Excerpts for a 1920's newspaper during the Spanish Flu
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No news is good news.
By Matti Merilaid.
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The Spanish Flu of 1918
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one interesting thing about fma is that the text on-screen is in english even in the original japanese version, so while the shorter sentences and like, store signs and stuff all make sense, the longer paragraphs are usually either just nonsense, something copy/pasted from somewhere else or both. this newspaper shown in part 3 ep 1 (i cant screenshot netflix sorry) features like half of an article on rodney king. which, assuming it was taken from a real newspaper, wouldve been a newspaper from like 1991. when brotherhood came out in 2009. interestingly, the newspaper is supposed to be about leore and the east uprisings in general... i wonder if hiromu arakawa researched police brutality in the states to make the western police/military brutality in fma more realistic
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The Praxic Order HATES him! Local Warlock ends up on Vanguard watchlist with THIS simple trick!
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liminal spacetime: the creative prompt for august at the orangery literary society. 🌾
the blood of dusk looks just like water by @sealavender / keyvan hami (ig: @chelipagram) / god is a liminal space by @linkedsoul / edward hopper, house at dusk / don't forget me, the way i did by @mothprincess / @geof on deviantart / the un-chase by @bies-from-wildland / ben mcloughlin, a russian tabloid newspaper... / haiku by @violetboueux / x / spidersong by ieva dapkevicius (@feytouched)
transcripts, image descriptions, and tag list below.
[ID: a compilation of poems interspersed with photographs on the theme of liminality.
1. poem excerpt: "i stand here, at the threshold / of something, somewhere / and the stillness sticks a needle / through my chest, pinning me / to its collection of silences"
2. photo: a dark sunset landscape; the sky is purple, the sun is a distant dot haloed in orange, just above the horizon, and the earth below is dark green and blurred.
3. poem excerpt: "a transition, a passageway. a there-then-gone- / then-there-again. godhood in the cracks of the world. in the nooks and crannies. where we / unwind. humanity is ink on a paper and god sleeps / (there) / between the lines.”
4. a painting of a stone building's top corner; its flat roof has several chimneys, and some of its rectangular windows are lit up and silhouettes of the interior can be seen. in the background, dark treetops stand against the fading light of day.
5. poem excerpt: "The distance between me and myself, / it was only a corridor away. // But I can't find my room— the gold door numbers are missing— / and the floors beneath me are like the carpeting // in a Marriott hotel, somewhere in Jacksonville, Florida. / Does anyone remember where they went? // Did you remember to leave a note / before you left?"
6. photo: a dark hallway in a derelict building, with doors on either side, lit up by the sunlight filtering in from the open doors on the right and by a small window at the far end of the corridor. there are graffiti of words in dark red on the right-hand side.
7. poem excerpt: "The droplets of quicksilver / Suspending the clock. // The day… Was. / It was, it was, it was. For sure. / You’ll ask yourself / “Is that memory mine?” "
8. a painting of a faded dark green flat landscape with hills in the background, against a dark grey sky. a roadside billboard glows under warm yellow lights; the billboard is blank.
9. poem excerpt: "broken spider silks / the last threads of the summer / sway in August’s breeze"
10. photo: a field of tall grass photographed at night. the background is pure black, and the grass and ground are illuminated with a contrasting bright light. the grass is green and tipped with yellow inflorescences, growing on pale sandy ground that splits it in a path down the centre.
11. poem excerpt: “August, and the greying summer — weightless / as a sun-bleached bone washed ashore, / heavy as the rain-sodden cloak of the sky / embroidered with silver threads of lightning / — teeters on the knife-edge of a sunset, / then falls into colder waters.”]
tag list (ask to be added): @arairah @beelovd @wrenling @fithragaer
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Imagine you're a writer, and there are people scribbling in the margins of your books, underlining their favorite passages, leaving makeshift bookmarks between the pages (subway tickets, library receipts, handwritten notes), reading excerpts out loud to their friends and lovers or to themselves just to feel the words on their tongue, memorizing quotes and then copying them in their notebooks, daydreaming about your characters and excitingly speculating about what's going to happen to them in the sequel, writing reviews in their school newspaper.
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excerpt: “She’d have to become something you wouldn’t expect.” You turn your head — more by force of habit than anything else — only to find that Sherlock is already looking at you. You frown at the look on his face: the intrigued, furrowed brows and fond eyes. “What?”
He shakes his head, clears his throat, continues walking. “Nothing. You’re quite good at this.”
pairing: sherlock holmes x reader
word count: 10.9k
warnings: period-typical misogyny and whatnot, mycroft is a bitchbaby, sherlock has feelings oh nooooo please dont sue me sherlock estate
note: ooga booga guys i love him
Peonies: romance, prosperity, compassion.
Pink roses: gratitude, grace, joy.
It must only be ten minutes into your meeting with the infamous Holmes brothers that you realise that the good Mister Mycroft Holmes is well on his way to popping a vein — in particular, the bulging one along his temple. Even his ridiculous curling moustache can’t possibly distract from it; if anything, it draws your eye straight towards it, the pulsing, jumping thread looped beneath his skin—
“—and she must come home!” Idly, you wonder which is more likely: that the vein bursts first, or he begins foaming at the mouth. An angry scarlet flush has taken residence over his cheeks, nose, and ears; his white-knuckled grip on his walking stick is almost painful to look at. “It’s a disgrace, is what it is! A good, strong, English name sullied by the uncorrected behaviour of a wayward girl—”
You suppose that rolling your eyes at a time like this — when Mycroft quite genuinely looks five seconds from either combusting at will or shattering the brass head of his cane — would prove more unhelpful than anything else, and so you refrain from doing so. Though, when your eyes drift from the eldest Holmes brother, and come upon the younger (and more agreeable) of the two:
Sherlock Holmes — a good friend as he has been for the past few years — meets your eyes, and hides an amused smile behind the newspaper he’d bought from the paperboy outside. You weigh the probability that he’d simply made a call to your house to share the unbearably dreary ramblings of his brother — it’s likely, now that you think of it, because what reason would Sherlock have to seek your help in finding his sister…?
“Are you sure I can’t offer you some tea, Mister Holmes?” You interrupt, eyes flickering past the gauzy lace curtains of your drawing room to the lively street outside — hoping that by some grace of God Mycroft’s carriage he’d requested will round the corner and put you out of your misery.
Alas, the carriage does not appear simply because you’ve willed it so.
“I’m quite alright, thank you.” Chest heaving with breaths he’d simply forgotten to take, he tugs his pocket square from his jacket and dabs daintily at the sweat beading at his hairline.
(You almost laugh. Sherlock clears his throat and raises the newspaper to shield his entire visage, and there’s no doubt in your mind that he’s grinning as widely as you want to.)
“My apologies,” says Mycroft, making a point to cast his eyes around the room, “My frustrations seem to have trumped my manners. A delightful home you have, Missus _____.”
Your eyes narrow on Sherlock’s face — his features (or what you can see of them peaking over the top of his paper) are tightened in badly-veiled amusement, and he looks much too pleased with himself. You restrain a sigh.
As expected: making fun for himself where there is none. Make no mistake — intelligent and refined as he may be, when things are particularly tiring Sherlock Holmes has about as much maturity in his entire body as a young child has in their little finger. You expect that, to his brother, that aspect of his personality is less than appealing — for you, it was one of the things that endeared the esteemed detective to you.
Hm. You may as well entertain it — Mycroft’s ramblings about the place of women in the home are dreadfully boring at best, and archaic at worst.
Mycroft blinks away from the expertly crafted bouquet of blush pink peonies and garden roses — a gift from his younger brother just days earlier, though neither of you mention it. “Pardon?”
You smile coyly, smoothing down the silk of your skirt — a tea gown, no less. You wonder if Mycroft finds you terribly underdressed for receiving guests in your own home: no bustle, your hair left loose and untied instead of up and away from your face — a style fitting young ladies, you’re sure he’d say.
“Miss _____, Mister Holmes,” you repeat. “I’m unmarried.”
There’s a beat of silence in which Mycroft registers your words. Then, you imagine, his own ramblings from the previous few minutes set in, too — all his talk of respectable women should marry after finishing school and holding up family names and feminism, blasted feminism! — and for the first time since he’d arrived in your home, he seems to be speechless. His mouth opens, closes, and opens and closes, until he settles on a simple, unnerved: “Ah. I see.”
In a perfectly punctual turn of events, a carriage pulls to a stop right outside of your house, and your lips quirk up in a charming simper. “I do believe your carriage has arrived, Mister Holmes.”
He looks as relieved for the escape as you are. “Of course. It was a pleasure meeting you, Miss _____.”
When Mycroft has bid his brother goodbye and shut your door behind him, you turn with an unimpressed glare, and head for the steaming teapot that’s been set atop a serving cart. “Your meddling knows no bounds, Sherlock.”
“I haven’t the slightest clue of what you mean.”
Finally, with a flourish, his newspaper is set to the side and he rises to his feet, watching closely as you pour two cups with practiced ease. Milk for him, sugar for you; and when they’re both made he follows you to the loveseat you’d previously been perched on.
“The flowers are beautiful,” you comment, taking a sip. “Thank you. They’re almost worth the headache I’ll surely have after hearing your brother curse your sister for as long as he did.”
A soft breath of a laugh comes from beside you, and you’re unsurprised to see the usually abstruse genius slumped back, relaxed against the back of the sofa. It’s not often that he allows himself some respite from his job; not often that he relaxes in such an obvious and visible way. His name comes with a reputation, of course, and he’s determined to keep said reputation as clean and indomitable as possible — you’re not wrong to be... honoured, almost, at his willingness to exist so effortlessly with you.
“I see you’ve made sure to hide your most recent reads,” he only replies, eagle-eyed gaze darting over to your rather extensive bookshelf — the contents of which you’re sure he’s memorised. Many days he’s spent pouring over some of the more rare tomes at your disposal, the only exhibited signs of life: his breaths, and soft, inquisitive hums.
“I wanted to make a good impression,” you say, half-joking, because, well—
When Sherlock Holmes sends you a telegram informing you that he’s going to make a house call with his brother, one doesn’t simply stand around and wait. Not only is Mycroft Holmes an upstanding member of high society — well, as upstanding as one against feminism can possibly be — but he’s Sherlock’s brother. The two are as different as night and day, and yet there is still an amount of affection they have for each other, and because you have some affection for Sherlock, it wouldn’t do to completely offend his family.
(The meaning of your affections for Sherlock are not to be examined, inspected, scrutinized, or otherwise investigated by anyone other than yourself, and so you won’t say much more of them if you can help it — they are yours to lock away and ignore, and you will do just that.)
“I hardly think he’d find The Subjection of Women a riveting read,” you continue, before spying the time on the grandfather clock looming beside the fireplace. “What is it that you wanted, again? Surely The Great Deducer has better things to be doing than drinking tea with a — what was it your brother said of unmarried women? Ah, yes — a threat to modern civilisation.”
He hums — finishes up the last of his tea with a gentlemanly upwards tilt of the porcelain, and deposits it neatly on the table. “My sister, Enola.”
“It… sounds like it, yes.” Sherlock turns to face you, dark eyebrows drawn tight together, and you realise that he’s a tad more worried than he’d let on earlier. You know of Sherlock’s sister — vaguely, that is. You know she exists, though she’d never come up in conversation and you’d quite honestly forgotten that she’d existed before today. As far as you know, Sherlock himself hasn’t seen her in years. “He means well, in his own way. He’s arranged a place for her in Miss Harrison’s Finishing School for Young Girls, but—”
You can guess the rest. Unfortunately, you had been listening to most of Mycroft’s ranting. “She doesn’t want to attend.”
“No. No, not at all.” His fingers tap against the scrolled armrest of the loveseat. “She’s strong-willed, free-spirited, and with my mother missing, she has no support.”
Your answering frown matches his own. Outside, the paperboy yells another bid — tuppence for the day’s news. “She has you, Sherlock.”
He seems utterly disturbed at the thought, and yes — just as you’d thought, this case is affecting much more than he’s willing to admit. Not just because of the fact that he doesn’t know what exactly happened to his mother (and that’s one of his biggest vexations — not knowing, not seeing the finely-threaded clues that regular people can’t see either), but because this — family — isn’t easy for him. It never has been.
You remember what he’d told you of love, before. He’d just finished a case; solved through cigar ash residue and graphology, you think. Sherlock enjoys telling you about his cases — each one seems to be just more comical and outlandish than the last. Never a dull moment. That day, you’d both traipsed the communal square outside of your house, past the rose bushes and stone fountains, past the ponds. Somehow the conversation had warped, twisted, flowed from the case, until:
“That’s all love is,” he’d said. “Chemical reactions in our brains, controlling and dictating our actions unconsciously.”
He still believed in it, he reiterated. Love exists, but it isn’t some God-given gift; nor is it a mystical power, or a mysterious and all-encompassing enigma. It’s an affair of the mind.
That conversation alone should have clued you into the state of his relationship with his family. He doesn’t speak of them often; Mycroft, more often than not, mentioned in passing for his job and not his relation to him; his father, you know, had passed quite a few years ago; his mother is a mystery to you, and his sister even more so. He avoids matters of the family-type like the plague; only seems to understand basic familial etiquette under the lens of an... experiment of sorts; spends holidays working or alone or with… you.
You come to the conclusion that Sherlock is as unwilling to admit he’s terrified of becoming responsible for his little sister as you are to admit your feelings for him.
“I — she needs the support of a woman,” he argues, as if he’s argued the same thing in his mind hundreds of times over. “I’m — I have work, and I can’t give her—”
“You’re her brother, Sherlock!” You interrupt, swift and sure and only slightly irritated that he should come to you under the guise of friendship to pass his sister into your care. His missing sister, no more. “I’m — I’m happy to help, really, and I’ll do all I can, but I’m a stranger.”
Your eyes flicker between his — the grey-blue that you’d so come to admire — and your heart sinks to see that he’s… he’s really quite clueless. This isn’t another case that he can disassociate from; this is his family. Something he’s wilfully pushed aside in favour of emotion-free deductions, chemistry and logic and forensics.
Before you can think it through — before you can second-guess yourself — you reach over and clasp a hand over his. Your heart is in your throat at the boldness of it all — surely if Mycroft were here, he’d be as red as a green maiden, stuttering and spluttering over your inappropriate proclivities.
But Mycroft isn’t here. And Sherlock is looking at you in a manner much too velvet-soft for an unmarried man.
“You should give credit where credit is due,” you say quietly. “Don’t underestimate the weight of a family bond, Sherlock. Your sister will want you.”
For the first time in your years of knowing him, you see the tips of his ears flush red. You hide a smile when you pull your hands back, and reach for your teacup once more.
“That being said,” you say, clearing your throat, “I won’t help you find her if you plan to put her into finishing school.”
Sherlock’s answering laugh is more of a huff than anything else. “Fair enough.”
Amaranth: unfading affection, eternal love.
Phlox: harmony, partnership.
When another delivery of flowers is made, you know that Sherlock will find himself on your doorstep soon enough. The courier had laughed when you’d hesitated in opening the door wider; laughed, when you asked are you… quite sure these are for me? because the arrangement is twice the size of the last and you have to wrack your brains to make sure you have a good vase for them.
A note had been tucked gently between the petals of a particularly large bunch of phlox; pure white, with a shock of magenta nearing the middle. After sending the courier away with two shillings and a kind smile, you unfolded the paper, recognizing the hand almost immediately.
They’ll look marvelous in your drawing room. Perhaps you could paint them. - S.H.
He was right, of course; they did look marvelous in your drawing room. Beautiful enough to paint, per his suggestion. The pinks and whites that he was obviously very fond of in floral arrangements sat amongst the rich browns and golds and yellows of the room — thrived and blossomed gracefully in the midday sun — and you find yourself admiring them as the days pass.
Three days later, while the sun hangs high overhead, he catches you on your way out for a walk, pocket watch in hand — barely stops for a greeting before he places your hands in the crook of his elbow and begins to walk.
“You know,” you say, struggling to keep up with his hurried pace, “Most respectable gentlemen would inform a woman of where they plan to take her before they whisk her off.”
He tugs you to the side, narrowly missing a young, soot covered man sprinting in the opposite direction. “Well, I haven’t the foggiest idea of where we’re off to, _____.”
“That’s up to you.”
He doesn’t stop, exactly — God knows that stopping in the middle of a busy street in London is akin to laying down in the middle of the road — but he slows his pace down. Slow enough for him to take his eyes off of the horizon and down to your own.
“I’ve been doing my own digging,” he admits, turning back to the street, “but I don’t quite know the spots a girl would visit in London. A seamstress, more specifically. I neglected to follow up on just how young Enola disguised herself from Lestrade and his men.”
If you weren’t so frazzled from being (rudely) detached from your day’s plans, you would’ve laughed. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the great Sherlock Holmes, the most sought after (yet elusive) detective in all of England, and yet he needs you — an artist — to help find his sister. Oh, how the tables have turned.
“A fool’s mistake,” you comment haughtily, catching his eye with a humorous glint of your own. “Be sure to not make it again, Mister Holmes, lest you find yourself surpassed by greater detectives.”
It’ll never happen, of course — both of you know that. He’s far too smart, too logical, too passionate about his work to be exceeded by someone else. Maybe that’s why (with a roll of the eyes on his part) you both snicker like children, following an invisible trail towards one of many seamstresses near the outskirts of the city.
“You say she disguised herself as a young lad.” It’s not long before you find yourselves in one of the more popular shopping districts, one that’s close to the main road Enola would have taken in; characterized, of course, by the sheer volume of people densely packed onto the street — young ladies in shining velvet, working men, paperboys, carts and carriages and horses and the regular hustle and bustle of any place in London. There’s even a substantial crowd gathered around one man in particular who yells about Votes for all men! You wrinkle your nose, and look away. “Well, that lowers our list substantially, I’d say. Not many seamstresses are willing to let boys into their place of work — nevermind to buy their wares. I remember the seamstress I grew up near used to chase away them with a broom…”
Your eyes flit about the street, trying to remember the words of the circles you were in; which shops had high-quality corsets but dirty windows, which shops had badly-shaped bustles and out-of-fashion crinolines but a sparkling clean interior. With one hand still gripping Sherlock’s arm, you peer around the street, turning to peek down the opposite way.
You try to imagine it — the world through the eyes of a young girl on the run. But not just any girl, of course; according to Sherlock, she was as extraordinary as he was. Your words, not his. You believe his exact phrasing was she’s capable of seeing the bigger picture, as I am.
“She’s not scared,” you muse. “Quite confident, in fact, though you may pass it off as youthful ignorance.”
Madame Turner’s… Silverston’s… No, no. They wouldn’t do — much too high-end.
“She knows how you think. You and Mycroft.” You take a step forward, turning the corner onto a street that’s equally as crowded. “She knows what you’ll be looking for.”
A hum comes from your companion. “A scrappy girl or a young boy.”
“She’d have to become something you wouldn’t expect.” You turn your head — more by force of habit than anything else — only to find that Sherlock is already looking at you. You frown at the look on his face: the intrigued, furrowed brows and fond eyes. “What?”
He shakes his head, clears his throat, continues walking. “Nothing. You’re quite good at this.”
“Rest easy, dear detective. I’ve no wish to steal your title.”
“Oh?” The grin tugging at Sherlock’s lips is enough to kindle your own to life, and you almost curse yourself for being so bloody easy. That’s all it takes, really: a smile or two, a roll of his eyes, an affectionate shake of his head. Good God, you are a fool. “Lucky me. I live to work another day.”
The first few shops reap no rewards; no sightings of a young boy, no recent customers that gave reason for suspicion. The most you learn is that Sherlock is extremely handsome — which you’d already known — from the way the seamstresses simply couldn’t take their eyes off of him. One even caught sight of you loitering by the door and (quite loudly) asked if he was looking for a new gown for his wife.
(You pretended that you didn’t hear anything, and Sherlock ignored the question.)
The sun is hanging heavy in the afternoon when you finally make some progress — and thank the heavens for it, because your shoes are new and not quite broken in yet, and you fear that you’ll either collapse in the street or have Sherlock tow you along.
Chrisper’s Drapery. It’s small, unassuming... almost melts into the general din and hubbub of the day. It’s interior looks faded, dull, a tad cluttered; but the clothing on display looks to be of a high quality, and it’s obvious that the shop is doing well for itself.
“Hm.” You tug him to a stop, squinting up at the calligraphy scrolled across the window. “This one, Sherlock.”
“Well, more so than the last twelve,” you quip, shrugging. “There are only so many seamstresses in this part of London. Surely we’re getting closer.”
Sherlock seems particularly troubled at that — as troubled as his usually unyielding features could appear, though you could be imagining it. After all, as soon as the look sweeps over his face, it’s gone; he begins towards the shopfront, hand outstretched towards the brass doorknob. “I never did give my apologies for stealing you away.”
“Oh, come off it.” Seeing you made my day. “Solving mysteries is much more fun than painting the entire day away.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“I don’t,” you admit, following him in — the smell of dust immediately greets you, and you wrinkle your nose. Decently tidy, if not a bit hodgepodge. “Though I thought it’d make you feel better.”
A rather ungentlemanly snort comes from the man, and he casts a look over his shoulder at you. “I’d much rather that you enjoy your livelihood, _____, than spare my feelings—”
The curtains that separated the main shop from the fitting room part; an older woman with a pinched face and greying hair smiles slyly at the sight of you both — and then your dear friend Sherlock is gone, and standing in his place is England’s greatest crime-solver, suave and charming and all too skilled in wringing the truth from the woman’s mouth.
Amaryllis: determination, beauty, love.
Over a grand spread of deep sunset-red amaryllis blooms, you level Sherlock with a pair of narrowed eyes and an inquisitive purse of your lips. His eyes are focused on his paper; they have been, in fact, for the entire 10 minutes it took you to clear away your paints and join him in your drawing room — and they stay there, even as you huff and puff and wait for him to entertain your curiosity.
“Yes?” He finally says, glancing up above the headline of the London Daily News — something about the upcoming vote that you’ve heard much too much about, and somehow not enough, either. Your interest lies in something else, though, in the meantime.
“Have you solved it, then?”
One thick brow quirks up. “Hm?”
“The boy.” You wave a hand noncommitedly, placing the book you’d been reading on your lap. “You know, the boy. The Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether?”
It’s been a case that rocked London, if not the rest of England, too — the case of the missing Viscount, a young boy of seventeen years. He’s old money, with his own estate and wealth, and even a seat in the House of Lords — and he’s missing. Just before the vote, too. You thought it might be a mystery that would tickle his fancy, though he seems vastly unbothered by the sketch on the front page.
Sherlock wrinkles his nose, flipping to another page. “Far too political for my tastes.”
“How lucky you are,” you sigh, returning to your book, “to be able to escape from politics when it suits you.”
You feel his eyes on you immediately, and you think it’s hilarious, really — because he’s in disbelief that you’d say something so bold, something so blatantly snippish to him about something he’s always made clear. You don’t think he’s ever had a woman speak to him like that. A man either, really, because to be perfectly candid Sherlock Holmes is a terrifyingly stern-looking man — but it’s the truth, isn’t it? The ability to remove oneself from politics is a privilege not many are afforded, and Sherlock doesn’t seem to understand that. For all his knowledge of the world and it’s inner mechanisations, he’s really quite clueless. Politics is a game for him — a chessboard of sorts — whereas, for others, it’s their life.
For you, for the women of this country, it means your life.
Thirty seconds of this unspoken game passes, and you glance up from your book in the same way he’d glanced at you, a brow raised. “Yes?”
Sherlock’s mouth closes, and he clears his throat. “...Nothing.”
Aster: love, trust.
Canterbury bells: gratitude.
Baby’s breath: sincerity, everlasting love.
There’s a girl on your doorstep.
A wide-eyed, determined-looking, chocolate-haired girl.
“My name’s Enola,” she says firmly, hand held out. “I’m looking for a Missus _____?”
This time around, you don’t bother hiding the way your eyes roll. It’s a juvenile prank on Sherlock’s part — he’ll have a sharp tug on his ear for that the next time you see him. You tug open your door, and stand aside. “It’s just Miss, actually. You’re Sherlock’s sister, then?”
Well, that much is obvious, but you’d wanted to clarify anyways. Sherlock had told you what happened, how she’d solved the case of the missing Viscount and disappeared into London once more. He’s no longer actively searching for her — in fact, you have an inkling of an idea that he’s quite pleased with how everything wrapped up — and as such, most thoughts of her had completely disappeared. From time to time, you wondered how she was doing — of course, you hardly expected her to show up at your door looking for you.
“I am....” Her voice trails off as she enters your home; head tilted up towards the high vaulted ceiling and the thin, pretty curtains; your favourite works hanging on the wall; the bright white tiles underfoot and the scalloped crown molding that bordered the ceiling. You hear her puff out a breath of awe, and you have to hide a smile — a Holmes or not, a genius or not, she’s still just a young girl. “Your home is beautiful, Miss _____.”
“Thank you. You can call me _____, though, you know. Would you... like some tea?” You’re quite unsure of how to proceed; you can’t imagine why a girl like Enola would seek you out. From what you’ve heard she’s completely independent, now. Sherlock may not act like it, but he’s more worried than he acts — London is hardly the place for a young girl to live on her own.
“That’d be lovely,” says Enola, lips splitting in a grateful smile. “Thank you.”
It’s almost hard to believe that this girl was the one who gave her older brothers such grief just weeks ago. It’s even harder to believe that she’d been able to escape from the countryside and settle in London with little to no trouble — a difficult feat to accomplish for anyone, really. She’s got such a sweet, soft face; but if you’ve learned anything from Sherlock’s revelations about his family, she most certainly has taken after her mother in that regard — the unassuming visage, but the strong morals and fierce courage.
You think you like Enola quite a lot.
“Ah, it’s not a problem,” you say, meandering to the doorway of your drawing room, “I’ll fetch my housemaid — make yourself comfortable.”
And she does just that — because when you return five minutes later, you see she’s holding a small slip of paper in her hands, the one that had been so carelessly laying beside your new arrangement, head bowed and eyes wide. Your own stomach simultaneously flutters and turns at it, cheeks suddenly aflame because you’ve read that note over and over again and something about Enola knowing that her brother sends you flowers makes you terribly, terribly embarrassed.
Miss Hudson says these flowers are popular among ladies these days. I have no knowledge of the popularity of flowers among women, but they’re quite beautiful, and I know that you understand beauty far better than I am able. - S.H.
“Sherlock sent you these?” She asks, brows furrowing — but she doesn’t look contemplative, she looks amused.
“Er, yes.” You peer at the flowers over her head, trying to appear much more confident than you feel as you stare at the bunches of indigo and white. “Quite pretty, aren’t they?”
“Very,” agrees Enola. Then — looking far too coy for comfort, she tilts her head towards you. “You know, my mother was quite interested in the language of flowers. Sherlock himself is adept in it.”
“Oh?” You raise a brow. Half of you wants to entertain the line she’s so clearly trying to lead you on — wherever it may lead — but the other half is very much not interested in discussing Sherlock with his little sister. Especially when the look in her eyes is too mischievous to be good news, and you’re still unsure of why exactly she’s in your home. “How riveting. I must read up on it.”
She only hums, that same pleased smile on her face as your housemaid bustles in with a freshly made pot of your favourite tea blend, and you’re suddenly reminded of the painting that you’d been torn away from by her arrival. You must get back to it.
(And you must stop being reminded of Sherlock when you’re trying to focus on work.)
Enola is clutching one of your finest teacups — one of cream porcelain and finely painted flowers, gold filigree around the rim and handle — and sipping happily away at your tea when you ask her:
“It’s a pleasure meeting you, Enola,” you begin gently, “though I have to admit I’m not quite sure why you’re here.”
Big brown eyes meet your own, and you’re taken aback by the sudden force of… well, protectiveness that bubbles up in your chest. Great things as she may be doing, smart as she may be, she’s still so young. Such terrible things had happened to her already — such responsibility on her shoulders. You know she can take it, of course; you’ve heard too many great things about her to think otherwise, but a part of you mourns the portion of childhood that was lost to her.
Enola’s features contort in an image of hesitance, and she clears her throat in a gesture reminiscent of her older brother — the more pleasant one, that is.
“London can be quite… lonely,” she says, voice quiet. “Don’t mistake me: I love it here, and I write to Sherlock sometimes but it’s… he’s… him. And my only friend is a boy, and my mother’s acquaintances are good company but they’re too ‘mature’ to entertain me, and—”
Ah. As Sherlock had predicted (begrudgingly admitted by yourself). You don’t blame her, in all honesty; Sherlock, as forward-thinking as he may be, has the tendency to remain blissfully ignorant when it suits him — and for a girl like Enola, who clearly doesn’t share her brother’s sentiments on politics, you imagine talking to him gets quite... exasperating, to say the least.
You glance towards the closed door that leads to your painting room, and sigh.
“I have a range of books,” you say finally, standing to your feet. “If you don’t mind watching me paint for hours, you’re welcome to sit with me and read. I can’t promise that I’ll be quite as engrossing to speak with as your brother—”
“Trust me,” Enola interrupts, beaming, “you already are.”
And that’s that.
Yellow acacias: secret love.
Syrian mallow: consumed by love.
“This one is a pretty bunch,” says Victoria, staring down her nose at the yellow and pink bouquet that had been delivered the day previous. “Wherever did you get them?”
It had been Enola’s idea, really. Well — your idea, a hastily discarded idea that you’d hoped never to return to, but Enola had latched onto it with fervor.
It’s… quite terrible. Six women, all dressed in varying degrees of ostentatiousness; the finest silks and light cottons, the type that takes days and days to weave; hair twisted and pinned up in curls and whirls and winding spirals. They all seem like the exact same person, only wearing different clothes.
You’d only once thought of gathering the women when your housemaid had suggested it a year or so back — saying that you spend too much time alone, or with Sherlock, or alone with Sherlock. It'd been the first time that you'd been made aware of the… insinuations made of your relationship with him, and you'd set off quite determinedly to find some female companions.
But you'd grown tired, and bored, and bored and tired, and you'd retired your search before it could even begin, really.
Enola had sighed over biscuits and tea that she was looking to meet more like-minded women, to discuss and share ideas and theories and values (like her mother had, you'd taken note, but the young girl didn't mention her at all) — and Alberta — your housemaid, an old woman with sleek silvery hair and strong bread-kneading arms — had been quick to reveal that you knew just the right people.
You did not, in fact, know the right people. And you'd told the young Holmes that, but she'd taken it as a challenge, as Holmes's are wont to do, it seems.
Her plan was simple: you gather a few rich, impressionable and influential women, invite them for tea and discuss the latest popular novels and whatnot, and halfway through Enola (“Very cleverly,” she’d made sure to specify) would bring up the topic of feminism and attempt to sway their minds towards it.
How she'd manage to even mention the subject without rendering half of them aghast is something you're looking forward to greatly. Or rather, you would be looking forward to it, if—
“Surely not a suitor!” Titters Agatha, holding a hand to her mouth. “Why, you must've run them all away by now!"
—if you weren't five seconds away from losing your temper at all times.
You force a laugh, lifting your teacup to your lips only to hide your scowl behind it. "Yes, well, I'm perfectly content with or without a husband—"
"Don't be so modest," interrupts Enola — and the girl ignores your wide-eyed confusion, a perfectly-crafted grin upon her face as she instantly becomes the centre of attention. "_____ has a suitor."
You're going to kill her. Her, and her brother, too.
The room erupts in a painfully loud cacophony of gasps and laughter — one lady sitting just beside you grasps your arm and shakes it back and forth, and there's maybe six voices crying for you to share—
"He's a proper gentleman, too," continues Enola, loud and clear over the din, lips split in a satisfied smirk, "Extremely wealthy, I hear, and handsome and intelligent—"
(It seems that she’s given up on her previous aspirations of converting the women to her ideologies — and easily, too.)
"Good God!" One cries. "Even with your — your hobby?"
Ah, yes. Your hobby. Your hobby that you live and breathe, your hobby that you spend most of your time and patience and money on, your hobby that pays your utilities and necessities. It's a hobby because, of course, a woman can't possibly be a respected, professional artist! How scandalous. At least according to this crowd.
For a moment, you forget that it's all a sham — that really, you shouldn’t be buying into Enola’s shenanigans, because you should be trying to disprove her theories — your rage clouds your common sense, and you find yourself snapping: "Actually, he rather enjoys my work. He thinks I've got an even more successful career ahead of me."
(Which is true, if it is Sherlock that Enola is describing. He does enjoy your work, and has, on multiple occasions, encouraged you to branch out or sell to new clients or try new mediums. In the back of your head, a quick, lightning-fast thought springs to existence: being married to Sherlock Holmes doesn’t sound all too horrid—
And then it’s gone, gone, gone, pushed away and away and away.)
Across the room, Miss Holmes lifts her own cup to her lips, looking the spitting image of her older brother — albeit, much more openly smug and satisfied.
White carnations: pure love, innocence.
You often lose yourself in it, the process of painting. Thick, rough bristles; smooth mink hair; pale washes of colour and vibrant, rushing hues that you swept across canvas. There’s a stillness in it — the feeling of capturing time itself, the idea of communicating the world through your eyes. And hard as it may be to be successful as a woman — with most of your peers of the opposite sex, and most completely and utterly dissatisfied with your very existence — you are happy.
Your paintings sell easily. Some hang it in their drawing rooms; an idle object of gossip, waiting to be noticed, waiting for its new owner to chortle and simper: “Isn’t it marvellous? You’ll never guess who painted it — a woman, would you believe!”
Some prop the bigger ones against the wall — surround them with flowers and blossoms of equal beauty, drink their tea and eat their cakes and buns and stare at them in contemplation. They ponder every detail; every colour, every brush stroke, the direction of light, the tiny initials scratched into the very corner.
One customer of yours — a very old, wealthy man who was developing cataracts, and would soon be unable to see — hung his vast collection of art on the ceiling of his bedroom, so they’d be the first and last thing he’d see at night.
Sherlock is a man of eccentricities. You know this well. And yet, when he asks you for the tiniest painting you are able to conjure, you’re completely floored. You’ve seen him solve a murder with an apple and a loop of thread; you’ve seen him accurately estimate the width and depth of the Thames in seconds; you’ve seen him guess the origin of your favourite Vermillion Hue just from the smell.
“Are you able?” He asks, newspaper tucked under his arm — he glances over his shoulder at you, carriage waiting patiently in front of your residence, and you wonder just why it is that he’s decided to ask you this now, when he’s already out the door.
You tap your foot against the top step, perplexed. “Er — yes. I… I suppose so.”
“As small as you can go,” he calls a reminder, pulling the carriage’s door open. “The size of a stamp would be perfect!”
The size of a stamp? A bloody stamp?
Alas, you are… wont to indulge said eccentricities. So you haul yourself to your regular canvas-stretcher the next day and request just what Sherlock had asked for: a canvas the size of a stamp. An extra large stamp, perhaps, but it’s stamp-sized nonetheless and that’s all that matters. It comes along with an equally as tiny gilded frame, and as you examine the canvas — wondering just how you’d pull this painting off — his reasoning for such a strange size lingers in the back of your mind. You put it out of mind, though, when the flowers arrive a few days later.
You stare at the arrangement he’d asked you to paint. White carnations, an expensive but popular blossom — you’ve painted them before, and they always turn out beautiful. Lace-delicate and soft looking, they’re a regular and a favourite of yours. It’s the other flower that gives you pause.
Alstroemeria, his note says some lines down, shipped from South America.
South... America. You almost faint.
You can’t even begin to fathom the price he must’ve paid for the orange blooms — you can’t even hope to understand why he’d buy a grand arrangement of them for you to paint. It’s — it’s preposterous, is what it is! You tell your housemaid that much, almost spluttering through your words.
“I feel sickly,” you mumble, rubbing at your eyes. Alberta plucks up the note from it’s discarded place on the table. “I think a cup of tea would do me good.”
Alberta’s answering hum is amused, and your head shoots up.
“No.” You narrow your eyes, keying in on the expertly hidden smile tucked away in the corners of her lips. Your head bows forward to follow her figure through the kitchen doorway. “No, Alberta, what is it?”
“Nothing, ma’am. Only…” She emerges seconds later with a fresh teapot. “Quite strange, isn’t it? For an unmarried man to be sending an unmarried woman such expensive, precious flowers?”
Your breathing stutters. Your mind blanks for a moment.
Is — is it? Really?
Your relationship (friendship) with Sherlock has always been one of affection and endearment — ah, the platonic kind. The detective has garnered many fans over his years of activity but his friends were few and far between, mostly because of his aversion for politics and high society — both of which can be found in spades in the circles he works for. Conversation is easy; spending time together is easier. The usual condescension and patronization you’re so acclimated to from the opposite sex is completely absent in his words, in his sentiments, in his actions; he appreciates your talent and passions and you do the same for him.
But even so… the flowers are… unusual, yes? Even from him?
Your cheeks feel unbearably hot, suddenly.
“...I’m going to paint,” you say finally, standing up with weak knees. You clear your throat, hoping to dislodge the sudden lump that’s set up shop there. “Call me for dinner, please, Alberta—”
“But your tea, ma’am—”
“Pour yourself a cup!” And you disappear from the room and scuttle into your painting room and shut the door behind you and shudder.
Well, to put it simply, this is… everything you want and don’t want. On one hand, Sherlock is… is… a good man. A well-respected, intelligent man. Brutally honest at times, yes, and with an overwhelming amount of knowledge on the most obscure, certainly unnecessary subjects. He tells jokes that aren’t tasteless and rude, doesn’t expect you to be one way or another…
(And sometimes — sometimes, when he’s not looking, you see the sun catch on his brunette locks and the sharp angle of his nose and the curve of his lips and you think that you could try your hand and painting a person, at capturing some heavenly likeness on linen—)
But it simply won’t do. Not for your reputation. Not for your work.
Just a few years ago, when you were fresh out of finishing school, you’d had tens of suitors. Rich, important suitors, all looking for a pretty wife to dress up and tow around like a doll on their arm, a wife to bear children and embroider and learn the piano. You said no to every one of them — not only because of your ambitions to become a serious, respected painter, which would surely be met with incredulity at best and malevolence at worst, but because you refused to be held back by a man who would simply control you when it all came down to it.
You swore off love. You swore off marriage.
And yet, and yet, and yet—
A knock against the door quite literally jolts you from your thoughts, trembling against your back, and your hand clasps over your heart.
“Y—yes?” You call, trying to hide your breathlessness with an air of faux-confidence.
Alberta’s answering voice is entirely too jovial and blithe for your liking, even through the heaviness of the door. “You forgot the flowers you’re to be painting, ma’am.”
You bow your head. Of course you did. “...Ah. My mistake. Do bring them in, please.”
“Amazing.” The word is but a breath.
The tiny painting looks even smaller in Sherlock’s large hands. He holds it close to his eyes between his thumb and his forefinger, brows furrowed in awe, and you don’t have it in you to play bashful. It is amazing. The sheer amount of detail and colour and depth you’d rammed into the miniscule space is nothing short of a miracle.
“Amazing,” he repeats, shaking his head. “I knew you could do it, of course, but it’s…”
Sherlock lifts his gaze — levels you with that charming smirk that turns your stomach inside out. “Precisely.”
You watch with pride as he continues to examine it, moving closer to peek over his shoulder. It really is beautiful. The headmistress of your finishing school had once said that complimenting oneself is unladylike and in poor taste; she’d never seen one of your works, of course, but you imagine that this would be the exception. “So, are you going to tell me just why you need a painting so bloody small?”
“I could, though I’d be revealing a great secret that ought not to be revealed.”
“Surely I’ve warranted some modicum of trust!” You argue. “I hunched over my desk for 12 hours straight for that blasted painting, Holmes.”
His head turns minutely, frowning in that teasing way of his. You can’t begin to understand why he’s so determined to hide the nature behind his request — though you suppose you’re just as bad, so resolutely asking for him to reveal it. Then again, you’ve always been just as tenacious as he is.
“Is that a plea I hear?”
A deflection if you’ve ever heard one. Your tea is getting cold, and you suppose he’ll tell you when he wishes; so you back away with a scoff, and return to your seat. “The next woman to call you a gentleman will be wildly disappointed—"
"If you really must know—" Sherlock turns on his heel, and while you recover from the whiplash of his sudden change of heart, he fishes under his collar to pull out a simple, golden chain.
"I've found myself more sentimental as of late," he admits, almost sheepish. It’s an emotion you’re sure you’ve never seen him wear before. You’re a tad disarmed by it, if you’re being honest.
(Hm, you muse. A gold chain. A painting not much larger than the size of his thumb. What’s the link between them? Whatever could he mean to do…?)
"Enola has that effect on people, I suppose," he continues, and you notice with a start that an uncharacteristic flush is beginning to spread to the tip of his ears, "And I hear that lockets are growing in popularity again, so…"
Your knees feel frightfully weak as the realisation sets in — you've no doubt that you must look a sight, eyes wide and mouth agape like some bumbling fool, but who can blame you?
Because what Sherlock neglected to say — what he'd left unsaid, but is common knowledge — is that lockets are growing in popularity amongst lovers.
Sherlock plans to wear your painting around his neck in place of one such locket — to carry you with him wherever he goes.
You feel faint.
“Oh,” you say smartly. Your voice sounds strange in your mouth, much more high-pitched than is normal. “How… innovative of you.”
Yes, that’s one word for it.
You have many customers. Each displays your paintings in different ways, some grander than the last — but never have you had someone hide your work away, tucked beneath the collar of their shirt, pressed over their heart. Never has Sherlock, with his logic and his reasoning and his lack of understanding or care for showing affection, been so bold.
The silence in the room stills and stutters; crowds around your lips like a winter scarf and bunches around the anxiety-borne tightness in your stomach. You don’t know what to say. You know what you want to say — you know what you wish you had the courage to say — but what is acceptable to say? Like it or not, you are still a woman. You have much to prove. Your neighbours already gossip about the amount of times they’ve seen Holmes coming and going; you shouldn’t give them a reason to continue.
But have you ever really cared about what was acceptable? Have you really ever cared about what others will say about you? You care about your work, you care about your house and Alberta and Enola, even, and you care about Sherlock more than you can fathom. More than your gossiping neighbours, at least.
Sherlock opens his mouth to speak, but before he can — before you can give another thought to what you’re about to say, you rush to fill the quietness, grasping what little courage you’d suddenly coughed up:
“Enola said that flowers have meanings.”
Sherlock’s head tilts. His usual inquisitive frown swoops over his features, and yet you know he’s not thinking about the content of your sentence — he’s pondering on how he should respond. “They do, yes.”
A shuddering breath trembles from your nostrils. “She says you’re quite fluent in the language of them.”
His thumb smooths gently over the face of the painting in his hands. “I… am, yes.”
You nod your head towards the arrangement that had been captured on canvas, the flowers starting to wilt and brown in their age; still, they’re beautiful, and they were a gift, and so you won’t discard them until you really must.
“What do they mean?”
His eyes fix themselves on your face and they don’t dare move. You almost squirm from the weight of them, but you don’t think you’ll give him the satisfaction — instead, with as much shamelessness as you can afford yourself, you let your eyes drift over him; over the light curl of his hair, and the blue of his eyes; the high collar of his shirt and the perfectly pressed material of his frock coat.
“They have many meanings.”
“But you chose them for a reason,” you press, hoping to God that you’re not meddling in business that ought to not be meddled in. “What do they mean to you, Sherlock?”
The floor creaks under him as he takes a step forward — a step in your direction, a step you don’t shy away from. Then there’s another, and another, until he stands just within reaching distance of you, and touching distance of the flowers. His fingers brush contemplatively at a petal or two; smooth over the steadily crisping tissue before they fall to his side once more, and your breath stills in your chest.
“White carnations,” it’s said lowly, intimately, almost a whisper to himself — and you’ve never seen him quite so vulnerable, so unsure, even though he masks it with a perfectly crafted blank face— “Innocence, but more often than not, pure love.”
His bluntness catches you completely off guard — you’d been expecting some sort of build up, some sort of… of passage to travel through before the conclusion was reached — though you realise that really, Sherlock isn’t the type for that. He never has been. In fact, now that you really think about it, if you have somehow managed to gain his affections then you’ve absolutely no idea of how you did—
“Alstroemeria,” he continues, and when you look up you see that he’s no longer gazing down at the flowers — no, he’s directed his stare to you, and you’re not sure when you got so close but he’s just a hair’s breadth away and he seems to be getting closer— “Devotion.”
Say something. Say something! Anything!
“Quite ungentlemanly of you,” you choke out, face rising to dangerous temperatures, trying to look away from his lips and failing horrendously. “Sending an unmarried woman flowers — visiting her alone. The neighbours will — will talk.”
A huff of laughter; warm breath fanning gently over your face, and he’s so bloody close— “Well, if things proceed as planned, you won’t be unmarried for long.”
“You — you—” He can’t just say things like that! And with such a straight, unbothered face — he must find it funny, how flustered and skittish you look. How flustered and skittish you are. “I—” The small smile that tugs at his mouth is much too amused for your liking— “We — we haven’t even courted, Sherlock—!”
His smile drops; confusion screws up his face, suddenly, and: “What do you mean we haven’t courted?”
He looks at you. You look at him. His head tilts to the side, eyes narrowing. Your head tilts to the side, eyes narrowing, and—
“You were courting me?”
“Well — I — I—” He’s spluttering — and you watch his eyes flicker back and forth between the flowers and your curtains and your fireplace and everything except you, eyebrows knitting together atop the deep-set ridge of his eyes in what could be confusion or, maybe, embarrassment— “I sent you flowers!”
(And Alberta did insinuate that it was far less than platonic — and you’d even considered it yourself, but you’d quickly set the suggestion aside — so maybe the fault lies with you just a tad more than it lies with Sherlock.)
“How many men send you flowers?” Sherlock jokes, and you roll your eyes (secretly glad that he hasn’t lost the ability to joke with his confession of love — secretly glad that you don’t feel as if you suddenly can't (or shouldn't) talk freely).
“You know, my brother would say that such language is unbecoming of a lady such as yourself—”
“Well, it’s a good thing I courted you and not your brother, isn’t it?”
At that, Sherlock stops. His eyes soften — just the slightest bit, mind you; learning to read his impassive face is a skill set in and of itself— and your heart thuds in your chest when he nods. An errant curl hangs over his forehead, and you have to stop yourself from reaching up and fixing it. “I suppose it is.”
Unsure of just what to say next, there's a few beats of silence — in the air between you, you mean, but most definitely not in your brain. Your thoughts seem to move at a worryingly quick pace, flitting back and forth, half-formed and fleeting—
Wait, what now—?
He's so close—
He smells pleasant—
His jacket is—
He's so close he's so close he's so close he's—
And he only gets closer. Far more composed than you feel (or look, either), he steps forward — a tiny, minute step, and yet it's as if he's closed the distance of an entire chasm between you — and his hand drifts up towards your chin, except drifts is the wrong word because he does it with purpose, with confidence and surety—
Large, warm fingers hold you along the length of your jaw and chin. Your finishing school teachings echo in your head, the rules of courtship suddenly wriggling up from their abandoned posts to remind you: a lady should never be alone with a gentleman without a chaperone. A lady should not touch a gentleman unless they've been set to be engaged. A lady should—
"_____," Sherlock says, voice steady, and you wish that you could have even just a modicum of his ability to be so collected at a time like this, "May I kiss you?"
—a lady should most definitely not kiss a man she isn't married to — whether she's romantically interested in him or not. You're sure that the fact that you're even close friends with a man would have your headmistress pale and sickly, never mind your blatant ignorance to every other rule.
But your relationship with Sherlock had not started normally, nor had it progressed normally, and to be fair, Sherlock very much does not care to follow others' instructions.
And so, you breathe out a: "Y-yes. Yes, I suppose so."
And he gets closer — eyes like the sky, focused on the plush of your lips, but—
“Wait!” You cry out suddenly, lurching backwards. “Wait, I—”
“We don’t have to, I simply thought that—”
“No, that’s not—” You take a deep breath, suddenly realising that, well, you were going to — to — and with Sherlock — and you’d never thought that you would, because of your painting and your work and whatnot, and you know that Sherlock isn’t the type of man to… to… “This… this won’t change anything, will it?”
He blinks, clearly confused for what might be the first time in his life. “I… hope that it will.”
“I mean,” you huff, “this won’t change anything for me. If we’re to be married, I’m not going to give up my work. Just as I don’t expect you to give up yours.”
“I wouldn’t ask that of you,” he says truthfully — as if he can’t possibly fathom the thought of doing otherwise.
“...Good.” And then, because you’ve little to no shame, and you’ve been tormenting yourself with thoughts of this very moment for years, and you’ve always been quite an impatient woman, you clear your throat and say: “You may continue.”
And he does, of course, with all the fervour and gentleness of a man in love — lips pressing against yours, soft and simple in a way that you’d only imagined; nose bumping against your own before it settles at a comfortable angle; a large hand cupping your cheek, and the other moulded around the curve of your waist. And you respond in much the same way, of course, because you’re just ensnared as he is — and even though your stomach twists and turns pleasantly, even though your heart feels as if it could burst from your chest just at the press of his hand on your skin, it doesn’t feel like enough. It won’t be enough, it’ll never be enough, no matter how much you attempt to mold yourselves together, fingers and breaths intertwined — there’s a moment where you pull back (just slightly, mind you) to readjust your lips, catch your breath, and it feels as if time itself has suspended itself mid-air just for you, just for this perfect little moment and—
There’s a sharp set of knocks on the door of your drawing room, and you wrench yourself away from Sherlock with a gasp and a hand to your heart. You barely have time to sneak a look at him as you turn towards the noise, but you do catch the tail-end of a small, satisfied grin, and you suddenly know where Enola got it from.
“Yes?” You call. Your voice is hoarse, your cheeks are hot, and you may just fall to the ground from sheer embarrassment alone.
“Just thought I’d check in,” comes Alberta’s voice, “Usually you’d ask for tea by now, ma’am.”
“Tea,” you echo. You swallow. For a moment you’re sure that you’d forgotten that Alberta was even in the house. “Yes. Tea.”
The room is painfully, excruciatingly silent. You could hear a pin drop — you can hear your heartbeat thundering in your ears.
Mycroft has gone as pale as a sheet. Behind him, Enola looks the most giddy you’ve seen her in months — and not because of the news, because she’s known for quite some time, but you expect it’s because her eldest brother looks as if he’ll collapse.
“You… what?” Even Mycroft’s voice is deathly quiet, lacking all of its usual loftiness. “You… you…”
“Eloped,” offers Sherlock helpfully, lips quirked up charmingly. His hand — the one that’s wrapped around your shoulders and settled on your bicep — smooths up and down, affectionate and warm, and Mycroft’s right eye twitches.
“Eloped,” Mycroft repeats.
Your husband nods, head tilting with faux-confusion — because even now, revealing maybe the largest and most dire secret he’s ever kept from his brother, he can’t help but be a little sh— “That is what elopement implies, brother.”
A beat of silence.
And then another.
“Oh, dear God,” gasps Mycroft, and he takes this great, shuddering breath as his entire body lurches sideways, crumpling into a drooping pile on the nearest armchair. “Marriage… elopement… What were you thinking?!”
“If it helps any,” says Enola, chipper as ever, “I was their witness.”
You’re unsure of whether or not you should say anything — his face is becoming a worrying shade of bright ruby, but Sherlock doesn’t seem worried at all, and Enola is thoroughly enjoying herself.
“It only made sense,” you try, shrugging, “It was all quite last minute, really—”
“I feel sick to my stomach.”
“Perfectly courteous, brother, as always,” says Sherlock, rolling his eyes. He slips his arm back from around you, nearing his brother with a raised brow and a sigh. “Come on. Get up.”
“—and our family name!” Mycroft wails. “People will talk! Eloping with — with that woman—!”
“That’s quite enough, Mycroft,” Sherlock says sharply. “You’re talking about my wife.”
His brother’s chest heaves — even his ridiculously curling moustache looks dishevelled, somehow — as he glares up at his younger sibling. You get the distinct impression of a pouting child, and for a moment, you think that maybe (just maybe) Mycroft could be upset about… something else.
You clear your throat, gathering your skirts as you join your husband, curling your arm into the crook of his elbow. “Mycroft, it really was under the wire, and we’re very sorry that you couldn’t attend—”
Sherlock makes a contemplative sound, “Well—”
“Extremely sorry,” you continue over him, “But there’ll be another. A proper ceremony.”
You’d been the one to suggest it, of course, because as much distaste as you hold for your husband’s brother, he’s still — unfortunately — family. Sherlock was quite averse to the thought of a traditional wedding — doesn’t understand it, really, when you were already husband and wife on paper and in faith — but he knew that Mycroft could only be pacified with some sort of compromise.
(And, secretly, you think the idea pleases him more than he lets on; why, it’d only taken one mention of needing a white dress and he’d seemed much more compliant with the whole affair.)
Mycroft’s eyes narrow, but it’s no longer in discontent; rather, he seems to be contemplating something. The acid he’d been so readily amassing on his features slowly and steadily begins to dissipate, until he’s left staring blankly at a section of your lace curtains.
You’d been right, then — while there’s no doubt that he’s furious that Sherlock chose to marry you, you guessed that he was even more displeased with the fact that he’d missed it. The first problem, you can’t really help — you’ll be civil, but you aren’t going to put yourself out to make him like you — the second problem, however, you can amend.
“Another ceremony,” he repeats, his gaze flickering between your husband and you.
“Yes,” you say.
“A proper ceremony.”
You restrain a sigh. He really is a spoiled child underneath it all. “Yes, Mycroft.”
For the first time since you’ve known him, you think you’ve actually pleased him. The frown between his brows eases up and his features don’t quite look like he’s smelled something foul, at least — still, he sniffs, turning up his nose. “Well, at least you’re doing something right.”
Across the room, Enola shoots you an apologetic smile — welcome to the family, it seems to say.
God help you.
Lavender: happiness, love, devotion.
Jasmine: unconditional and eternal love.
A month or so before what is to be a very public wedding, Sherlock Holmes — proud husband and detective, in that order, thank you very much — finds himself killing two birds with one stone, so to speak; a meeting with Lestrade, and a weekly purchasing of flowers for his wife.
Lestrade catches him just as he’s signing off the cheque, scratching down the address of your home as he has time after time after time. The owner of this particular stall in the flower market was well-known to Sherlock; after all, it was from her that Sherlock had bought all of his flowers for you. This time, it’s a large, fluffy bundle of lavender and jasmine, tied at the stalks with pale blue ribbon. It’s set to be delivered just hours later, and he’s only brushing the smile off of his face at the thought of your reaction (rolled eyes, fond smiles, a brush of your thumb against the familiar scrawl of his writing) when the policeman appears at his shoulder.
“Never took you for a flower man,” Lestrade comments, glancing down at the arrangement with thinly-veiled disinterest. “What’s that, then? The, er, the purple-y bits—?”
“Lavender,” says the detective — and he shoots the flower-lady a charming smile, before backing away and into the bustling crowds with not even a warning to his newly-arrived companion. “The white ones are jasmine. My wife is particularly fond of them.”
Lestrade freezes in place — is very nearly elbowed in the gut by a passing worker — his eyes bulging from their sockets. “Wife?”
“Yes.” It’s a simple joy, Sherlock thinks vaguely, to reveal his marriage to those who thought he’d one day marry his work, and pretend that nothing is out of the ordinary. Nothing was quite as hilarious as watching Lestrade try to swallow his shock — especially because, according to Enola, Lestrade is a self-proclaimed fan. Sherlock glances over his shoulder. “What?”
The policeman shakes his head, clearing his throat. “N-nothing. Nothing at all. All’s grand. Just — didn’t know you had a wife. Thought you’d be one to dedicate your life to your work, y’know.”
Sherlock hums as they step out of the open market — squints momentarily at the sun, and wonders how much progress you’ve made on your newest piece. “Luckily, I’m able to dedicate myself to both.”)
everything: @victorzsaszmydaddy / @rosionis / @letmybabysleep / @vitamingummies / @angelsbabey / @redhairedfeistynerd / @polyamorous-winchester / @rogersumbra / @ginghamblazer / @killerqueenofalderaan / @buckybarnesplumwhore / @stardust-galaxies / @cherryfiilmz / @meghan-maria / @capricorngf / @mysteryoflovve / @team-iron-wannabe-man / @joanofarkansass / @emyearns
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An excerpt of this was brought to my attention, it is as follows:
“Before the Holocaust and the foundation of Israel, Zionism had been a minority movement among world Jewry. The majority of Sephardi Jews were either indifferent or at times even hostile to the Zionist project. The Iraqi-Jewish leadership, for example, co-operated with the Iraqi government to stop Zionist activity in Iraq; the Chief Rabbi of Iraq even published an "Open Letter" in 1929 denouncing Zionism and the Balfour Declaration. In Palestine, some of the leaders of the local (Sephardi) Jewish community made formal protests against Zionist plans. In 1920, they signed an anti-Zionist petition organized by Palestinian Arabs, and in 1923 some Palestinian Jews met in a synagogue to denounce Ashkenazi-Zionist rule-some even cheered the Moslem-Christian Committee and its leader Mussa Chasam al-Chuseini-an event which the National Jewish Committee managed to prevent from being published in the newspapers. Zionism, in this period, created wrenching ideological dilemmas for the Palestinian Jewish, Moslem and Christian communities alike. The national Arab movement in Palestine and Syria, carefully distinguished, in the early phases, between the Zionist immigrants and the local Jewish inhabitants (largely Sephardim) "who live peacefully among the Arabs." The first petition of protest against Zionism by the Jerusalem Arabs stated in November,1918: "We want to live in equality with our Israelite brothers, longstanding natives of this country; their rights are our rights and their duties are our duties." The all-Syrian convention of July 1919, attended, by a Sephardi representative, even claimed to represent all Arab-Syrians, Moslem, Christians and Jews. The manifesto of the first Palestinian convention in February 1919 also insisted on the local Jewish/Zionist distinction and even in March, 1920, during the massive demonstrations against the Balfour declaration, the Nazareth area petition spoke only against Zionist immigration and not against Jews in general: "The Jews are people of our country who lived with us before the occupation, they are our brothers, people of our country and all the Jews of the world are our brothers “
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Cover art for Just Like Your Father - A love story
Tags: Creature fic, Veela Draco, Mystery, Blood and Gore, Scenting, Biting, Sexual Tension, Scars, Slow Burn
Harry swallows and stares down at Draco, heart racing just at the mere sight of him breathing.
He was dead. Draco was supposed to be dead. Harry’s hard-won friend who had made a home for himself inside Harry’s heart was dead. There’d been a funeral, newspaper articles. Narcissa had written him a letter stained with tears. Harry had visited his grave, apologized to the black stone, cried over the freshly turned earth; cursed the sky and all the world for taking yet another person from him too fucking soon.
It all had been a lie.
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“the edge of tonight” part one - the office
pairing: namjoon x reader (lots of platonic ot7 x reader)
rating: T (for tears)
updates: Saturdays at 12pm MST (sneak peeks given the Tuesday or Wednesday before)
summary: A part of him died that night. A larger part died when they couldn’t find you, and over the years whatever was left of him grew cold and hard. It was that ice inside him that got their gang to the top, that gave them power, and money, and all the things a normal mafioso would be more than satisfied with. But none of it meant anything to Namjoon. All Namjoon wanted was you back in his arms. That was the underlying motive in everything he did. For the past ten years, Namjoon built himself an empire, just so he could find the reason his heart beat.
this chapter: The gang meets and discusses what to do about your sudden appearance.
tw: mafia!au, angry boi jimin, sad boi namjoon, angst ??? i tried my best, very tiny amount of swearing, jin calls out jk’s pain kink
word count: ~2.1k
the edge of tonight series masterlist
thank you so much for all the love you gave excerpt #1!! i genuinely wasn’t expecting it to really get around, or for people to really like it. i honestly just had that scene stuck in my head for so long that i finally broke down and wrote it, and then posted it on a whim! so thank you everyone who liked and commented and reblogged and asked to be tagged. so anyways here’s part 2 because my brain won’t stfu i’m actually starting to develop a plot so this might become a fic i’ll actually write
Yoongi stood silently, leaning against the liquor cabinet in the corner of Namjoon's office, a half-empty glass of whiskey in his hand. Jungkook was the only one sitting in the room – and only because Jin refused to let the boy stand after getting patched up – the rest of them spread out, listening too intently, standing too straight. Jimin and Taehyung stood close together by the door. Jin hovered over Jungkook. Hoseok looked out into the night, head resting on the window glass.
"I want to know what happened, Jungkook," the leader had said once they were gathered together, voice quiet but firm, carrying none of the emotion Yoongi knew was threatening to overtake him. "I want to know what was said. Word for word."
"Namjoon," Yoongi warned. Word for word would only hurt him more, and the hitman knew that was exactly what he was going for.
"Hyung, I don't think—" Jungkook tried, but was cut off by a cold glare.
"Word. For word." He repeated, making eye contact with the injured member, glancing up with the same cold expression to meet Yoongi's eyes across the room, before turning away all together.
It took a minute before the youngest started talking – Jungkook might enjoy pain, but the last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt one of his brothers, and Yoongi could tell that he really didn't want to recount his interaction with you. Especially in front of Namjoon.
Namjoon, who was leaning against the edge of his desk, facing the wall covered in newspaper clippings and thumbtacks and tangled red yarn, hands clenched in his pockets. Namjoon, who was hanging on to every word falling from Jungkook's mouth, his eyes boring holes into the infamous picture. Namjoon, who was two minutes away from a breakdown.
What kind of breakdown was what Yoongi couldn't tell yet. That was Jungkook's specialty, and why the maknae found it so hard to tell Namjoon what had happened. Still, though, Yoongi had worked with each man in the room long enough to know what they were thinking as they listened.
Jimin and Taehyung were far more concerned with Jungkook, the elder of the two shaking from anger, the younger attempting to help calm him. They had never met you, hadn't experienced what the four eldest, and now Jungkook, had. The only reason the youngest three had to care about you was Namjoon, but now that Jungkook was hurt, those bets were off the table.
Jin fidgeted, playing with his fingers, his nails, running a hand through his hair. It was Jin who Namjoon called that fateful night, Jin who patched him up, Jin's shoulder he cried on. It was Jin who called Yoongi and Hoseok, and the four of them started planning.
Hoseok cried, albeit silently. Yoongi could see the tear tracks in the window reflection, the puffiness of his eyes. It was Hoseok who Namjoon introduced you to first, Hoseok who always made you laugh, Hoseok who gave you that god-awful nickname that never failed to make you smile. It was Hoseok who Namjoon cried with when they couldn't find you.
Yoongi stood silently, leaning against the liquor cabinet in the corner of Namjoon's office, a now empty glass of whiskey in his hand.
"And then she shot me," Jungkook finished, voice quiet, "left the gun and ran away." The youngest member was more hurt by that than by the gunshots, Yoongi could tell. Jungkook had always been a bit more romantic than the rest of them, and hearing all about you from Namjoon for years had painted a very inaccurate portrait in his head of what would happen when you were finally reunited.
The silence hung in the room by a thread, so heavy, yet no one wanted to cut the string. Yoongi was the only one who dared to look around the room, everyone else was so caught up in their own thoughts and feelings. Everyone except Jungkook, whose eyes were locked onto their leader. Several more moments passed before the youngest spoke up once more, his voice dripping in earnestness, doe eyes wide with innocence and concern (but concern for who, Yoongi couldn't tell). "Hyung... we're gonna find her again, right? … I mean, we have to."
"We don't have to do anything!" Jimin finally exploded, shoving Tae's hand off and stomping towards the maknae. All heads snapped towards him, all except Namjoon, who continued to stare at the wall, at that goddamned picture.
"Jimin," Yoongi warned again, setting the empty glass down. Jimin had the worst temper out of them and was the scariest one when he was angry. Nothing got him more riled up than one of the members getting hurt, especially when it was avoidable – and in Jimin's eyes, this was.
"Hyung, you don't understand," Jungkook began, not fazed by Jimin in the slightest, but the elder wasn't about to let him breathe.
"No, Jungkook, she shot you! She's been running around for god knows how long—"
"—and hasn't bothered to contact Namjoon, and the second she finds out—"
"—you're working for him, she shoots you! It's obvious she doesn't want to be found!"
Yoongi placed a firm hand on his shoulder, squeezing. They would never physically fight each other, never, but sometimes there came a point when someone needed a reminder to cool off before it got worse.
Jungkook started again, voice quiet in contrast to Jimin's yelling. "You didn't see her. You didn't read her the way I did." He turned back to Namjoon, who had listened to Jimin's rant, who felt every word in his heart like a knife. "Something bad happened to her, hyung. She wasn't angry when I said your name. She was hurt. She was scared. And she didn't want to hurt me, I could tell. She just wanted to get away."
Jimin exhaled, visibly calmer, but his thoughts were still in turmoil. "That's still no excuse." He shrugged Yoongi's hand off and stalked back towards Taehyung, whose expression had turned unreadable. Taehyung had heard all the stories, listened to Jungkook as closely as the rest of them, and even agreed with some of Jimin's points. Still, though, he wanted to meet you himself before setting his opinion in stone.
All attention turned back to their leader, who still hadn't said anything, who hadn't even moved. Yoongi was beginning to worry about him, and when he turned his gaze to meet Jin's eyes, he knew he wasn't the only one. A small nod was exchanged, and the right hand spoke for the first time tonight. "Everyone out."
Jimin couldn't leave fast enough, Taehyung right behind him. Hoseok wiped at his face before turning away from the window, keeping his head down. He patted Jungkook's good shoulder, offering the youngest the smallest of smiles, before retreating. Yoongi made a mental note to check on him later. He helped Jin get the maknae on his feet—well, foot—and the eldest member started ushering him out, despite his protests.
"Wait, but, hyung!"
"Come on, Kookie," Jin spoke over him. "We need to get you some pain meds so you can actually get some rest. I know you have this whole pain kink thing, but if you wanna get back to work then you need to heal and the best way to heal..." His voice trailed off as they went down the corridor. Yoongi crossed the room to close the door, locking him and Namjoon in the office alone. He took a seat, leaning back, arms and legs crossed, eyes on the boss.
Namjoon stared at the wall. At the picture. It was the two of you, you on his back, mouth open mid-laugh. His dimples showing as he looked up at you. It was the only picture he had of you, the only one you two had taken the entire time you were together. A beautiful moment, frozen in time.
Yoongi knew that Namjoon knew he was still there. He also knew that if they truly left Namjoon alone, they may never get him back out of the darkness that hung around his heart. A part of him died that night, and Yoongi watched it happen. A larger part died when they couldn't find you, and over the years whatever was left of him grew cold and hard. It was that ice inside him that got their gang to the top of the mafia scene, that gave them power, and money, and all the things a normal mafioso would be more than satisfied with.
But none of it meant anything to Namjoon, Yoongi knew that. All Namjoon wanted was you back in his arms. That was the underlying motive in everything he did. For the past ten years, Namjoon built himself an empire, just so he could find the reason his heart beat.
Yoongi didn't believe you were alive, not until Jungkook described you. For ten years, Yoongi believed they were too late to save you, that you were gone and they would never see you again. But after all this time, Yoongi felt the one thing he swore he would never feel again. The one thing he knew was tearing Namjoon apart on the inside.
"Jimin isn't right," the hitman finally said, his calm and quiet voice ringing through the room. He didn't expect Namjoon to respond, or even react, not yet anyway. "Course, he isn't wrong either. We don't know where she's been. We don't know what she's done. We don't know what happened to her. We won't know until we find her again."
His leader stayed silent, eyes forward. Yoongi could almost see the thoughts running around in his head, going a thousand kilometers an hour, analyzing anything and everything, making connections that would take Yoongi five hours and seventeen cups of coffee to make. Time passed in silence. Yoongi waited patiently, knowing Namjoon would speak up eventually.
When he finally did, he only spoke in whispers, voice raspy from disuse and emotion. "I don't know what to do." He let out a long, long sigh, as if he hadn't had a proper breath in hours. Yoongi was sure he hadn't. "We can't just go collect her like a stray cat and bring her back. She already doesn't trust any of us, she'll probably just lash out and try to get away."
"But we can't just let her go, either," Yoongi continued the thought process. "Can we get her to come to us?"
"Not without being creepy about it."
Yoongi let out a humorless chuckle at the comment. "And creeping her out will result in the same." The two drifted into silence again, Namjoon staring at the wall, Yoongi watching the leader, both trying to find a solution. "Maybe we do let her go for now."
Namjoon's head snapped over, eyes wide in shock, in anger, in sadness. He opened his mouth but Yoongi cut him off.
"Hear me out Namjoon.” He leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees as he explained. “You're right, we can't just pick her up off the street and bring her back here. We both know Y/N and she's not gonna like that. We also can't subtly coerce our way back into her life, she's too smart for that. So we just let her go, let her do her thing, whatever that is. We make ourselves known, but we don't actively seek her out. And if she needs us, then we're there, but if she doesn't, or she doesn't want us there, then we back off. We let her call the shots on how she wants us back in her life. Even if that means we aren't."
Namjoon listened just as intently as he had when Jungkook was speaking. This time, however, he hated everything that came out of Yoongi's mouth. He hated it because Yoongi was right. If he wanted you back – and oh god how badly he wanted you back, in his home, in his arms, in his bed – Namjoon would have to let you make that choice. "Yeah," Namjoon sighed in defeat, looking down. "Yeah."
Yoongi stood up and offered a rare smile before heading towards the door. "Get some actual rest tonight, Namjoon. You're gonna need it in the upcoming weeks." He twisted the lock and let himself out.
Finally left alone, Namjoon simply looked back to the wall, to the picture. His dark eyes locked onto your honey-colored ones as hope blossomed through his chest in the worst way, carving itself through the scars that he thought had healed long ago. Namjoon wanted you back, and if you would take him, he would do everything in his power to make sure you were never taken away from him again. A decade-old promise echoed through his mind, and he couldn't help but whisper it to you again, renewed with the knowledge that you were somewhere to be found.
"I'll find you. I promise. I promise I'll find you."
and a special thank you to my teeny tiny tag list!!
@illnevertrustmyselfagain @misschino @youlook-likehell @dany-but-not-targaryen
i hope you enjoyed it!! lemme know what you think!! thanks for reading!! i’ll probably do a part three soon who knows
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More ask answer about Word of Honour (山河令, WoH) and the so-called “Dangai 101 phenomenon” under the cut ~ with all the M/M relationships shown on screen, does it mean improved acceptance / safety for the c-queer community?
Due to its length (sorry!), I’ve divided the answer into 3 parts:
2) Excerpts from the op-eds
This post is PART 1 ❤️. As usual, please consider the opinions expressed as your local friendly fandomer sharing what they’ve learned, and should, in no ways, be viewed as necessarily true. :)
(TW: homophobic, hateful speech quoted)
After WoH had started airing, I had waited for one of China’s state-controlled media to publish opinion pieces about the show. Specifically, I’d like to know ~ what is the administration’s current take on Dangai (耽改), as a genre? How does it characterise the closeness of the same-sex leads—the closeness that is suppressed when the original IP, of the genre Danmei (耽美) was converted for visual media presentation?
This is important, as China is a country where the government’s attitude becomes the official public attitude. The state opinion pieces will be quoted and parroted, especially if they come from heavy-weight sources (state-controlled media also have their importance/influence hierarchy). Production of the upcoming Dangai dramas will adjust their scripts accordingly. Marketing tactics will also adjust, make sure it doesn’t spread “the wrong message”; Dangai and Danmei dramas have both been pulled off shelves during or immediately after its airing before (Addicted 上癮 and Guardian 鎮魂, respectively), despite having already passing the censorship board.
If a heavy-weight state opinion piece pans the one-lead-fawning-over-the-other scenes in WoH (there are a few of them), for example, scenes / lines of such suggestive nature will likely disappear from the upcoming Dangai dramas for at least a year or two. If the critique spills over to a harsh stance against the presence of queers in Chinese media, all future Dangai dramas can become strict “socialist-brotherhood” stories, their “no homo” message reinforced by, for example, by inserting a female lead (or changing one of the leads to female).
Whether the official public opinion equates the true public opinion or not, public behaviour in China is quickly driven by the official public opinion. Example: the Xi regime’s conservative stance on queer issues has already translated to a quick deterioration of queer tolerance in China; open expressions that were tolerated, even welcomed, just several years ago are now met with significant hostility in the public.
This is a reflection of the nature of their government. A quick thought experiment may explain this. Take … jaywalking. It’s probably fair to say we’ve all committed this “crime” before?
Will you still jaywalk if your government declares it immoral to do so? Where I am, in the United States, the answer is definitely a no. The public will probably laugh at (and make memes about) the poor official who made the declaration, kindly ask the government to do something useful for once (f*** off), and keep jaywalking.
Now, what if the declaration comes with a law that includes a one-year prison term + lifelong criminal record for jaywalking? Let’s say this law is fully executable and irreversible, given this being a thought experiment—nothing you, or the public, can say or do can contest it.
Will you still jaywalk, even if you disagree with government’s stance that the act is immoral? You’ve got a neighbour who continues to defy the law. Will you think twice before letting your young loved ones go out with them?
Very soon, jaywalking becomes “bad”—even though such “badness” had little moral basis at its origin. It is bad because the government has “characterised” it to be so—an authoritarian government that doesn’t allow challenge of the characterisation.
The retention of queer elements in Dangai is the jaywalking in the example. The Chinese government stepping in to characterise (定性) an event, a phenomenon etc is common, and the people know the drill well that they fall in line quickly.
If a powerful state-controlled media publish a negative opinion piece on the queer elements in Dangai / Danmei, therefore, those elements can disappear overnight.
My question had been: will the state do it? The Xi regime has made its distaste for LGBT+ representation in visual media abundantly clear with its NRTA directives. However, while the Chinese government typically puts ideology (意識型態) as its Guiding Principle, exceptions have always been made for one reason. One word.
TU is a legendary financial success story every production company (Tencent itself included) wants to replicate. As a result, there are ~ 60 Danmei IPs (book canon) with their copyright sold for Dangai dramas; this long line of Danmei dramas in the horizon has been nicknamed “Dangai 101”, after the name of the show “Produce 101” Dd was dance instructor in. These dramas are all competing to be the next TU by profit.
Adoration from fans is nice, but money is what matters.
C-ent is currently in a financial bleak winter. The anti-corruption, anti-tax-fraud campaign started by the Xi regime in 2018, which cumulated to a sudden (and unofficial) collection of 3 years of back-taxes from studios and stars, has drained a significant amount of its capital; the number of new TV dramas being filmed fell 45% between 2018 and 2019, and production companies have been closing by the tens of thousands. The tightening of censorship rules also means production is associated with more risk. The commercial sector outside c-ent is also eager for replications of TU’s success—they need more “top traffic” (頂流) idols like Gg and Dd whose fans are sufficiently devoted to drive the sales of their products. Such “fan economy” would benefit the government, even if it doesn’t have direct stakes in the companies in and outside c-ent. People’s Daily, the Official State Newspaper, previously published a positive opinion piece on fan economy in 2019, estimating its worth at 90 billion RMB (~13.7 billion USD) per year.
But if the state allows the queer elements in Dangai’s to pass the censorship board (NRTA) for profit, how can it do so with the current “No homo” directive in place? From previous experience (scarce as it may be), the queerness has to be sufficiently obvious for the shows to make the profit everyone is wishing for. Dangai dramas in which the leads’ romantic relationship remains subtle have not sold the way TU does, even if they are well-reviewed and feature famous, skilled actors (as Winter Begonia 鬓边不是海棠红 last year.)
NRTA, and the government behind it, can’t just say I’m turning a blind eye to the flirting and touching for the money. What can it say then?
Here’s what I’d thought—what it can say, or do, is to “characterise” these Dangai dramas in a way that leave out its queerness. It did so for TU. TU’s review by the overseas version of People’s Daily devoted a grand total of two characters to describe WWX and LWJ’s relationship—摯友 (“close friend”). The rest of the article was devoted to the drama’s aesthetics, its cultural roots. (The title of the article: 《陳情令》：書寫國風之美 Chen Qing Ling: Writing the Beauty of National Customs).
How could it do that? The State’s power ensuring few questioning voices aside, I’ve been also thinking about the history and definition of Danmei (耽美)—Dangai’s parent genre as the causes. Based on the history and definition, I can think of 3 ways the queer elements in Danmei (耽美) can be characterised by the state, 2 of which provide it with the wiggle room, the movable goalposts it needs should it choose to want to overlook the queerness in Dangai.
The 3 characterisations I’ve thought of, based on the history and definition of Danmei (耽美) are:
1) The queer characterisation, which focuses on its homoerotic element.
* Summary of the characterization: Danmei is gay.
2) The “traditional BL” characterisation, which focuses on BL’s historic origin as a “by women, for women” genre. The M/M setup is viewed as an escapist protest against the patriarchy, a rejection of traditional gender roles; displays of M/M closeness are often “candies” for the female gaze.
* Summary of the characterization: Danmei is women’s fantasy.
3) The aesthetic characterisation, which focuses on beauty—from the beauty of the characters, the beauty of a world without harm to the romance.
* Summary for the characterization: Danmei is pretty.
The queer characterisation (1) is well-understood, and likely the default characterisation if it is to be made by the fraction of i-fandom I’m familiar with. Most i-fans I’ve met, myself included, would likely and automatically associate the M/M relationships in The Untamed (TU) and WoH with queerness.
The “traditional BL” characterisation (2), meanwhile, equates Danmei with BL as the genre of homoerotic works developed in 1970’s Japan for women comic readers, and has been widely interpreted from a feminist point of view.
Under such interpretation of “traditional BL” works, the double male lead setup wasn’t meant to be an accurate depiction of homosexuality. It wasn’t about homosexuality at all. Rather, it was about the removal of women and along with it, the rage, the eye-rolling, the unease women readers had often felt when attempting to interact with mainstream romance novels of the time, in which the female leads had mostly been confined to traditional women roles, and their virtue, their traditional feminine traits.
The M/M setup therefore acted as a “shell” for a het relationship that allowed removal of such social constraints placed on women. The lead with whom the woman audience identified was no longer bound to the traditional role of women, such as being the caregiver of the family. The lead could instead chase their dreams and roam the world, as many contemporary women already did or aspired to do; they were no longer limited to playing the passive party in life and in the relationship—and they enjoyed such freedom without risking the love, the respect the other male protagonist felt for them.
BL, in this traditional sense, has therefore been interpreted as an answer for, and a protest against the heteropatriarchal gender norm still dominant in societies deeply influenced by Confucianism, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China. The M/M setup is, at heart, (het) women’s fantasy. The inclusion of two young-and-beautiful male leads also satisfy “the female gaze” ~ the popularity of BL among het women has therefore been compared to the popularity of lesbian porn among het men. In both cases, the audience is drawn not for the homosexual element but by the presence of double doses of sexual attraction.
(Please forgive me if any of my wording comes as disrespectful! I’m not used to talking about these topics.)
The availability of the “traditional BL” characterisation (2) is key to bypassing queerness as a topic in the discussions of Danmei (耽美).
The aesthetic characterisation (3) is very closely related to 2) in origin, but deserves its own point as a characterisation that can stand on its own, and may be more obscure to the English-speaking fandom given the common English translation of Danmei (耽美) as Boy’s Love.
Boy’s Love, as a name, amplifies the queer characterisation (1) and de-emphasises the aesthetic characterisation (3); Danmei (耽美), meanwhile, does the reverse.
Where does the name Danmei come from?
When BL was first developed in Japan, it used to have a now out-of-fashion genre name: Tanbi. Tanbi was borrowed from same name describing a late 19th century / early 20th century Japanese literary movement, known as Tanbi-ha and was inspired by Aestheticism in England. Aestheticism “centered around the doctrine that art exists for the sake of its beauty alone, and that it need serve no political, didactic, or other purpose”. Along the same line, the core belief of authors of Tanbi-ha was that art should celebrate beauty and reject the portrayal of ugliness in human nature, the darkness of reality:
…Tanbi writers argued that the ideas of naturalism writers such as “objectivism,” “truth is more important than beauty” and so on would “oppress human beings’ desire” so as to “lose beauty and human nature.” Accordingly, they insisted on “acute mental and emotional sensibility” [Ye, 2009].
(Source, with more details on Tanbi.)
Neither romance nor homosexuality were requirements for works in the original Tanbi-ha genre. BL borrowed the name Tanbi because its early authors saw their work created under the same principles: the emphasis on the beauty of their characters, their love (romantic and platonic), in a world that was also beautiful and untouched by ugliness such as sexism and homophobia.
The stubborn persistence on keeping one’s eyes trained on the beautiful, the willingness to turn a blind eye to reality for the sake of the beauty is built-in in the genre’s name. Tanbi meant more than beauty, aesthetics; its kanji form was written as 耽美; 耽 = to sink, drown in, to over-indulge in; 美 = beauty.
Tanbi, therefore, literally means to drown in, to over-indulge in beauty.
Over time, as the genre expanded its writing style, Tanbi eventually fell out of favour as BL’s genre name in Japan. However, as it gained popularity in the Sinosphere in the 1990s, starting with Taiwan and Hong Kong, the kanji of Tanbi was retained as the Chinese name of the genre.
In Mandarin Chinese, 耽美 is pronounced Danmei. A hyperfocus on the aesthetics, the utopian aspects of traditional BL is therefore retained in Danmei by its name. People’s Daily could therefore devote its review of TU on its aesthetics. Realism, including politics and all discussions of social issues, can therefore be swept aside in the name of respecting the genre’s tradition.
I’ve mostly been reading about and observing c-fandom, and I believe these 3 characterisations have all attracted its own kind of fans. Fans who care and talk about queer issues even when it isn’t encouraged by their sociopolitical environment, who shine a light upon these issues in their fan works. Fans who treat the M/M leads as if they were a traditional cishet couple, such as calling one of the leads 老婆 (wife) and assigning him biologically female functions when needed (via, for example, the ABO trope). Fans who insist the works must meet their beauty standards, rejecting those that fail (for example, if the leads are not good looking enough) by claiming they’re there for Danmei, not Danchou (耽醜, “over-indulgence on ugliness”). Fans who are drawn to the genre by a combination of these characterisations.
By the history and definition of the genre, all the above reasons for fanning Danmei are as valid, as legitimate as one another.
I thought about this related question then: are c-fans of the second (traditional BL characterisation) and third (aesthetic characterisation) groups homophobic? When I first asked this question, I—a fan whose fandom experience had been entirely in English-speaking communities—assume the answer was yes. I thought, in particular, the insistence of treating Danmei’s M/M couples as cishet couples in a homosexual shell had to be conscious queer erasure. How can anyone ignore the same-sexness of the leads? How can anyone talk about Danmei without associating it with homosexuality?
However, as I read more—again, specifically about c-fandom, and in Chinese—I realised the answer may be a little more complex.
Previously, I had largely thought about homophobia in terms of individual attitudes. This has to do with my current environment (liberal parts of the United States), in which the choice to accept or reject the queer community has become a close to personal choice. Pride flags fly all over the city, including the city hall, every summer, and most churches welcome the LGBT+ community. I hadn’t considered how an environment in which queers have never enjoyed full social exposure, in which education of related topics is sorely lacking, would affect Danmei’s development as a genre.
In such an environment, it is difficult for Danmei to evolve and incorporate up-to-date understanding of RL queerness.
The consequence I can see is this: Danmei is more likely to be “stuck” in its historical characterisation as (het) women’s fantasy inside than outside the Great Firewall, with its queerness de-emphasised if not erased—and it draws fans who are attracted to this kind of characterisation accordingly. This is, perhaps, reflected by the fact that the (het) women-to-queer ratio of Danmei / BL fans is significantly higher in China than in the West (Table 1 in this article summarises how Danmei / BL fans have split between different genders and sexual orientation in the Sinosphere vs the West in different research studies).
Another driving force I can see for Danmei to retain BL’s traditional feminist and aesthetic characterisations: women in China are not free from the social pressure that led to the birth of BL in 1970’s Japan. While many of them have achieved financial freedom through work and have high education, the young and educated have been subjected to immense pressure to get married and have children especially in the past decade.
In 2007, the China’s state feminist agency, the All-China Women’s Federation (中華全國婦女聯合會), coined the term 剩女 (literally, “leftover women”) for unmarried, urban women over 27 years old. The government started a campaign that, among other things, associated women’s education level with ugliness, and their unmarried status with pickiness, moral degeneracy. The reason behind the campaign: birth rates are plummeting and the state wants educated women, in particular, to nurture a high quality, next generation workforce. More importantly, the government sees a threat in the M/F sex imbalance (high M, low F) that has commonly been attributed to the country’s “one child policy” between 1979-2015, which encouraged female infanticide / abortion of female foetuses in a culture that favours surname-carrying boys. The state fears the unmarried men will become violent and/or gay, leading to “social instability and insecurity”. Therefore, it wants all women, in particular those who are educated, to enter the “wife pool” for these unmarried men. (Source 1, Source 2: Source 2 is a short, recommended read).
For Chinese women, therefore, patriarchy and sexism is far from over. Escapist fantasies where sexism is removed—by removing women from the picture—are therefore here to stay.
Danmei is therefore not queer literature (同志文學). The difference between Danmei and queer literature is highlighted by this reportedly popular saying (and its similar variations) in some Danmei communities:
Heterosexuality is only for reproduction. Only homosexuality is true love.
The attitude towards heterosexuality is one of distaste, viewed as a means to an end the speaker has no interest in. On the contrary, homosexuality is idealised, reflecting the disregard / lack of understanding of some Danmei fans have towards the RL hardships of c-queers. The ignorance may be further propagated by gate-keeping by some Danmei fans for safety reasons, keeping queer discussions away from their communities for fear that their favourite hangouts would meet the same uncertain fate of other communities that previously held open queer discussions, such as the Weibo gay and lesbian supertopics. Such gatekeeping can, again, be easily enforced using tradition as argument: the beauty 美 is Tanbi and Danmei (耽美), remember, includes the beauty of utopia, where ugly truths such as discrimination do not enter the picture. A Danmei that explores, for example, the difficulty of coming out of the closet is no longer Danmei, by its historical, aesthetic definition.
[I’ve therefore read about c-queers viewing Danmei with suspicion, if not downright hostility; they believe the genre, by ignoring their RL challenges and casting them as beautiful, even perfect individuals, and in some cases, by fetishising them and their relationships, only leads to more misconceptions about the queer community. Dangai, meanwhile, has been viewed with even more distaste as potential weapons by the state to keep gays in the closet; if the government can shove the Danmei characters into the “socialist brotherhood” closet, it can shove them as well.
I haven’t yet, however, been able to tease out the approximate fraction of c-queers whose views of Danmei and Dangai is negative. The opposing, positive view of the genres is this: they still provide LGBT+ visibility, which is better than none and it would’ve been close to none without Danmei and Dangai; while Danmei may skim over the hardships of being queer, fan works of Danmei are free to explore them—and they have.
This article provides insights on this issue. @peekbackstage’s conversation with a Chinese film/TV director in Clubhouse is also well worth a read.]
That said, Danmei can only be dissociated from the queer characterisation if there’s a way to talk about the genre without evoking words and phrases that suggest homosexuality—something that is difficult to do with English. Is there?
In Chinese, I’d venture to say … almost. There’s almost a way. Close enough to pass.
The fact that M/M in traditional BL has been developed and viewed not as queer but as a removal of F also means this: queerness isn’t “built-in” into the language of Danmei. The name Danmei itself already bypasses a major “queer checkpoint”: it’s impossible to refer to a genre called Boy’s Love and not think about homosexuality.
Here’s one more important example of such bypass. Please let me, as an excuse to put these beautiful smiles in my blog, show this classic moment from TU; this can be any gif in which the leads are performing such suggestive romantic gestures:
How can I describe this succinctly? In English?
Two men acting in love? Er. That’s… the definition of gay, almost.
Two men acting gay? Well. GAY.
Right. Fine. Let’s go negative. Queerbaiting? … Still gay, because the word “queer” is in there.
[Pie note: for the record, I don’t think TU or WoH is queer-baiting.]
Personally, I find it impossible to describe the GIF above in English that I do not automatically associate with RL romantic love between two men, with homosexuality. But can I do it in Chinese?
There’s a term, 賣腐 (pronounced “maifu”), literally, “selling 賣 the rot 腐”, derived from the term known among i-fans as fujoshi and written, in kanji, as 腐女. Fujoshi, or 腐 (“rot”) 女 (“women”), describes the largely (het) female audience of the Japanese BL genre (>80%, according to Wikipedia). Originated as a misogynistic insult towards female Japanese BL fans in the 2000s, fujoshi was later reclaimed by the same female BL fans who now use the self-depreciative term as acknowledgement of their interest being “rotten”, for BL’s disregard of the society’s traditional expectations on women.
賣腐 is therefore to “sell the rot” to the rotten women; ie. the suggestive romantic gestures, exemplified by the GIF above, between the M/M leads are catering, performing fan service to their target audience.
[賣腐 is also a term one will see in the state opinion pieces.]
There’s nothing gay about this term.
I’ve therefore found it possible to talk and think in Chinese about Danmei while giving little thought to queerness. The history and definition of Danmei allow that.
Again, I’m not saying any of this to excuse homophobia among in Danmei and Dangai fandoms. The point I’m trying to make is this — given that Danmei has three potential characterisations, two of which can be discussed without abundantly evoking queer concepts and vocabularies, given that history of Danmei, as a genre, already favoured characterisation 2 (traditional BL), the government addressing homosexuality in its opinions on Danmei and Dangai is far from a given.
By extension, the popularity of Dangai may mean a lot or little to c-queers; by extension, the state can approve / disapprove of Danmei and Dangai in a manner independent of its stance on homosexuality, which is itself inconsistent and at times, logic-deying (example to come…).
This is both good and bad, from the perspective of both the government and the c-queer community.
For the government: as discussed, the “triality” of Danmei allows the state to “move the goalpost” depending on what it tries to achieve. It has characterisations 2 (the traditional BL characterisation) and 3 (the aesthetic characterisation) as excuses to let Dangai dramas pass the censorship board should it want their profit and also, their promise of expanding the country’s soft power overseas by drawing an international audience. These characterisations also allow the state to throw cold water on the popularity of Danmei / Dangai should it desire, for reasons other than its queer suggestions—despite the Xi regime’s push against open expressions of queerness (including by activism, in media), it has also been careful about not demonising c-queers in words, and has countered other people’s attempts to do so.
Why may the government want to throw cold water on Danmei and Dangai? They are still subculture, which the state has also viewed with suspicion. In 2018, a NRTA directive explicitly requested that “c-ent programmes should not use entertainers with tattoos; (those associated with) hip-hop culture, sub-cultures (non-mainstream cultures), decadent cultures.” (”另外，总局明确要求节目中纹身艺人、嘻哈文化、亚文化（非主流文化）、丧文化（颓废文化）不用。”).
Subculture isn’t “core socialist values”. More importantly, it’s difficult to keep up with and control subculture. 環球網, the website co-owned by People’s Daily and Global Times (環球時報), ie, The State Newspaper and The State Tabloid, famously said this on its Weibo, on 2020/03/04, re: 227:
Getting old. Can’t figure out what the war is about. Good night.
The State also cannot stop subculture from happening. It doesn’t have the resources to quell every single thing that become popular among its population of 1.4 billion. What it can do to make sure these subcultures stay subcultures, kept out of sight and mind of the general public.
Characterisation 1 (the queer characterisation), meanwhile, remains available to the state should it wish to drop the axe on Dangai for its queer elements. I’m including, as “queer elements”, presentation of men as too “feminine” for the state—which has remained a sore point for the government. This axe have a reason to drop in the upcoming months: July 23rd, 2021 will be the 100th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and the state may desire to have only uniformed forces and muscled, gun-toting “masculine” men gracing the screens.
What about for c-queers and their supporters (including group I fans)? What good and bad can the multiple characterisations of the genres do for them?
For c-queers and their supporters (including group I fans), their acceptance and safety are helped by the Dangai genre, by the Dangai 101 phenomenon, if and only if the state both characterises the queer elements in these dramas as queer (characterisation 1) AND their opinions of them are positive.
Personally, I had viewed this to be unlikely from the start, because a queer characterisation would mean the censorship board has failed to do its job, which is embarrassing for the Chinese government.
Characterisations 2) and 3) are not bad for c-queers and their supporters, however, and definitely not “enemies” of Characterisation 1); they can not only serve as covers for the queer elements in Dangai to reach their audience, but also, they can act as protective padding for the LGBT+ community if the content or (very aggressive) marketing of the Dangai dramas displease the government — with the understanding, again, that the “traditional BL” arm of the Danmei community is itself also highly vulnerable by being a subculture, and so its padding effect is limited and it also deserves protection.
The downside to achieving LGBT+ visibility through Dangai is, of course and as mentioned, that these dramas are, ultimately, deeply unrealistic depictions of the c-queers. The promotion of these dramas, which has focused on physical interactions between the male leads for “candies”, can encourage even more fetishising of queers and queer relationships. The associated (character) CP culture that makes and breaks CPs based on the dramas’ airing cycle may also fuel negative perception of queer relationships as attention-seeking behaviour, something that can be initiated and terminated at will and for the right price.
Finally, with all this said, which characterisation(s) have the government taken re: Dangai and/or WOH? And what opinions has it given to its characterisations?
PART 1 <-- YOU ARE HERE
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You’re an angel, baby - for the bday boy!
Hello anon, how are you? Thank you for participating in the weekend event ✨
— You're An Angel, Baby —
+ pairing: bang chan x female reader
+ genre: fluff, angst, fake dating!au, ceo!au
+ summary: In order to avoid unwanted suitors, Chan decides to tell the press he is dating you, which turns your life upside down.
+ excerpt (0.3k) +
As soon as the elevator doors opened, you walked as fast as you could to Chan’s office. What you were reading was alarming and worrisome. News outlets were saying you were dating him which was the furthest thing from the truth. This had to be some misunderstanding but you had to get to the bottom of this.
You didn’t even bother to knock when you reached his office. You opened the door and you walked towards his desk, throwing a newspaper on it. Chan quickly fixed his posture on his chair and glanced between the headlines and you.
“What is that?!” You asked, out of breath. Your boss took a deep breath and stood up from his chair, fixing his tie and turning to look out of the window. “Care to explain what the hell is going on?! I-”
Your phone buzzed and you turned off the call without seeing who was calling you. Ever since this fake news broke out, people had been trying to get a hold of you to ask for a comment.
“I told the press we were dating. That is obviously a lie. But at least my parents will stop setting me up with people I couldn’t care less about.”
You couldn’t believe it. Was he being serious about this? Since when did Chan think this was a viable solution?
“It’s ridiculous, Chan. What if I decide to date someone for real?”
“You can’t.” He turned around and looked at you, serious. “We have to make this believable.”
“How?!” You crossed your arms. “I am your assistant. I book your meetings, I make calls on your behalf, I keep your schedule in check. Being your fake girlfriend was not on the contract I signed.”
“We’ll sign a new one, then.” He started to walk towards you, hands behind his back. He stopped in front of you, his eyes glancing over your shocked expression. “What are your conditions?”
“I am not doing this.” You shook your head. “I am not stock you can buy and sell to make some profit. I am not a product you can invest in. I am a human being and my love life is none of your business. Are we clear?”
Want to participate in this weekend’s event? You can find out more about it here and send your title ideas here! Stay tuned so you can vote for your favourite drabble to be turned into a one-shot!
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I once read an Alternate History book called Lu (Hebrew for "what if") which I really liked.
The alternate history itself was ludicrous and basically just an excuse for the author to expouse the virtues of his political agenda. But that's not what I liked about the book.
I really liked the way the book explored that alternate history. It wasn't just prose and maps, it was also excerpts from in-universe books, interviews, transcripts of political debates, travel journals, newspapers, and even political cartoons with original art. The book also delved into things like original slang, political slogans, common jokes, cultural references, in-universe satire, and more.
It's really those details that made the otherwise impossible alternate world come to life.
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PAIRING yandere aizawa x gn reader
A/N for my 100 followers event (closed).
EXCERPT Even as an underground pro hero, he earns more than enough to indulge in pretty things like what you can sense in the box. You have half a mind to just leave it there, to stow it away so you forget about it, but curiosity gets the better of you.
WARNINGS dark/ yandere aizawa, fluff, one suggestive line at the very end, lingerie mentioned briefly, reader wears a dress and make-up, implied kidnapping.
MINORS, AGELESS & BLANK BLOGS DO NOT INTERACT. 18+ ONLY.
There’s a box sitting on the dresser, clean and polished and rather plain aside from the glossy label engraved on top. It’s some high-end store, you recall, tracing over the cursive lettering, admiring the smooth, unblemished surface before opening it; it’s not something you could buy with your non-existent salary — and it definitely wasn’t you could have afforded wasting months’ worth of earnings on back when you did have a job — but the price is water off your captor’s back. Even as an underground pro hero, he earns more than enough to indulge in pretty things like what you can sense in the box. You have half a mind to just leave it there, to stow it away so you forget about it, but curiosity gets the better of you.
Undeniably, he has good taste. Taking a peek into his own cupboard, you’ve learnt just how much Aizawa prefers comfort and functionality over appearance — it’s funny how he spares no expense when it comes to dressing you up in the most impractical, salacious outfits. He definitely doesn’t buy your clothes with your comfort in mind.
It’s soft in your hands when you lift it out. A lace bodice with flowers embroidered is what you see first, and you hate to admit that the whole dress is beautiful. It’s definitely something you could picture yourself wearing if circumstances were different, but you don’t really want to feed into whatever fantasies Aizawa has of you in this dress.
You’re just glad it’s not lingerie for once.
You fold it back into the box, taking care not to crease it too much, before walking to the bathroom to freshen up. You go through your early morning routine: pouring a bowl of cereal, sitting in the living room with last month’s — or has it been two months? — newspaper, watching the shadow of birds flit past the windows. There’s not much else for you to do; Aizawa’s been too occupied to search for games you could play yourself, too tired to buy new books for you, so the old ones sit and collect dust. You could clean with the feather duster he left out in the bathroom (you couldn’t be trusted with something as sturdy as a broom just yet) and cleaning up the place would make him happy when it comes home…
You spend the next few hours staring at the ceiling instead. The white coat of paint is peeling in some areas, but you don’t think he’d care much about that. It looks uneven, too, but maybe that’s just your mind playing tricks on you for studying the ceiling for so long. You look at the clock on the wall — not nearly enough time has passed, but you’ll take what you can get.
You pour yourself a glass of water before washing your dishes, drying and putting them away before you head back into the bedroom. You eye up the unmade bed, wanting to jump and smother yourself in the duvet, to fall asleep so time flies by faster, but the box on the dresser catches your attention.
You know Aizawa wants you to put it on, wants you to dress all pretty just for him and sit by the door like an obedient dog, dolled-up in whatever fancy clothes he’s bought for you with sparkling eyes and a kiss waiting on your lips.
You know you shouldn’t feed into his fantasies, shouldn't give him the satisfaction of seeing you put effort into your outfit, looking just as perfect as he imagines.
You also know that if you don’t do what he wants, he’ll force you to do it, with or without your help. You’d rather not have him tie you up or threaten your family after last time.
It’s still too early to wear the dress since you plan to laze about for longer, but you do spend time scouring the collection of make-up pallets and jewellery he’s gathered to find what matches the outfit. You’re doing this for yourself, you reiterate, laying out what you’ve decided to wear beside the box. Not for him. For yourself. Just one day where you can pretend you’re getting ready for a cute date with a man you like; just one day where you let yourself indulge in everything that’s been handed to you on a lavish silver platter.
When the clock nears 5, you dog-ear the page of the paper you were reading before rolling out of bed. You sit at the vanity, movements robotic as you clean your face and plaster on something prettier, something more jovial to paint a more splendid facade. There’s a new shine to your lips and more colour on your eyelids, but no amount of concealer can hide the misery that lays dormant in your eyes, so you admire the pearls in your jewellery as they flare under the artificial lights, instead.
You slip into the dress, careful not to smudge any of the make-up, before tidying up your mess and waiting ever so patiently in the living room for Aizawa to come home.
It doesn’t take long for the man to trundle through the entryway, shoulders slumping with the weight of the world as he kicks the door closed and yawns into his hand.
“Welcome home,” you greet, about to pick up the bag he’s dropped to the floor when he catches you by the elbow, keeping you upright.
He murmurs a reply, but it’s lost to the way his gaze traverses your body, eyes waking up as he scans every inch of you until he meets your eyes.
“You look beautiful,” he compliments, hands moving to the curve of your hips to pull you closer. You can feel the material ruffle beneath his palms as he holds onto you tightly, as if you could slip from his grasp at any moment. “C’mere.”
He tips his head to yours, nose grazing against yours for a fleeting second before he reels you into a languid kiss. There’s no rush — which you’re thankful for, he seems even more tired than usual — but that doesn’t stop him from pecking your lips several more times before he pulls away, eyes roaming over you once more.
“Let me get a better look,” he utters, “spin for me, love.”
You feel like a ballerina as he twirls you around, appraising you with soft hum to let you know how much he appreciates the view; it’s uplifting to feel treasured like this, Aizawa’s always been straight to the point, and the way he takes his time to admire you sets your heart aflutter despite your concerns.
“So cute,” he mumbles, lips curling into a tiny grin as he beckons you back to him. “Love seeing you like this, all pretty for me.”
“Thank you, Shouta…” you mumble, but it’s muffled against his lips as he leans into you once more, teasing your bottom lip with little nibbles. You can’t help but gasp when he pulls you flush against him, and he takes the opportunity to tangle his tongue with yours in a slow dance as one hand glides up the curve of your back, sending shivers down your spine. His hand settles at your nape, cradling your head, as the other winds around your waist.
Your own hands, resting stiffly on his shoulders, can do nothing but dig into his body as he pulls back for mere seconds to breathe before diving in again and again and again. By the time he tires of planting kisses over your mouth, over the round of your cheeks, his lips are plump and the fatigue that lingered in his eyes is long gone.
The gloss that once coated your lips has rubbed off on him, but he pays it no mind as he speaks, “Let’s go have dinner, yeah?”
Then, with another look over your body and a slow lick of his lips, he continues, “And some dessert, too, hm?”
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Title: Fan Behaviour
Author: Sheha Sidek
Artist: Scarlett Dixon
Pairings: Castiel / Dean Winchester
Castiel / April Kelly (Minor)
Castiel / Arthur Ketch (Minor)
Dean Winchester / Lisa Braeden (Minor)
Dean Winchester / Mick Davies (Minor)
Warnings: Underage, Stalking, Harassment, Obsession,
Tags: Teen!DeanCas, Cas and Dean separated, Lovers to Strangers to Lovers, Pining,
Posting Date: October 26, 2021
Summary: Popular Novelist meets Tabloid Journalist.
Dean Winchester loves digging up dirt on the rich and famous. So what if that person was an ex-boyfriend who left him ten years ago without a word? It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and Dean’s willing to do whatever it takes to get Castiel Novak to crack. All he needed to do was to keep his head on his shoulders and not fall for those damn blue eyes again.
Castiel Novak has been through some shit in his life. Family drama. Separation from wife. Crazy stalker fans sending crap to his home address for no reason. And now his damn ex-boyfriend has turned up out of the blue in some obnoxious French restaurant at Sunset Boulevard. Cas knows Dean wants some kind of emotional payback for the hurt and humiliation he had to endure. Cas doesn’t mind. All that bluster, snide remarks and dark looks shot his way? That ain’t hate.
That’s just fan behaviour.
Excerpt: “Relax. It’s not like I haven’t seen yours before,” Dean said with a dark chuckle. Cas cursed under his breath and tried to finish his business as quickly as humanly possible. Of course Dean had to choose the urinal right next to him, unzipping his jeans then grunting a little as he peed noisily against the white porcelain. “Fuck,” Cas whispered under his breath, shook himself dry, and quickly tucked himself into his pants.
“Gotta wash those hands with soap, my friend. Don’t want your girlfriend to think you’re not big on hygiene, do you?”
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Cas said in a temper, making a huge show of lathering his hands with soap, scrubbing them vigorously. Their eyes met in the mirror as Dean approached the sink to wash his own hands. “I don’t appreciate you making these insinuations, Dean. You may be used to scraping the bottom of the gossip barrel for your trashy newspaper - but I assure you, if you’re thinking of provoking some kind of reaction from me, you’d fail miserably.
Dean snorted as he rinsed the lather off his hands. “Calm the fuck down, sweetheart. You're not as interesting as you think you are. Mick just wants to run a story with your actor bestie out there, so how about we remain civil until then, huh?”
Cas felt himself flush red.
Dean didn’t know why he pushed Cas that hard. Perhaps it’s the long-standing grudge he had against his once-boyfriend, but damn if Cas hadn’t grown some fangs since Dean last saw him. The Castiel Dean knew was soft-spoken, almost shy, and gentle. This… this was something else. To Dean’s dismay, he found that he liked this new part of Cas that doesn’t take shit from anyone - not even from Dean.
“I know how to handle myself, Dean, thank you very much,” Cas snarked, “I wish I could say the same for you as well.”
“Hey, it was a surprise to see an old boyfriend popping up out of nowhere. It would have been nice to get a heads up years ago - before he dumped me and just fucked off into the sunset with a wife, but… no biggie right?” Dean said airily as he gazed at his reflection in the mirror, trying to fix his already immaculate hair. Cas looked so angry, running his hands through his hair multiple times till he resembled a very irate hedgehog.
“I did not dump you,” Cas gritted out, his voice dangerously quiet. Dean looked surprised for a few moments, looking over his shoulder to face Cas directly since the night began. “Say whatever you want, Dean, or think whatever you want of me - but you can’t say that I left you. I was forced to return to DC, and when I went back to look for you, you were gone. No one knew where you went. I looked everywhere. Asked everyone. You were just… gone.”
DCBB 2021 Posting Schedule
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I feel the mom's need more attention, can we get an excerpt of them hanging out together or having similarly insightful interactions that the dads have gotten?
The door opens with a gentle draft, slender fingers pressing against the pristine tag labeling Dorm Zeta. Inside, five students turn their attention to the newcomer who glances back to the door tag, who cross references it to her acceptance letter.
"This is Zeta, isn't it? I thought there was only five rooms per dorm."
"Right? We were just talking about that," A cheery woman with a brunette ponytail saunters over, "Turns out one of the dorms wasn't finished and only had four rooms available, so I'm kicking it here now. Some genius planning, huh?"
"Where would you sleep, then?"
"I'm crashing on the couch. Well, unless you're offering. Name's Tiffany, by the by. Tiffany Rose," Rose extends a hand towards the newcomer.
"Yvonne," her expression sours as she notices the blade hanging at Rose's hip, providing only a slight bow. "Well met."
"Already making a bad impression, Rose?" a silken tease cuts at the swordswoman, "Not everyone enjoys the overly eager, you know. It's clear you're making her uncomfortable."
A chicly dressed woman offers a traditional Hospian bow to Yvonne, "Goldia. It's a pleasure."
Yvonne's attention piques, "Are you a Hospian?"
"Not quite, but I've lived there for a time."
"You must have. I couldn't tell any difference," Yvonne compliments quietly.
"Hey, Pram probably could've," Rose chuckles, "Hey Pram, what'd you— Huh, where'd she go?"
"Gone," the last dorm member explains. She hasn't moved from the spot Yvonne first saw her, an intense piercing gaze sufficient enough to close the distance. "It seems she left soon after your arrival."
"I get the impression she's not much for introductions. Or any kind of conversation. An asocial type, if you will." Goldia whispers. Almost in answer, a loud impact rattles one of the hallway doors.
"I think she heard you," Rose mutters under her breath.
"Lindsey, I think there's a problem," Goldia whispers.
"Hm?" Breaking her intense focus on the morning newspaper, Lindsey looks up to the sight of Rose hollering in the hallway.
"Open the door, Pram! We have class! Are you not answering? You didn't— Hey, I heard that! So you are in there! Why aren't you answering?"
Tiffany walks passed her with a shaking head, "Just let her be. You're going to be late yourself if you keep lingering."
"Hm, yeah, I guess…but…" Rose looks dejectedly at the door handle for a moment before gasping in surprise upon seeing it turn, "Oh, look, she's coming o—"
Words are replaced by a resounding crack as the door suddenly accelerates into Rose. As she reels, a figure flits out of the room and towards the front door.
"C-Catch her!" Rose demands, though the only one that really moves to pursue is her.
"Aren't you going to do something?" Goldia asks Lindsey.
"Seems fine to me," Lindsey returns to her newspaper, "Pram wouldn't come out of her room if she wasn't comfortable."
"You know her?"
"Just the impression I get. I would think that'd be your department."
Goldia smirks behind the paper Lindsey holds up, "You must be better with the non-vocal ones."
Lindsey doesn't respond, her attention having fully tunneled back to the reading material.
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I loved your post on burglars tools, very interesting and informative. Would you be able to help me understand the part about ladders? I don't know if it's the historical writing or my unfamiliarity with the subject, but I cant form a clear picture of what is being described.
Sure, let's see. First, here's the excerpt from that post:
Next comes another class of tools; rope-ladders, or wire rope with iron or wooden foot-rests, or pieces of wire bent into large rings at one end, and connected like a surveyor's chain, so as to offer support for the feet in climbing. They are always admirably made, fold up into a small compass, and can often be carried in the coat-pocket. The end intended to be attached to the window-sill is supplied with iron hooks. Some are capable of being thrown up by hand without making any unusual noise, while others are attached by hand from within a building when it is necessary to provide means of escape. In all cases a slight jerk from the ground releases the hooks, and the ladder falls. When the ladder can be attached from the ground, one operator mounts to the window while his “pall” stands below to guard against a surprise by the “cops,” as the police are called.
There are may types of rope ladders, they can have wooden rungs, or loops, or just big knots. They are usually made of hemp rope, but any strong rope will do, including the very strong wire rope (which is modern, it was developed in the 1830s). In the above picture, the wooden horizontal things are the rungs. These, or loops, are the "foot-rests". The fourth has knots, and if you imagine it made of wire rope instead of rope and with loops instead of knots, that's what the text describes.
rope ladder with hook, and assorted ways to scale a castle wall, Germany, late 15th century / a rope ladder on a modern ship (this is a pilot ladder)
Rope ladders been around since ancient times. They were used in construction (and siege warfare), and they were very common in ships. In these cases they're generally expected to be well-made and sturdy, but supporting the weight of a single person is not a tall order, and anyone can learn how to make one.
Latude escapes from the Bastille with a rope ladder. Latude (1725-1805) was a French swindler, celebrated for his many escapes from prison, as described in his own Memoirs (1787). He made a lot of things up though, so: grain of salt.
Rope ladders with big rungs may not be the ideal burglar's tool, since they're bulky when folded and noisy when used. But a simple rope ladder can folded neatly to a small package, imagine like a climber's kit:
As for the "pieces of wire bent into large rings at one end, and connected like a surveyor's chain", well here's what a surveyor's chain looks like:
Surveyor's chain, New York state, US, circa 1830
This is a device for measuring distances (in a complicated way which combines imperial and metric, and which we thankfully don't have to worry about here). If instead of small rings to connect all the pieces you have a few more larger loops, large enough to accommodate a foot, you can use it for climbing, and you can fold it to a small and portable package when not in use.
As for hooks, I think they're pretty straightforward:
Note: our source for all this is neither investigative journalism nor historical research, it's an article in a magazine for mechanics and builders, printed in New York in 1874. So I'm not sure how reliable it is. If I wanted historical accuracy, for writing or out of curiosity, I'd try to corroborate it with other sources. Newspaper archives that report on real burglaries would be a good start. (It's researching for periods before newspapers that make it real hard to find specifics, then you need to dig into court archives, and resort to super questionable descriptions in literature, and it's complicated.) But if we just want a broad idea, I think it's a great source. And honestly, when it comes to crime, I'm inclined to trust mechanics who actually know how stuff works more than I trust mainstream reporters, who are prone to creating moral panics because panic sells papers.
Hope that helped!
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November 3rd excerpt:
“When you’re out, you should stop at the library,” Sam mulled, glancing at the books they had. “Nothing here is really going to do us any good. And pick up a paper at the store to see what’s going on in town now.”
Jacob nodded blankly. A part of him focused on how casually Sam listed off what they needed. Things like library and newspaper weren't in Bowman's vocabulary at all, but just like when he navigated the laptop with ease, Sam didn't even have to think about it. He just knew what to do next. Jacob was glad to have him around, because he never would have found anything on his own.
"Can do," he said appreciatively. Odd as the errands were, he could actually do them. Better than spinning his wheels on research he didn't fully understand. "I'll wash up and head out ... " his eyes strayed to the notebook he'd kept next to the laptop. "If there's something specific I should look out for at the library, jot it down?"
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I have A GREAT IDEA! I AM BIG BRAIN TIME.
SO- Giorno joins the gang right? Right. Meets everybody; life is good. He sees the reader, a 5ft ball of A F F E C T I O N. Hugs and kisses everybody to greet and everybody goes to her for cuddles when they're feeling down. Tells everybody she loves them. Hell, even Abbacchio seems to soften just a bit. BUT- she doesn't do all that with Giorno. He notices that whoever walks by her side, she links arms with them, but when he walked by her side she didn't touch him or anything. She's still very sweet and out there but without the physical affection and he doesn't know why? Does she not like him? But it turns out she could tell he wasn't a very touchy person and she didn't want to make him suffocate because of her personality. FLUFF PLEASE! ALSO UNCONFESSED FEELINGS BECAUSE I LOVE SLOW BURNERS THANK YOU!!!!❤️❤️
Hey there sparkle ^^! This idea is huge thank you! I love it and it’s very fitting for our stoic Giorno. We’ll see how everything develops eh-he I’m curious too 💖💖!
Super Big Brain Time!
Anyway the description of the heroine is so cute I am softening🥺!
Hope you enjoy :3!
I want your Affection
Pairing: Giorno (but actually Bucci Gang too as supporting characters) x Fem!Reader
Word Count: about 2K
(Image taken from Google uwu)
Excerpt: “Leone Abbacchio the most serious and cold one, affection was his nemesis. But of course you were the only exception he was prone to tolerate.”
*Flap, Flap* echoed the sound of pages being turned. Like every morning the leader of a small division of Passione, the Neapolitan Mafia, looked through the local newspaper, just to be informed about the bright and honest part of the big city.
“Hey Bucciarati...where is she?” Another man part of the group was polishing his gun dearly, as if it was part of his own body and the question he had just asked regarded a little girl, also part of the gang. And that specific girl was you. You were an orphan they had saved during a mission, you had nowhere to go and so they decided to take you in. Since that day, you learned what it meant to have a family and your long awaited feeling of love had emerged: you became in no time the most affectionate person in the world and they were at first a little unsettled by that show of affection of yours, thankfully with time the understood you: you were now the mascotte of Bucciarati’s gang.
“I think she just woke up...she is going to be here for breakfast in a-”. He couldn’t finish the sentence, a pair of arms had trapped his neck and a puffy cheek was rubbing his head, so the little lady had indeed made an appearance “I am here boss! Sorry I am late! I didn’t want to wake up...I love sleeping...but I love hugs even more!”
He shook his head and smiled “I can see that... look breakfast is ready and actually Guido asked about you...so I bet he is in need of some love too, go on he is right there”. Mista stopped his careful polishing and became paralyzed, your stare was on him, your target. A drop of sweat ran down his temple, did he have enough time to put the gun away safely? *BANG* Of course not and a gunshot had escaped, perforating the restaurant’s wall, while you had jumped on him and were attacking his face with kisses “Y-Y-Y/N! I have a weapon...please...I may do something inadvertently again!” Unfortunately, there wasn’t a switch to press to shut your unstoppable affection, so he capitulated and let you do as you wished.
“Fugo! I mean it! Ten divided by two makes 4...of course 2 and 4 are friends! I mean... why is this wrong?” Narancia, another member, was about to be killed by Fugo, the youngest one but also the most intelligent and the one that was teaching him basic learning...without success. But today Narancia was in luck, you sprinted to him and hugged him tightly, leaving a punch mid-air and a Fugo visibly distressed. “Awww Y/N I love you too! You make my days better, fuck math I want love in my life!” And he hugged you back, picking you up and making you spin.
“Waaah Nara my head!” You stumbled a little when he put you down, so a pair of delicate hands caught you “Y-Y/N... pay attention... you’ve lost balance... *shock*”. Yeah Fugo had prevented your fall, but not your kiss on his nose, he flushed red. He wasn’t accustomed to your affection, even after a year of your presence, he couldn’t elaborate this fuzzy feeling in his chest, you caused it, every little affectionate gesture of yours was like a drug and he was scared...but also fascinated.
“Yo...everyone is here then... what are we having for breakfast?” The last member finally came: Leone Abbacchio the most serious and cold one, affection was his nemesis. But of course you were the only exception he was prone to tolerate. That’s why, hands in pockets, when he saw you rushing to him he just shrugged and accepted his fate, you landing on him and the both of you falling on the floor. “Here we are again...like every single morning huh? You are truly incorrigible” he puffed, but then encircled your little figure with his long arms and stood up, bringing you to the table to have breakfast with the others.
“Mh.. I almost forgot, starting from today we have a new recruit in the family: his name is Giorno Giovanna and he can be trusted, or at least I trust him so be friendly with him ok?” Bruno had just announced an important matter like that, leaving everyone shocked, you included. But the group didn’t have time to realize, because soon after a young blond boy with emerald eyes came towards the table and smiled “Bucciarati...I’m here... *clears throat* good morning everyone my name is Giorno Giovanna, and I plan to be as useful as possible to this group”, he put a hand on his chest, as if he was making an Oath, and bowed, he was too much refined. Everyone, except you and Bruno, was a little skeptic. Bruno was smiling and you were petrified.
In an instant you remembered your favourite book back at the orphanage, a book about a Prince and a Princess, the princess was like you: short and affectionate. The prince...was exactly like him: refined, beautiful, as bright as the sun and golden with eyes as precious as emeralds. You gulped and looked down, you didn’t know what that nervous heartbeat almost bursting out of your chest meant, neither did Giorno. As soon as both of your stares made contact an electric shock went trough your bodies: it was the so called ‘Love at first Sight’ but you two were a boy and a girl of 15 years. How could you have possibly known about something like that?
Months passed and it was already half a year with Giorno in the group. He had proven to everyone his loyalty, he had demonstrated his honest intents. He was now accepted by everyone, but not by you. Or at least so he thought.
The gang was going on patrol around the section of town that was under Bucciarati’s management. You were next to Mista and suddenly a small laugh was heard, you had decided to link your arm with Mista’s and you were also the one laughing with Sex Pistols, his stand.
Curious thing was that Giorno was also next to you, but on the other side, but you never had the thought to link arms with him. And that behaviour was making him anxious, did he do something to you? He was the new entry and all...but he was now respected by everyone, so...why?
You had your motives actually: he was too damn refined! Your mind went blank every time you thought about touching him, no even brushing his arm a little bit. He would definitely break apart! You thought he was frail and not inclined to affection, moreover you were intimidated by him and you didn’t know how to break the ice between you two. What if he didn’t like your personality? Or if he felt shied away by it and left the group? You couldn’t tolerate that possible scenario, you would have felt guilty for the rest of your life!
You were now back to Bucciarati’s residence, the gang’s household. Big enough to accomodate a regiment.
“Little one...your turn to the bathroom...oh... *opens his arms* c’mere ...seems your affection battery ran out” and you jumped in his arms, Leone hugged you tightly. But your expression wasn’t troubled because you needed affection, you actually saw Giorno’s expression darken when you were both on patrol. But why? He had looked at you and then turned sad suddenly, did something about you disturbed him? You didn’t want to see him like that for some reason, but you also couldn’t afford to comfort him...you were at a dead end: no entrance and no exit. Just you and your confusion in front of him and his sadness.
In the meantime he saw you hugging Abbacchio and sighed, interpreting that as a sign he could go in before.
The moment he opened the door, after he had finished, you bumped into him, a sudden shock, accompanied by uneven heart-flips and your immediate distancing. He cleared his throat: “mh-hm... Y/N...you ...can go in the bathroom now”. You were in front of him, frozen. He didn’t break that was true but...you couldn’t hear anything anymore, your heartbeat was being so loud! Why on earth?! You put your hands on your ears to try to calm down. Giorno took that moment as a chance and took a deep breath before speaking again: “do you hate me?”
Your eyes widened, so he was bothered by your actions. B-but why? He wasn’t an affectionate type. So you looked at him and whispered hesitantly “I-I...don’t...?!” He nodded, then walked a little closer to you, as if you were a feral animal to approach with careful movements: “then why won’t you touch me or look at me properly? I’m part of the group too aren’t I? I want to be friends with you...I guess...”. He ruffled his hair, he used to sleep with disheveled hair and not his usual braid, and he was more attractive to you in that casual style. But you couldn’t think about trivial things right now, he needed an answer, so you looked at him and replied with a trembling voice “I-I... thought... you didn’t like...touchy people like me...I don’t know you that well...so I didn’t want to...uhm...upset you...b-but...I want to be friends with you too...”.
Now you were both staring intensely at each other, both of you at a crossroads: who would have started to break the ice? Something like a little handshake to start could be awesome. But neither of you dared to make a move.
In that moment Bucciarati came, he was supposed to have a turn to shower and prepare for bed too, but nobody called for him so he decided to try and go anyway.
“What are you doing in the corridor like that you two?...Oh...I see”. He smirked, he couldn’t lick it to confirm, but Giorno’s sweat had the taste of love, just like yours he was sure of it, by the smell in the air. So he had to perform the role of cupid: he went behind Giorno and slightly pushed him, causing his collision with you and your fall to the floor, but he protected you and so his back made contact with the wooden surface and not yours.
Bruno hurried to the bathroom and you opened your eyes shocked “G-G-Giorno are you alright?!?” You began touching him to inspect if he had some injury, he was silent for a moment. Then, suddenly, he burst out laughing, mentally thanking Bucciarati, he took a seated position with you on him and caressed your head tenderly “I feel wonderful right now...you’re touching me after all”.
You flushed red and hid your face, pressing it on his chest and he hugged you, putting his chin on your head. He was happy, rather he was in seventh heaven. He didn’t know why though, well...he had lots of time to understand the reason.
On the other hand, you were embarrassed as hell, butterflies in your stomach and blank mind from the shock. You didn’t know what was happening, but you knew, you could be as affectionate with Giorno as you were with the rest of the gang. What was incomprehensible to you was the urge to show him twice as much affection, or even thrice if possible. He deserved it, you had to make up for the six months in which you had neglected him, there was no ulterior motive of course! Then why did you thought of him as your prince charming?! Well...they say time will tell... hopefully, you would have understood in the future.
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