I was wondering if you could do a Nikolai fic w a Tidemaker reader who works for him on the Volkvony ?
whenever i read nikolai stuff, i imagine his girl to be a tide maker. so, of course it’s my honor to make this happen 🙏🙏 also i got carried away and there will most certainly be a part 2 🤪🤪
mijn dochter: my daughter (i went with dutch because that’s what kerch is supposedly influenced by)!
nikolai lantsov: mirror ball
it all began out of desperation, as most things in your life often did.
born into a family of ten living on the farmlands of kerch, there were always too many mouths to feed. despite the nature of your family’s occupation, whatever could be harvested or slain for food often ended up sent to the markets to try and keep up with the land payments. it was this necessity to help your family (an expectation of yourself as the middle child as much as your younger siblings) that kept you from attending school the day testing occurred. considered the bottom of the lowest class, nobody deemed you important enough to reschedule a test or even find you a spot for the next year’s round.
you believed the position of the testers. it was not because you felt particularly unimportant, just that there was no history of grisha in your family or few you had ever come into contact with. in fact, watching the older kids get tested was your only example of grisha power. a lack of suitable education did not help your case. so, you disregarded the event or lack thereof quickly after it passed.
however, when you pulled the tide in to help the withering crops survive one summer—out of sheer desperation—you could no longer ignore the possibility. the land only needed to close in to the sound by a few feet in order for the water to saturate the fields properly. it could have been a trick of a weary mind. you might not have even realized what had happened if not for your father’s startled gasp.
he muttered a single word, grisha. anything else was unintelligible under his breath—likely a slew of curses. he had even less of an education than you and your siblings. for months, you pleaded for your parents to pretend as if nothing had changed. your oldest brother knew the word for it: tidemaker. one of his best friend’s at school, their older sister had been one. but, she had been taken away. you could not imagine leaving your fields and the sun that hung above them.
you did not want to be a danger to your family, what with the way in which discovered grisha were treated in kerch’s cities. you could only hide for so long. in addition to this worry, you believed by using this resource, you could find better pay to send home. it was not the second army you desired to join but perhaps, some freelance work.
the volkvony was much larger than the scattered fishing boats dotting the coast. even those you saw rarely, the docks being miles outside your town. the pirateer’s vessel and those occupying it radiated power. the reminder of your own ability did little to ease your anxiety.
you mother’s final parting words rang in your head, and you held onto the echo for as long as you could.
“you are a fierce force to be reckoned with, mijn dochter.”
right now with your knees knocking and shoulders shaking, you hardly felt it. your mother often remarked you showed courage in different ways. you might have paled at standing up to the bully that had broken your sister’s arm as a child and allowed your eldest brother to physically retaliate, but your calm nature quieted her cries as you held her gently, waiting for help. you knew that even when he did not verbally express it, your father still appreciated how you took it upon yourself to care for the little ones, handle the crises at home. you made life work for everybody.
your littlest brother, espen, would think you were strong despite the obvious nerves riddling your form. before you left, he hugged you goodbye with all of the strength his two-year-old body could muster, imbuing you with it. his childlike magic satiated any apprehension that came your way on the voyage to the boat’s docking in ketterdam—a city’s whose reputation limited your visits to three occasions in eighteen years. and when it faded, because it always did, you held tight to baby noa’s fairly like giggles, each one of her accompanied smiles locked carefully away in your heart.
even with living a life largely locked on land, the water brought a unique sense of calm to your restless spirit. to any onlooker, your closed eyes and deep breaths by the banks could be attributed to the anticipation of adventure. however, anyone who truly knew your heart would understand the greater impact of the tides. they might even notice the slight curl of your lip or scrunch of your nose, the actions of concentration supporting the delicate ripples of waves on the edge of the sound.
a voice from behind you nearly caused you to jump right off of the dock. one might think that growing up in a household of ten, you would be painfully aware of your surroundings. that could not be father from the case. you did not intend to walk through life stuck in your own head, but it was a habit.
“we’re boarding now,” the same person spoke again, “you’re our new tidemaker, right?”
“that’s right,” you annunciated softly with a nod of your head.
now having stepped forward, you identified the figure to be a girl a few years your elder. with short cropped hair and a glint in her eyes, she intimidated you. however, her tone was kind and seemed welcoming.
“i’m tamar and that,” she extended a hand to point, “is my brother toyla. heartrenders.”
you nodded again, rolling your lips into your mouth. following behind her, you strung your bag over your shoulder and avoided the more worn planks on the dock. the wood was speckled with age.
“how long have you been in the harbor?” you questioned, genuine curiosity in your words.
“only a few days,” she replied without turning her head, opting to keep her gaze ahead as she weaved through the crowd, “ketterdam intrigues sturmhond, but he never keeps us here for too long.”
recognizing the captain’s name who had graciously offered you a position onboard the volkvolny only two days prior, you continued after tamar. you remembered his crooked jaw and nose that had obviously been broken before. however, the ease of his smile and light in his eyes gave you the push to accept. he had approached you in the spot which you had stood only this morning and caught you in a similar position. he had been uniquely attentive.
the way he revealed that he had caught onto your ability with the ripples in the shallow water still caught you by surprise and perhaps, amusement. he had asked you to help him skip a rock. you smiled at the memory now, a small but authentic one only for yourself.
“are all of the hands grisha?” you asked another question, careful to lower your voice.
home to various brothels, pleasure houses, and gambling dens, as well as gangs, ketterdam could trap grisha in servitude if they were not vigilant. this and the general boisterous nature of the city were largely your reasons for avoiding it. you preferred the tranquility and predictability of the countryside, where all that stood out among the plains were the occasional rolling hill and far away slopes of mountain.
your older brother coen studied in the most acceptable part of the city on a scholarship, the only one of your siblings (including yourself) that showed enough intellectual promise to merit pursuing an education over farm work. the only other member of your family to dare encounter the barrel was lotte. given she was now estranged and likely involved in gang work, her possible presence did little to soothe you.
“oh, no,” tamar answered, “in fact, most aren’t. we try and keep it quiet.”
humming in response, you used the handrail to board the ship. you took a deep breath to quell any remaining anxiety. once your feet touched the hull, there would be no room for fear or at least, any expression of it. you were used to keeping to yourself, your head down and hands working.
the salt air filled your lungs easily, and you were greedy for more. it left a pleasant enough taste in your mouth. you realized you were content here and wondered if you might even find happiness on the ship.
after showing you to the quarters you would share with two other girls, you straightened your cot and placed your bag underneath it. you made quick work of braiding your hair back, pacing the room as you did so. there was work to be done, and you would be sure to see to it.
grounding yourself to steady the spinning of the room, you faced your things one more time and headed out to the deck above. for once, you were surrounded by people like you. while this did not quite give you confidence, there was a semblance of reassurance flickering in your heart.
you no longer needed to be perfect for everyone else. though your family was still largely your responsibility as they would receive a portion of your wages, you no longer had to pace your interactions with each member. if you wanted to, you could be as loud and lively as the rest of the crew surely was. scrunching your nose at the thought, you stepped by an empty crate and up the stairs. you liked being quiet. it gave you the headspace to observe others.
a long life of making the lives of your younger siblings and parents easier gave you little time to think for yourself or about yourself. maybe this adventure was all a farce to finally please yourself, to learn to believe in yourself, but you had forced it to be about the others. always placing the focus away. that was an easier story to believe rather than accepting that maybe, you were doing something for yourself and maybe, that was okay.
perhaps it should have made you nervous, but you were a shy version of excited at the idea of testing out each variant of yourself to see which one you believed in most. you had shown everyone else what they wanted or needed to see for many years. you needed to live for yourself now.
you had a right to the sea and you were determined to take advantage of it.
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