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@ravkanfashion please accept my humble offerings:
House of Worth French dinner dress, silk, ca. 1877
House of Worth evening dress, silk, 1882
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So, someone has been Lurking a round the Shadow and Bone fandom - mostly inspired by the fabulously talented @orlissa’s and @jomiddlemarch ‘s glorious fics, which give a GREAT nod to a more historically grounded Grishaverse. And... I do keep going to Pinterest and staring at pretty gowns, (coincidentally in shades of gold and black)... so...
Oh, what the hell. I make no apologies, people. This mad historical fashion dump is my ‘give Alina ALL the imposing gowns and elegant outfits’ -and possibly a shadowmancer husband post...
A Radiant Ballgown - Literally!
First off, I COULDN’T pass up this gown! It was designed by Charles Frederick Worth for an 1883 fancy dress ball in New York for one of the Vanderbilts, who appeared as the personification of “Electric Light”.
This was a very cutting edge costume for the time. The dress even came equipped with a battery to power an electric torch carried in one hand.
(But who needs batteries when you’re a Grisha Sun Summoner?)
It’s a glorious combination of butter yellow and white silk, with hints of lustrous black velvet at the hem. The spangled gold embroidery all over the gown would glitter under strong light - which is just PERFECT for a Sun Summoner to wear whilst demonstrating her powers. It’s also no bad outfit to wear if you have Unresolved Sexual Tension with your shadowy nemesis whilst dancing in the midst of a decadent Lentsov masquerade ball. This gown sort of begs for that kind of high-melodrama!
Now, I don’t know whether I’m subconscious channelling some ‘last days of the Romanovs/Anastasia’ vibes when I think about keftas for Alina...
(Not ... quite what I’m going for)
but... I ended up looking at Paul Poiret Edwardian evening coats for inspiration, and oh my goodness, the sheer luxurious drama of them all!
Grisha keftas... because they’re worth it. (The one on the right feels very ‘Decadent Tango with the Darkling’ to me)
I mean, if you’re going to have to rule as a benevolent dictator with your shadowmancer husband after overthrowing a corrupt regime in order to protect Grishakind and Ravka, you might as well look amazing while doing it, right? In colours which show how you “balance” each other out...
The gorgeous yellow velvet robe on the right looks like maybe the costume designer from Shadow and Bone used it as inspiration for Alina’s gold kefta? either way, the black appliqué is GORGEOUS. And I would wear it in a heartbeat.
Plus, if you couple them with the breathtaking Mario Fortuny gowns of the late teens/early 20s, it gives a gorgeous look that very much plays into the ‘Sankta Alina’ image...
They come in gold and black, for choosing your look: ‘Sun Summoner’ or ‘Dark Bride of the Starless Saint’.
I have to admit, my shipping brain chose these last couple of fluttery dressing gowns for the fact they would be very tactical for persuading Aleksander to stop working on his battle strategies and come to bed.
I’m sorry. i’m trash.
A massive, massive thank you to all the wonderful fic writers out there!
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1906, Girolamo Giuseffi
@jomiddlemarch @montmartre-parapluie @vesperass-anuna it's just so freaking beautiful
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Good morning, Ravkan Fashion Squad! Here’s an entry for a sleek kefta upgrade for Alina, whether or not she is the Tsaritsa of Ravka, the General’s Bride, or some other, to-be-determined title that reflects her decision not to retreat to the orphanage at Keramzin with Mal.
I love the lines on this and the pleats and don’t forget those gloves!
@orlissa @montmartre-parapluie @vesperass-anuna @fericita-s @theburnbarreljester
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Date: late 19th century
Medium: leather, wool, metal, glass, silk
Credit Line: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Museum Expedition 1920 & 1921, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 1921
Accession Number: 2009.300.51
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Smuggler - General Kirigan
It had been like any other pick up. The Grisha had paid in full. Now all that was left was to pick them up and deliver them to her allies near The Fold. For years she had smuggled Grisha and Ravkans through the Unsea, without so much as a whisper of her presence coming to light.
Now she was caught. Bound in chains and roped down to a chair. It was infuriating. Not knowing where she had gone wrong. The only people that knew where she would be were the two girls she was meant to be getting out of the Little Palace. She had interviewed them extensively. They hadn’t been the ones to betray her.
Her thoughts are interrupted by the sound of footsteps approaching down the narrow hall. Two faces appear. She recognizes the gloomy man dressed in black.
He scowls, “You…smuggle Grisha, out of MY PALACE!”
Y/n stares back at him with matching ferocity. She wouldn’t be intimidated by him. She refused.
“You have no right to those Grisha. I have only ever taken Grisha away of their own free will. Something I’m sure you have little experience in.”
“How dare you excuse your actions in such a way. You help soldiers desert their posts!”
“You take children’s from their families. From orphanages. From the streets. You offer them food, clothes, magical powers, and then a military rank. You give them no choice. And you excuse your actions by calling it mercy and loyalty.”
The General waves the woman in blue away. Once they are alone he pulls up a chair and seats himself, putting them at a more even level.
“Where are your associates?”
“I won’t tell you.”
“Then I will find a way to make you.”
Y/n tilts her head in an amused fashion; “You know I won’t talk. It doesn’t matter what you do.”
His face does not change, but y/n sees through his guise; “You’re angry, because you know I’m right.”
He shakes his head; “You’re a disgrace. Ravka needs all the help it can get and you ran away. You left us—you left m…why?”
Y/n wants to snap something back at him. Send him crawling back in his shell…
“I’m sorry no one offered you a choice General.”
They stare at one another for only a moment. She lets him see the pain in her eyes. The guilt she felt for leaving. The sureness in her shoulders. She didn’t retreat what she had done.
His eyes harden, but not before y/n catches a glimmer within them…
“Enjoy rotting in a cell.”
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What kind of YouTube accounts do you think the grishaverse characters would have?
Oh gosh I love these questions! Hehe.
Alina: runs a pet channel with so many cute cats and puppies that she saves from the street and rehomes to loving owners. Has her own pet-products brand, everything is super high quality but also affordable, and she has struck partnerships with many vets and zoos! Harshaw is often a guest on her channels and gives tips on kitty care!
Aleksander: emo metal indie songs. Think Jonathan Young or Violet Orlandi, just edgier. He has a great voice (as we now Binbons does) and he plays the guitar while Ivan is his drummer. Both of them attract people of all genders and ages to their channel, especially Aleks, because he's just so dark and tall and handsome. Ivan has fewer fans since he doesn't like showing his face much, but his fanbase is extremely dedicated.
Fedyor: gaming channel! It's mostly him just getting his ass handed to him in games like CoD and LoL, but his commentary is always hilarious and he keeps all of his swear words appropriate. Never says fuck/damn/shit/etc on camera and never calls anyone an asshole. He substitutes these with "YIKES" "Oh nooo bestie", "that's sad" and, when on multiplayer, "stop asking for heals you barnacle!". Ivan also makes the occasional appearance (which their fanbase is delighted for, the fans just KNEW these two were dating) and he kicks Fedyor's ass if they play 1v1 or carries him throughout the game during co-op. Fedyor loves that uwu.
Genya: makeup and fashion tutorials ALLLL the way. She has such an eye for art and aesthetic, matches colors perfectly and gets so creative with different styles or makeup and outfits. She has her own makeup brand (as in @darbydoo22 's fic!) and hosts many different guests so as to spread diversity (for example, she calls Nina over for larger body types).
Zoya: tea/politics channel but she's actually serious about it, does extensive research and never falls for drama or clickbaits. She swears a lot, but her audience can always rely on her to deliver facts and listen all of her sources and proof. She's also known to have made trolls/haters run crying to their mamas.
Nikolai: runs a monthly Ravkan history podcast! He often invites Zoya to give her view on current events and compare them to similar situations of the past, also providing analysis.
Inej: gymnastics channel! Her tutorials range from easy for beginners to hard enough that may make you break your back. She always looks encouraging, positive and active without overselling it or filling her videos with sponsorships. She also films her acrobatics performances and uploads them to encourage her fans to try new things.
Kaz & Jesper: it's a buzzfeed unsolved channel and im not even kidding. It was Kaz's idea but Jesper tagged along and now it's a mess. Kaz has a deadpan, unimpressed face every time they enter a clearly haunted building and Jesper screams and jumps if he as much as sees a bat. Milo is their channel's mascot and Jesper's emotional support!
Nina & Matthias: they run a cooking channel together, though Matthias is just her helper. It's obvious in every video he's madly in love with her & their banter is hilarious. They have done collabs with Fedyor's channel where they all play cooking simulators or invite Fedyor to help them make traditional Old Ravkan recipes! Ivan has also joined along sometimes, but he looks a bit lost.
Wylan & David: they run a science and chemistry channel together! Wylan also makes crazy experiments such as "dropping 1000°C metal ball into a pool of orange juice!" and David keeps listing facts about why these experiments are usually a terrible idea.
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You and the general having to share one bed in this pub and oh what happens hmm? 👀
*slams hands on the table* and there was oNLY ONE BED!
Warnings: none, just heavy pining
Word count: 1856
Part of you was in hysterics about the situation, wanted to laugh about it until you could barely breathe while the other part of you was absolutely terrified.
Out of all the people to land in a scene that could have been straight out of a romance novel, it was you and the infamous Ravkan general.
Your heart was probably beating loud enough that every heartrender in the nearby perimiter could hear it as you dropped your traveling bag a little louder than you wanted to, drawing his attention, which up until that point you had managed to keep from yourself for the most part, save for the moment at the bar where you’d found out there were not enough rooms to house all six of you comfortably.
It wasn’t that you didn’t like it, but everytime he looked at you, you felt like every nerve ending had suddenly been set on fire and you muttered a quick apology before plucking your night shifts out of your bag and moved to the small but closed off washing area.
At least here you couldn’t feel his heavy gaze as you slowly relaxed and stripped out of your day wear and put the comfortable fabric over your limbs. It wasn’t fashionable in any way, but it kept you warm during the night.
Behind the curtain you could hear him shuffling around and the dry sigh of the fabric from his Kefta told you he was changing as well, and you decided to wait a little until the commotion died down enough for you to be confident that he was done, not accidentally wanting to see him naked and poked your head around the curtain to see if your suspicions were correct.
What you were not expecting to see was the fact that he had forgone the need for a shirt and had his back turned to you as he looked out of the window, which you were glad about as you felt a blush creep up your cheeks and quickly retreated behind the curtain again.
Your heart was certainly loud enough now that Ivan and Fedyor, the two heartrenders in your company, could almost definitely hear it and you wouldn’t put it above Ivan to come in and complain that you needed to keep your heart beat down so he could sleep.
Sunken away in your thoughts, you opened the tap above the small sink and let the water run as you splashed your face with it. The cold water felt nice against your heated skin and slowly, you could feel your heart come back to its normal pace.
Eyes now heavy with sleep, you turned off the tap and yawned as you pushed the curtain aside to get comfortable somewhere, completely forgetting the fact that you had seen the general half naked just a few minutes ago, but as you looked around the room, he was nowhere to be found.
Deciding it would be rude to take the only bed in the room, you plucked the few cushions from the two seats in the room and made yourself as comfortable as possible and hoped you would be asleep before he came back, saving you the discussion over who would take the floor that night.
You weren’t sure how late it was when you woke up.
The silvery slivers that came through the blinds told you it was still night, but you wouldn’t be able to tell the time even if your life depended on it.
The warmth around you slowly settled in your reality as your mind became more aware of its surroundings, little by little.
First came the pleasant weight of a blanket and the softness of the fabric, then the weight of something else draped over your middle. It was heavy, but not unpleasantly. There was a heavy, steady breath near the nape of your neck and when you moved a little, trying to take in more of your surroundings, you could feel the soft tickling of a beard on your shoulder.
Whether the realisation had hit you as slow as you had woken up or faster than a manipulated wind current from a Squaller, you didn’t know, but once the knowledge had set in, your mind began to race. Like it always did when you were near him.
Why he had disappeared before you went to sleep or how you had ended up next to him in the small bed the room possessed, you had no idea, though you could only guess that he had seen you asleep in the corner and had taken you to bed with him, for a reason only the Saints could ever reveal to you.
Breathing in deeply, you tried to calm your mind. There were still a good few hours left before the sun would come up and you’d have to leave, but there seemed no calming it, no matter how much you focussed on your breath.
Shifting a little under the heavy weight that laid over your waist, you managed to find a position that was more comfortable to be awake in as your eyes moved around the room, scanning the dark silhouttes that clung to the floor and walls.
You tensed involutarily at the sound of his voice behind you as you tried to figure out what had woken him. You were fairly certain you had been as quiet and still as you could, save for the small change in your position just now, unless he had been awake before you’d woken up.
Was more before I knew you were awake, you thought to yourself as the familiar burn began to settle over your body, even more noticable now in the places where your bodies touched each other, and you thought you might burn a hole into the bed right there and accidentally set the establishment on fire.
You shifted again, but this time he lifted his arm to give you more room to move. If he had been awake before you first moved your position, he had done a terrific job at keeping you in the dark about it.
“Yeah, comfortable,” you said as you let out a breath that sagged your whole body, leaning completely against him as you let your head sink back into the cushion it had been laying on, but you doubted you would be falling back into sleep any time soon.
Words were weighing heavily on your tongue, though you could not give them shape as you became acutely aware of the silence in the room. A silence that was comfortable, but you didn’t want it to be there. You wanted to talk. To hear the voice of the man behind you.
You wanted to talk to him, but you didn’t know where to start.
Your breath was slow but steady as you stared at what you assumed was the curtain to the washing area and you pondered over the things you wanted to say.
One part of you wanted to make simple small talk, hear each others voices until one of you fell asleep first, the other wanted to cut to the chase. To confess your feelings for him right here in this moment of clear vunerability and as you debated and weighed your options, the urge to turn to your other side began to rise as well when you felt the shoulder you were laying on get uncomfortable.
It was already a miracle in and of itself that he had managed to get you both into the small bed and you were convinced that if you tried going flat on your back that you would accidentally push him off, which left completely turning around as your only option. Besides of course continueing the discomfort in your shoulder, but your decision was quickly made as the discomfort began to turn into pain and wordlessly you turned around in his arms and settled into the matrass again.
When your nose brushed against the naked skin of his shoulder, you could swear everything in the world had stopped. From your heart to your thoughts to the passage of time itself.
The bastard was still half naked.
As you regained your ability to breathe, your thoughts slowly came back to you, racing through your head though they all seemed to consist of a single word.
You didn’t know where to keep your hands as your thoughts raced on, but it seemed best to keep them where they were, on your own chest while the burning feeling in your body seemed to reach its high.
“Something on your mind?” he asked, and you swore you could hear a smile in his words.
You, you thought. You have been the only thing on my damn mind since I woke up and if you say one more word I am probably going to combust. But despite that thought, you answered him anyway.
“Everything… and nothing at the same time.”
He hummed at your response, though you could not find any judgement and a question passed your lips.
“Anything on yours?”
“Not in particular.”
He trailed his fingers up and down along the length of your spine and for some Saintforsaken reason, the feeling helped you relax.
Silence fell over the room once again and again, you wanted to lift it. Hear his voice and hear your own talking to his.
His ministrations moved from your spine over your shoulder, to your arm, drawing patterns that seemed senseless to you, but you enjoyed the feeling and it compelled you to put at least one hand on him as well, though you didn’t exactly know why.
The feel of his skin under your fingertips sent a strange sensation through your body, one that cooled the burning heat you had felt from his touch and kept it to a pleasant, fuzzy warmth and your fingers began, without thinking, mimicking the movements of the ones that were trailing your arm and soon enough, you could feel your mind drift back towards the realm of sleep.
“I wish we could stay like this forever,” you murmured, not awake enough to think of the repercussions your words could have, memorising the feel of his skin.
“Too bad the night will disappear…” you heard him reply above you and you smiled.
“Yeah, too bad…”
You memorised his skin for long moments after that, hoping to remember every little detail, every little bump or dip you could feel until your fingers lost their path from how close you were to falling back into dreams and you moved a little closer to him, hoping you would wake up like this, that none of it had been a dream.
You could hear words coming from your mouth, but you didn’t know what they meant as your mind began to drift back into sleep once more and your head dipped forward to lay against his chest, inhaling his scent and you could swear you heard an answer from him, but you were gone before you could figure them out, surely dreaming of the press of his lips on the crown of your head.
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Slides on up to your inbox like the darkling in a good mood (preens with expert cape whirl). Hello your eminence. Ivan and Fedyor each meet Kirigan for the first time. Ahem. If you’re still taking prompts about those two loverender heartbirds.
I hope you don't mind if I altered your prompt slightly, since I figured that they met Kirigan for the first FIRST time as boys brought to the Little Palace. Instead, they meet Kirigan for the first time as a couple in order to ask a terrifying favor, especially since this plays nicely into my recent Thoughts about them + him.
Also on AO3 as a chapter of the better half of me.
The pair of Heartrenders come to a final halt before the tall carved doors, look them up and down, and draw identical nervous breaths. The oprichniki on guard know Ivan well, of course, though they are less used to seeing him with Fedyor – and more to the point, for the two of them to be holding hands. But they rap on the doors, call, “My lord, your visitors have arrived,” and swing them wide, permitting entrance. And in such fashion, formal keftas stiff with laundry starch, palms sweating but backs straight, they go on in.
Inside, General Kirigan is bent over an ornate table laden with charts and books, but he straightens up when he sees them. “Ah, Ivan.” His tone is both friendly – so much as Kirigan goes in for, at least – and questioning. His dark eyes flick to their clasped hands. He obviously must have an inkling of what they are here to ask him, but he arches an eyebrow nonetheless. “And – Fedyor, was it? Fedyor Kaminsky?”
“Da, moi soverennyi,” Fedyor answers formally, in Old Ravkan, though the odds that Kirigan doesn’t know the exact name and specialty of each and every Grisha in the ranks are slim-to-nonexistent. He lets go of Ivan’s hand, as if eager to be considered on his own merits and not only as the other man’s shadow. “Thank you for receiving us.”
“Of course.” Kirigan tips his head to the oprichniki, who close the doors, indicating that the General is now occupied and will not be disturbed. “Sit. Glass of kvas?”
“No, sir.” Despite the invitation, neither Ivan nor Fedyor take a seat, hands stiffly clasped behind their backs, the way they stand on parade when the tsar reviews the troops in spring. Ivan clears his throat. “Fedyor and I have come to ask your permission to…”
He’s not scared of most things. Almost none, in fact. But this is different.
“Permission to…” Fedyor picks up helpfully, trying to cover the moment of silence, the way the two of them have each other’s backs whether in battle or in horribly awkward conversations with their commanding officer. “To be…”
He glances back at Ivan, and Ivan takes the last of it. “To be married,” he says, as flatly and firmly as he can. Then, feeling it perhaps necessarily to specify in case this is not something Kirigan has been asked before, he adds, “To each other.”
Both of Kirigan’s eyebrows jump this time, though he doesn’t respond aloud. In theory, the Grisha are allowed to be married, but they are required to seek permission from the general first, and if he deems the liaison hasty, ill-judged, detrimental to morale, or otherwise prejudicial to the interests of the Second Army, Ravka’s most elite and feared military force, that permission can be denied. The last thing you want is lovers making too much of a stink, trying to pull special privileges or abandoning their responsibilities to the unit in favor of their partner. Then there is, of course, the added fact that Ivan and Fedyor are both men. They spent hours in the library before venturing this request, and so far, they have found nothing explicitly prohibiting two people of the same gender from being married in the formal Ravkan liturgy, but then, they didn’t exactly rush off to find a presbyter or an archimandrite and ask for detailed theological opinions. The traditionalists won’t like it, but they were never going to like it. Among the Grisha, one’s personal preferences are largely irrelevant, as long as you do your job well. And indeed, Ivan’s general nature is forbidding enough to make it unlikely that their compatriots would dare to ask, or that they even suspect. But still.
“Married,” Kirigan repeats, after a painfully long pause. “Ah.”
“With your permission,” Ivan repeats, to stress that they are doing this by the book, the exact same way he would if Fedyor was a woman. “Moi soverennyi.”
Kirigan considers them, tapping his fingers together. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Fedyor rushes, a little too eager to answer, as he steps forward, eyes blazing. Ivan feels a renewed surge of adoration for him, the way you can almost hear the heroic music swelling in the background. “I – I love him, my lord. I would die for him, and he for me.”
“That is very sweet,” Kirigan says, in the tone of a man watching a mildly interesting ballet. “I am glad to hear it. Fedyor, do you mind giving myself and Ivan a moment alone?”
Fedyor snaps his mouth shut and looks worried, but doesn’t, of course, refuse. He swallows hard, steps back, and jerks his head in a nod, touching Ivan’s hand in a brief, silent gesture of reassurance. Then he withdraws through the inner doors of the chamber, and they shut behind him, leaving Ivan and the Black General alone. They regard each other in the pale sunlight slanting through the diamonded windows, and though it runs his nerves ragged, Ivan waits for Kirigan to speak first. He braces for any question he might be asked, no matter how intrusive. If this is what it takes for this, for them, he will do it. He will. He is no traitor. He is loyal to his tsar and to his general, and he loves his country. He just loves Fedyor too.
At last, Kirigan turns away, opens a jeweled box, and removes a small dark item, curved and sharp-looking. He holds it up. “Do you know what this is, Ivan?”
“No, moi soverennyi.”
“It is an amplifier,” Kirigan says. “One that I made myself, in the oldest of the Bonesmith’s ancient arts. It comes from a claw of Morozova’s bears, killed in the deep wilderness of Tsibeya. It would be a significant addition to your own considerable power. I am prepared to make a gift of it to you, in celebration of your wedding.”
Ivan’s jaw drops, though he does his best to reel it up again and not stand there gaping like an imbecile. “To – to me, moi soverennyi?”
“Yes,” Kirigan repeats, looking amused, as if there was someone else in the chamber he could possibly be addressing. “Are you interested?”
“Yes. Of course I am.” Ivan pauses. “My lord, is there some sort of – ?”
“No catch, of course,” Kirigan says airily, as if anticipating that was Ivan’s next question. “Merely a reward for one of my most talented and loyal servants, who, it seems, has finally found happiness. I was wondering if it was even possible.”
Ivan shifts uncomfortably. “Is that so unimaginable?”
“To hear some of your colleagues talk, yes.” Kirigan still sounds amused. “No, do not apologize. I would not have you be otherwise. It is a useful talent and one that you should cultivate, which is why I offer this as a token of my esteem. If you agree, I will call David Kostyk, the Fabrikator, and have it sealed into your hand. A mark both of your wedding and your renewed loyalty to me.”
“Yes, yes. Absolutely.” Ivan almost feels relieved, when this could have been much worse. “My lord – ”
“Of course,” Kirigan goes on, as if he has not spoken, “you know perfectly well that the lives of Grisha are dangerous, especially in these times of war. If I grant my permission to this marriage, especially in contravention of established tradition, I need to know that you are also still mine, Ivan, and that you will use this gift of power in my aims and for the safety of all of Ravka. After all, you will need that power to protect Fedyor as well. So yes. I do grant my permission, so long as it comes matched with an equal promise to me. Be my good and faithful servant, and Fedyor will be yours, and always safe.”
“Yes, my lord.” When the general inclines his dark head the barest bit, Ivan goes briefly to one knee and kisses Kirigan’s offered hand. “Thank you, my lord.”
“Well then.” The general turns on a heel, cape whirling. “Shall we call David?”
“Now, my lord?”
“Were you planning on changing your mind?”
Ivan thinks of Fedyor waiting in the drawing room, probably climbing the walls with nervousness, and how he wants nothing more than to return to him and tell him that it is done, that he is not just the general’s trusted servant but his most favored confidante. “No, moi soverennyi,” he says. “Not in the least.”
“Does it hurt?” Fedyor slips his fingers through Ivan’s, lifting his right hand to examine the bear claw now permanently embedded in the back of it. It looks red and raw, as if still steaming from the heat of the ritual, but the curve of bone is cool under Fedyor’s fingers. It remains alien to him, but it is part of Ivan’s body now, an unbreakable symbol of the general’s trust in him, in them, and so Fedyor will learn to love it just the same. He bends his head, musing a kiss along Ivan’s bare shoulder. “It looks like it hurts.”
“Not bad,” Ivan says. “It’s a strange feeling, though. Like our usual power, but magnified, changed, more sensitive than I have ever experienced it. I could find your heartbeat across all of the Little Palace, I think.”
He raises his hand, playing his fingers experimentally, as Fedyor kisses his neck. They lie together in bed, their legs entangled, the curtains closed and the fire low, just this small, sweet oasis of solace in their dangerous and turbulent lives. Fedyor doesn’t know exactly what he was expecting to see when the door swung open and Ivan came out, clutching his right hand but wearing a triumphant expression, but this –
He is happy about it, obviously. He is thrilled. But he caught Kirigan’s eye over Ivan’s shoulder, and he read the unmistakable look there. I have given him to you, but only after I made sure to keep him for myself. It’s a dark thought, a little unsettling, and Fedyor does his best to put it out of his head. He is also a loyal soldier, he understands the logic of making sure that a powerful second-in-command does not get distracted from his primary allegiances at this delicate moment, and Kirigan did give them permission to marry. They will stand in a church together, under the gaze of all the Saints, and join their lives together the same as any other who have engaged in that sacred rite. That matters most.
Fedyor shifts, sliding halfway on top of Ivan, as Ivan wraps both arms around his waist and settles him there more firmly. They kiss and kiss until it turns to something else, a shared union in the dark, comfortable and familiar and delightful as ever. After, as Ivan dozes and Fedyor holds his bear-clawed hand, something like triumph rises up in him. He can’t help it.
You will never own him, he tells the shadows, in case their master is out there listening. Not truly. In the end, he will always belong to me.
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In case you were wondering why wordbuilding for Ravka feels so random
After going down the rabbit hole in my search for answers I've stumbled across this conversation on goodreads dated back to the November of 2013, where Leigh Bardugo replied to some reasonable criticism about her 'cultural inspiration"- https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1533856-has-bardugo-talked-about-the-russian-inconsistencies
This conversation is quite long and miss Leigh gave about three replies to various questions from people that were deeply bothered by the very surface level research she did on the Russian cilture. Here are the major highlights, plus the other things I've found while goodling:
1) As far as I've understood - neither she nor her publishers expected the first book to blow up like this. So even though there was obvoiusy a lack of proper research and some mistakes variying from minor to insulting, now that she's an esteemed author Leigh claims all of it to be deliberate choices adding that "deliberate choices aren't necessarily good ones". She also tries to lift the responsibility off her shoulders, mentioning that her work "was reviewed not just by my editor, but by copy editors, proofreaders, multiple foreign editors, and foreign copy editors". Not a single word about actual Russian-speaking person/expert reviweing the text or helping her out with creating the Ravkan language though.
The only person she's ever credited as the one who helped her out with creating Ravkan is Erdene Ukhaasai from Mongolia that she's been friends on Facebook at the time (source on this one - https://ageofsteam.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/genre-friction-what-is-tsarpunk-by-leigh-bardugo/ ). The Facebook page under this name currently doesn't exist and the only results that Google shows on this person are the mentions that Leigh Bardugo gave in her interview, so unfortunately I couldn't reach out for clarification on this topic. Still, it's highly unlikey that someone with zero publications under their name would be a proffesional linguist and therefore qualified for such a task.
2) Within your secondary world, unless you are writing satire, things should make internal sense. That world could not arize independently of its context. The problem with the Bardugo's Ravka is that it's based on Russian Empire alone, yet she claims that "it's only Russian inspired" without acknowledging that most people that are not familiar with the culture will take it in as authentic. She takes the words and objects out of the context, misgenders names and last names and creates new 'russian-sounding" words without understanding how the grammar works. Which is a shame, given how flexible Russian language is - the possibility for the word-building is endless and with the right guidance she truly could make some unique and meaningful terms specifically for the Ravka. Also on the alcoholic kvas issue - Leigh proudly claims this as a solution to be a vodka "substitute", because vodka would be too on the nose and too common (more on the matter here -https://www.leighbardugo.com/grishaverse/the-archives/tongue-twister/). What didn't cross her mind is that instead of turning a non-alcoholic drink into strong booze for "wordbuilding" it would be much better to use less known drinks whic do contain alcohol - braga, samogon, nalivka - just to name a few.
3) To elaborate on some of the specific issues with names and last names: Leigh doesn't seem to understand how gendered surnames work in Russian. That's why we get stuff like Alina Starkov (when it's supposed to be Starkova, because she's a woman) and Alexander Morozova (Morozov would be a correct form) etc. This system is never consistent - Mal Oretsev gets to have a male surname, but so does Genya Safin and Zoya Nazyalensky has a weird non-gendered kind of in between last name (very much in fashion of Natasha Romanoff, who would be called Natalia Romanova in Russian).
Also must mention Ana Kuya - poor woman's name literally sounds like "why the f*ck" in Russian, that's about just as bad as naming your Asian character Whata Phuck. Again - none of this nonsense would happen if someone bothered to find a Russian-speaking person to read the text.
Other Russian words she tries to throw in seem to be the result of a bad Google Translate, rather than a conscious choice: for example the word otkazats'ya that she uses to describe non-grishas is actually a verb that translates as "to refuse". The noun with the meaning of "the refused one" would be otkaznik or otkazniki for a plural form. Same with sobachka ("small dog") - the context from the book suggests this nickname to be an insulting one, so the word we're really looking for would be shchenok ("puppy") or shavka ("mongrel", "cur"). The list of those examples, honestly, goes on and on.
4) Leigh does mention that she "can acknowledge that the choices I made in building the language and culture of Ravka came from a place of insularity and a type of privilege". However she's more keen to talk about how she has "certainly encountered critics, but I've also had Russian fans"...Which to me sounds about just as bad as stating "I do have *insert a minority racial group* friends and they say that me doing *insert a dubious act* is fine". The problem is that Russian culture has been demonized and overlooked for so long that most people (myself included) tend to praise content creators for including even the most sterytypical "insprations". Just because some people are willing to excuse her voluntary ignorance, doesn't mean that it's okay.
5) No books on Russian culture that she's mentioned as part of the resarch were written by Russian authors. And while reading the SaB it becomes crystal clear that that the major 'cultural inspiration' Leigh got was not from those books, but from the monstrosity that is her tsapunk pinterest board - https://www.pinterest.ru/lbardugo/tsarpunk-inspiration/ . About 80% of the stuff there doesn't even relate to Russian culture and the rest is a mash of modern knockoffs.
To summorize it: Leigh very much knew about the concerns surrounding her "Russian-inspired" Ravka which were respectfully brought to her consideration by her Russian speaking fans back in 2012-2013.
She said "I've taken it to heart and it's something that I've tried to be conscious of as I move forward in the series and my other work", apologized and then she did nothing to do better. She marketed Shadow and Bone as "Tsarpunk", fetishisizing Russian culture and using it as a unique setting to uplift a generic "light vs. dark" fantasy plot supported by the bland narrative of the Chosen One.
There was an effort and will to make a change for the better, not a single letter has been changed for us.
When I think about, I can't really remember anything that would ring as a thoughtful and clever element adapted into the story from Russian culture.
If everything is always altered or twisted, if there is nothing true or authentic then should you really call it Russian-inspired? Should you really make profit off it and call this aesthetic tsarpunk?
Leigh Bardugo could have fixed the most jarring problems with the material while doing the adaptation from book to screen, but she chose not to. There was no effort made to include more people of slavic descent as a major part of production team or as background actors. Almost nothing of the production design or clothing was inspired by Russian culture.
To elaborate: I'm not even mad. I'm just deeply sad and hurt by the indifference.
Some might argue that this book series was not written for Russians, that it was written for the western audience. But don't they deserve respectfully researched and authentic stories too?
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Another Shadow and Bone Costume Post...
@orlissa, you really shouldn't GIVE me the chance to assign gowns to characters like this. I get far too into it...
@vesperass-anuna, @pia-bartolini, @jomiddlemarch, give me your dress headcanons too!
Right, where to begin!
1) Woman’s Dress,” c. 1866–68, designed by Charles Frederick Worth, label Worth & Bobergh, Paris - You nailed it! This is DEFINITELY Alina.
There's a subtlety about that gold/cream that says Sun Summoner, but - in a gentle, refined way. (ALSO - although Alina may not have had a "proper" wedding ceremony in Terrible Beautiful Unsaid Things, I have a sneaking suspicion Aleksander apologises to her by having a gorgeous 'wedding anniversary' celebration ball the next year, where she wears this...)
2)“Woman’s Dress,” c. 1866–68, designed by Charles Frederick Worth, made by Worth & Bobergh, Paris
Genya. This is 100% GENYA. There's a cleanness, elegance and lack of fuss about this that feels very Miss Safin. She's avoiding the 'dressed like a wedding cake look' the Court demands. Plus tell me that colour wouldn't look AMAZING with her red hair. She would look like a Fae Queen, and David would 100% be heart-eying her behind her back.
3)“Woman’s Evening Dress,” c. 1886–87, designed by Charles Frederick Worth
I don't know what is is about this one - the perky bow on the front? that dash of deep crimson (Heartrender?) red? the gorgeous embroidered flowers with that yellow train?
But this feels very "Fancy Nina" to me - possibly acting as a Grisha Ambassador to Kerch whilst spying, or something. It's got her irrepressible nature as well as her skills and subtlety there. (AND the bow on the bodice is at just the right height to ahem, "distract" Matthias...
4)“Woman’s Day Dress,” c. 1878–80, designed by Charles Frederick Worth
Another Alina for me, I'm afraid! The colours with the golden flowers and that luxurious black silk are SO 'Darkling Sun Summoner Kefta' it hurts. I love it deeply.
(and... you just KNOW Alina is probably wearing THIS corset beneath it, which... ahem, Aleksander probably makes this face when thinking about...)
(Sorry for the unexpected Darklina thirst there, guys - oh who am I kidding, I apologise for nothing)
“Woman’s Evening Dress,” c. 1886–87, designed by Charles Frederick Worth
This feels like "Deliberatively Provocative Nina", to me. The pink, the tantalising low neckline, the outrageous lace and embroidered silk and ribbons? This is all worn to provoke an uneasy 'Fjerdan Women are modest and would never dress so...so shamelessly' lecture from Mathias that you just KNOW is going to end up in a heated make-out session - with the offending dress on the floor.
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Coronation dress of Maria Alexandrovna, wife of Emperor Alexander II, from 1856.
Would fit nicely into Alina's court wardrobe, wouldn't it? @vesperass-anuna @jomiddlemarch @montmartre-parapluie
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What Alina wants to wear
What Genya wants Alina to wear
What Genya and Alina agree upon, but make the leather black or risk Aleksander’s side-eye.
@fericita-s @orlissa @montmartre-parapluie @vesperass-anuna @theburnbarreljester
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It's so weird that show!Alina didn't have a single significant interaction with Botkin… I thought Botkin was gonna be erased completely because the character was so stereotypically written, and by removing him, Alina would feel even more alienated in her country, but seriously? 😭 Like, why is Botkin not ostracized, unlike her? The TV show's definitely better than the books, but the race thing was so sloppily written. Alina'll probably be surprised to meet Tamar & Tolya in S2 because it'll be like this cute "Omg they look just like me" unifying moment, like girly, what about your combat instructor? She was too distracted in taking down Zoya in that moment, I guess 😔 I also watched a vid by Xiran Jay Zhao where she said they could've included a scene in the book where Zoya spoke to Botkin in fluent Shu, and Alina felt insecure about it. I would've appreciated that dhwhdjdshf
Ayyy I was planning on mentioning Xiran Jay Zhao's vid in the reply to this ask! Those were my feelings too, I fully expected them to make the most out of Alina's new identity so I was pretty surprised they chose to skip over it. I would have understood if they went the opposite direction and wrote her relationship with her race to progress from refusing it and separating herself from her Shu heritage due to growing up surrounded by Ravkans, to making peace with it and growing confident in her identity during the next 2 seasons, but I don't think that's what they were going for. They just half assed it in the typical Netflix fashion, surprise surprise
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three months and nine days
so... setbacks went down quite well. eeeek. thank you so much to everyone who read it and liked it and reblogged it (i read all of your lovely tags too). genuinely made my week. if people really like these maybe i could get into a habit of posting lil ficlets and drabbles--who knows!
anyway, this has been sitting in my drafts for a while, my crack at inej’s pov. i guess i thought it deserved to see the light. lmk what y’all think.
fandom: six of crows/crooked kingdom | kaz brekker + inej ghafa, with a sprinkling, a dash, a smidgeon of wesper.
word count: 2,410
no content warnings. just fluff. fluffy, fluffy good times.
summary: inej gets a welcome surprise.
it’d been three months, nine days, and five hours since inej last saw kaz. they’d said goodbye on the roof of the slat, standing a hands breadth apart. separated by early afternoon sun and trauma.
“say goodbye, kaz,” she’d said when too many seconds had passed. “i don’t know how long i’ll be gone.”
he’d smiled at her. it was a miserly, crooked thing, that smile—kaz all over. and despite her best efforts, she’d smiled back before shaking her head, “no mourners.”
with that, she’d leapt to the next rooftop and the next and the next, until kaz and the slat melted into ketterdam’s tangled horizon to be replaced by the flat expanse of the ocean.
that first day on the ship, inej had enjoyed the same prickle of anticipation she felt whenever she stepped out onto the high wire. her whole body taught and focused on the sway of the wire, the push of the air, the pull of her weight. this was her element and she would master it as she had everything else.
the weeks had flown by in a crash of waves, foaming at the break.
inej saw no less than five slavers bleed out by her hand. though she still prayed for every soul, she came to relish the taste of their desperation. the night she’d killed the first and second, their “cargo” safely stowed in the belly of her ship, inej had dreamed of kaz’s face as she recounted how sweetly the men had begged. celebrating with her crew, although jubilant, had whetted her appetite for celebrating with him.
it was only when, from her position in the crow’s nest, inej watched kerch spill across the horizon that she grew anxious about her return. what exactly was she returning to, anyway?
communication had been difficult at sea and they’d only made port twice, neither time for very long. now that she thought about it, it had been a while, things could have changed.
chin resting on her fist, inej watched the coastline grow jagged, the towers and spires of his city coming into focus against smoky skies. she’d miss the open sea but this—she almost smiled. jesper would laugh himself hoarse if he knew she’d missed this saints-forsaken city. she did smile then, picturing it.
she lands lightly on the deck just as her first mate, a hassled-looking specht, calls for the crew to bring them into port. ana, a sharp-jawed ravkan they’d found making trouble off the coast of novyi zem, hops nimbly overboard, spring-line in hand. the ship is securely moored and the gangplank lowered, ten minutes later.
“don’t forget,” inej calls over the noise of her crew disembarking. “we’re shipping out in two weeks, i want everything stocked and ready for departure by the morning before.”
“aye, captain!” comes the answering chorus.
“do try and enjoy your downtime, captain.” specht winks at inej as he makes his way down the gangplank, luggage in hand.
after everyone leaves, inej double checks the lines and the sails, does a quick sweep of her office, and grabs her bag. she’s almost to the door, when she hears footsteps on the deck. light and ambling, she recognises them instantly.
jesper, every lean and easy inch of him, reclines against the main mast. he’s totally out of place in his lime and yellow wardrobe but inej can’t imagine a happier sight.
with mock seriousness, he says, “i heard rumours of your return and had to come see for myself.”
she flies across the deck, her arms around his shoulders, before he can so much as blink. inej feels, more than hears, the soft rumble of his laugh. he pulls back from her, eyes warm and smiling. “i missed you too.”
“i was going to come by geldstraat first thing. you didn’t have to come all the way out here,” inej says.
“couldn’t risk it.” he shakes his head, reaching for her bag and looping an arm through hers. “besides, wylan’s been flapping around the house like a deranged mother hen all afternoon getting ready for you. i was only getting in the way.”
“how is he?”
“wylan? spectacular. two weeks ago, while he was playing his flute, marya started singing. turns out she has a really sweet voice—nothing like alys—and—” inej swats at his chest, biting back a laugh at the poor girl’s expense. “and it seems to be drawing her out. ever since she started singing she’s been spending more time downstairs, talking with the servants, with wylan...”
they make their way across the docks at a leisurely pace as jesper fills her in on the ketterdam happenings and by the time the van eck mansion looms before them, she’s all caught up.
watching jesper let himself in is strange, he throws her a look that tells her he sympathises. “i’m not sure i’ll ever get used to it.”
a response is on her tongue, something pithy and reassuring, when the door swings open to a riot of voices. inej blinks, the only sign of her surprise.
there, in the foyer of the van eck house, stand pim, rotty, anika, wylan and kaz—kaz—dressed to the nines, party-blowers between their teeth. WELCOME HOME, INEJ is scrawled across a banner the width of the landing and every bannister in sight is draped in bunting and paper chains.
a laugh bubbles out of inej, squeezing past the shock that keeps her rooted to the spot. the coaxing touch of jesper’s hand releases her and she rushes inside, clapping her hands together and gasping in delight.
“jesper!” she turns back to him. “wylan! everyone—this—this is—” she cuts herself off and sighs, hands clasped over her heart. “i don’t know what to say.”
“don’t say anything,” wylan says, reaching for her hand. “come, we have cake!”
she follows him into the parlour where food and wine are laid out around the centrepiece that is a truly enormous cake.
for a moment, inej stands and gapes at it. “is nina inside that thing?”
“unfortunately not. she’s been out of touch for a while, something about a top secret grisha mission,” wylan shrugs apologetically.
“upside, that means all of us will at least get a slice.” this from jesper, who’s moved to sling an arm around wylan’s narrow shoulders. “maybe two!”
there’s a worried little divot forming between wylan’s brows, so, although she misses nina more with every glance at the cake, inej says, “it’s perfect.”
jesper picks up a plate and begins loading food onto it, shooing wylan over to the pianoforte around a mouthful of croquette. over the first strains of music, anika and pim welcome her back and rotty tells her they still don’t have a new spider if she’s considering giving up the high seas.
looking around, inej thinks she might be dreaming. all these people, under one roof, eating and drinking and laughing. in three months at sea she and her crew had developed an easy camaraderie, hurried along by a half-dozen life-threatening situations. but, inej discovers, it has nothing on the kinship she shares with these people. her fondness threatens to overtake her.
food, she needs food.
with a plate in hand, inej settles onto a chaise with a view of wylan at the pianoforte. his eyes are closed and his tongue is just visible, poking out at the corner of his mouth in concentration. behind him, jesper has one hand against the back of his neck, fingers in his curls, and the other wrapped around a glass of wine as he chats with anika. across the room, pim and rotty squabble over the last glass of what looks like something expensive and distilled.
since when have things been this easy between everyone?
when the seat beside her dips slightly under another’s weight, inej realises with a jolt she hasn’t been paying attention to her immediate surroundings.
“now that’s the face i got dragged to a party for, you can’t put a price on that.”
when her eyes widen further, that smile, the deliciously crooked one, slides across kaz’s face. it pulls mercilessly at inej’s heart. how she’d missed that smile. she tucks her hands under her thighs to stop from reaching out to trace a finger over the quirk of his lips.
“you didn’t come for the cake, then?” she wants to look away but the warmth in his darker-than-sin eyes gives her no quarter. inej is sure he’s never looked at her this way, like if he stopped she might vanish.
“no,” he says.
as simple as that. does that mean he came for her?
suddenly, inej can’t remember how she used to sit when she sat next to the boy she dreams about at night. should she keep her hands under her legs? no, she’s already losing feeling in her fingers. should she lean back like he is? pull her legs under herself? face him? turn away?
surely, it isn’t this complicated. inej sighs and pulls her braid over one shoulder, moving to sit crossed legged on the chaise. when she glances back at kaz, he’s watching her curiously. the wraith doesn’t fidget.
“who’s idea was—”
inej bites her lip to stifle her smile. they’re so out of sync.
the silence isn’t awkward, exactly, but it draws on when neither of them continue. around them, conversation ebbs and flows. wylan gets up from the piano and cuts himself a big slice of cake. inej watches him feed it to jesper, the frosting startlingly white against the taller boy’s dark skin.
“who’s idea was this?” inej finally speaks, gesturing to the party.
kaz’s gaze flicks across the room briefly, before landing back on her. “wylan’s. he made it seem very urgent that we welcome you back in a suitably enthusiastic fashion. something about convincing you to stay.”
“that’s not a terrible idea. if i could be sure there’d be more cake in the future, i’d consider it.”
“not much cake at sea?”
“no. none, really. it’s quite sad.”
“nina would disapprove.”
“almost certainly. i—i didn’t know how much i missed cake until today.” inej catches kaz’s eye as she says this and forgets, or rather remembers, what they’re talking about. “you won’t believe how much pickled fish i’ve eaten these last three months.”
“and nine days.”
“and nine days…” she’s blushing now, she can feel the heat rising up her neck, staining her cheeks. from the way his gaze drops to the neckline of her vest, inej knows he sees it too. “how’s business?”
if the shift in conversation surprises him, he doesn’t let on. “good,” he nods. “other than a few skirmishes, haskell’s been lying low and keeping out of trouble. the new shop on the lid is a veritable bread factory for the number of pigeons its bringing in, which bodes well for my other expansions in the neighbourhood.”
“other expansions?” inej brings an elbow up onto the back of the chaise, resting her temple against her closed fist.
it enters gradually, their rhythm, like early morning fog. talking about business, about hustles and scams, they settle into the chaise and into each other. kaz shifts slightly toward her and she toward him as he expounds on his plans to rule ketterdam.
inej watches his hands, startled to realise they’re bare, ungloved, naked, as he mimes cracking a particularly challenging safe. those nimble, thief's fingers communicating all the excitement his rock salt voice doesn’t.
it should be embarrassing, her fixation on his hands. the bone-white scar over his knuckle shifts with his movement and she can’t look away from it. she imagines him tracing the fine bones in her wrist with those fingers, over the flutter of her pulse and the soft skin at the inside of her elbow.
when kaz does a very passable impression of wylan drunk on kvas flirting with a lamppost he mistook for jesper, inej laughs like she hasn’t in ages. she leans forward, arm over her belly and hand over her mouth, as he slurs and simpers.
“you’re making me work awwfully hard, jesss,” kaz whimpers, eyes round and beseeching.
“he didn’t!” inej gasps, slouching forward.
she thinks she might pull a muscle with how hard she’s laughing. jesper’s even looked over once or twice to see what the fuss is about but seems disinclined to interrupt.
she doesn’t notice right away, but as she takes a few deep, steadying breaths, inej realises she’s slipped forward on the chaise. her knee rests lightly against kaz’s thigh. it’s a slight pressure. barely noticeable. she looks up and kaz is still talking, a reluctant smile on his mouth.
for several seconds, the feeling of his thigh against her knee, the warmth of his body through their clothing, is all she can focus on.
whether its the rush of being reunited, the sweet, disorienting joy of being in each others company after months of absence, or the wine from the empty glass he’s put on the floor, that keeps kaz from noticing, inej doesn’t know. either way, she can’t bear even the thought of his shutting himself off at the realisation. so, summoning her not inconsiderable will power, she pulls her leg away.
or, at least, that was the plan.
quite unexpectedly and with a confidence she cannot begin to fathom, kaz closes his hand around her knee. the shape of his hand, even ungloved, is so familiar to her that she almost dismisses the dissonance of seeing it resting on her leg. almost.
she knows she’s staring but kaz—kaz—is touching her. deliberately. precisely.
the sensation is so jarring, so unbelievably wanted that she can’t help but smile. his thumb traces a line over the fabric of her trousers, heart-wrenchingly gentle and deliberate.
she looks up to find him watching her.
inej is too caught up in the feeling of his palm, large and warm on the part of her thigh just before her knee, too caught up in the tick at the corner of his mouth and the colour of his eyes, to think about what it means that she is celebrating a victory so small. the voice that whispers about the boys who would kiss her without fear is entirely drowned out by the boy who faces his fears so that he might kiss her. one day.
“is this okay?” he asks.
“this is perfect,” she whispers.
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Hi my name is Dunyasha Light’ness Dementia Dove Lazareva and I have GOLDEN hair and a lot of people tell me I look like AELIN ASHRYVER GALATHYNIUS (AN: if u don’t know who she is get da hell out of here!) I’m related to JACE HERONDALE but I wish I wasn’t because he’s a major fucking hottie. I have beautiful PORCELAIN-WHITE skin and GREAT NAILS but you might find me with bloodied hands occasionally :) . Everyone loves talking about my gorgeous BLUE eyes. I'm also an assassin known as the WHITE BLADE who trained at AHMRAT JEN and it is an HONOUR to be killed by my hand because my work is HOLY. I'm a WHITE WOMAN (in case you couldn't tell) and I wear mostly WHITE and GOLD. I love RAVKAN fashion and I bought all my clothes from there. For example today I was wearing a golden scarf and a white tunic with... golden borders. And also golden shoes. I was lurking in the shadows outside the Cathedral waiting to murder a TEENAGER :DDD. It was BRIGHT and SUNNY so there was A LOT OF GOLDEN SUNLIGHT, which I was very happy about. No one stared at me because I was very good at hiding. But I put up my middle finger at them anyway because I COULD.
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The Ravkan Times is a newspaper/blog dedicated to providing you with the latest Grishaverse news in the most accurate and positive fashion.
From the latest tragedies and comedies of @grishatube to Leigh being a queen, you can find good content here. Keep up with the latest drama on Grishatube, ask questions and share your thoughts. We will be bringing forth new updates and changes soon!
Have a nice day!
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Your majesty, may I humbly inquire if/how you would imagine a reunion of Ivan and Fedyor after the events of season 1?
Also on AO3.
Ivan wakes up on the far side of the Shadow Fold with very little memory of how he arrived there. He lies flat on his back beneath the cold white sun, which drills into his head like a blade, and at last, after a great effort, he vaguely recalls sunlight of another sort, wild and fey, bursting from Alina Starkov’s hands on the deck of the skiff as everything else went to hell. He remembers the Zemeni brat getting a lucky jump on him and shoving him over the rail, and then falling. Swirling, hungry shadows, shrieking volcra, running with his arms flung over his head, knowing only that he wasn’t dying like this, that he had to survive. In that, at least, he has succeeded. His kefta is torn and filthy, his lips are cracked and bloody, his face is striped with an ugly wound that might scar, he reeks of monstrous ichor, and he may or may not have just witnessed the entire city of Novokribirsk being scoured clean off the map, but Ivan Kaminsky is alive.
After a while he sits up, retching and forcing down the reel of dizziness. He squats on his haunches and tries to focus enough to heal his own wounds. Healers and Heartrenders can learn each other’s craft, but Ivan got complacent with Fedyor always around to do it for him, safe in the luxurious privacy of their bedroom at the Little Palace after another hard campaign. As the general’s right-hand man, he is more often on the front lines, and it became an enjoyably erotic exercise for Fedyor to tenderly patch him up, even if the Second Army Healers had already seen to most of it. I do not mend things, Ivan thinks, looking at the rough results of his efforts. I break them.
With a groan, Ivan forces himself all the way to his feet, looks down at his hand, and discovers that his amplifier is still there, the bear claw that was a valued gift from General Kirigan. No, not Kirigan – there was something else about who Aleksander really is, something Ivan needs to remember, but he can’t. But the bear claw was how he took down all those diplomats at once, something that doesn’t bother him, exactly, but what he still needs to reckon with. So, in his usual tidy, methodical fashion, he does so. They were representatives of cruel, greedy, incompetent governments who all want the Grisha dead or exploited, and while they might have been unarmed civilians, how many unarmed Ravkan children have died cowering in the dark because of their soldiers? As for Novokribirsk –
Ivan closes his eyes hard. He knows that one is harder to explain away, but at the end, he still can see the cold, merciless logic of it. West Ravka was a nest of traitors, and General Zlatan wanted every single person on that skiff dead. There is a certain sordid sense, there always has been, in inflicting one strategically planned atrocity to ensure the compliance of the rest. He knows that Fedyor will be upset. He has a soft heart, and having grown up near Kribirsk, he will have heard stories of its Western Ravkan counterpart and the separated families who lived there, dreamed of visiting when the Fold was banished. That –
Fedyor. Ivan freezes.
He doesn’t know where Fedyor is.
He doesn’t know if Fedyor is alive.
Frantically, he searches out through the network of the world, the meshed echo of heartbeats and living creatures that has always been a Heartrender’s particular soundscape, the extra dimension of humanity that he learned to experience as a child long before he had a name for it. Of course he can’t find Fedyor if he isn’t relatively nearby, but Ivan has always believed that no distance, no matter how great, could truly separate them for long. He just needs to start in one direction and work it down. He can’t stop. In all likelihood, Kirigan is dead now. Someone needs to muster the Grisha and rally them against the Fjerdans, the Shu Han, the Kerch, everyone else who will be swooping in to take advantage of Ravka’s stunning weakness. No more Black General. No one to keep them all safe.
Cold panic twists into Ivan’s heart like a railroad nail. It’s not that he didn’t know that Aleksander has – had – that deep ruthless streak, but he understood it. He just wanted to keep safe what he loved, even if it has twisted and calcified into something else, something still darker. Ivan Kaminsky loves two things: Ravka and Fedyor. He doesn’t need anything else. And he too will burn the world down if it means keeping them safe. If that makes him the new Black General, though he would not presume, so be it. Someone needs to do the dirty work.
Ivan grits his teeth, and ventures into the unknown.
It takes a few weeks, searching painfully and slowly down the coast, pelted with wild rumors of Novokribirsk’s horrifying fate and what awaits them now, trying to shut his ears to all of it, until he finally makes it to Os Kervo, on the shores of the True Sea. There is a ship with the Grisha banner in port, and as he gets closer, Ivan knows with a searing jolt that this is it, Fedyor is here somewhere, he is here. He follows heartbeats, stumbling through the streets and pushing people aside, ignoring their dirty looks and their curses. Some of them halt when they catch sight of the black embroidery still faintly visible on his filthy kefta, but others don’t look twice. Until he staggers down to the dock, and –
There he is. It drives the scanty breath out of Ivan’s lungs at a blow. He could stand here forever, looking and looking. But eventually, in a whisper, he has to speak.
Fedyor whirls around and stares. He looks like a man who can’t believe his own eyes, who has not even allowed himself to think about the worst, has shut himself down to avoid the prospect. He looks older and colder and harder than Ivan’s sweet Fedya, the man he left behind not the same as the one that greets him now, but it is still him. He doesn’t bother with words. He closes the distance between them in three strides, throws his arms around Ivan’s neck, and kisses him savagely.
Ivan doesn’t give a shit that they’re in public, that everyone can see them, that he himself is weak in the knees and can feel tears running down his unshaven cheeks, the taste of the salt mingling in their kiss. They sway on the spot, unwilling to let go of each other in case they evaporate, until Fedyor finally whispers, “Below. Now.”
They stumble onto the ship and into one of the tiny berths, barely large enough for Ivan to stand upright, but he doesn’t care. Fedyor strips him out of the tattered remains of his kefta and sets to work, as Ivan closes his battered eyes and lets himself sink into the sheer, unbelievable joy of his lover’s familiar touch, the restored wholeness of their two halves. But of course, the illusion that nothing has changed cannot last forever. As he smooths his fingers over the deepest of the volcra gashes, Fedyor says, “Vanya, what happened?”
Ivan stares at the low ceiling of the bunk. He doesn’t know if he can put it into words, doesn’t know if he wants Fedyor to know everything, even as he doesn’t think he can justly keep it from him. He does his best to provide a terse, clinical summary of the events on the skiff, and reaches out to grab Fedyor’s hand before confirming the truth about Novokribirsk. “It’ll be all right,” he says urgently. “As long as there’s you and me.”
Fedyor stares at him. His dark eyes look huge and terrified. “You think that’s all right?”
“No. Not exactly, I just – ” Ivan has never been the best with words, and they are once more cruelly failing him. He puts his other hand on Fedyor’s cheek, turning his face back to him. “I need you to understand that we’re at war. War, Fedya, in a way we never have been before. All the others, they hated us, but Kirigan kept them at bay. Now there’s nothing. They’re all coming for us. Novokribirsk is only the start.”
“And whose fault is it,” Fedyor asks flatly, “that that happened? If Kirigan hadn’t gone mad with trying to expand the Fold, with Alina Starkov – things were stable before! Not good, maybe, but predictable! Constant! Now this – ”
“It was a stalemate before!” Ivan crawls out of the bunk and kneels in front of Fedyor, looking up at him imploringly. “They were trying to smoke us out, wait for us to make a mistake, so they could pounce on us and tear Ravka to pieces! Fedya – look at me, Fedya, darling, Fedya, my heart. Look at me. I will keep us safe. I will keep you safe.”
Fedyor looks at him mutely, tears running down his own cheeks, catching on the dimples that Ivan has always found so irresistible (even if he does an excellent job of pretending otherwise). Finally, with no other option, Fedyor nods slowly, his hands still knotted tightly with Ivan’s. He lets Ivan hold him, and Ivan does so ferociously, wrapping him in his arms and resting his head on Fedyor’s mussed hair and swearing in the dark that he will slaughter the Sun Summoner himself if need be, whatever needs to be done to keep Fedyor Kaminsky alive and whole and happy. Nothing else matters now. Not really.
After that, Fedyor lets Ivan tend to him, and opens up a little, and says that he found Nina Zenik in, of all places, a port city in the company of a Fjerdan drüskelle. She wanted to insist, improbably, that this witch hunter had changed for the better in the course of a few weeks, but Fedyor didn’t believe it. Ivan is comforted to hear him say this, that not all of Fedyor’s old certainties have totally dissolved, that he still trusts their enemies are their enemies. The drüskelle has been shipped off to Kerch, after Nina accused him of slaving in what Fedyor thinks was a calculated ploy to keep the big blond bastard out of the hands of the Grisha. “I don’t understand, Vanya,” he says, his head on Ivan’s bare chest as they lie together in the narrow bunk, naked except for the furs piled on top. “He hurt her, he captured her, he would have killed her as soon as he remembered. Why would she defend him?”
We all defend the things we love, even when they hurt us. Ivan doesn’t say this aloud. He doesn’t want to believe any more than Fedyor does that Nina improbably found the one good apple of an otherwise bad lot. It is easier to think of the Fjerdans as a faceless mass of ice-cold holy warriors, especially since they will be licking their chops at the downfall of the Black General, their archenemy and the king of the Grisha demons. “We do stupid things for the people we think we care about,” he says instead. “And Nina is young. Impressionable. She will learn the truth soon enough.”
Fedyor doesn’t answer, his fingers tracing light circles around Ivan’s collarbone. Finally, he shifts on top of him, his mouth finding Ivan’s with something close to desperation. After they pull back from the kiss, he says, “Promise me that we won’t lose each other again, Vanya. Whatever comes next. We have to do it together. Please?”
Ivan looks at the face of this man he loves so much and so well, who needs to hear this sweet lie no matter whether it is true. And with his own heart, closed and guarded as he generally keeps it, he wants to believe it too. He does. He does. He does.
If only it could make it so. If only he could be sure.
“Promise,” he whispers. “Promise.”
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