but it can at least point you to major categories of things to research in more depth.
Check to see (whether and) how the language uses:
a case system (which ones? what’s the difference? where is it marked?)
grammatical gender (how many? which ones?)
specific verb tenses and aspects (if you want to write commands, look for imperatives; if someone’s talking about their hopes and wishes, check for the subjunctive; etc.)
adjectives (before or after nouns? inflected?)
polite vs informal distinctions when addressing others (most European languages beside English have one, while Japanese has multiple levels of politeness)
specific terms of address for strangers vs friends vs family
Also make sure you note how to tell the difference between significant factors. It doesn’t help you to know that a language uses grammatical gender if you can’t use that knowledge to identify when Google has given you a masculine adjective for a female character or vice versa.
Immerse yourself in all the finicky little technical details and take notes.
Figure out exactly what you want to say, in the most simple, straightforward terms possible. Keep it brief and to the point.
There was a funny incident in my high school Spanish class one year. A classmate wanted to say he liked “to smoke pot” in response to a practice question about hobbies (though why he wanted to say that to our teacher, I'm not sure). While she was going around the room asking other students, he flipped to the glossary in the back of the textbook and looked up the word for “to smoke” and the word for “pot”. Our teacher's facial expression when she called on him was one of utter bewilderment as he basically told her he liked to set cookware on fire.
Astute language students will no doubt already realize what he didn't: pot is slang, it's not a term you'd find in a glossary or a textbook. Granted, neither is marijuana, but at least then he'd maybe have realized to pick a different example if he couldn’t find it.
Figures of speech are hard to translate, even when they can be conveyed at all without losing something in the process. Colloquialisms and slang often have histories that don’t make logical sense and make it even harder to find an appropriate approximation. References to facets of culture are damn near impossible to render without shifts of meaning because even cultures with the same holiday traditions, for instance, will still have different meanings and associations to those traditions.
It's sometimes hard for us to realize just how much of what we say relies on context other than the words themselves. The more you can boil what you want to say down to its barest bones, the more likely you can communicate what you want to effectively.
Search for phrase lists online.
Some things, like greetings, sayings, and terms of endearments, have been written about extensively on the internet, with phenomenal guides waiting to tell you how to determine exactly which one to use. Do your research. You may get lucky and find something that perfectly encapsulates what you want to say.
Regardless of whether you do your own translation or borrow from an existing phrase, reverse engineer it. Acquire as much data as you can about what the words mean and how they're functioning to be sure it really says what you want it to.
What I mean by this is translate the sentence and then translate each individual word back separately, in pairs, and in three-word phrases until everything has been cross-checked multiple times and in multiple ways.
If at any point you get back something that doesn't fit or seems strange, you need to check your inputs. Make sure that if the language uses grammatical gender, you're not accidentally using masculine adjectives for feminine words or feminine adjectives for masculine words. Make sure that plurals stay plural, singulars stay singular, and that verbs agree with the correct components. Things like that.
If you've ever studied another language, leverage that knowledge, too. For languages with grammatical gender or a verb tense that English doesn't have, this can be invaluable. Make sure it tracks correctly with the language you're trying to target.
You may still make mistakes after doing all this, but at least then the problem is more likely to be with the emotional connotations of the words being not quite right or accidentally breaking an advanced grammar rule, rather than with messing up something basic.
If all of this seems like too much work for a single phrase or two, then consider whether you actually really need to use that language in your writing; if so, you might need to hire a translator and have a good, in-depth discussion about these pragmatic issues of what you want to convey.
If it turns out that you just want to use that language, and you can’t get a translator and don’t want to do the research, there are accepted conventions for writing in paraphrase and notifying your audience that a different language is being used. Most of the time, that’s better than just plopping something copied and pasted from Google Translate into your text. That’s typically very clunky, and it doesn’t feel good to a reader who knows what they’re looking at.
Trust me. I have noped out of so many otherwise well-written and engaging pieces because I encountered something used incorrectly in a way that grated, and I’m not even a fluent or native speaker of any of my second languages.
Tread carefully with this stuff.
Join me next time as I dive into some interesting nuances of the Winter Soldier activation words that lose a shade of meaning in one language or the other, while still having an effective translation.
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Effectively Interchangeable Words (you are here)
Part 3 – Acceptable Variations for Pragmatic Reasons
Part 4 – We Need to Talk About This: Longing
Part 5 – We Need to Talk About This: Benign
Part 6 – We Need to Talk About This: Homecoming
Part 7 – Conclusion
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Two-Faced Jewel: Session 1-A
I've been playing tabletop games for TOO LONG without actually playing any D&D, and the time for that to change is now.
Zero and @eternalfarnham are Looseleaf and Saelhen du Fishercrown, a mothfolk animist and a half-elf conwoman whose travels take them to Blacksky University, where the discovery of an unknown magical artifact sets them on the path to discovering the secrets of a shattered world.
Oyashio, 親潮市, is known as the Crossroad City. It sits on the closest point between the two major continents of the world, alongside the swift currents of the fierce river-ocean that separates the two. People from all over the Jewel come here to find their fortunes.
Looseleaf is a new arrival to Blacksky University, the institution of higher learning that terrorizes the city with its warball hooligans and dangerous magical experiments. She's left her reclusive village to learn more about the cultures and peoples of the world, and has enrolled in the School of Natural Arts to pursue her dream.
The Lady Noeru de la Surplus is the down-on-her-luck scion of an elven noble family, here to complete her rite of succession and restore the good name of her clan.
Saelhen du Fishercrown is a half-elf disgrace who fled the stifling elven capital of Kanzentokai to escape its byzantine social order- and strike it rich by pretending to be the down-on-her-luck scion of an elven noble family and conning a bunch of elfaboo suckers out of their hard-earned gold. She's out to get rich and prove that elves can be assholes too, dammit!
Looseleaf leaves her room to discover- not her roommate, but a large half-orc woman rummaging through her oven.
She asks where Looseleaf keeps the swords.
It becomes clear that Bud Chestplate, here, is a friend of Oyobi Yamatake, Looseleaf's roommate, and Oyobi sent her to pick up some swords from the dorm. They make some small talk while searching, but Looseleaf fails her Investigation roll and can't find the swords for her. She leaves Bud to her business, since she needs to catch her meeting with the Dean.
Benedict I. (GM): So... you get to the Dean's office. It's a pretty large room- not because the Dean is particularly showoffy, but because Dean Mogher is a loxodon, and his office sort of needs to be big.
Them elephant people, y'know.
You've been asked to meet for an "academic consultation", and aren't sure what to expect.
Seems like Looseleaf needs to do some sort of independent study- and the Dean has something lined up for her, if she's interested. It's an artifact they recently got their hands on thanks to a rich donor, who wanted to learn more about it. It's super magic, so he had to pull some strings to keep it out of the hands of the School of Arcane Arts.
Looseleaf is excited about this!
Looseleaf: Looseleaf vibrates, shaking her wings kind of in the way that a dog might shake their body to remove dirt. This is moth body language for 'FUCK YES I AM SO READY FOR THIS I WAS BORN FOR THIS'.
Meanwhile... Saelhen has arrived in town. She's set herself up with a room in the city, made some public appearances to sell the story, and...
Saelhen has a plan. She'll pretend that this object is rightfully hers, as part of an arcane elven ritual to succeed the headship of her family- and hopefully badger the school into letting her get her hands on it.
She enters the school grounds via the student village, and meets a half-orc woman carrying a bunch of swords around for some reason- who she asks for directions. Bud obliges, despite being preoccupied.
Saelhen du Fishercrown: "Ah, I'm sorry! I didn't realize you were occupied by all those weapons." She bows at the prescribed angle for a small favor asked from a foreigner. "Your words are as 出鱈目外人向け. Thank you."
Benedict I. (GM):出鱈目 is like, nonsense, bullshit, 外人 is gaijin, 向け is a suffix that means "for"
bullshit for foreigners
i love it
(Elven is Japanese here, for reasons.)
Saelhen follows the directions to the School of Arcane arts, and asks the receptionist- a tired-looking goblin girl named Two-Brains- where the Dean's office is.
Two-Brains directs her to the Moon Annex, a wing of the building identifiable by the river of moon symbols flowing along the floor. She reaches what is clearly the Dean's office, and hears a conversation within, that she opts to sneakily listen in on.
Benedict I. (GM): That'll do- you hear a whispered argument, fairly clearly.
"...is he blackmailing you? Bribing you? This is clearly our department!"
The voice is old and slightly screechy.
A younger but still mature voice replies. "Please don't attack my character, Variable. Is my reasoning really that hard to understand?"
"Yes," the older voice says. "It's the most magically powerful artifact that's ever come into our possession! How is this not of immediate concern to our department?"
"You're failing to consider Coast's concerns, and those of our continuing research," the younger voice says. "Yes, this object is powerful- but learning its magic will scarcely tell us where it comes from. If we could find its source, we could find many more specimens of its kind for study."
It seems like Dean Variable Velocity of Arcane Arts (an elderly owl aarakocra in a wheelchair) really wanted to get her hands on the magic item, but Dean Coast Mogher of Natural Arts got this person to decide in his favor, instead.
Saelhen eventually opts to knock, and sees in the room with the Dean... an elf. Very tall, adorned in jewels, and wearing a very very large hoop dress that goes all the way down to the floor. This would be a problem for Saelhen, because actual elven nobility would see right through her disguise- but luckily, this woman- the provost of the university- is a drow, and not exactly welcome in the circles of elven high society.
The provost takes her leave, and Saelhen spins her sob story for Dean Velocity:
Saelhen du Fishercrown: "Madam Dean, I am sure that any matter requiring your attention might very well overrule my own. If your affairs require that you delay our discussion of the provenance of your college's recent acquisition, then my honor demands that I comply."
Benedict I. (GM): "The provenance of our recent acquisiton?"
"Wait- are you here about that thing?"
Saelhen du Fishercrown: "Ah, yes." Saelhen ducks her head a bit sheepishly. "I can come back."
"Perhaps I have misunderstood what time I was meant to arrive."
Benedict I. (GM): "No, no, come in! Come in, I'm sure we can address your concerns."
"What time you were- you mentioned an appointment, who told you there was an appointment?"
"Never mind, no, it's- please, come in."
Saelhen du Fishercrown: "I spoke with a Madam Two-Brains? But information may have been lost in the shuffle -- I gather it was a busy day." Saelhen sits.
Benedict I. (GM): "...The student receptionist? Why would- no, never mind. What's this about the bracer?"
Saelhen du Fishercrown: Whoops. "I have neglected to introduce myself, and for that I apologize. I am the Lady Noeru de la Surplus, sixth of her name." Saelhen lowers her head. "Your... bracer is an item of some significance to my family."
Benedict I. (GM): Her eyes light up. "Is that so?"
"What significance, would you say?"
After a little more bullshitting and some great Deception rolls, she has the dean completely sold on her story. It helps that she quite badly wanted to believe it- since if it were true, her rival wouldn't have legitimate claim to it. Dean Velocity offers to help recover the item, if Lady Noeru would agree to let her study it briefly.
Meanwhile, below the School of Arcane Arts, Looseleaf is shown a special hands-free containment device for the magical item.
Benedict I. (GM): Inside the glass case hovers what looks like a stone bracer.
It's inset with thirteen large sapphires, at seemingly random locations, little rhyme or reason.
There's one region of the bracer that doesn't have sapphires- a flat, circular raised bit with a symbol engraved on it.
It's not one you're familiar with, but matches the pattern of the emblems of the gods.
Looseleaf: Is it a divine symbol? Yeeeep.
Benedict I. (GM): A circle, with horizontal lines across it, growing denser towards the wearer.
Looseleaf makes some investigation and history checks to find out more about it. She observes that the sapphires are connected to one another, and that its craftsmanship doesn't match anything she's ever seen or read about. She's still taking a look at it when Saelhen and Dean Velocity show up.
Dean Velocity badgers Dean Mogher into hearing Saelhen out, and she continues to knock her deception checks out of the park. He doesn't want to give it up without a fight, but he believes her intentions are true. He proposes a compromise: Looseleaf will represent both schools (as she's taking courses in both and is undecided on a major) and accompany Saelhen on her supposed succession rite, asking lots of questions and writing a report that they might be able to publish.
This compromise is more or less amenable to all, and Saelhen is allowed to touch the bracer.
It immediately jumps onto her arm and sticks there, and projects a holographic wayfinding arrow out of one of the sapphires. The bracer begins pulling her arm in that direction. She can't get it off- and can't just run. She's forced to keep up the charade, and let Looseleaf try some magic on it.
Looseleaf is a homebrew class Zero found called the Animist, a caster themed around the idea that all things have "spirits". One of the things it can do is called Soul Glean, which basically lets you... read the mind of an inanimate object.
Lesser Soul Glean: You may peer into the things the soul of an object has witnessed. Make an int (arcana) check to determine the amount of information gleaned from the object. The more recent or emotionally volatile the event, the easier it is to glean information from, while the more distance the harder it is. Senses of emotions, vague intentions, and the sight of auras of can generally be gleaned from this reading.
And what she gets from that is...
Looseleaf:“It’s lost,” Looseleaf says. “It has a purpose and has been unable to fulfill that purpose for a very long time. It’s not epistemologically correct to assign emotions to items through divinations, I think, but if this thing had an emotion I imagine it would be sad.”
”Most importantly, it does not feel fulfilled. It is not behaving the way that objects reunited with their lost owners would be have.”
“Given this, I hope you will forgive me for my indiscretion in this next act.”
Looseleaf... shifts her arm, the arm touching the bracer, sliding off it and onto the elvish lady’s arm, and Lesser Soul Reads her.
Now Soul Read is for living things, and only sort of gets you mood and general intentions- for now. Saelhen, though, won't be having any of that- she passes her dex save to pull away before Looseleaf can read her. (This, of course, only makes Looseleaf more suspicious.)
Tumblr has new post restrictions that force me to keep these posts short, so here's:
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Could you please rec cherik fics where they still have powers but being mutant is well accepted? (Kind of like the Daycare Verse by brillingspoons) THANK U SO MUCH YOURE INCREDIBLE
Hi anon, of course I have a list for you. I am so sorry for the delay. I have been super busy lately with work and home renovations, but I’m back and I have a looong list for you. Now, the nature of x-men as a parallel of the very real fight of minority groups for civil rights makes it pretty hard to find fics where everyone accepts mutants.That’s actually why I love the x-men, because they represent the fight of those who are ostracised. So, some of these might have some social commentary, but the main focus does not lie there. Also, if you love the Daycare Verse check out pocky_slash’s fics (who actually wrote the majority of the Daycare Verse).
Cherik ´Still Have Powers Modern AU´ Fic Recs
irreconcilable differences (make for surprisingly good bedfellows) – pocky_slash
Summary: Tonight on The Evening Report with Malcolm Stevens, noted geneticist and mutant equality proponent Dr. Charles Xavier faces off with the infamous mutant rights activist Magneto in a live televised debate over the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act.
(At least, if they can stop flirting long enough to stay on topic.)
Words and Pictures – pocky_slash
Summary: When Lorna's powers manifest early, Charles Xavier's mutant picture books are the perfect teaching tool. Erik just hadn't expected the author to be so young. Or attractive. Or available.
For the Record – endingthemes
Summary: As prominent figures in the mutant rights movement, activists Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr are pretty much household names. When a romance scandal between them breaks, their celebrity reaches new heights, and though the increased exposure is great, there’s a big problem -- the two of them are just friends.
Too bad no one believes them.
Runs in the Family – Anonysquirrel (chibirisuchan)
Summary: Alex knew his own reputation. Hell, he'd started some of his own reputation, because it kept some of the smarter thugs off his back. Everyone knew Alex's reputation. There was no way Hank didn't know his reputation, but he'd brought Alex into a house with some really expensive things and a lot of innocent little kids and his too-friendly, too-harmless dad.
But clearly Hank hadn't told his family anything about Alex, just like he hadn't told Alex anything about his family. At least, not about the brain-breaking parts of his family.
"I didn't know where to start," Hank said, for the dozenth time.
Featuring mpreg!Charles in a Kiss The Cook apron, overprotective!Erik in wet black leather, and baked goods. Lots and lots of baked goods.
(Another segment of this series is posted under the Cookie Cutter fic collection - thanks again, Takmarierah!)
Impulse Decisions – listerinezero
Summary: Erik wakes up in Las Vegas with a hell of a hangover, a telepath in his bed, and a ring on his finger. Now what?
You Show Me Yours - endingthemes
Summary: When Erik receives nudes in the middle of the night from an unknown number, he's confused and mildly amused. He doesn't expect it to turn into an actual conversation...with feelings.
As if that's not baffling enough, his friend's brother ends up crashing at his place, further complicating everything.
Some Such Place (The Big Screen Classics Remix) - Pocky_Slash
Summary: Erik's spent the last eighteen months having lengthy socio-political conversations and casual sex with Charles Xavier after seeing Monday matinees at a dingy little independent movie theatre in the Village. That doesn't mean they're friends. Or that Erik should have any say in what Charles is going to do with his future.
(At least, that's what Erik keeps telling himself.)
Into Your Tar, Honey - tomato_greens
Summary: Really, Alex doesn’t know why he’s in the damn class.
(Or, the one in which Charles teaches an online Introduction to Biology course, and Alex reads more than he expected to.)
Heli Cases - Black_Betty
Summary: "Heli Cases" is a program on PBS whose aim is to educate on the rapidly increasing occurrence of genetic mutation in the general populous by breaking the complex science down into palatable, easy to digest pieces.
It is also the only thing that helps Erik get his fussy daughter to fall asleep.
(Featuring Dadneto, baby Lorna and the struggles of single fatherhood, and Charles as the host of a late night show about genetics.)
Bound - FuryRed
Summary: Is there anything worse than someone else’s wedding? Well, perhaps your sister’s wedding- where the groom just has to invite his boss and that man just happens to be your ex-boyfriend; a person you had an extremely passionate and tumultuous relationship with that ended badly.
Charles hadn’t seen Erik for a year by the time Raven had told him about the wedding. He wasn’t looking forward to the occasion, particularly when Raven explained that they would be celebrating the event with a two-week extravaganza at a luxury hotel, meaning that Charles would be forced to spend a whole fortnight with the man who he’d given everything to; the man who had ultimately broken his heart…
An Exercise in Frustration – ikeracity
Summary: Erik Lehnsherr's latest critically-acclaimed film Shame features a full-frontal nudity scene. His long-suffering husband Charles is really very peeved about it.
Eyes on Fire - Black_Betty
Summary: Every once in a while, fashion tycoon Emma Frost invites her favourite male models over to entertain her. And by "entertain", I mean she makes them have kinky consensual sex in front of her....Emma never touches herself when she watches, but she always has a glass of wine with her. Emma likes it best when they eventually forget that she's watching.
Charles and Erik meet each other through Emma...
(I've taken some liberties with the prompt, but all the sex is still there, and it's wholly consensual...and gradually, becomes more than just sex...)
Order Up - ikeracity
Summary: Charles has a terrible habit of multitasking, and that is probably why he absentmindedly tells the pizza man that he loves him when hanging up.
Then the pizza man says it back. And Charles is pretty much smitten from there.
Some Assembly Required - manic_intent
Summary: "Alex and Hank were two teenagers who frequently fight in school. One fight got so bad that the principal called in their fathers (as both came from single-parent families)/ guardians for a conference. This was how Charles and Erik meet."
Limited Release - rageprufrock
Summary: When Alex Summers broke out of supermax to rescue his stupid kid brother, he had no idea it was going to be so fucking complicated.
Math Reasons – pearl_o, pocky_slash
Summary: "Mom says Erik always knows what he wants, it just sometimes takes him a little while to actually realize it," Ruth said.
Charles fell in love with Erik the first night they met, the first week of freshman year. Two years of friendship, adventures, arguments, hijinks, secrets, and summer visits later, Erik is starting to catch up.
It’s kind of our whole thing – pearl_o, pocky_slash
Summary: After two years of best friendship, Charles and Erik thought they knew everything there was to know about each other. They're surprised, then, when their first summer as a couple reveals that they have a lot to learn about each other and themselves.
PART 2 of Math Reasons
A Nice Boy (The Family Matters Edition) – pocky_slash
Summary: Erik's not sure whether the problem is that he doesn't want his parents to meet Charles or that he doesn't want Charles to meet his parents. Either way, he never invites Charles to brunch. Why should he? It's not like they're dating.
apple season – pocky_slash
Summary: "You know," Charles says while they're sitting around the kitchen table reading the paper, "You should take Anya apple picking."
"Don't you mean 'we?'" Erik responds. The silence that follows is enough to make him re-examine his own apple picking memories a little more closely. Uneven ground littered with apples, tree roots, holes, and narrow passage between rows of orchard trees. "Oh," he says.
rooms/shares – pocky_slash
Summary: Erik is single, working a cube job he hates, letting his master's degree in mutant studies collect dust, and living on his best friend's couch. When she kicks him out, he's forced to trawl Craigslist for the least-offensive rooming option within his meagre budget. He never expects a response from the persnickety, high maintenance ad he replies to as a joke, but it's possible this too-nice apartment and mysteriously absent roommate might be the answer to all four of his problems.
Continue firm and constant – aesc
Summary: Moira hasn't seen her old partner in saving the world from threats human and intergalactic, Erik Lehnsherr, for a few years. When she finally does see him again, she finds a man different from the one who's been with her down in the dark and the dirt and the blood... or maybe he isn't so different after all.
Tough little baby telepath – aesc, pearl_o
Five Part Series
Summary: Teenage telepath Charles Xavier takes a job as a consultant, working with prickly police detective Erik Lehnsherr. Charles is used to being on his own and taking care of himself; he has no reason to think that his relationship with this stern, icy man is going to change any of that.
Frosted hearts – aesc, palalife
Summary: Emma Frost has 99 problems, but a date ain't one. Specifically, she has no time to play the dating game--which is fine with her, because she'd much rather run it instead. From a set of sleek, silver and white offices on Fifth Avenue and with her trusty, stylish, and silent partner Janos Quested, Emma has built Frosted Hearts into New York City's premiere dating service, built on the principle that money, and a sufficiently rigorous psionic scan, can, in fact, buy you love.
Somewhere in Frosted Hearts's server is one Charles Xavier, genius and geneticist, with the kind of nicely-starched good looks that sell well on brochures for New England prep schools. He's also a telepath who's decided to give up pursuing serious relationships and instead spend his thirties doing what he should have done as a teenager: have a lot of sex with random people. Fortunately for him, Erik Lehnsherr, metallokinetic and engineering executive, has absolutely no time in his heart or his schedule for anything more serious than... well, absolutely nothing romantic at all.
Mercy of the Fallen (the AirDrop Security Update 2.0) – pocky_slash
Summary: Erik Lehnsherr feels defined by his past sins and after years of acting against his own moral compass, he's finally struck out on his own. He's his own boss now, and determined to work hard to help the mutant community and make up for years of doing someone else's dirty work.
Complicating this is Charles Xavier, mutant advocate, genetics professor, unfairly attractive telepath, and owner of the coffee shop below Erik's office. Erik may not think he deserves to be a part of the community he's thrown himself into helping, but Charles has other ideas on the matter, and he's determined to do everything in his power to make Erik see himself as a force for good.
you follow and i’ll lead – pearl_o, pocky_slash
Summary: When Charles discovers how frustrated and self-conscious his best friend Erik is about his ignorance about sex, he's eager to volunteer to help teach him and practice. Charles might not have any more direct experience than Erik, but he does have a telepath's mind full of accidentally picked-up fantasies and memories, as well as knowledge of a few dirty books - and more importantly, he's been madly in love with Erik for years. This seems like a brilliant, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that he can't pass up.
Now he just needs to manage to keep his feelings in check, and not ruin their friendship forever.
Snail Mail – pocky_slash
Summary: Alex isn't thrilled when his boss, Erik, starts sending him to hand deliver notes to Erik's husband up at the university--that is, until he sees the Professor's hot new TA, and suddenly, the notes can't come fast enough. If only Alex could work up the guts to ask him out....
this is life (and everything’s all right) – pocky_slash
Summary: Edie Lehnsherr came into Charles' life long before he ever heard Erik Lehnsherr's name, and her death left a gaping hole in the lives of everyone in Charles' family. As the first Purim without her approaches, he begins to get creative in his efforts to bring everyone out of their grief. Kitchen creativity, however, is not quite his strength....
Watching the Detectives – Clocks
Summary: Detectives Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr are good friends and colleagues. However, when they go undercover at a Christmas party to nab a prime suspect, Erik keeps reminding himself to stay professional and ignore feelings of unexpected jealousy.
Student/Teacher Relations – PoorMedea
Summary: As a TA, Charles knows he can't get involved in all his students' lives. He needs to keep professional boundaries, to make sure that he's an authority figure. But when he accidentally finds out how complicated Erik Lehnsherr's home life is, he suddenly finds that distance hard to maintain.
Fill for the prompt: Erik is the teen dad of adorable baby!Lorna. I just want teen!Erik being a dad, with adorable interactions between him and his baby. Angst is good too since there's always going to be some in such situations, but mainly I want to see teen dad Erik being an awesome dad who loves the hell out of his daughter despite whatever else may be going on.
Conspiracy of Kisses – Alaceron
Summary: Seven-year-old Erik needs to keep his telepathic best friend Charles from finding out that he wants to kiss him. But that's okay, because he has a plan - he'll put on a tinfoil hat.
Favorite Mistake – endingthemes
Summary: Charles Xavier doesn’t think anything of it when he sneaks out without even saying goodbye to his latest one-night stand. What he doesn’t expect is to walk into his new position in the Xavier Industries marketing department and find that his latest hook-up is now his new boss.
Never Take Biology for Granite – ikeracity, pangea
Summary: Charles is an internet celebrity who garners his fame from posting educational, in-depth videos about a different animal every week, though for some reason his viewers are always more interested in his sex life with his geologist husband, Erik, who happens to frown heavily upon all living things.
Except for Charles, of course, whom he's missed these past couple days while attending a geologic convention--though considering the subject material of Charles' newest video, he's wishing he would've stayed away longer.
This Is Not Comedy – baehj2915
Summary: Written for amarriageoftrueminds' prompt for a Cherik version of Louis CK's tangent about the fuckability of Ewan McGregor.
Naturally the similarities end there. I made this about Erik's full on public lust-filled gay revelation, and the chaos that spirals from there.
Snowed In – dedkake
Summary: Charles and Erik have a one night stand, but a blizzard traps them in Erik's apartment afterward.
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Anna May Wong (born Wong Liu Tsong; January 3, 1905 – February 3, 1961) was an American actress, considered to be the first Chinese American Hollywood movie star, as well as the first Chinese American actress to gain international recognition. Her varied career spanned silent film, sound film, television, stage, and radio.
Born in Los Angeles to second-generation Taishanese Chinese-American parents, Wong became infatuated with the movies and began acting in films at an early age. During the silent film era, she acted in The Toll of the Sea (1922), one of the first movies made in color, and in Douglas Fairbanks' The Thief of Bagdad (1924). Wong became a fashion icon and had achieved international stardom in 1924.
Frustrated by the stereotypical supporting roles she reluctantly played in Hollywood, Wong left for Europe in the late 1920s, where she starred in several notable plays and films, among them Piccadilly (1929). She spent the first half of the 1930s traveling between the United States and Europe for film and stage work. Wong was featured in films of the early sound era, such as Daughter of the Dragon (1931), Daughter of Shanghai (1937), and with Marlene Dietrich in Josef von Sternberg's Shanghai Express (1932).
In 1935, Wong was dealt the most severe disappointment of her career, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer refused to consider her for the leading role of the Chinese character O-Lan in the film version of Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth. MGM instead cast Luise Rainer to play the leading role in yellowface, due to the Hays Code anti-miscegenation rules requiring the wife of a white actor, Paul Muni (ironically playing a Chinese character in yellowface), to be played by a white actress. MGM offered Wong a supporting role of Lotus, the seductress, but she refused on principle.
Wong spent the next year touring China, visiting her family's ancestral village and studying Chinese culture. In the late 1930s, she starred in several B movies for Paramount Pictures, portraying Chinese and Chinese Americans in a positive light.
She paid less attention to her film career during World War II, when she devoted her time and money to help the Chinese cause against Japan. Wong returned to the public eye in the 1950s in several television appearances.
In 1951, Wong made history with her television show The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, the first-ever U.S. television show starring an Asian American series lead. She had been planning to return to film in Flower Drum Song when she died in 1961, at the age of 56, from a heart attack. For decades after her death, Wong was remembered principally for the stereotypical "Dragon Lady" and demure "Butterfly" roles that she was often given. Her life and career were re-evaluated in the years around the centennial of her birth, in three major literary works and film retrospectives.
Anna May Wong was born Wong Liu Tsong (黄柳霜. Liu Tsong literally meaning "willow frost") on January 3, 1905, on Flower Street in Los Angeles, one block north of Chinatown, in an integrated community of Chinese, Irish, German and Japanese residents. She was the second of seven children born to Wong Sam Sing, owner of the Sam Kee Laundry, and his second wife Lee Gon Toy.
Wong's parents were second-generation Chinese Americans; her maternal and paternal grandparents had resided in the U.S. since at least 1855. Her paternal grandfather, A Wong Wong, was a merchant who owned two stores in Michigan Hills, a gold-mining area in Placer County. He had come from Chang On, a village near Taishan, Guangdong Province, China, in 1853. Anna May's father spent his youth traveling between the U.S. and China, where he married his first wife and fathered a son in 1890. He returned to the U.S. in the late 1890s and in 1901, while continuing to support his family in China, he married a second wife, Anna May's mother. Anna May's older sister Lew Ying (Lulu) was born in late 1902, and Anna May in 1905, followed by five more children.
In 1910, the family moved to a neighborhood on Figueroa Street where they were the only Chinese people on their block, living alongside mostly Mexican and Eastern European families. The two hills separating their new home from Chinatown helped Wong to assimilate into American culture. She attended public school with her older sister at first, but then when the girls became the target of racial taunts from other students, they moved to a Presbyterian Chinese school. Classes were taught in English, but Wong attended a Chinese language school afternoons and on Saturdays.
About that same time, U.S. motion picture production began to relocate from the East Coast to the Los Angeles area. Movies were shot constantly in and around Wong's neighborhood. She began going to Nickelodeon movie theaters and quickly became obsessed with the "flickers", missing school and using lunch money to attend the cinema. Her father was not happy with her interest in films, feeling that it interfered with her studies, but Wong decided to pursue a film career regardless. At the age of nine, she constantly begged filmmakers to give her roles, earning herself the nickname "C.C.C." or "Curious Chinese Child". By the age of 11, Wong had come up with her stage name of Anna May Wong, formed by joining both her English and family names.
Wong was working at Hollywood's Ville de Paris department store when Metro Pictures needed 300 female extras to appear in Alla Nazimova's film The Red Lantern (1919). Without her father's knowledge, a friend of his with movie connections helped her land an uncredited role as an extra carrying a lantern.
Wong worked steadily for the next two years as an extra in various movies, including Priscilla Dean and Colleen Moore pictures. While still a student, Wong came down with an illness identified as St. Vitus's Dance which caused her to miss months of school. She was on the verge of emotional collapse when her father took her to a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. The treatments proved successful, though Wong later claimed this had more to do with her dislike of the methods. Other Chinese thought such as Confucianism and particularly Taoism and the teachings of Laozi had a strong influence on Wong's personal philosophy throughout her life. The family's religious life also included Christian thought, in the form of Presbyterianism and as an adult she was a Christian Scientist for some time.
Finding it difficult to keep up with both her schoolwork and her passion, Wong dropped out of Los Angeles High School in 1921 to pursue a full-time acting career. Reflecting on her decision, Wong told Motion Picture Magazine in 1931: "I was so young when I began that I knew I still had youth if I failed, so I determined to give myself 10 years to succeed as an actress."
In 1921, Wong received her first screen credit for Bits of Life, the first anthology film, in which she played the wife of Lon Chaney's character, Toy Ling, in a segment entitled "Hop". She later recalled it fondly as the only time she played the role of a mother; her appearance earned her a cover photo on the British magazine Picture Show.
At the age of 17, Wong played her first leading role, in the early Metro two-color Technicolor movie The Toll of the Sea. Written by Frances Marion, the story was based loosely on Madama Butterfly. Variety magazine singled Wong out for praise, noting her "extraordinarily fine" acting. The New York Times commented, "Miss Wong stirs in the spectator all the sympathy her part calls for and she never repels one by an excess of theatrical 'feeling'. She has a difficult role, a role that is botched nine times out of ten, but hers is the tenth performance. Completely unconscious of the camera, with a fine sense of proportion and remarkable pantomimic accuracy ... She should be seen again and often on the screen."
Despite such reviews, Hollywood proved reluctant to create starring roles for Wong; her ethnicity prevented U.S. filmmakers from seeing her as a leading lady. David Schwartz, the chief curator of the Museum of the Moving Image, notes, "She built up a level of stardom in Hollywood, but Hollywood didn't know what to do with her." She spent the next few years in supporting roles providing "exotic atmosphere", for instance playing a concubine in Tod Browning's Drifting (1923). Film producers capitalized on Wong's growing fame but they relegated her to supporting roles. Still optimistic about a film career, in 1923 Wong said: "Pictures are fine and I'm getting along all right, but it's not so bad to have the laundry back of you, so you can wait and take good parts and be independent when you're climbing."
At the age of 19, Wong was cast in a supporting role as a scheming Mongol slave in the 1924 Douglas Fairbanks picture The Thief of Bagdad. Playing a stereotypical "Dragon Lady" role, her brief appearances on-screen caught the attention of audiences and critics alike. The film grossed more than $2 million and helped introduce Wong to the public. Around this time, Wong had an affair with the director Tod Browning. It was a romance largely known of at the time: it was an interracial relationship and Wong was underage.
After this second prominent role, Wong moved out of the family home into her own apartment. Conscious that Americans viewed her as "foreign-born" even though she was born and raised in California, Wong began cultivating a flapper image. In March 1924, planning to make films about Chinese myths, she signed a deal creating Anna May Wong Productions; when her business partner was found to be engaging in dishonest practices, Wong brought a lawsuit against him and the company was dissolved.
It soon became evident that Wong's career would continue to be limited by American anti-miscegenation laws, which prevented her from sharing an on-screen kiss with any person of another race, even if the character was Asian, but being portrayed by a white actor. The only leading Asian man in U.S. films in the silent era was Sessue Hayakawa. Unless Asian leading men could be found, Wong could not be a leading lady.
Wong continued to be offered exotic supporting roles that followed the rising "vamp" stereotype in cinema. She played indigenous native girls in two 1924 films. Filmed on location in the Territory of Alaska, she portrayed an Eskimo in The Alaskan. She returned to Los Angeles to perform the part of Princess Tiger Lily in Peter Pan. Both films were shot by cinematographer James Wong Howe. Peter Pan was more successful, and it was the hit of the Christmas season. The next year, Wong was singled out for critical praise in a manipulative Oriental vamp role in the film Forty Winks. Despite such favorable reviews, she became increasingly disappointed with her casting and began to seek other roads to success. In early 1925 she joined a group of serial stars on a tour of the vaudeville circuits; when the tour proved to be a failure, Wong and the rest of the group returned to Hollywood.
In 1926, Wong put the first rivet into the structure of Grauman's Chinese Theatre when she joined Norma Talmadge for its groundbreaking ceremony, although she was not invited to leave her hand- and foot-prints in cement. In the same year, Wong starred in The Silk Bouquet. Re-titled The Dragon Horse in 1927, the film was one of the first U.S. films to be produced with Chinese backing, provided by San Francisco's Chinese Six Companies. The story was set in China during the Ming Dynasty and featured Asian actors playing the Asian roles.
Wong continued to be assigned supporting roles. Hollywood's Asian female characters tended toward two stereotypical poles: the naïve and self-sacrificing "Butterfly" and the sly and deceitful "Dragon Lady". In Old San Francisco (1927), directed by Alan Crosland for Warner Brothers, Wong played a "Dragon Lady", a gangster's daughter. In Mr. Wu (1927), she played a supporting role as increasing censorship against mixed-race onscreen couples cost her the lead. In The Crimson City, released the following year, this happened again.
Tired of being both typecast and passed over for lead Asian character roles in favor of non-Asian actresses, Wong left Hollywood in 1928 for Europe. Interviewed by Doris Mackie for Film Weekly in 1933, Wong complained about her Hollywood roles: "I was so tired of the parts I had to play." She commented: "There seems little for me in Hollywood, because, rather than real Chinese, producers prefer Hungarians, Mexicans, American Indians for Chinese roles."
In Europe, Wong became a sensation, starring in notable films such as Schmutziges Geld (aka Song and Show Life, 1928) and Großstadtschmetterling (Pavement Butterfly). Of the German critics' response to Song, The New York Times reported that Wong was "acclaimed not only as an actress of transcendent talent but as a great beauty". The article noted that Germans passed over Wong's American background: "Berlin critics, who were unanimous in praise of both the star and the production, neglect to mention that Anna May is of American birth. They mention only her Chinese origins." In Vienna, she played the title role in the operetta Tschun Tschi in fluent German. An Austrian critic wrote, "Fräulein Wong had the audience perfectly in her power and the unobtrusive tragedy of her acting was deeply moving, carrying off the difficult German-speaking part very successfully."
While in Germany, Wong became an inseparable friend of the director Leni Riefenstahl. Her close friendships with several women throughout her life, including Marlene Dietrich and Cecil Cunningham, led to rumors of lesbianism which damaged her public reputation. These rumors, in particular of her supposed relationship with Dietrich, further embarrassed Wong's family. They had long been opposed to her acting career, which was not considered to be an entirely respectable profession at the time.
London producer Basil Dean bought the play A Circle of Chalk for Wong to appear in with the young Laurence Olivier, her first stage performance in the United Kingdom. Criticism of her California accent, described by one critic as a "Yankee squeak", led to Wong seeking vocal tutoring at Cambridge University, where she trained in received pronunciation. Composer Constant Lambert, infatuated with the actress after having seen her in films, attended the play on its opening night and subsequently composed Eight Poems of Li Po, dedicated to her.
Wong made her last silent film, Piccadilly, in 1929, the first of five British films, in which she had a starring role. The film caused a sensation in the UK. Gilda Gray was the top-billed actress, but Variety commented that Wong "outshines the star" and that "from the moment Miss Wong dances in the kitchen's rear, she steals 'Piccadilly' from Miss Gray." Though the film presented Wong in her most sensual role yet of the five films, once again she was not permitted to kiss her white love interest and a controversial planned scene involving a kiss was cut before the film was released. Forgotten for decades after its release, Piccadilly was later restored by the British Film Institute. Time magazine's Richard Corliss calls Piccadilly Wong's best film, and The Guardian reports that the rediscovery of this film and Wong's performance in it has been responsible for a restoration of the actress' reputation.
While in London, Wong was romantically linked with writer and broadcasting executive Eric Maschwitz, who possibly wrote the lyrics to "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)" as an evocation of his longing for her after they parted. Wong's first talkie was The Flame of Love (1930), which she recorded in French, English, and German. Though Wong's performance—particularly her handling of the three languages—was lauded, all three versions of the film received negative reviews.
During the 1930s, American studios were looking for fresh European talent. Ironically, Wong caught their eye, and she was offered a contract with Paramount Studios in 1930. Enticed by the promise of lead roles and top billing, she returned to the United States. The prestige and training she had gained during her years in Europe led to a starring role on Broadway in On the Spot, a drama that ran for 167 performances and which she would later film as Dangerous to Know. When the play's director wanted Wong to use stereotypical Japanese mannerisms, derived from Madame Butterfly, in her performance of a Chinese character, Wong refused. She instead used her knowledge of Chinese style and gestures to imbue the character with a greater degree of authenticity. Following her return to Hollywood in 1930, Wong repeatedly turned to the stage and cabaret for a creative outlet.
In November 1930, Wong's mother was struck and killed by an automobile in front of the Figueroa Street house. The family remained at the house until 1934 when Wong's father returned to his hometown in China with Anna May's younger brothers and sister. Anna May had been paying for the education of her younger siblings, who put their education to work after they relocated to China. lBefore the family left, Wong's father wrote a brief article for Xinning, a magazine for overseas Taishanese, in which he expressed his pride in his famous daughter.
With the promise of appearing in a Josef von Sternberg film, Wong accepted another stereotypical role – the title character of Fu Manchu's vengeful daughter in Daughter of the Dragon (1931) This was the last stereotypically "evil Chinese" role Wong played, and also her one starring appearance alongside the only other well-known Asian actor of the era, Sessue Hayakawa. Though she was given the starring role, this status was not reflected in her paycheck: she was paid $6,000, while Hayakawa received $10,000 and Warner Oland, who is only in the film for 23 minutes, was paid $12,000.
Wong began using her newfound celebrity to make political statements: late in 1931, for example, she wrote a harsh criticism of the Mukden Incident and Japan's subsequent invasion of Manchuria. She also became more outspoken in her advocacy for Chinese American causes and for better film roles. In a 1933 interview for Film Weekly entitled "I Protest", Wong criticized the negative stereotyping in Daughter of the Dragon, saying, "Why is it that the screen Chinese is always the villain? And so crude a villain—murderous, treacherous, a snake in the grass! We are not like that. How could we be, with a civilization that is so many times older than the West?"
Wong appeared alongside Marlene Dietrich as a self-sacrificing courtesan in Sternberg's Shanghai Express. Her sexually charged scenes with Dietrich have been noted by many commentators and fed rumors about the relationship between the two stars. Though contemporary reviews focused on Dietrich's acting and Sternberg's direction, film historians today judge that Wong's performance upstaged that of Dietrich.
The Chinese press had long given Wong's career very mixed reviews, and were less than favorable to her performance in Shanghai Express. A Chinese newspaper ran the headline: "Paramount Utilizes Anna May Wong to Produce Picture to Disgrace China" and continued, "Although she is deficient in artistic portrayal, she has done more than enough to disgrace the Chinese race." Critics in China believed that Wong's on-screen sexuality spread negative stereotypes of Chinese women. The most virulent criticism came from the Nationalist government, but China's intellectuals and liberals were not always so opposed to Wong, as demonstrated when Peking University awarded the actress an honorary doctorate in 1932. Contemporary sources reported that this was probably the only time that an actor had been so honored.
In both America and Europe, Wong had been seen as a fashion icon for over a decade. In 1934, the Mayfair Mannequin Society of New York voted her "The World's best-dressed woman" and in 1938 Look magazine named her "The World's most beautiful Chinese girl".
After her success in Europe and a prominent role in Shanghai Express, Wong's Hollywood career returned to its old pattern. Because of the Hays Code's anti-miscegenation rules, she was passed over for the leading female role in The Son-Daughter in favor of Helen Hayes. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer deemed her "too Chinese to play a Chinese" in the film, and the Hays Office would not have allowed her to perform romantic scenes since the film's male lead, Ramón Novarro, was not Asian. Wong was scheduled to play the role of a mistress to a corrupt Chinese general in Frank Capra's The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), but the role went instead to Toshia Mori.
Again disappointed with Hollywood, Wong returned to Britain, where she stayed for nearly three years. In addition to appearing in four films, she toured Scotland and Ireland as part of a vaudeville show. She also appeared in the King George Silver Jubilee program in 1935. Her film Java Head (1934), though generally considered a minor effort, was the only film in which Wong kissed the lead male character, her white husband in the film. Wong's biographer, Graham Russell Hodges, commented that this may be why the film remained one of Wong's personal favorites. While in London, Wong met Mei Lanfang, one of the most famous stars of the Beijing Opera. She had long been interested in Chinese opera and Mei offered to instruct Wong if she ever visited China.
In the 1930s, the popularity of Pearl Buck's novels, especially The Good Earth, as well as growing American sympathy for China in its struggles with Japanese imperialism, opened up opportunities for more positive Chinese roles in U.S. films. Wong returned to the U.S. in June 1935 with the goal of obtaining the role of O-lan, the lead female character in MGM's film version of The Good Earth. Since its publication in 1931, Wong had made known her desire to play O-lan in a film version of the book; and as early as 1933, Los Angeles newspapers were touting Wong as the best choice for the part.
Nevertheless, the studio apparently never seriously considered Wong for the role because Paul Muni, an actor of European descent, was to play O-lan's husband, Wang Lung, and the Hays Code prohibited portraying miscegenation on camera (although both the characters were Chinese, the actors not being of the same race risked running afoul of the Code). The Chinese government also advised the studio against casting Wong in the role. The Chinese advisor to MGM commented: "whenever she appears in a movie, the newspapers print her picture with the caption 'Anna May again loses face for China' ".
According to Wong, she was instead offered the part of Lotus, a deceitful song girl who helps to destroy the family and seduces the family's oldest son. Wong refused the role, telling MGM head of production Irving Thalberg, "If you let me play O-lan, I will be very glad. But you're asking me—with Chinese blood—to do the only unsympathetic role in the picture featuring an all-American cast portraying Chinese characters."
The role Wong hoped for went to Luise Rainer, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Wong's sister, Mary Liu Heung Wong, appeared in the film in the role of the Little Bride.nMGM's refusal to consider Wong for this most high-profile of Chinese characters in U.S. film is remembered today as "one of the most notorious cases of casting discrimination in the 1930s".
After the major disappointment of losing the role in The Good Earth, Wong announced plans for a year-long tour of China, to visit her father and his family in Taishan. Wong's father had returned to his hometown in China with her younger brothers and sister in 1934. Aside from Mei Lanfang's offer to teach her, she wanted to learn more about the Chinese theater and through English translations to better perform some Chinese plays before international audiences. She told the San Francisco Chronicle on her departure, "... for a year, I shall study the land of my fathers. Perhaps upon my arrival, I shall feel like an outsider. Perhaps instead, I shall find my past life assuming a dreamlike quality of unreality."
Embarking in January 1936, Wong chronicled her experiences in a series of articles printed in U.S. newspapers such as the New York Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Los Angeles Times, and Photoplay. In a stopover in Tokyo on the way to Shanghai, local reporters, ever curious about her romantic life, asked if she had marriage plans, to which Wong replied, "No, I am wedded to my art." The following day, however, Japanese newspapers reported that Wong was married to a wealthy Cantonese man named Art.
During her travels in China, Wong continued to be strongly criticized by the Nationalist government and the film community. She had difficulty communicating in many areas of China because she was raised with the Taishan dialect rather than Mandarin. She later commented that some of the varieties of Chinese sounded "as strange to me as Gaelic. I thus had the strange experience of talking to my own people through an interpreter."
The toll of international celebrity on Wong's personal life manifested itself in bouts of depression and sudden anger, as well as excessive smoking and drinking. Feeling irritable when she disembarked in Hong Kong, Wong was uncharacteristically rude to the awaiting crowd, which then quickly turned hostile. One person shouted: "Down with Huang Liu Tsong—the stooge that disgraces China. Don't let her go ashore." Wong began crying and a stampede ensued.
After she left for a short trip to the Philippines, the situation cooled and Wong joined her family in Hong Kong. With her father and her siblings, Wong visited his family and his first wife at the family's ancestral home near Taishan. Conflicting reports claim that she was either warmly welcomed or met with hostility by the villagers. She spent over 10 days in the family's village and sometime in neighboring villages before continuing her tour of China.
After returning to Hollywood, Wong reflected on her year in China and her career in Hollywood: "I am convinced that I could never play in the Chinese Theatre. I have no feeling for it. It's a pretty sad situation to be rejected by Chinese because I'm 'too American' and by American producers, because they prefer other races to act Chinese parts." Wong's father returned to Los Angeles in 1938.
To complete her contract with Paramount Pictures, Wong made a string of B movies in the late 1930s. Often dismissed by critics, the films gave Wong non-stereotypical roles that were publicized in the Chinese-American press for their positive images. These smaller-budgeted films could be bolder than the higher-profile releases and Wong used this to her advantage to portray successful, professional, Chinese-American characters.
Competent and proud of their Chinese heritage, these characters worked against the prevailing U.S. film portrayals of Chinese Americans. In contrast to the usual official Chinese condemnation of Wong's film roles, the Chinese consul to Los Angeles gave his approval to the final scripts of two of these films, Daughter of Shanghai (1937) and King of Chinatown (1939).
n Daughter of Shanghai, Wong played the Asian-American female lead in a role that was rewritten for her as the heroine of the story, actively setting the plot into motion rather than the more passive character originally planned. The script was so carefully tailored for Wong that at one point it was given the working title Anna May Wong Story. When the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2006, the announcement described it as "more truly Wong's personal vehicle than any of her other films".
Of this film, Wong told Hollywood Magazine, "I like my part in this picture better than any I've had before ... because this picture gives Chinese a break—we have sympathetic parts for a change! To me, that means a great deal." The New York Times gave the film a generally positive review, commenting of its B-movie origins, "An unusually competent cast saves the film from the worst consequences of certain inevitable banalities. [The cast] ... combine with effective sets to reduce the natural odds against any pictures in the Daughter of Shanghai tradition."
In October 1937, the press carried rumors that Wong had plans to marry her male co-star in this film, childhood friend and Korean-American actor Philip Ahn. Wong replied, "It would be like marrying my brother."
Bosley Crowther was not so kind to Dangerous to Know (1938), which he called a "second-rate melodrama, hardly worthy of the talents of its generally capable cast". In King of Chinatown, Wong played a surgeon who sacrifices a high-paying promotion in order to devote her energies to helping the Chinese fight the Japanese invasion. The New York Times' Frank Nugent gave the film a negative review. Though he commented positively on its advocacy of the Chinese in their fight against Japan, he wrote, "... Paramount should have spared us and its cast ... the necessity of being bothered with such folderol".
Paramount also employed Wong as a tutor to other actors, such as Dorothy Lamour in her role as a Eurasian in Disputed Passage. Wong performed on radio several times, including a 1939 role as "Peony" in Pearl Buck's The Patriot on Orson Welles' The Campbell Playhouse. Wong's cabaret act, which included songs in Cantonese, French, English, German, Danish, Swedish, and other languages, took her from the U.S. to Europe and Australia through the 1930s and 1940s.
In 1938, having auctioned off her movie costumes and donated the money to Chinese aid, the Chinese Benevolent Association of California honored Wong for her work in support of Chinese refugees. The proceeds from the preface that she wrote in 1942 to a cookbook entitled New Chinese Recipes, one of the first Chinese cookbooks, were also dedicated to United China Relief. Between 1939 and 1942, she made few films, instead engaging in events and appearances in support of the Chinese struggle against Japan.
Being sick of the negative typecasting that had enveloped her throughout her American career, Wong visited Australia for more than three months in 1939. There she was the star attraction in a vaudeville show entitled 'Highlights from Hollywood' at the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne.
Wong attended several socialite events at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, in 1941.
Wong starred in Bombs over Burma (1942) and Lady from Chungking (1942), both anti-Japanese propaganda made by the poverty row studio Producers Releasing Corporation. She donated her salary for both films to United China Relief. The Lady from Chungking differed from the usual Hollywood war film in that the Chinese were portrayed as heroes rather than as victims rescued by Americans. Even after American characters are captured by the Japanese, the primary goal of the heroes is not to free the Americans, but to prevent the Japanese from entering the city of Chongqing (Chungking). Also, in an interesting twist, the Chinese characters are portrayed by Chinese-American actors, while the Japanese villains—normally played by Chinese-American actors—are acted by European Americans. The film ends with Wong making a speech for the birth of a "new China". The Hollywood Reporter and Variety both gave Wong's performance in The Lady from Chungking positive reviews but commented negatively on the film's plot.
A Democrat, Wong was supportive of Adlai Stevenson's campaign during the 1952 presidential election.
Later in life, Wong invested in real estate and owned a number of properties in Hollywood. She converted her home on San Vicente Boulevard in Santa Monica into four apartments that she called "Moongate Apartments". She served as the apartment house manager from the late 1940s until 1956, when she moved in with her brother Richard on 21st Place in Santa Monica.
In 1949, Wong's father died in Los Angeles at the age of 91. After a six-year absence, Wong returned to film the same year with a small role in a B movie called Impact. From August 27 to November 21, 1951, Wong starred in a detective series that was written specifically for her, the DuMont Television Network series The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, in which she played the title role that used her birth name. Wong's character was a dealer in Chinese art whose career involved her in detective work and international intrigue. The ten half-hour episodes aired during prime time, from 9:00 to 9:30 pm. Although there were plans for a second season, DuMont canceled the show in 1952. No copies of the show or its scripts are known to exist. After the completion of the series, Wong's health began to deteriorate. In late 1953 she suffered an internal hemorrhage, which her brother attributed to the onset of menopause, her continued heavy drinking, and financial worries.
In 1956, Wong hosted one of the first U.S. documentaries on China narrated entirely by a Chinese American. Broadcast on the ABC travel series Bold Journey, the program consisted of film footage from her 1936 trip to China. Wong also did guest spots on television series such as Adventures in Paradise, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.
For her contribution to the film industry, Anna May Wong received a star at 1708 Vine Street on the inauguration of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. She is also depicted larger-than-life as one of the four supporting pillars of the "Gateway to Hollywood" sculpture located on the southeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, with the actresses Dolores del Río (Hispanic American), Dorothy Dandridge (African American), and Mae West (White American).
In 1960, Wong returned to film in Portrait in Black, starring Lana Turner. She still found herself stereotyped, with one press release explaining her long absence from films with a supposed proverb, which was claimed to have been passed down to Wong by her father: "Don't be photographed too much or you'll lose your soul", a quote that would be inserted into many of her obituaries.
Wong was scheduled to play the role of Madame Liang in the film production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song, but was unable to take the role due to her health issues. On February 3, 1961, at the age of 56, Anna died of a heart attack as she slept at home in Santa Monica, two days after her final screen performance on television's The Barbara Stanwyck Show. Her cremated remains were interred in her mother's grave at Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles. The headstone is marked with her mother's Anglicized name on top, the Chinese names of Anna May (on the right), and her sister Mary (on the left) along the sides.
Wong's image and career have left a notable legacy. Through her films, public appearances and prominent magazine features, she helped to humanize Chinese Americans to white audiences during a period of intense racism and discrimination. Chinese Americans had been viewed as perpetually foreign in U.S. society, but Wong's films and public image established her as a Chinese-American citizen at a time when laws discriminated against Chinese immigration and citizenship. Wong's hybrid image dispelled contemporary notions that the East and West were inherently different.
Among Wong's films, only Shanghai Express retained critical attention in the U.S. in the decades after her death. In Europe and especially England, her films appeared occasionally at festivals. Wong remained popular with the gay community who often claimed her as one of their own and for whom her marginalization by the mainstream became a symbol. Although the Chinese Nationalist criticism of her portrayals of the "Dragon Lady" and "Butterfly" stereotypes lingered, she was forgotten in China. Nevertheless, the importance of Wong's legacy within the Asian-American film community can be seen in the Anna May Wong Award of Excellence, which is given yearly at the Asian-American Arts Awards; the annual award given out by the Asian Fashion Designers was also named after Wong in 1973.
For decades following her death, Wong's image remained as a symbol in literature as well as in the film. In the 1971 poem "The Death of Anna May Wong", Jessica Hagedorn saw Wong's career as one of "tragic glamour" and portrayed the actress as a "fragile maternal presence, an Asian-American woman who managed to 'birth' however ambivalently, Asian-American screen women in the jazz age". Wong's character in Shanghai Express was the subject of John Yau's 1989 poem "No One Ever Tried to Kiss Anna May Wong", which interprets the actress' career as a series of tragic romances. Sally Wen Mao wrote a book called Oculus, published in 2019, with a series of persona poems in the voice of Anna May Wong. In David Cronenberg's 1993 film version of David Henry Hwang's 1986 play, M. Butterfly, Wong's image was used briefly as a symbol of a "tragic diva". Her life was the subject of China Doll, The Imagined Life of an American Actress, an award-winning fictional play written by Elizabeth Wong in 1995.
As the centennial of Wong's birth approached, a re-examination of her life and career took shape; three major works on the actress appeared and comprehensive retrospectives of her films were held at both the Museum of Modern Art and the American Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. Anthony Chan's 2003 biography, Perpetually Cool: The Many Lives of Anna May Wong (1905–1961), was the first major work on Wong and was written, Chan says, "from a uniquely Asian-American perspective and sensibility". In 2004, Philip Leibfried and Chei Mi Lane's exhaustive examination of Wong's career, Anna May Wong: A Complete Guide to Her Film, Stage, Radio and Television Work was published, as well as a second full-length biography, Anna May Wong: From Laundryman's Daughter to Hollywood Legend by Graham Russell Hodges. Though Anna May Wong's life, career, and legacy reflect many complex issues which remain decades after her death, Anthony Chan points out that her place in Asian-American cinematic history, as its first female star, is permanent. An illustrated biography for children, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, was published in 2009.
In 2016, the novelist Peter Ho Davies published The Fortunes, a saga of Chinese-American experiences centered around four characters, one of whom is a fictionalized Anna May Wong, imagined from childhood until her death. In a conversation published in the 2017 paperback edition, Davies described his novel as an exploration of the Chinese-American quest for authenticity—a third way of being Chinese-American—with Anna May Wong representing an iconic example of that struggle.
On January 22, 2020, a Google Doodle celebrated Wong, commemorating the 97th anniversary of the day The Toll of the Sea went into general release.
In 2020, actress Michelle Krusiec played Wong in Ryan Murphy's Netflix drama series, Hollywood. The limited series tells an alternate history of Hollywood in the 1940s.
Also in 2020, her life story was told as part of PBS’s documentary Asian Americans.
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wuxia/xianxia: a loose and somewhat second-hand introduction to the genre, pt1
Sorry for the unconventional q, but i keep seeing Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation everywhere and I kinda want to get into it but a) don't know where to start (web series? live action adaptation?? wait how many are there!) and b) i don't really "get" wuxia / xianxia, that sorta stuff, i find it really hard to cross that cultural barrier and chinese mentality seems very alien. (it's not that i have no experience w different mentalities but chinese in particular is v hard to grasp w/o sources).
So if you have the time and patience, I'd love to hear a summary of it (like, a coherent summary bc all i get on the wikis is a shower of names and concepts that don't make sense to me) and perhaps some "intro for dummies" abt the relevant parts of chinese history and mentality tied to it? not just the cultivation / buddhist part but also re: familial relationships, philosophy and all that. (v brief and low effort of course) Thank you and sorry for bothering you!
("brief and low effort" referring to what I'm asking from you, not to what I need for me - as in i asked for it so i'm more than ready for a complicated essay, but you can write with as much detail as you like, I don't want to ask for some sort of comprehensive tome)
Okay first, you do realize that if you want “brief and low” for anything, you’re asking the wrong person? I was a philosophy major. brief got drilled out of me a long time ago.
Second... well, explaining what makes The Untamed / Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (mdzs for short, from the chinese title, Mo Dao Zu Shi) such a standout story does require understanding some of the wuxia conventions it subverts -- as well as some that it plays straight (so to speak) very, very well.
I figure the best approach (again, sadly not brief) is to first get a handle on the genre of wuxia. Gonna break this post into two, so you’re not reading in a single three-hour stretch or something. I’ll do a follow-up about mdzs, to hopefully make it a bit more accessible for you.
before I do that, let me first say: I didn’t grow up with this genre, so there’s going to be parts that I may miscast unintentionally. for an insider’s view, my go-to voices are @guzhuangheaven, @atthewaterside, @dramatic-gwynne, @the50-person and @drunkensword. if any of them are reading this and can point to more/other/better voices, please do.
I have three analogies -- like cultural doorways -- and like all analogies, they break down when you get into the finer details. In the broad strokes, though, they mostly work, and if nothing else, hopefully they’ll demonstrate that wuxia may be a chinese-specific version, but part of a storytelling tradition that’s nearly universal.
The three doorways are: the american wild west, the samurai era, and the british arthurian romances. And, in a tangential way, the regency period in the romance genre.
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The term ‘wuxia’ can be translated several ways, but I prefer ‘martial chivalry’. Most wuxia takes place in the jianghu, a harder term to unpack. Generally, though, ‘the jianghu’ has connotations not all that different from what americans mean when they reference the wild west.
More of a concept than a physical place, the jianghu (like the ‘wild’ west) exists beyond the reach of the law and/or civilization. It’s occupied by a diverse cast of farmers, merchants, beggars, and so on, but also by outlaws, gangs, hermits, pretty much all those who don’t like the suffocating nature of the civilized world, for whatever reason. It’s not a lawless place (except to outsiders); it does have laws, but those are only unto itself.
So, jianghu is a world to itself, for the most part -- which also makes it kind of timeless. Tang dynasty, Song dynasty, Ming dynasty, it could be any of them and all of them and none of them. Just as the heyday of the cowboys and the cattle drives was barely a decade long, a culture’s romanticized history stretches into lifetimes that exist separate from any date you could pin down on a calendar.
The average wuxia protagonist would fit in reasonably well as knight errants in an arthurian romance, with one important detail in difference: they’re rarely aristocrats. Wuxia protagonists are just as likely (if not more so) to be lower-born, whether the child of farmers, or servants, some common caste.
This is where wuxia diverges from the british and japanese traditions, which have a bit more noblesse oblige going on (knights and samurai both being upper-class types). Even ‘aristocratic’ characters tend to be so only within the jianghu -- sort of like the way a territory’s elected leader in the wild west would’ve had no pull in Washington, given they weren’t from a fully-recognized state.
Wuxia does often have politics, between competing sects (think schools of learning), but that political infighting is independent of the capital’s rules or wishes. A lot of stories -- in the rare cases the topic even comes up -- tends to speak of ‘the capital’ in disparaging terms.
That’s not to say wuxia is all about the flat social systems (it’s definitely not), but most commonly a rank implies some level of competence/study. The title of sect leader isn’t granted, it's earned. Children inherit, but it’s also a common storyline to have an heir with no skills (who then goes through all the trials and tribulations to finally level up and earn that position in turn).
What makes wuxia hard to grasp is its vernacular: the conventions that form the backbone that make something recognizably ‘wuxia’ and not just ‘historical drama set on a frontier in a loosely-defined time period’.
Frex: in a Wild West story, convention is two gunfighters at opposite ends of the street, and at least one of them is wearing a holster tied to his leg with string in a way that no real gunfighter wore, ever, but Hollywood came up with the idea and now it’s a permanent part of our imagination. In the arthurian romances, convention is carrying the token of one’s lady love (a distant, untouchable figure who rarely appears on-page), or meeting the unnamed knight in black on the jousting field. Convention are the samurai who’ll die for their lord’s honor, always touchy and prickly at the first sign of disrespect.
These are things granted the most remarkable gravity, that to an outsider might seem ridiculous. (Why is there always tumbleweed?)
Now, wuxia is the latest evolution in a long-lived literary tradition (and by ‘long’ I mean like 2000+ years) -- but like any living tradition, each subsequent generation reinvents it for their time. Part of that reinvention comes from particularly influential writers, who put their own spin on things, and their interpretation becomes the next generation’s standard for the genre -- “of course wuxia must have X” or “a protagonist never does Y”. (Like how Tolkien almost single-handedly changed western concepts of elves, in fiction.)
And here’s where I explain what regency romance has to do with it. Another short-lived period, in real history, but along came Georgette Heyer, who took bits and pieces of actual research, blended them with her reactionary politics, exaggerating some things and ignoring other things completely. The result is a time-that-never-was, but she cast (and still casts) a shadow so vast that I’ve seen multiple romance writers complain that readers will see a footnoted-and-researched version as wrong, if it contradicts one of Heyer’s made-up conventions.
Modern wuxia has its own Heyer-sized influencers -- like Jin Yong (the Condor trilogy, Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils), Wen Rui'an (The Four), Gu Long (The Legend of Flying Daggers, The Proud Twins), to name a few of the biggest. If you have a chance or are inclined, the big names get remade on a pretty regular basis, and catching one will at least let you see some ur-tropes in action.
But it also means that you can’t really extrapolate, in the sense of saying, “in wuxia, people do X, ergo, X is also a factor in Chinese culture.” It’s like... take any western made in the 50s, and the vernacular is simple. The bad guys wear black hats, the good guys wear white hats, the prostitutes wear bright-colored dresses with frills and the good women wear subdued colors buttoned up to their neck. It told an audience exactly what character filled what role, but that’d tell you zero about real people you might meet in Nebraska or Utah, let alone New York City.
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Almost forgot: xianxia is basically wuxia but with ‘immortal heroes’ -- so there’s gods, divine influences, non-human beings as characters (main or NPC), etc. (Btw, by ‘immortal’ I mean exactly that, like this character is six hundred years old, that one’s a thousand years old, etc.) You can think of xianxia as wuxia, but amped way up on the mystical scale.
Xianxia will sometimes take place on earth (jianghu) but sometimes in the celestial realm (heaven). Or a mix of both, like stories where a character falls (or is banished, or defects) from heaven and has to go through various trials and tribulations as a mortal human in order to regain a power, rise in rank, fall in love, or whatever their goal is.
A number of wuxia stories are driven by some sort of mcguffin, but in xianxia, the mcguffin is more likely to be a powerful spiritual weapon. But I can also think of a number of wuxia in which the mcguffin would fit right in, in xianxia (some near-mystical thing with significant positive, or negative, power independent of the wielder, which often amplifies or boosts the wielder to an inhuman degree, etc).
Thing is, the mcguffin being divine/infernal supernatural isn’t enough alone to make the story xianxia. I’m pretty sure you need non-human or super-human immortals and/or creatures to be considered in the xianxia genre.
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Hi! Thanks so much for indulging me on my last asks. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on Super Dave’s age in the show? We know he’s class of 1998, but that makes him, assuming all other things equal, 20!?? At the start of the show? Like does this man even have a degree? Or did he start working in the coroner’s office right out of high school? Is that normal?
the short answer is: no, i don’t believe that the original production team for csi ever intended for the character of david phillips to be only twenty years old in s1 of the show, as it would not in fact have been normal for someone that young to have a job as a coroner’s assistant at a major metropolitan coroner’s office AND him being that age doesn’t make much logistical sense, given some of the previously established details of his biography.
rather, i believe that his stated high school graduation year of 1998 is a mistake courtesy of the s13 writing team, who prioritized narrative convenience over sense-making for the sake of the one-off story they wanted to tell in episode 13x17 “dead of the class.”
more explanation after the “keep reading,” if you’re interested.
warning: here be some salt about the writing in the later seasons of csi, so if you’re a fan of that era, you might want to skip this one.
here’s what we’re told regarding super dave’s age and graduation year throughout the show:
for the first twelve and a half seasons of csi, no one ever discusses david phillips’s age or high school graduation year.
only halfway through csi s13, in episode 13x17 “dead of the class” to be exact, do these topics ever receive any mention whatsoever.
at this point, it is established that david phillips graduated from high school in 1998, meaning that he is approximately 32 or 33 years old when episode 13x17 “dead of the class” takes place in 2013.
after the events of episode 13x17 “dead of the class,” neither david phillips’s age nor his graduation year are then never mentioned again throughout the remainder of the series.
here are some of the sticking points with regards to what we’re told:
if david phillips graduated from high school in 1998, then that means his birth year is (most likely) either 1980/1981.
if his birth year is 1980/1981, then that means he is either 19 or 20 years old during csi s1.
david berman, who plays david phillips, was born in 1973.
during csi s1, he was 27 years old.
if david berman was born in 1973 but david phillips was born in 1980/1981, that means there is a seven or eight-year age gap between the actor and his character.
another important potential sticking point to keep in mind: in episode 06x13 “kiss-kiss, bye-bye,” david phillips refers to having attended college at some point, presumably before he began working at the clark county coroner’s office.
here’s the analysis:
super dave phillips makes his first appearance on csi during the events of episode 01x05 “friends & lovers.”
however, judging by his interactions with sara in that episode, he appears to have already been working at the lab prior to that point, as sara does not treat him as if he were a brand new hire, and particularly not as if he were newer to the lab than she.
that so, we can infer that super dave has probably been with the clark county coroner’s office since sometime prior to the start of csi s1.
how long exactly he’s been with them, we can’t say, but a year at least seems like a safe (and probably even conservative) guess, and especially if we consider that he is already proficient at his job at the time when we first meet him and not at all unfamiliar with its required tasks, meaning that he is no longer a “trainee” but rather a full-fledged employee.
on the show, super dave’s original job title is “coroner’s assistant.”
in real life, there is no such job within the clark county coroner’s office; the closest analog is the “forensic assistant,” who, according to the job description, “performs a variety of manual and skilled technical work in the coroner's office involving the processing of decedents for examinations and communicating with funeral homes and families with regard to the decedents’ final disposition.”
while this position is open to anyone who has a high school diploma, it does require at least “one year of full-time public contact or general office support experience,” meaning that one could not simply start the job immediately out of high school; they would have to work for a year, preferably in a related field, first.
in most states, high school students cannot hold full-time jobs of any kind and are typically not allowed to work more than eighteen hours per week during the school year.
furthermore, having generalized knowledge of medical procedures and terminology is considered preferable for the job, and since most american public high schools don’t offer courses in that area of study beyond perhaps ap bio or ap anatomy & physiology, applicants to the position who had attended some prior college or technical training would be far more likely to be hired than those who had only attended high school.
while rural coroner’s offices will often hire whomever is willing/available to do the job regardless of background, the clark county coroner’s office, which serves both a major metropolitan area and the prestigious lvpd crime lab, would have competitive hiring; undoubtedly, dave would have been up against other talented and qualified applicants, meaning he would not have likely gotten the job had he not been sufficiently educated/trained for it. almost certainly, he would need to have additional qualifications beyond the minimum requirements in order to make the cut.
we know from episode 06x13 “kiss-kiss, bye-bye” that david phillips attended at least some college, as he refers to having worked as a waiter to put himself through school at that time. whether he finished his degree or dropped out before doing so, we can’t say, but the fact that he was there for at least a while is not in question.
given these requirements and preferences for the job plus what we know about his biography, i tend to think that if dave had in fact graduated from high school in summer 1998, there is very little chance that he could have the job of “forensic assistant” in fall 2000, as it seems unlikely that he would have been able to acquire the requisite work experience necessary to land the job in the first place (let alone the preferred medical education), attend at least some college, undergo full training through the coroner’s office, and gain enough on-the-job experience to be completely competent in his position and work even somewhat independently of doc robbins all within that short window of time.
the college thing is the real kicker.
if he had started a full-time public contact job immediately upon graduation from high school in june 1998, worked there for exactly one year until june 1999, and then immediately gotten hired at the coroner’s office and completed his training there by june 2000, that would be one thing.
but if you add in that one semester of college (at least) which we know for a fact that he had to have attended, then the whole projected timeline falls apart.
in that scenario, dave would have begun college in august 1998, and unless he had already been working full-time while he was going to school full-time simultaneously (which is something that many people do but which isn’t necessarily a common practice for white, middleclass students in the continental us*), even if he’d dropped out by december 1998 and immediately begun working full-time in a public-contact job thereafter, he couldn’t have gotten the requisite year of experience before starting at the coroner’s office, let alone been fully trained as a forensic assistant by november 2000.
* i’m inferring that the phillips family is middleclass, based on the fact that dave’s father is an officer in the us air force (see episode 02x17 “felonius monk”).
—and that’s only assuming that he dropped out of college after just one semester; if he’d stayed any longer at all, which is to say nothing of getting his full degree (either an associate’s or a bachelor’s), then the entire scenario becomes even more impossible.
that super dave is later promoted to the position of “assistant medical examiner” also suggests that he probably has further education, training, and licensure beyond simply a high school diploma (and most likely has a four-year bachelor’s degree of some kind, which would mean that there’s no way he could be twenty years old during the course of s1).
again, the position of “assistant medical examiner” is one that doesn’t actually seem to exist within the real-life clark county coroner’s office, but the closest analog, which is the “coroner investigator” position, requires training as a pathologist (as the job entails performing autopsies), which typically means that the applicant must have a four-year bachelor's degree in a medically-related field such as biology or chemistry, with additional medical school education and medical residency completion preferable.
with all of this information in mind, it doesn’t seem very likely to me that super dave could hold the jobs that he does throughout the course of the show if he had graduated high school in 1998, even if he were some kind of wunderkind.
—and especially not when we consider that super dave’s real-life portrayer david berman graduated high school in 1991.
while of course csi does not always make its characters the exact same age as the actors who play them—for example, jorja fox is three years older in real life than sara sidle is in canon—i have a hard time believing that the original writers of csi, who were much more conscious of verisimilitude and logistics than were their eventual replacements in the later seasons, would have arbitrarily decided to create a seven or eight-year age gap between davids phillips and berman for literally no goddamned narrative reason.
i mean, after all, prior to s13, super dave’s age is never even discussed. it’s certainly not a plot point or even something which really seems to figure in with his general characterization. he’s portrayed as being somewhat naïve about dating and women, yes, but his naïveté has nothing really to do with his age; rather, it’s a product of his relative inexperience around the ladies. while other characters on the show (such as former child prodigies grissom, sara, and greg) are known to have graduated from high school and started their professions “young,” with them, that detail at least feels relevant to how they relate to their worlds and the people around them; with dave, it doesn’t even seem to be a factor. the fact that it doesn’t raises the question: “if tptb really had intended for dave to be ‘just a kid’ from the very beginning of the show, to what end did they intend it? cui bono? why would they make that kind of character decision and then never even touch on the issue, even obliquely or by way of subtext, within the show’s narrative?”
to me, it’s much more likely that the production team originally conceived of super dave as being the same age or at least close in age to david berman, and particularly given that if he were so, then he would have had time to acquire the experience and training necessary for his job.
if super dave had like david berman graduated in 1991, then he would have been born in 1973/1974, and therefore would have been about 26 or 27 years-old in 2000.
at that age, he would have already graduated from high school and had plenty of time to acquire at least one year of full-time work experience, if not more. he also would have been able to attend some college or even fully graduate (circa 1993 if he earned an associate’s degree or 1995 if he earned a bachelor’s).
he may have even had time to attend and complete graduate or medical school thereafter (though not to complete a full medical residency).
if such were his trajectory, then i imagine that his path to eventual promotion involves on-the-job training and american board of medicolegal death investigators (abmdi) certification over the course of the next few years at the lab before before he qualifies to become a coroner investigator.
all in all, everything would make much more sense with him being 27 years-old in s1 as opposed to 20.
and, to me, that’s occam’s razor:
dave being 20 years-old in s1 doesn’t make sense from a logistical perspective, but dave being 27 years-old in s1 does.
since his age isn’t mentioned until s13, it is likely that prior to that point, the csi production team had no intention to make him so impossibly young.
the question then becomes, “why is his graduation year given as 1998 in s13? how come the writers made that change (given how little sense it makes from a timeline perspective)?”
here’s where i get salty:
frankly, the later post-grissom seasons of csi are notorious for fucking up their internal dating system and character details—such as, for example, when tptb accidentally moved the date of sara’s birthday three times in two years or unintentionally changed finn’s death date between the end of s15 and the events of the series finale.
they were not the same writers who had worked on the show from the beginning, and they seem either not to have been familiar with the show bible or at least not cared very much about its contents.
mistakes like making a certain character too young to function in his chosen profession were a frequent occurrence with them.
as for the s13 writers’ exact motivations for placing dave in the sagebrush high class of ‘98, i think they boil down to the issue of “narrative convenience.”
as @bartramcat explains in this post, in s10 to s15 of csi, the writing on csi was “only for the episode,” meaning that the writers really didn’t pay heed to serialization or how the decisions they made would affect the show’s overall continuity.
in the case of episode 13x17 “dead of the class” in particular, i’m about 99.9% sure that the writers came up with the idea to tell the story of super dave finding a dead body at his high school reunion, fell in love with the concept, and then made their vision a reality, never mind that they had to “crunch some data” to make everything fit.
episode 13x17 “dead of the class” takes place in 2013, and since in the us public high school reunions usually only take place at five year intervals, that means that the writers had to choose a graduating year for super dave that worked according to those mathematics—i.e., a year that had taken place five or ten or fifteen or twenty years prior to 2013.
obviously, any potential graduating year after the year 2000 was out, as dave had already begun working the the coroner’s office by that time. any potential graduating year before about 1986 was also out, just given david berman’s real-life age and physical appearance.
(in 2013, berman could believably play a character who was anywhere between his early thirties and early forties but not much younger or older, at least without the aid of cgi, prosthetics, wigs, and makeup.)
the potential graduation years that would fall within that window of time were 1988, 1993, and 1998.
why the writers chose to go with 1998 instead of 1993 or even 1988 (which to me, would have been much more plausible options), i don’t know.
maybe they felt like a fifteen-year reunion was the “sweet spot” between still being close enough to high school to care about all of the old social politics and far enough away to have grown up and fallen out of contact with most of one’s old classmates.
maybe they felt that david berman looked more 33 than 38 (even though in real life, he was actually 40 at the time).
maybe the decision had more to do with the actors they’d cast to be dave’s classmates rather than dave himself (as some of them looked decidedly more “early thirties” than “late thirties” in age).
maybe they just really wanted to include a 90s soundtrack featuring the spice girls and the offspring.
maybe they just didn’t give a damn.
i honestly can’t say.
all i know is that within the world of the show, 1998 makes very little sense as dave’s graduation year, and since it’s such a one-off, anomalous detail (really only mentioned or adhered to for just one episode), i personally am pulling a “nick fury”:
it’s all about the eye-test for me: super dave looks like he’s close in age to the nicks, warricks, saras, and gregs of the world, and throughout the show, he’s at about the same place in his career as they are (albeit with a kind of different job). that so, i believe what i see over what the writers of the later seasons tell me.
he’s got to be in his late twenties by the time s1 is taking place. he’s got to have a four-year college degree at least, if not some additional medical training.
his high school graduation year can’t be 1998 if he’s already firmly established in his job with the coroner’s office in 2000.
the timeline just doesn’t work out, and the story itself (i.e., a kid who’s barely more than a teenager and straight out of high school somehow lands a competitive, full-time job at the top crime lab in the country, working under one of the more perfectionistic and demanding medical examiners in the world, having no additional training or even work experience to his name) strains credulity.
i’m going with what i think the earlier csi writers intended on this one, which is that super dave is the age one would expect him to be, given the specifications of his job and established details of his biography otherwise.
thanks for the question! please feel welcome to send another any time.
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