all the facebook apps (fb, instagram, whatsapp) are down and twitter is going on about how they’re the last man standing…… sometimes i can still here the sound of tumblr’s voice…
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y’all can’t even begin to COMPREHEND the hardships of being a history blogger. do you have any idea what it takes to form parasocial relationships with old dead fucks?????
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look at these cute themed character sheets on etsy!
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gotta say i love dc’s implication that while heroes don’t, VILLAINS slurp pussy like it’s an olympic sport
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albert and i
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Pairing: Andy Barber x F!Reader
Warnings: mentions of domestic abuse.
Summary: Andy and Y/N meet for the first time at a carnival... or maybe it's the second time.
Author's Note: Hiya peeps! This is a Defending Jacob AU where Andy has one more kid, a 5-year-old boy called Liam. enjoy!
Andy stared at his son with a disappointed look on his face as the tiny 5-year-old threw a tantrum. "Are you done?" he deadpanned, which caused his son to cry harder. Taking out his wallet, Andy showed it to his son, again, saying, "Look, I'm outta cash right now! We spent it all on other snacks and games! I can't buy you the lollipop, bub." His son wouldn't hear it.
Andy was out at a carnival with his 5 year old son, Liam. Who was currently wailing at the top of his lungs since Andy was not buying him the very big lollipop they were currently staring at. After everything that happened with Jacob, Andy and his ex-wife Laurie had... fallen apart.
They decided that a divorce was the only best option so here he was now, single and had full custody of Liam. Laurie had chosen Jacob. "Liam, stop crying, come on..." Andy insisted with a soft sigh, kneeling next to his kid. "Dada! I want the lolly!" Liam sobbed, curling up against his father.
"I told you already, we spent all our money. If I go to get some more, it'll be too late. Just forget the candy, Liam, we have sweets at home," he tried. "No!" Andy pinched the bridge of his nose. "Excuse me." His head snapped up at the feminine voice and his eyes met Y/E/C. The woman had a soft smile on her face, and she was holding the hand of her own daughter.
The daughter was older than Liam, maybe 10-11 years old. "Hi there," he said with a smile of his own, standing up with Liam in his arms. He had momentarily stopped crying, also staring at the lady and her daughter. Andy really thought he had seen her somewhere, but couldn't put a finger on it. Where have I seen her?
"Can I ask you something, sweetie?" the lady addressed his son. Liam nodded. "Do you want that?" She pointed to the lollipop and Liam's eyes twinkled as he nodded once again, this time with excitement. "What a coincidence! My daughter wants one too, how about I buy one for both of you?" Andy's eyes went wide.
"You really don't have to, ma'am," he refused but she shook her head, a winsome smile that had Andy's heart melting gracing her lips. "I don't have to. I want to. Please. Your son wants it really bad, doesn't he?" Andy chuckled and ran a hand through his hair. "He does, been throwing a tantrum for the past 20 minutes."
Y/N immediately bought two of the big lollipops, handing one to Liam and the other to her daughter. "Camila, come on baby, introduce yourself," Y/N smiled. The daughter gave Andy and Liam a winning smile. "Hi! I'm Camila Y/L/N, nice to meet you!" Andy smiled back at her.
"Hi bub, I'm Andy Barber and this is my son, Liam." Liam wiggled in his father's arms and he put him down. "Let's go check out the merry-go-round!" Liam squealed as he took Camila's hand, leading her away from both the parents. "He's so cute!" Camila called out cheekily and Andy laughed. "Don't stray far, both of you!" Y/N shouted after them.
Once both kids were gone, Andy and Y/N moved to a nearby bench. "Do you remember me, Mr Barber?" she asked him all of a sudden and he froze. Shit shit shit, where have I seen her before? I knew it! "I, um, I don't seem to..." he stammered but Y/N shook her head, giving him a soft smile. "It's fine, I didn't expect you to. We met a long time ago."
"Where, may I ask?"
"Well, um, I was one of your clients, actually. You were my lawyer when I got a divorce from my ex-husband." Memories flashed in his head as he remembered her. "Y/N Y/L/N! Yes! Now I remember, it's very good to see you again!" Both of them laughed a bit. "It's been a nice few years."
"Camila has grown a lot, last time I saw her she was a baby," Andy smiled but it quickly faded as he thought of her ex-husband. He was a cruel man; abused his wife, took her for granted. Y/N was only 21 or 22 then, which made her around 30 now. Andy had seen her wounds a few times; she once had a swollen eye. "Mr Barber?" He snapped out of his thoughts.
"Right, um, sorry," he cleared his throat and looked away, running a hand through his hair again. "You went very quiet all of a sudden, all okay?" Y/N frowned. "Just thinking about that ex of yours. He hasn't reached out to you in any way, has he? Because if he has, that motherfucking asshole—" Y/N cut him off by laughing.
"He hasn't, don't worry. Camila and I are doing very well." He glanced at her. "No new boyfriend?" Y/N bit her lip shyly and shook her head. "Not really. It's a bit difficult to date when you're a divorcée and have a ten year old daughter. No one wants the package," she huffed. Andy took his time observing her. Gorgeous.
She visibly looked different. Her style had changed, her hair had grown... far from the young lady he met around a decade ago. She looked beautiful then, but ethereal now. Her smile was still the same, as were her kind eyes that made him warm inside even after all these years. Sure, back then, he treated her simply like a client, a friend maybe.
Something felt different.
When she smiled at him, a shiver ran down his spine. "So, how are Jacob and Laurie? Are they doing well?" Y/N asked him and he involuntarily tensed. Truth was, it had been a year since he last saw them. He had cut off all ties with them, starting a new life— just him and Liam. "I, uh... I don't know," he muttered truthfully.
"You don't...?" Y/N blinked at him. "Laurie and I, we... we got a divorce too, after everything that happened with Jacob." Y/N had heard of that, how the lawyer's own son got accused of murder. He ended up not guilty, but the damage had been done. "I'm so sorry, Mr Barber," she whispered apologetically and he shook his head. "Not your fault. And call me Andy, please."
She gave him another smile. "Andy." And butterflies flitted around in his stomach as his name fell from her lips. He liked the sound of that. "So, what was the deal with Liam? Were you not getting him the lolly on purpose or...?" He laughed and shook his head. "No no, I was ready to get him that, I just ran outta money. Spent it all on other snacks and the rides."
Y/N laughed along. "Kids, am I right?" Both of them fondly shook their heads and turned to where Camila and Liam were playing alone on the merry-go-round. The carnival was about to close, so not many people were left. Y/N stole a glance at Andy. When she had first met him, she had immediately taken a liking to him.
But it wasn't like she could do anything about it; he had a wife and a child— Jacob was only 6 years old then. Now, though... "Are you seeing anyone?" she blurted out and Andy turned to her, visibly surprised at the question. Mortified, Y/N turned away from as she bit her lip again. "Sorry, uhm, ignore me, I just, I—"
"No, I'm not seeing anyone," he answered and she looked at him. He had a soft smile on his face. "Dada! Dada, can we go home?!" Liam and Camila soon made their way over to them. "I'm also tired, ma," Camila yawned and plopped down on Y/N's lap. She chuckled and kissed her on the side of her head. "Let's go home."
"Dada, will I meet Camila again?" Liam pouted at his father. Andy and Y/N looked at each other, a deep blush gracing his cheeks as Y/N looked away from him with pursed lips and a small, embarrassed smile. "If Y/N wants," he answered finally. "I'd like that very much, Andy." Camila and Liam cheered. "Yay! Can she come over to our house?"
"Sure thing, bud. Come on, say goodbye now," Andy stood up with Liam in his arms. Camila hopped off Y/N's lap and held her mother's hand, waving at Liam. "Bye Y/N, by Cami," Liam murmured sleepily, already clinging to his father as he buried his face in his neck. "Bye, sweetheart," Y/N laughed, exchanging numbers with Andy.
"I'll text you later, yeah?"
"Sure thing, Andy."
Y/N and Andy grinned as the two kids ran towards each other, hugging each other tightly. "Let's go to my room!" Liam insisted and the two took off, running up the stairs. Y/N, who was still standing outside the front door, shook her head. "Fast friends, aren't they?" Andy called her in and she stepped into the house, taking off her overcoat. Andy took it from her. "Yep."
Y/N also took off her shoes and kept them near the door as she walked in. "You have a nice house," she complimented and he blushed again. He had thoroughly cleaned it out in the morning just because he knew Y/N and Camila were going to visit in the afternoon. "Thank you so much. Can I get you anything? Some water?"
"That would be amazing, thank you."
Soon, the two settled down on the couchs, a glass of water in Y/N's hand. "So, are you still at your old job?" Conversation flowed easily between them as they sat there, occasional squeals and giggles coming from Liam's room upstairs. "It's great how you're looking after Liam and managing being a DA at the same time."
Andy chuckled bashfully. "It gets lonely sometimes, you know? Liam asks for his mother sometimes. I know it's been a few years, he was a baby then, doesn't even remember her properly but that doesn't stop him. I have no idea what to say to him," he admitted. "Same case with Camila," Y/N grimaced.
"Sucks, doesn't it? Kids need both parents," Andy breathed out. "Sure does. My own parents got one when I was 16. I desperately hoped my marriage wouldn't end up like that but... well, it did." Andy frowned at her. "And don't you dare blame yourself for it. It wasn't you. You are the most perfect person ever, it was your stupid ex who didn't deserve you and treated you like shit."
Y/N smiled softly at his words. "I am the most perfect person ever, huh?" she teased and Andy realized what he had blurted out. But he didn't back down. "You are. You always have been. Kind, polite, caring, intelligent... a great mother, by the way... you are awesome. I may not have noticed it then but now I have."
"Can I tell you something?"
"Sure thing, sweetheart." Y/N gave him another shy smile. "I've always thought you were handsome. Also intelligent, wise... just overall amazing, ya know? But then, I meant it in the form of respect, a fleeting crush. Now, though..." Andy's gaze darkened as he watched Y/N, who looked away from him while biting her lip.
He shifted closer to her. "Now what, Y/N? How do you mean it now?" he whispered, tilting her head in his direction. Y/N shakily let out a breath and Andy smirked, catching her lips in a searing kiss. "Now I mean it in a completely different way," she whispered when they pulled away to breathe. "Glad to hear it, darling," he smirked.
"What about you, Mr Barber?"
"I like you," he blurted out, "Really, I do. Maybe you can stay for dinner tonight?" Y/N gave him a huge smile. "I'd love to stay for dinner, Andy!" He grinned at her and both of them turned to the TV. Andy leaned against the couch, Y/N snuggling into his side as he switched the TV on, settling on a Disney movie playing on one channel.
He put an arm around her shoulders, her head resting on his chest. Just as they relaxed, two people came tumbling down the stairs. "We thought we heard Coco!" Camila squealed before freezing at the position Andy and Y/N were sitting in. Y/N threw her daughter a nervous smile, which soon turned into a horrified expression as the younger Y/L/N's eyes twinkled with mischief.
"I'm sure they're about to change the channel, Li, why don't we go back upstairs?" Liam pouted at Camila, seemingly unaffected by Andy and Y/N. The two adults glanced at each other, eyes wide. "But I wanna watch Coco," Liam whined. Camila whispered something in his ear.
Liam then looked over at Andy and Y/N, a disgusted look on his face. "Ew! You two are gross!" he blurted out before running back up the stairs. "What did you tell him, little miss?" Andy huffed out a laugh. "Just that you two have been kissing," Camila smirked, "Enjoy your date!"
She went back upstairs as well. Y/N and Andy continued staring at each other before promptly bursting into a fit of giggles. "Ah, kids," Y/N wheezed, wiping away a few tears of mirth. Andy pressed a quick kiss to her temple and they settled down in front of the television again.
Days turned into weeks. Weeks into months and months into years.
Time flew by, only strengthening Andy and Y/N's relationship.
"Y/N! Honey!" Y/N's head shot up at the sound of whimpers and her husband's shouts as she walked out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. Andy was carrying a crying Liam into the house, a cut visible on his knee and a few scratches on his arm. Camila soon followed in with Liam's bicycle.
"He fell," Andy sighed as he placed the 11 year old boy on the couch. "Aw, honey, hang on, I'll bring the first aid kit. Andy, can you take care of the food for me?" He readily agreed and went to the kitchen, a 16 year old Camila in tow as Y/N fetched the first aid kit. "Can I tell you something?" Liam muttered as she cleaned his wound.
"Anything," she smiled at him. "You're the best mom ever. I know you're not my biological mom but... but I... I met her once and I have decided that— that I like you better. Th-Thank you for being there and marrying dad. He's the happiest he's ever been, all because of you." Y/N teared up at his words.
"Liam, oh my God," she whispered and the boy pulled her in for a hug. "I love you," he whispered and Y/N cried harder. "I love you too, I love you so much," she sniffled, smiling as Liam wiped her tears off. "Dinner is sort— Y/N? Why are you crying sweetheart?" She felt a hand on her shoulder and pulled away from Liam.
"Nothing," she sighed, giving Andy a soft smile. He blinked and looked at Liam, who was desperately trying to convince all of them that his tears were because of his wounds. "Okay," Andy drawled, "Well, dinner is ready. Why don't we all eat? You'll feel better afterwards." A pause. "We can even have ice-cream."
At the mention of ice-cream Liam sat up straight, eyes twinkling. "You promise, dad?" Andy nodded. Liam cheered and got up, waddling towards the dining table where Camila already sat, busy texting on her phone. Andy and Y/N shared a laugh as Liam flicked her on the forehead, getting a slap on the back in return.
Once both the kids were busy, Andy turned to Y/N. "Why were you crying, sweetie? You know I hate to see you cry," he murmured. Y/N sighed and rested her forehead on his chest as his arms went around her waist. "Liam told me I was the best mom ever," she breathed, "And how happy he was to have me in yours and his life."
Andy rubbed her back, a huge smile blooming on his face. "He was right. I am one lucky man, you know? To have someone as gorgeous and wonderful as you. Still can't believe you said yes when I proposed," he teased, laughing when Y/N lightly slapped his bicep.
"It didn't work out well for both of us the first time, did it?" Y/N hummed. "No, not really. But now I'm not letting this family go," Andy spoke firmly, pressing a kiss to her forehead. Y/N smiled and he instinctively reached down to kiss her lips, his hands sliding down to her butt. "How about another addition to the family, Mrs Barber?"
Y/N squealed. "Andy! The kids are in the next room!" Andy grinned. "Come on—"
"Mom! Dad! Are you done canoodling?! We're hungry!"
"Oh my— we're coming, just two minutes!"
Andy laughed loudly as Y/N hurriedly stepped out of his arms, face flushed as she entered the kitchen. He then crossed his arms and stood there for a second more; life gave him a second chance and he was, for sure, not going to mess it up this time.
A/N: I just realized Laurie might have come off as a bit of a... bad character in this one and for that I apologize, I'm sure she's very nice in the series. Thanks for reading, leave a like if you enjoyed!
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on the one hand I'm like gimme the lan wangji laugh for the soulmate au! gimme now! 🥺 on the other hand, I'm 100% here for the emotional development until then, so... I think it would be really cute if Lan Wangji is lying in bed one night in their early teens and he can feel that his soulmate has been laughing all afternoon, and so he just lies there and thinks about what is making his soulmate happy as he feels his laughter, what kind of jokes he likes, etc
Ever since Lan Wangji was a child, his soulmate has given him nothing but the purest happiness.
“A-Zhan,” his uncle used to scold, when he caught Lan Wangji dreaming about his mingding zhiren three times in a single afternoon. “Pay attention to your lessons.”
“But it’s his soulmate, Shufu!” Lan Xichen would cry, dragging the four-year-old Lan Zhan into his lap and squeezing him until he let out a half-hearted sound of protest. “His soulmate’s always laughing! A-Zhan’s going to be so happy when he grows up, I know it!”
Shufu gave a great sigh that ruffled his moustache--which always made Lan Xichen laugh, in his turn--and then gave them both yet another lecture about propriety until the gong rang for luncheon, which Lan Wangji’s soulmate spent laughing so delightedly that his heart ached with how full it was.
His mother died not long after that, and Lan Wangji’s only moments of joy in the next few years were his fated one’s, shared across the unknown distance between them day after day like tiny stars in the dark--supporting him, and warming him, and lighting Lan Wangji a path through his mourning until he found his way again.
His soulmate is laughing at this very moment, even after hai shi when all youths ought to be abed, and Lan Wangji cannot bear to close his eyes and miss a moment of her contentment.
“How do you know your soulmate is a girl, Wangji?” Lan Xichen inquired once, when he was sixteen and Lan Wangji just past twelve. “Mine isn’t.”
“But yours isn’t a--a--”
His brother only winked at him. “A lover’s bond, A-Zhan?”
If Lan Wangji were a few years younger, or only a little less disciplined, that would have made him wail out loud like a baby. “Xiongzhang! Everyone has told me that she will be a maiden, and that I will have a proper marriage like our qianbei Lan An and bring honor to our sect.”
“Do not laugh for no reason,” his Xiongzhang quoted at him. “Surely you do not think your mingding zhiren has something to laugh at nearly every minute of the day, didi. They are simply used to making joy for themselves, and for others, no matter what might be happening around them. Such a person would be told to change their ways if they lived here, so they must not be what our clan elders would expect of them.”
Lan Wangji had blinked and then bowed his head. “This brother would like to hear xiongzhang’s advice.”
Xichen only laughed again: probably delighting Nie Mingjue, wherever he was, and perhaps Nie Huaisang too. “Do not turn your soulmate away because they are not what you believed them to be,” he said gently. “When you meet them, put aside all you think you know, and learn them for what they are. Can you promise your dada that, Wangji?”
“Mn. Wangji will not fail his fated one.”
What makes you so happy? he wonders now, feeling his lips curl into a smile as he hides his face in his pillow. Do you perhaps have a brother, too, who bakes sweets for you like Xiongzhang does for me? Do you study music, and know what an accomplishment it is to play a difficult piece perfectly for the first time? Or perhaps the ones you love are happy, and their well-being pleases you so much that you cannot help but tell them so.
Inexplicably, his dreams are filled with the sound of water, and the perfume of a thousand lotus flowers: but all Lan Wangji remembers when he wakes is someone’s bold, winsome smile, and a red silk battle-flag of a ribbon flying in the wind beside his.
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Her third child was sulky, sphinxlike; a sensitive, darkly curious girl who’d been tempered into a sharp-boned renegade of a woman. She’d rescued worms from the rain-battered sidewalk as a child. She wore a gun strapped to her hip, even at high Mass. When she was fourteen, she’d obsessively pored over a ratty yard sale copy of Gray’s Anatomy, bringing it to the beach, baptizing Carter’s careful illustrations with seawater, with sand and drips of chocolate ice cream.
Dana had haunted eyes, steady hands. Dana had her mercurial part-time lover stowed away in Maggie’s guestroom for the weekend, claiming her prodigal rights and a dire need for a change of scenery. How silly that her daughter should relegate herself to the couch, when everyone knew about them anyway. Besides, you don’t let a man who loves you like that sleep alone.
Maggie sucks on one of her clandestine Morleys, letting a drift of ash fall to the porch slats and watching the moths writhe under a streetlamp across the road. He was like her fifth baby, that Fox, an overgrown changeling delivered to her door roughly thirty five years late. He was tragic and winsome; he did things to a woman. He bent over you and crinkled up his eyes, and suddenly you’d do anything to see him fed and warm and happy. She couldn’t blame Dana one bit.
The creak of the screen door startles her out of her woolgathering, and she scrambles to hide the cigarette behind her back, a reflex from when her children were still young. Dana shuffles out in her silk pajamas and a fluffy robe, and plops down on the adjacent Adirondack.
“Smoking,” she scolds, but there’s no real venom in her voice. Maggie gets the impression that she’s jonesing a little, and just for fun, parries back, tilting her head towards the house, where Fox sleeps alone. Dana has the wherewithal to appear vaguely chastised, and looks out to the street, her queenly nose traced onto the dark by porchlight.
Silence settles between them, something not quite comfortable. Maggie breaches the space between their chairs with her offending hand, offering peace and nicotine, and Dana takes the cigarette from her without ceremony. She drags smoke into her mouth, and sighs it out into the night in a stormcloud plume.
“Did you ever regret marrying dad?”
Maybe it’s because it’s two in the morning, an honest hour if there ever was one, but Maggie doesn’t find herself at all surprised by the question.
“Oh, sweetheart,” she says, considering her answer, trying to configure a whole life into words. “I loved your father. You know that.” She takes the proffered cigarette back, taking a moment to collect herself. “Of course I don’t regret marrying him. But your father was… a domineering man. Passionate, I should say. He had ideas about how life should be, and I knew… I knew full well the aspects of myself that I’d be giving up if I became his wife.”
“Aspects of yourself?” Dana tucks up her feet, picking at a scrap of peeling red nailpolish on her big toe. Maggie has a flash of her at nineteen, little spitfire urchin that she was, with those tattered basketball shoes and a halo of bleached frizzy hair.
“Surely you don’t think that Missy and Charlie got it from your father,” she teases, but Dana doesn’t smile. Wind drags itself in a noisy rush through the trees. A distant police siren wails.
“Fox is nothing like your dad was,” Maggie ventures, picking up on the real question. “I talk to him quite often, you know. We’ve had… many opportunities to grow close over the years.”
“I wasn’t talking about Mulder,” she pouts.
“Well I am,” Maggie counters, growing, despite herself, a little defensive of him, a little fierce. “Listen to me. You wouldn’t be here today if not for him. Many times over, more times than I’m aware of, I’m sure. And Dana, for God’s sake, it’s not a weakness to let people love you.”
“Jesus, mom,” she says, but her voice is soft, and there’s a watery sheen to her eyes that she blinks away as she stares into the suburban night.
“All I’m saying is that he is a good man, and despite what you believe about yourself, you are a good woman, and you two make each other better.” Maggie inhales one last mouthful of smoke, then crushes her cigarette on the arm of her chair, flicking the remaining filter into the hydrangeas. “I know your lives are complicated. I do.”
“I love him,” Dana mumbles defensively, addressing her knees.
“Then do something about it,” Maggie challenges, trying not to sound unkind. It was like wringing blood from a stone sometimes with this one. She hadn’t even told her about her cancer at first. Her cancer.
“That’s not fair.”
She hauls herself up out of the chair, hugs her sweater closer, and smooths her palm over her daughter’s terracotta hair as she passes. “Honey, I’m your mother,” she says. “I don’t have to play fair.”
The next morning, Maggie rises late, showers long, follows the warm smell of coffee and bacon through the house. The kitchen is empty, and so is the living room, but she spies them through the front door: Dana and Fox on the porch steps, his arm slung around her waist, laughing quietly about something she can’t quite hear.
Those two, she thinks, sending up a little prayer.
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Lovers In A Dangerous Time: Epilogue
The final chapter of my Fenris the Inquisitor fic is up on AO3. 😭♥😭♥
~ 4460 words. Read on AO3 instead.
Eighteen months later…
Fenris padded silently through the woods.
The air was fresh and cool with rain, and it was something of a relief. The thunderstorm had been brewing all day yesterday, and the breaking of the late-night storm had finally chased off some of the ridiculous summer humidity. But the cool would dissipate soon under the strength of the brilliant Rivaini sun, so Fenris savoured the dampness of the grass and leaves under his bare feet as he made his way to the beach.
Fifteen silent, peaceful minutes later, the soothing hush of water on sand met his ears. A short distance away to the east, there was a cozy-looking cabin tucked in the woods at the border of the beach.
He didn’t bother to go to the cabin; she wouldn’t be there anyway, not on such a beautiful day.
He continued to pick his way through the woods, and the plants underfoot transitioned into sand as the trees thinned out. When he finally stepped onto the beach, Fenris pushed back the hood of his cloak.
Hawke was sitting cross-legged on a picnic blanket close to the shore. Isabela was lounging on the blanket beside her, and Faren was sitting between them with a rattle in one chubby fist.
He waved the rattle haphazardly and laughed, and Fenris smiled helplessly at the sound of his son’s mirth. Faren might only be ten months old, but Fenris was convinced that his laugh already sounded like his mother’s.
Hawke looked up and met his eye, and he returned her brilliant smile. He removed his cloak and made his way across the sand, which was already collecting heat from the morning sun, and as he neared the blanket, he recognized a voice: Dorian’s voice, which was emanating from the glowing sending crystal in Hawke’s hand.
Dorian was singing a Tevene folk song, and Faren was moving his round little body in time to Dorian’s voice. Fenris smirked and sat on the blanket behind his son.
“Avanna, little man,” he said, and he ran his palm over Faren’s raven-haired head.
Faren squealed happily and waved his rattle, and Dorian spoke through the crystal. “Ah, Fenris. Back from town, I presume? I’ve decided to teach your child Tevene.”
“I see,” Fenris said dryly. He carefully lifted the baby onto his lap. “Equipping him to join forces with you someday, I presume?”
“Precisely,” Dorian said. “He’ll be my protégé.”
“No,” Fenris said.
Dorian blithely went on as though Fenris hadn’t spoken. “I’ll teach him all the best ways to debate with a roomful of magisters and how to sniff out poisons…”
Isabela yawned. “Sounds like you’d be training him to be a bard.”
“You’d be surprised how often a bard’s skills overlap with those of a magister,” Dorian said. “Or perhaps you wouldn’t. In any case, Faren will have an extremely well-rounded education by the time I’m finished singing lullabies to him.”
Fenris rolled his eyes, and Hawke giggled. “Lovely plans, Dorian, but we might need to get him walking and feeding himself before he can start spotting assassins.”
Dorian tsked. “Now you’re just underestimating his abilities. Call me again when I can start teaching him something interesting.”
Fenris huffed. “As though you won’t be calling us before the end of the week to complain about some Tevinter foible or another.”
“I’m sorry, Fenris, poor connection, I didn’t catch that,” Dorian announced. “Anyway, I must go now; my scintillating presence is required by my current protégés.” He adopted a high-pitched voice. “Bye-bye, Faren. I know you’ll miss my lovely voice until next time.”
Hawke tickled Faren’s tummy. “Come on, Faren, say bye-bye to Uncle Dorian.”
Faren burbled a laugh and waved his hand, and Hawke chuckled. “He’s waving goodbye,” she told Dorian. “We’ll speak to you later!” She made a kissing noise into the crystal.
Dorian chuckled, and the sending crystal’s glowing light went dark. Hawke hung the sending crystal around her neck and smiled at Fenris. “How was Afsaana?”
“Loud and busy, as always,” he said. “They were out of pomegranates, if you can believe it, but I fetched the post.”
Isabela tsked. “No pomegranates? In Afsaana? You probably just didn’t ask them nicely.”
Hawke smirked. “What sort of ‘asking’ are you suggesting? Showing off a little leg? A little flash of cleavage, maybe?”
Isabela grinned. “A little flash of my daggers, more like.”
Fenris scoffed, then leaned in to Faren’s ear. “Don’t listen to Isabela. She is a poor example to follow.”
Faren cooed and patted his face, and Isabela snickered. “If you’re hoping to keep the little monster from following my example, you’d better find yourselves a different charter to Kirkwall tomorrow. Me and my crew won’t be watching our mouths just for your bloody baby.”
Hawke laughed. “Don’t worry about that. I can’t catch myself swearing half the time. Faren’s first real word is probably going to be ‘fuck’.”
Isabela barked out a laugh, and Faren giggled and reached for her with both hands. “Bababa!” he burbled.
Hawke grinned. “Look at him, going straight for your breasts. He’s a boy after my own heart.”
“Fasta vass, Hawke,” Fenris said in exasperation, and Hawke and Isabela cackled.
A loud and joyful bark carried over the gentle rush of the tide, followed by a second even louder bark, and they all turned to look: Toby and Landon were romping toward them with Cullen and Piper following in their wake.
“Landon!” Cullen shouted, to little effect; the younger mabari was racing full-tilt across the sand toward them.
Fenris shook his head ruefully and tucked Faren against his chest. “Piper, can you—”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got him!” she yelled, and she pelted after Landon and practically tackled him before he could reach their group.
Faren squealed delightedly and waved his arms. Toby barked again as he neared them, then pranced around Fenris with his tail wagging madly, but Fenris frowned.
“If you want to play with Faren, what do you have to do?” he said sternly.
Toby immediately settled into a sitting pose, though his tail continued to sweep happily across the sand, and Fenris nodded. “Good. All right, little man, let us see how you can stand.” He set Faren on the blanket beside Toby, and Faren immediately reached for the mabari.
Isabela stretched out on her side again. “I still can’t believe he’s not scared of Toby. I've never seen a child so small who wasn’t scared of mabari.”
“Of course Faren isn’t scared,” Hawke said proudly. “He’s very brave, just like his father.” She winked at Fenris.
He gave her a chiding smile, and they watched contentedly as Faren gripped a very obedient Toby’s fur and pulled himself upright. Once Faren was on his feet, he started babbling non-stop to Toby and patting his back as he tried to keep his balance.
Isabela smirked at Hawke. “This chatty thing he’s doing? That’s all you.”
Hawke threw her head back and laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous! He’s definitely more like Fenris. He’s smart and brave and handsome.”
Isabela shook her head. “He looks like Fenris,” she corrected. “He acts like you.”
“Faren looks like Hawke, too,” Fenris interjected. “He has her eyes.”
“Her eye colour, maybe,” Isabela said. “But he looks like you. The pouty lips, the nose…”
“The black hair,” Hawke added. “I’m still convinced your hair was black before the lyrium tattoos.”
Fenris shrugged; he was sure she was right. “The point still stands: Faren is more like you,” he told her. “He is talkative, impulsive, getting his little fingers in everything…”
“He’s also exceedingly charming and adorable, no?” Hawke said with a winsome smile.
He gazed fondly at her. “Especially that,” he said.
Isabela rolled her eyes. “The pair of you are sickening. Forget being seasick, I’ll be vomiting during the trip to Kirkwall because of you.”
Fenris and Hawke chuckled, and Faren gurgled happily. A moment later, Cullen and Piper joined them, Cullen with one hand firmly on a wriggling Landon’s collar.
“I apologize for Landon’s behaviour,” he panted. “Next time we visit, he’ll be better behaved, I swear it.” He frowned at the mabari. “Won’t you, Landon?”
Landon wagged his tail and barked. Faren jolted in startlement at the sound, then plopped onto his bottom. His coppery eyes went wide, and Isabela sighed. “Oh, here we go,” she drawled.
Sure enough, Faren started wailing. Before he could really get going, Hawke swept him into her arms. “There there, all right, you’re all right,” she crooned. “Falling down is terrible, isn’t it? But you’re fine now, no need to cry!” She swayed from side to side and rubbed Faren’s back, and a few seconds later, Faren was smiling again and gripping Hawke’s shirt in his chubby fists.
“Can I hold him?” Piper asked eagerly. “I need a little more turnip time before Cullen and I head out.”
“Of course!” Hawke said. She handed Faren over to Piper, and Faren immediately tangled his fists in Piper’s wavy silver hair.
She winced. “Oof! Go easy, Faren. I’m not used to other men getting their hands in my hair like this.”
Hawke and Isabela cackled, and Cullen cleared his throat. “Piper, please,” he muttered. “Not in front of the baby.”
Piper snorted. “Oh, he’s heard much worse around his raunchy parents and his raunchy auntie Isabela. Haven’t you, da’len?”
Faren cooed and pulled Piper’s hair, and Piper smiled hopefully at Fenris and Hawke. “Can Cullen and I take him for a little walk? I spotted a creek just up the way with some tadpoles in it. I wanted to show him what baby frogs look like.”
“Yes,” Fenris said. “But keep a good hold on him. If he sees something he wants, he will lunge for it, so hold him well.”
“I will,” Piper promised.
“And here, take this with you,” Fenris said. He picked up the satchel of baby supplies that Hawke had brought from their cabin and handed it to Cullen. “There is a bottle of water there; make sure he drinks some of it, it’s getting hot. And if he needs to be changed–”
“I can change diapers, Fenris,” Cullen said. “I have a nephew, if you’ll recall.”
“Right,” Fenris said. “Right.” He rubbed his nose, then turned to Hawke. “When was he last fed? Perhaps we should feed him, or send a snack–”
“I fed him about fifteen minutes ago, and he had a piece of banana ten minutes before that,” Hawke said. She stroked his arm. “It’s all right, Fenris. He can go for a little walk with Piper and Cullen.”
“I’ll go too,” Isabela said. “I’ll handle Toby and Landon while Piper handles your little monster.”
Fenris raised a sardonic eyebrow. “Is that meant to comfort me?”
“It should,” Hawke said slyly. “Isabela’s very good at handling two men at once.”
Piper and Isabela burst out laughing, and Faren bobbed in Piper’s arms and squealed happily.
Cullen tutted. “I quite agree, Faren. Let’s get you away from these lewd influences, all right?” He took Faren from Piper and began to walk away along the beach.
Piper beamed at Fenris. “Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of him!” She hurried after Cullen with the two mabari and Isabela close behind.
Once they were out of earshot, Hawke started to laugh. Fenris shot her a rueful look and stretched his legs out. “What is so amusing?”
She sat beside him and leaned into his shoulder. “You. You’re so fussy about Faren, it’s adorable. I never really understood the ‘doting fathers are sexy’ thing, but now I do.”
Fenris huffed. “You think it is sexy that I’m fussing over our son?”
“I do,” she said pertly. “I really, really do.” She tilted her chin up for a kiss.
He smirked at her, then leaned in and gave her a gentle kiss. Her lips parted slowly and softly, like the petals of a flower unfurling at dawn, and Fenris savoured the freshness of her tongue contrasted with the taste of salt on her lips from bathing in the sea.
A delicious, lazy moment later, he leaned away from her. “I have a proposition for you,” he murmured.
She smiled at him through half-lidded eyes. “Mm. You have my attention.”
He raised an eyebrow. “I will read the post to you.”
She laughed. “Ooh, that is sexy. You know just how to turn me on. Go on, read to me in that lovely voice of yours.”
He smiled and pulled out three letters from his pocket – all of them addressed to Leto, to preserve his and Hawke’s privacy when they went to town.
He ripped open the first envelope. “All right,” he said. “This one is from Cassandra.”
I hope this letter finds you well. We had heard that there might be a hurricane on the coast of Rivain, so I hope you will plan your defenses accordingly for your cabin. Why are you yawning? Is the content of my letter boring to you? Ugh, perhaps it is boring. Nobody wants to read about the weather.
Maybe you can tell them – yes, I know what to say. Please tell Hawke that the College of Magi are cooperating reasonably well with the Circle. Grand Enchanter Vivienne continues to be… hard-headed. Frankly, she is a pain to deal with, but a powerful force nonetheless. I suppose some would say the same of me, so I should not complain. In any case, Vivienne and Fiona are frequently butting heads, but it seems to be keeping both the Circle and the College on their toes. I am monitoring the situation, and I pray to the Maker that I will not have to step in, but only time will tell.
Our scarlet friend is doing well and getting up to no trouble whatsoever. She said to give cookies and kisses to the wee widdle. Do not look at me like that, she insisted that I pass the message on that way.
I appreciate your updates on Faren’s growth. I would dearly like to meet him someday. If ever you decide to visit Val Royeaux – oh, I’m being ridiculous, they would not want to visit Val Royeaux. I wouldn’t visit Val Royeaux if I didn’t live here. Perhaps I can find an excuse to visit Kirkwall during one of the months when Fenris and Hawke are staying with Varric. Make a note, will you? Find a reason for me to meet with Kirkwall’s Grand Cleric in two months’ time. Fenris and Hawke will still be in Kirkwall, and I can meet their child then.
This is a terrible letter, isn’t it? You know what, it is not my fault that these letters are bad. Nobody taught me how to dictate. I like to think this is better than the last few. Why in the Maker’s name are you laughing? Just finish this up, will you?
Walk in Andraste’s Holy Light,
Hawke hiccuped and wiped a happy tear from the corner of her eye. “Oh Cassandra,” she chortled. “Maker’s balls, I love her. She isn’t getting any better at dictating, is she?”
“She really isn’t,” Fenris said fondly. “All right, this next letter is from Rainier.”
Dear Fenris and Hawke,
I’m writing to you from Markham. Bit of a risky place to visit since I’m known here, but I suppose I’m older and broader than I used to be. I haven’t been hassled much since arriving, aside from a few dirty looks, which is fair enough.
The prison guards were suspicious when I first arrived. More so when I told them I just wanted to talk to the prisoners, no other plans, no other plots. But they let me talk to them eventually, and I like to think I gave a little bit of comfort and hope – like you and Hawke gave to me when I was at my worst. I like to think Cole would approve too, if the lad was still here.
I was thinking that we could bring Faren to Markham when he’s older to see the Grand Tourney. I’d be happy to introduce him to the sport. I can teach him to ride as well, once he’s big enough. A pony to start – they’re easy to guide, not as high off the ground and a little less frightening. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, since he’s not walking yet.
I will be back in Rivain in a few weeks – probably not long after you receive this letter, truth be told. I’ll keep your cabin in good shape for you while you’re in Kirkwall, as usual. If you need any repairs done, leave me a note on the kitchen table, and I’ll get to it before you come back.
Regards to you and the little tyke.
Hawke smiled and took the letter from Fenris’s hand. “He’s such a good uncle. And the best handyman!” She ran her thumbs fondly over the parchment. “I still can’t believe he built the cabin for us.”
“We are extremely fortunate,” Fenris agreed. He glanced across the beach at the cozy cabin in the woods where their family lived in for two thirds of the year – a cabin that Blackwall had designed and built with help from Bull and the Chargers. He’d built a second cabin for himself about a kilometer to the east: close enough that Hawke and Fenris saw him frequently when they were all in Rivain, but far enough that they had the privacy that Fenris had craved for so long.
Fenris pulled out the third and last letter, then frowned when he recognized the handwriting. “This is from Varric,” he said.
Hawke raised her eyebrows. “From Varric? But he knows we’re setting sail tomorrow. Why would he write so soon before we’re supposed to get to Kirkwall?”
“I’m not sure,” Fenris said slowly. He couldn’t decide if the timing of this letter meant its contents would be time-sensitive, or if it meant they were completely inconsequential, given that Fenris and Hawke could have left Rivain entirely without receiving this letter.
He opened the envelope and read the contents out to Hawke.
First of all, calm down. No need to worry. Just wanted to give you a heads-up in case you get this before you leave. One of my friends around the city mentioned a newcomer in Lowtown – in the alienage, specifically. A city elf from the sounds of it; no Dalish tattoos. She’s a real incognito type, really been keeping to the shadows, but word has that she’s got an Orlesian accent.
I mentioned it to Nightingale, and she wondered if this is something you might be interested in looking into while you guys are here. Something tells me our Orlesian friend might be here specifically for you, but we’ll see.
No big deal if you don’t get this before you arrive. Looking forward to getting Faren’s help again with burning my mail. That kid will make a great assistant someday. You know I’m training him up to be the next Viscount, right? Knowing what mail to burn is the most important step. Just ask Bran.
See you soon.
P.S. You guys have a title for that book of yours yet? My publisher’s breathing down my neck about it. Saying she can’t market it if she doesn’t know what it’s called. She seems to be forgetting that any book co-written by the Inquisitor and the Champion of Kirkwall will sell out about five seconds after it hits the shelves.
Hawke looked up at Fenris with wide eyes. “A city elf with an Orlesian accent that Varric would bother writing to us about?”
“Briala,” Fenris said quietly. “I can’t think who else it would be.”
“Maker’s balls,” Hawke breathed. “You think…? I assumed she was on Solas’s side!”
“I assumed Solas had killed her,” Fenris said baldly. “I’m shocked to hear she is alive. If this incognito elf is really her.”
Her eyebrows rose. “You think he would have killed her?”
“He is willing to kill all of us,” Fenris said in a hard tone. “What difference does one more person make?”
She dropped his gaze, and Fenris instantly felt guilty for the harshness of his tone. Then she looked up with a bright smile. “Well, that’ll be something interesting to do while we’re in Kirkwall. Aside from bothering Aveline and Varric.”
He studied her bright smile with a pang. “I don’t bother Aveline and Varric. That’s your purview.”
She snickered and elbowed him. “As though you and Faren aren’t beside me the entire time I’m being a bother. An attractive, charming, helpful bother–”
“Shut up, Hawke,” he drawled, and he pinched her waist.
She squeaked and smacked his hand, and he pinched the other side of her waist until she burst out laughing. When she had settled down, she gently rubbed his unmarked chin. “About the book title, though – Varric has a point. Do you want to hear the titles I was thinking of this morning?”
“All right,” he said easily. Her titles were always terrible, but they were worth hearing anyway, for the laugh at least if nothing else.
“Great,” she said brightly. “First I was thinking about an academic title. Something like this: ‘A Compendium of Elven and Dwarven Myths and Observations From Exploring Remote Corners of the World’.”
He looked at her in surprise. “You came up with that?”
“Yes,” she said. “Why?”
He shrugged. “It’s so… reasonable.”
She laughed and smacked his chest. “Excuse me! Too bad if you like it, because I don’t. Too wordy. So I thought we could tag onto Varric’s novel about the Inquisition and call it ‘The Shit Behind The Shit: This Shit Is Even Weirder’.”
He stared at her. “That is a monstrous excuse for a title.”
She laughed harder. “All right, all right, you’re not wrong. Then I was thinking that, well…” She tapped her fingers on his knee for a moment before speaking again. “The book isn’t about us, but you and I are the ones who picked up all this strange information doing all these strange and risky things, and we interviewed all our friends for details and we wrote it up…”
“Go on,” he said slowly.
She smiled. “What about… ‘Lovers In A Dangerous Time’?”
He gave her an odd look. “But it’s as you said. The book isn’t about us.”
“I know,” she said. “But think what Varric said. People will buy it because we wrote it and we’re famous. I know you hate that,” she said as he pursed his lips, “but it’s true. And in this case, it’s a good thing. We reel people in with a titillating title–”
He scoffed, and she grinned and doggedly continued on. “... and we keep them by spilling all the stuff we know. Or the stuff we think we know, at least. Elf stuff, dwarf stuff, Tevinter stuff and Blight stuff… The more people who read it, the better, right? So we use the title to lure them in.”
He twisted his lips ruefully. She had a point. If knowledge was power, and Fenris’s goal was to disseminate that power…
He gave her a flat look. “With a title like that, people will expect sex in the book.”
“We can put sex in the book,” she said smoothly. She shuffled closer to him on the blanket and petted his chest.
He tutted, but he couldn’t hide his smile. “No, Hawke. This is a serious non-fiction work.”
She kissed his cheekbone, then slid onto his lap to straddle him. “Sex is serious non-fiction work,” she murmured, and she nibbled his earlobe.
A shiver of pleasure ran down his neck, but he harrumphed. “Is that meant to be seductive?”
She smiled sweetly. “Maybe. Did it work? Even a little?”
“No,” he said. He smoothed one hand over her hip.
“Hmm,” she said. “I suppose I should work harder, then.” She brushed her lips to his, and he gave in to the softness of her kiss.
A moment later, he leaned away from her with a sigh. “‘Lovers In A Dangerous Time,’” he mused. He gave her a skeptical look. “Based on the title alone, I wouldn’t read it.”
She tilted her head. “Do you think other people would?”
“Perhaps. Probably,” he admitted.
She gave him a wheedling smile, and Fenris huffed in amusement. “I will consider it,” he said. “Let’s see what Varric thinks.”
“That’s good enough for me,” Hawke said happily. She kissed him once more, then slid off of his lap and tidied the letters, but Fenris noted that her face fell slightly when she glanced at the one from Varric.
A possible lead on Solas, he thought. It had been a long time since Leliana or anyone else had found any significant information about Solas’s movements, and if the mysterious Orlesian elf in Kirkwall really was Briala, this could be a major development.
Or a major trap.
He pushed the concern aside for now. There was nothing they could do until they were in Kirkwall, and until then, there was no point spoiling such a beautiful day with worries.
He stood up and held his hand out to Hawke. “Come. Let’s go join the others.”
She took his hand and rose to her feet. “No need,” she said cheerfully. “They’re right there.”
Fenris looked up. Cullen, Piper, and Isabela were strolling back along the shoreline with Landon and Toby prancing at their heels, and Faren was ensconced in Piper’s arms.
Hawke ran off to meet them. Faren squealed happily when Hawke took him from Piper, and when Fenris joined them, the baby shrieked again and reached for him.
“I am here, little man,” Fenris said. “There’s no need to shout.” He took Faren from Hawke and kissed his hair – soft black hair scented with a special sort of sweetness that Fenris had only ever smelled on his son’s precious head, along with the faintest hint of sandalwood.
“He touched a tadpole,” Piper said brightly. Then she winced. “Almost squished it, actually. But I managed to save it.”
“Good,” Fenris said. He stroked Faren’s back and spoke softly to his son. “Even small lives are worthy of protection. Never forget that.”
Faren yawned, and Fenris kissed his head once more. “I believe someone’s in need of a nap,” he said. He shifted his son’s weight to one hip and took Hawke’s hand.
She squeezed his fingers, and he gazed lovingly at her smiling coppery eyes. Then he turned toward their cozy cabin at the edge of the Rivaini beach.
“Come,” he said. “Let’s go home.”
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i deadass could not understand all the hate directed towards this girl
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in all seriousness, i would like to thank the latine grassroots organizations, the native americans working tirelessly (who turned the tides in AZ and i’m sure other states as well), and the black folks who turned up in droves to the polls. this could NOT have happened without the herculean feats accomplished by people of color in this country, and i’m proud of us
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warlock: does anybody have any questions?
paladin: is this legal?
warlock: does anybody have any relevant questions?
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i’m mad excited for atsv, don’t get me wrong, but has anyone noticed how miles has loose curls now instead of the tight coils he had in the first movie?? :/
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i love editing photos to look vintage
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prompt: *gestures* it’s about the gay (yours by greyson chance)
pairing: Ozy x Aro
word count: 2050
warnings: drunkenness, mentions of masochism and violence, choking
thanks to @asras3rdeye for her help with this and for letting me borrow ozy for nefarious purposes!
Aro is not in the mood for visitors, as he is currently drinking himself into a stupor after abusing his friend’s power in the palace and raiding the kitchens of their dessert wine. Cloying red port stains his lips and chin from where he has raised the bottle. To her credit, Alec tried to help him before it came to this; talking it out, brushing his hair, giving hug after hug. It all came to nothing. In the end, she told him to stay in her room while she… what did she say again? Where did she go?
It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Aro has splayed himself out on her bed, smeared mascara and wrinkled undershirt and rat’s nest hair, holding a bottle in both hands against his stomach. One bottle has been emptied already and is on the rug beside the bed. Night has fallen outside, casting a soft moonlit glow over the lush guest room, mingling with the candles beside the bed.
Everything is far too quiet. He tries to hum the notes of an unfamiliar melody, then his throat swells up, and he douses the pain with another splash of port.
As if someone is listening to his thoughts, there’s a knock at the door, and a stranger’s voice announces, “Mr. Slattery?”
“Whaaaaaa,” Aro groans.
“I’m a friend of Alec’s. She sent me for you. May I come in?”
In an ordinary situation, Aro would have busied himself with looking presentable, combing his hair and throwing on a shirt and fixing his makeup before meeting any potential new acquaintances. This is not an ordinary situation. “Sure,” he says. “Knock yourself out. It’s a partyyyyy.”
The door opens, and Aro has to take a moment to register the man standing before him. His long hair is thrown over his shoulders to show off his collar. Soft hazel eyes take in the sight on the bed.
“Oh. Where’s the party?” The stranger’s emerald earring clinks as he looks about the room in confusion. “Am I too early?”
“Areyooou… an angel?” Aro slurs.
“An angel?” The stranger breaks out into a disarming smile as he briskly crosses the room and takes a seat next to Aro. “Even better. I’m Oz’mandias. And you’re, from what I’ve been told, a little heartbroken. Is that right?”
Aro sips at the port. “Wanna drink? I don’t wanna be rude.” He offers it with a shaky arm. “Here ya go, Ozzm-- Omann-- Ozzzz--”
Ozy plucks the bottle from Aro’s fingers and studies it. Without looking up, he says, “My friends call me Ozy.”
Aro can’t help taking in more of Ozy’s profile while he’s preoccupied. His gaze traces the strength of Ozy’s high cheekbones, the scar hugging the bridge of his nose, the gold ring snug against the crease of his lower lip.
“Hey, Mr. Slattery?” Ozy holds up the bottle and sloshes around the contents. “Are you sure that Alec lady is your friend? Because she let you have way too much of this stuff.”
Aro makes a clumsy grab for the bottle, but it’s jerked away from his greedy clutches. “Ozy-- Ozy, gimme--”
“Nuh-uh. No more for you, Mr. Slattery.”
Aro screws up his face and turns it away from Ozy’s radiance. “D-don’t you know my name? Just-- my name! No Mr. Slattery!”
Ozy hesitates before replying. When he does, it shoots through Aro’s heart. “I didn’t realize that it was all right for me to... I see. I’ll call you Aro, then.”
The clink of a bottle on a wooden surface. A weight sinking into the other side of the mattress as Ozy shifts closer. “Aro, look. I know we barely know each other, but is there some way that I can help?” He asks. “Your friend Alec is close to my dear friend Kip-- er, Kipling. She told me that you needed me. I didn’t quite understand-- I still don’t understand-- but I’ll help in any way I can, for Kipling’s sake. Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
Aro worries his bottom lip with his teeth. He reaches for a steady thought in the storm of visions in his mind. “Jamil doesn’t love me,” he whispers.
“Jamil. Was he your partner?”
“Was-- is-- was? Was. Fuck, was, was, words!”
“He hates me! I d-didn’t ask for anything, I wanted him to love me, b-but I would’ve been happy if he just-- let me-- l-et me--” Aro lets out an incomprehensive wail and balls his fists in his own tangled hair. He tugs at the roots like he could pull it out. The pain is like an old friend.
“May I touch you?”
A warm gentle hand touches his bicep. As much as he knows he shouldn’t, he squeaks and scootches closer. He clenches his eyes closed and overrides his body’s impulse to meet Ozy’s eyes. They’re such a captivating color… almost green… almost like Jamil’s eyes…
He turns his head and, breathless, looks up into Ozy’s concerned face. “I’m certain that Alec brought you here because she knew that I take comfort in sexual and romantic pleasure, and she thought that you would make a good match for me while getting over my previous partner. I wholeheartedly agree. I find you to be one of the most handsome men I have ever met.”
Is what he wanted to say. Instead, something along the lines of “sprettyeyessssssss” slips out of his mouth.
“Oh, you like my eyes?” Ozy answers with a grin. “Thank you, I think.”
“Where’s myyy… wiiiine?”
Ozy rubs along his arm. His smile doesn’t waver as he explains, “Aro, do you know what will happen if you drink more? You’ll make a mess in about an hour or two. And it won’t be very pretty.”
Aro pouts and shifts closer to Ozy’s body. “But… I need to forget. Wine helps me forget.”
Ozy looks at him as if he understands. “I know it feels like it does, but trust me on this. Time is a lot better at healing wounds than alcohol.”
“Wounds…?” He can feel himself salivate in spite of himself. Just imagining Ozy-- no, Jamil-- no, Ozy, yes-- holding a jet black riding crop, sweat beading on his brow, observing the smeared red wounds across Aro’s stomach, licking his lips at the sight below him, kind hazel eyes turned cruel… Aro whimpers and shivers. “Ozy, I-- why’re you-- sso nice to me?”
Ozy’s movement along Aro’s arm slows as his expression turns thoughtful. “You’re a friend of Kip’s and I owe her a few favors, so…”
“I liiiiike Kip.”
“She likes you too. I’ve heard a bit about you from her.”
Aro’s hand wanders to Ozy’s, the one on his bicep, so he can hold it to his skin with a sleepy smile. “Whaddid she say?”
“Hm… she says that you’re a bit of a drama queen and you like shiny objects. Like a very loud crow, strutting around, preening himself.”
“Ozy, do you like pain?”
Ozy’s eyes widen in confusion and fear. “Er-- what?”
“For fun. Like… giving pain. For fun. You know?” Aro giggles and squeezes Ozy’s fingers. They feel strong. They could probably suffocate him if he asked politely enough.
“I-- I, um. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever, uh, done something like that before.”
Aro guides Ozy’s hand up to his throat-- thumb tucked around, fingers together, against the sensitive skin surrounding his windpipe. “‘Cause it’d help me. If you wanna. Just… a little squeeze. Enough to cut my oxygen for a few seconds. Mm?” He grins. His wine-stained lips are chapped and cracked. “Let out a little stress? Oz’madinusmus?”
Ozy swallows, hard. He’s contemplating it. Aro rests his own hand over Ozy’s and presses. “Aro, forgive me but-- I’m very confused,” he mumbles.
“Turns me oooon.”
All of a sudden, Ozy’s mouth falls open. He re-examines the blush in Aro’s cheeks and his half-lidded eyes. “Ohhh,” he breathes, understanding at last. “I-- oh. You’re flirting with me.”
“I’ve got to tell you the truth; this is the first time anybody has asked me to choke them.”
“It’s fuuuuuun. Try it.”
“I thought you were getting over some other man. This Jamil fellow.”
“‘Spart of the grieving process. Ozmandibussss.”
Ozy glances around the room, like he’s afraid if someone watches they’ll call the guards. Once he’s convinced they’re alone, he looks back into Aro’s eyes. “And this will help?” he clarifies.
Aro nods as much as he can in his restraints. “More than port,” he adds eagerly.
“Hm.” Ozy’s fingers close around Aro’s throat and massage the skin there. It isn’t enough to choke, not at all, but the delicate pressure sends a thrill down Aro’s spine all the same. Maybe it’s a trick of the candlelight-- but Ozy looks delighted. He’s smirking at the precipice before he dives headfirst in, not knowing what’s at the bottom but looking forward to the fall.
Aro squirms and tries out a winsome smile. “A-- a bit harder,” he offers, like Ozy isn’t doing this on purpose.
“Oh? Like this?” Ozy stops massaging and clasps his hand around the column of Aro’s throat. Still not squeezing. Gods, he’s enjoying this!
“L-like-- no! That’s not it! Harder!”
“Harder? Liiiiike… this?”
A sudden fiery constriction. Aro tries to gasp and can’t. He gulps like a fish out of water, hands closing and opening in fists that don’t hold anything, then collapses, limp, to allow this new airless world to consume him. His eyes close of their own accord. Everything hurts, his world is spinning, his eyes are watering, and then--
He coughs and splutters when he is freed. Each shaky lungful of air feels icy and thick. Ozy is speaking, but it’s from the end of a tunnel, and Aro has to strain to listen. “-- wouldn’t be right, would it? Aro?”
Ozy smiles and strokes his freckled cheek, and Aro swoons. “I think we can have a bit of fun, don’t you? Not tonight… only if you remember me in the morning when you’re sober.”
Aro whimpers. “Are you g-gonna leave?” He fumbles around for Ozy’s hand so he can bring it to his lips.
“Do you want me to leave?”
“No! I want you to stay!” Aro hoists himself up with some difficulty, swaying even from a seated position, and flings his arms over Ozy’s shoulders. It only takes a few moments before he collapses into Ozy’s arms. Strong arms. Smells good. “Ozy, I’m… sleeeepy…”
Ozy’s breath tickles the crown of his head. “Mm. You seem like you’ve had a long day.”
“Wanna… nnn… wanna hurt…” Aro kisses Ozy’s neck. He’s sloppy, and he doesn’t care. When it isn’t enough, he lolls his tongue out and runs it up Ozy’s skin to taste the salt. Ozy flinches and pulls him away.
“Aro, we can’t--”
“Sorry! I’m sorry! It’s too much! I wasn’t thinking! P-please don’t be mad? Ozy?” Aro hiccups and whimpers.
“It’s alright, but you’re drunk, and--”
“D’you like knives, Ozy?” Aro traces a line across his own neck where Ozy’s fingers touched moments ago. “Like seeing blood? Like… hitting and bruising?”
Ozy frowns. The playfulness from earlier has vanished. “I’m not sure.”
Aro leans in close to his lips, hoping Ozy will close the gap, but he doesn’t. Aro feels like crying again. “I wanna forget,” he whines.
“Will you stay? We don’t have to… do anything you don’t wanna. I just need somebody. Real bad. Please? I-- I’ll do anything, really!”
Ozy pulls Aro’s head down so he can kiss his forehead instead of his lips. Aro moans and falls against his chest. “Okay. I’ll stay.”
A painful lump forces its way up into Aro’s throat. He lets out a pitiful sob and clings to Ozy with all his strength. “Jamil doesn’t lo-ove me.”
He can feel Ozy’s sigh more than hear it. Careful fingers comb through his hair and draw lines up the curve of his spine. “Hey, Aro? You should go to sleep now.”
“Jamil doesn’t-- he d-doesn’t-- I love--”
“Seriously.” Ozy holds Aro a little tighter. Just so he can get the message. “Sleep.”
Aro doesn’t mean to. He wants to stay up and bask in the warmth of Ozy’s arms until the sunrise. But, somehow, his consciousness slips through his fingers all the same.
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A Chieftan to the Highlands bound
Cries, "Boatman, do not tarry
And I'll give thee a silver pound
To row us o'er the ferry"
"Now who be ye would cross Lochgyle
This dark and stormy water?"
"Oh! I'm the chief of Ulva's isle
And this Lord Ullin's daughter
And fast before her father's men
Three days we've fled together
For should he find us in the glen
My blood would stain the heather
His horsemen hard behind us ride
Should they our steps discover
Then who will cheer my bonny bride
When they have slain her lover?"
Outspoke the hardy Highland wight
"I'll go, my chief - I'm ready
It is not for your silver bright
But for your winsome lady
And by my word, the bonny bird
In danger shall not tarry
So, though the waves are raging white
I'll row you o'er the ferry"
By this the storm grew loud apace
The water-wraith was shrieking
And in the scowl of heaven each face
Grew dark as they were speaking
But still, as wild blew the wind
And as the night grew drearer
Adown the glen rode armed men
Their trampling sounded nearer
"Oh! Haste thee, haste!" the lady cries
"Though tempests round us gather
I'll meet the raging of the skies
But not an angry father"
The boat has left a stormy land
A stormy sea before her
When oh! Too strong for human hand
The tempest gathered o'er her
And still they rowed amidst the roar
Of waters fast prevailing
Lord Ullin reach'd that fatal shore
His wrath was chang'd to wailing
Sore dismay'd, through storm and shade
His child he did discover
One lovely hand she stretch'd for aid
And one was round her lover
"Come back! Come back!", he cried in grief
"Across this stormy water
And I'll forgive your Highland chief
My daughter! -oh, my daughter!"
'Twas vain: the loud waves lash'd the shore
Return or aid preventing
The waters wild went o'er his child
And he was left lamenting
Lord Ullin's Daughter
This poem will forever be my always. As it is so close to my heart that I've memorised it so well. It describes how two lovers one Chieftan of Ulva's isle and Lord Ullin's daughter were eloped from their houses for the past three days, and how Lord Ullin had his horsemen behind them. Both of them were running when they came across a sea in a stormy weather, they asked the boatman to row them over the ferry. Chieftan offered him silver coins in exchange but he denied and agreed just for the sake of his winsome lady. But by the time they were in the middle of it storm grew louder with howling wind and roaring water. The bride asked the boatman to be faster as she was ready to come across the night but not her angry father. But the weather grew darker, followed by thunder and pelting rain. In the ominous weather the bride asked her father to forgive them she raised one hand for help while kept the other around her lover. But things went out of hands and unimaginable. Looking over this her father requested her to return that he would forgive her and her lover but fate has it's own destiny.. it was too late that the father lost his daughter due his wrath while she was gone he left lamenting.
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A Woman of Consequence
A new Agduna story from the canon-compliant WAIL series with @the-spastic-fantastic who also helped me brainstorm this piece and wrote all of Henrik’s best lines, remaining the best beta ever! This takes place right before Only in Dreams.
Summary: Iduna attends a garden party hosted by the the king and attended by several eligible young ladies, one of whom is particularly unpleasant.
Agnarr hadn’t even meant to invite her, she didn’t think. He had mentioned the garden party while she was tending to the comfrey shrubs in her medicinal gardens, pruning them a bit so they didn’t take over other sections of the neatly ordered rows. Agnarr had come out after a council meeting focused on international relations and sighed.
“Lady Wollen has invited just as many foreign women to come this time as she did for my birthday ball. I’ll have to speak to them all and at least pretend to consider proposing courtship or a better trade partnership. I’m not even sure which they want.” He rubbed at the back of his neck and then his eyes. Iduna didn’t know if the flare of anger she felt at his words was for him or these nameless women who would come and hold his hand and promise riches from their kingdom in order to secure a good relationship with his.
Her response was a muttered “Mmmmmm,” as she continued her work, careful to keep her attention on the purple blooms of comfrey and not on his eyes. What good would it do to even hope she could be one of the women he considered for a bride? She had lived in Arendelle long enough to learn that kings didn’t marry commoners. Especially orphaned commoners from lands that were at war with their kingdoms. His friendship would have to be enough, even if there were days when sharing what was on their minds - like the need to court and marry a foreign royal - was a thorn deep in her palm, pulsing with every movement.
“Could you come, Iduna?” She moved her hand to the next section of green brush to trim, only then seeing his hand come to rest in the spot where hers had been only a moment before. She paused and looked at him. Had he been about to touch her hand? “I would like to have a friend there. Among the wolves.”
She smiled at him like she would for a customer, not letting him see the longing her heart felt for a different question. “Yes, Your Majesty. Of course I’ll come.”
So now here she was, a month later, pressing her hands along the pleats of her dress, a simple but well-made blue silk borrowed from Maddie. It was not as formal, perhaps, as the dresses on the other women present at the garden party, but it was fancier than the dresses she wore when working at Mr. Visser’s Apothecary. Besides, Greet had insisted she at least change clothes before walking to the castle from her job in Market Square and Greet was very convincing when she wanted to be.
The decorative gardens weren’t a part of the castle grounds that Iduna knew very well. The medicinal gardens felt like her own land and technically they were ever since Agnarr gifted her with the plot upon her graduation from the academy. The council meeting room, the library, the rooms that had been used for classes – all of them felt comfortable to her. She had even spent the night on two occasions – once during the Rock Pox epidemic and once years before when a blizzard kept her and some of the other students from walking home.
Today, though, the castle felt unfamiliar.
Maybe it was the dozens of visiting dignitaries, most of them young women hoping to find a match with the young king. They were dressed in finery that was surely not borrowed from a slightly shorter friend and walked in the graceful, dainty steps of those not used to avoiding cobblestones cracked in the street or darting past an errant cart or the leavings of a horse. She recognized a few of them from the ball on Agnarr’s birthday. Some even wore the crocus pins he had given out that night as gifts from the kingdom.
Her hand went to the necklace hidden beneath the high collar of her dress, a fossil inlaid with gold on a delicate chain. It had been her present from Agnarr that night and, though she normally admired it from its spot hanging on her bedpost instead of wearing it and worrying it might be damaged during her work, today she had worn it to feel its cool weight on her skin. It was a reminder that Agnarr thought of her, of the time they had spent together while still young and unencumbered by the future, and of her hope that they could remain friends even as he drew closer to selecting a bride. A talisman she could draw strength from, a token of his care.
She saw Elias and Captain Calder speaking to a man in the naval uniform of the Southern Isles and Henrik smiling winsomely at a woman in a heavily brocaded gown. Iduna laughed to herself, wondering if she’d soon have to brew one of the remedies that Henrik was so dependent upon for his thriving relationships with women. This woman leaned close to Henrik and whispered something in his ear and Iduna watched as Henrik’s hand disappeared between her shawl and her skirt.
Agnarr, Lady Wollen, and a young woman dressed in a white gown with lace dripping from the sleeves and collar entered the garden from the gate closest to the castle. Agnarr raised a hand in greeting to Iduna and steered his companions over to her. When they were only a few steps away from each other he made introductions.
“Iduna! This is Lady Alexsandra, sister to the Duke of Weselton. I believe-”
“And granddaughter to the Tsarina,” the woman said, eyelashes fluttering at Agnarr. He looked a little confused and Lady Wollen fixed the young woman with the same glare she reserved for councilors who spoke out of turn.
“Um, yes.” Agnarr rallied. “I believe you both met briefly at the ball?”
“Enchanté,” she said to Iduna, looking anything but.
“Nice to see you again.” Iduna nodded to her and was about to ask about her travel when Lady Wollen spoke.
“We were just talking about you, Iduna. Agnarr mentioned that we should be sure to include your medicinal gardens on a tour for the visitors.” Lady Wollen turned to Alexsandra with a smile and added “Iduna is the best of Arendelle, an example of how well foreigners are welcomed and become citizens, how they have helped build our kingdom into the wealthy state that it is.”
Lady Alexsandra pursed her lips, like she’d just noticed her own hem was already soaked in two inches of mud though Iduna didn’t think the tilt of her upturned chin gave her the range to see down that low.
“Yes I’ve been quite shocked by how...permissive Arendelle is in citizenry. In Weselton, only fourth generation families have the right to apply.” She looked over at Elias and Captain Calder, pointing with her pointy chin. “And it’s certainly never granted to those who are more Antilles françaises than français.”
Iduna was so shocked that she could only watch as red crept up from the skin at Agnarr’s collar all the way out to the tips of his ears. “The Calders are a beloved family.”
Alexsandra smiled and put a hand to her chest. “Oh, I’m sure they are! Doubtless they have served the monarchy well to be so close to you. And a strong queen would no doubt steer you even more dependably.”
Iduna wasn’t sure where to look at that particular pronouncement, but hazarded a quick one at Lady Wollen who seemed to be very preoccupied with breathing through her nose and then at Agnarr who was slowly shaking his head and opening his mouth without any sound. Eventually, he stumbled over a goodbye.
“If you’ll excuse me, I must make the rounds to my guests. But Iduna, I will seek you out once that is sorted.” He kissed the back of Lady Alexsandra’s hand, but his eyes were on Iduna and he bowed his head to her and Lady Wollen before walking briskly towards the groups of ladies who were already watching his approach.
“I must leave as well,” Lady Wollen said and Iduna thought she heard a note of apology in her voice. “We weren’t expecting your presence at the close of our council meeting, Lady Alexsandra. There are some details I must discuss with Lord Hannesel before he leaves.”
Iduna watched as she left, wondering what she could possibly say to this woman who had apparently attended a council meeting uninvited and then besmirched the heritage of the Calder children. She watched as Gerda walked nearby with a tray of ice water, offering it to the gathered groups and as Lady Wollen put a hand on Henrik’s arm, drawing him away from his latest lady of interest, and spoke to him. Alexsandra seized upon the silence between them.
“I remember you from the ball. The king started the dancing with you. And then he spoke of you through most of our dance.”
Iduna flushed and nodded, unsure what was expected of her in this conversation that felt more like an accusation.
“His little orphan friend, so brave to start anew after losing her whole family. You know,” she said, as she put a hand on Iduna’s elbow and then took it away quickly, wiping her fingers on the handkerchief that was draped over the beaded reticule on the crook of her own elbow, “Most queens don’t even mind when the king chooses a mistress or continues a romance established prior to the marriage. Especially with a commoner like a shop girl or a servant. A king can seek satisfaction wherever he pleases, but it’s the queen’s chambers he’ll come to every night for an heir and the glory of the kingdom.”
Iduna blinked and took a step back. “Excuse me?”
“I know I wouldn’t be fussed about a mistress. It’s all very inconsequential when one is wearing a crown.” She reached in her reticule for a fan and snapped it open, waving it quickly in front of her face and sighing.
“But not all the women here are as likely to be as open-minded and understanding as me. Now, do be a dear and fetch me some water. This bright sun is bringing on a headache.”
Iduna took a breath as if slapped, too stunned to speak. She thought about telling Alexsandra she would never get her water, or getting a glass and then tossing the contents in her face, but decided appearing to comply with her rude directions gave her the perfect opportunity to just leave. And as her heart was pounding and something was rising in her throat and behind her eyes, leaving quickly was suddenly very important. She gave an exaggerated curtsey and managed to walk several paces away before she felt tears hot and heavy in her eyes and ran into the solid form of Henrik.
“Here, come with me,” he said gently.
She nodded, not trusting herself to speak, and he put an arm around her waist and guided her into the castle courtyard, walking briskly all the way across the bridge connecting the castle to Market Square and slowing his pace only when they were in a small side street that would eventually lead to Fiske’s. As they walked, Iduna untucked the necklace from her bodice, gripping it tightly.
She had been so stupid.
She was just like the necklace. That's all she could be to him. Hidden. Something beautiful once, but now on a chain, kept out of sight.
“Well, she certainly seemed vile,” said Henrik, his voice light and almost teasing, even though the quickness of his pace and the furrow of his brow indicated a different weight to the interaction he must have witnessed.
“She didn’t say anything untrue. Or nothing much untrue, anyway,” Iduna said softly, straightening a bit so that she wasn’t leaning on Henrik as heavily.
Henrik stopped and dropped his hand from around her waist and looked at her. “If she said that Agnarr doesn’t care for you, or that you don’t have a place here, that was untrue. That was a damn lie.”
Iduna had stopped when he did, but began walking instead of answering him. She didn’t know what to say.
“She was a ridiculous woman in a ridiculous dress, trying to wear white like Queen Victoria on her wedding day. Like she hoped it might give Agnarr a sudden idea and they could head to the bishop instead of the party.” He huffed a bit as he walked, running to catch up to her. “Slow down, Iddy. I’m out of breath.”
Iduna slowed her pace but still didn’t speak. Swallowing down the lump in her throat was taking precedence.
“But listen. Iddy.” Henrik was next to her again, keeping pace and speaking so earnestly it made the lump bigger and she wished he would stop. “If you ever want to leave Arendelle, if you ever want to start anew, you can. My mother is always looking for sound investments and your medical concoctions and skills are sorely needed in England and on the continent.”
Iduna wiped at her eyes and nose, turning her head away from Henrik. He fumbled in his pockets and pulled out a handkerchief, thrusting it into her hands.
“I leave soon for England and I can set you up with a job there. With my mother’s company or as my own personal remedy maker or we set you up with your own shop. Believe me. There is quite the market there."
Iduna used the handkerchief to wipe at her eyes and then nose and then balled it up and clutched it in her hand. "Caused by you?"
Henrik laughed. “There you are,” he said and Iduna didn’t think he was talking about Fiske’s, now just yards from where they stood. He patted her awkwardly on the arm. “But, please, don’t pay any mind to what people like her say. She’s jealous because for all her airs, she knows that you’re better than her.” Iduna rolled her eyes, but Henrik just shook his head. “No, I mean it. You’re the one who saved Arendelle during an outbreak. You’re the one who got invited to the council not because of family connections, but because of who you are. And you’re the one that Agnarr cares about. And someone like her - who looks at him and just sees a crown, it must drive her mad.”
They stood in silence for a few moments until she gave a small shrug and wiped her eyes. “He is a good friend.”
Henrik opened his mouth as though he was going to say something, then sighed and rubbed his face. “Just - Iddy, if you need to leave Arendelle, you’ll have opportunities elsewhere. You have my word. But please don’t consider leaving because of a woman like that.”
She held out her hand, offering the handkerchief back and he took it, squeezing her hand as he did.
“Thank you, “ she said.
“You’re welcome, Iddy. And remind those roommates of yours about my going-away party. I want to have everyone I care about there.”
Iduna nodded and took a shaky breath. “Sounds like I should start a new batch of your most frequently requested treatment in preparation.”
Henrik smiled and waggled his eyebrows. “That would be very wise.”
Iduna turned and walked the rest of the way by herself and before she was all the way up the stairs she had taken off the necklace, vowing to find a new place for that wouldn’t be visible from her bed. She would bury it out of sight and maybe the memory of today would hurt less.
Lady Wollen sighed as she undid the buckles on her shoes and rolled down her stockings, then put her feet up on the stool and settled against the down pillow. The large window of her bedroom looked out over Market Square and had a beautiful view of the castle, but tonight she kept her eyes closed.
She needed a break.
The young king was so earnest and so kind and had so many wonderful ideas for advancing the kingdom’s interests as well as those of its citizens. He was more patient than his father had been and more compassionate as well. He understood the gravity of his position and took it seriously, even at the tender age of eighteen. But sometimes he could be a complete idiot.
He hadn’t recognized Alexsandra’s uninvited arrival at the council meeting as the serious problem that it was. He hadn’t perceived the language of manipulation and patronizing tone in her interactions with Iduna. And he apparently didn’t understand the workings of his own heart which were literally painfully obvious to those around him.
Today, it had been painful for Iduna. If Henrik hadn’t gone to rescue her from what was surely a dreadful conversation with Alexsandra, worse things than bee stings and spilled lemonade would have marred the garden party. And perhaps had a permanent international impact if Agnarr had realized what was happening and ordered the Weselton delegation to leave or cut off trade relations to censure the rudeness of its delegates.
She reached for the flask in her pocket and set it down on the side table with a sigh. Empty.
If the king didn’t ask to court Iduna soon, she might have to retire early. Or kidnap them both and lock them in a tower together. Or the dungeon. Or the clock tower. Anywhere that they could remain until he confessed his feelings and Iduna stayed still long enough to hear that no one in Arendelle cared about the bloodline of the king’s bride.
For now, she could ring the servant for a glass of mulled wine and think on her parting words to Alexsandra, reveling in the delightful look of anger and frustration on the young woman’s face as she had told her “Iduna may have left his party early, but she’s the only one out of the two of you who will be invited back.”
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Camellia Street home of Lee.
Even if the name Liberace didn't immediately suggest the piano, youd have a faint idea that the two were someth hat connected after you glimpsed the North Hollywood home of this amazing virtuoso' For the piano theme is dominant throughout the house. Beginning with the living room is ith Liberace I fabulous ebony Bluthner concert grand piano keying the room, through to the bedroom, with a miniature white piano on the headboard of his studio bed there are literally hundreds of pianos. So many, in fact, that the artist savs that now he'll hae to get a larger home soon. Ardent Ians His ardent fans, of course, are responsible for most of the miniature pianos. And though he has a genuine fondness for each one of those sent to him, it is a physical Impossiblity to display all of them at any one time. Liberace has specially designed mirrored wall cases on either side of his fireplace on which many of his famous miniature pianos are displayed, but he says that many more have to be packed away. Libei ace himself was the decor-atoe of his Valley home, which he shares with his mother, Mrs Frances Liberace. His younger brother, Rudy, did live with them, too, but now he is in Korea with the Army. Suzette, a winsome miniature French poodle (another gift from a fan) has her own place In the household and was the Inspiration for the decor of another room In the house but more of that later. Green, gold, Chinese red with accents of gray and black are used throughout the entire house. Plain green walls, sculptured gray wall-to-wall carpeting, green and gray print traverse draperies are the background colors of the living room. Custom-Done A custom-done gold sofa fits snugly into bay window of the living room, with a large brass planter behind it. The coffee table in front of the sofa is you guessed it in the shape of a grand piano Liberace designed it himself and It was made for him by Mario Ingeniously done, the coffee tAble is also a planter with a glass top above it. Liberace also designed the lamps. They are a striking combination in black and off white. One of the pair has a grand piano in the design; the other, several notes of music. Another custom piece in the living room is the large modern cabinet in black and gold, which houses a television screen, radio, recordplayer and recorder A pair of Chinese red chairs and a black and gold chair are used here, too Place of honor in the living room goes to the Bluthner grand piano The only one of its kind in the world, Liberace had it rqade in Leipsiz just before World War II At that time there was one other likp it, but that and the factory itself were destroyed by bombs, so Liberace's is the only one left. It is a foot longer than any concert grand piano in this country and is certainly the most handsome piano I have ever seen At least three hours a day the renowned pianist practices on It, but he does not take the piano about any more for his concert or TV appearances. Scenic Wallpsper It is in the dining room that a visitor really begins to realize the scope of Liberaces compound talents The scenic wallpaper above the green dado here, was designed by Liberace himself and was inspired by one of his own compositions "The White Cockatoo. Colors in the dining area are green, white, crimson with touches of gold for accent. Period furniture in gleaming mahogany. The chairs have crimson upholstered seats and lyre backs. Handsome silver accessories are used effectively on the dining table and server. Off the dining room is an enclosed patio with barbecue and outdoor eating facilities. Comfortable green leather ehaiis, built-m cabinets, a second fireplace add to the charm of the den, off which opens a second enclosed patio. Again evidence of Liberace's own talent for decorating are evident. In the den Is an unique lamp made of three square fish bowls put together. What's more there are real live fish swimming around in it Outside, in the patio, is a tiny fish pond with a fountain, which the artist fashioned. Cocoa, White Cocoa and white is the color scheme for the master bedroom Liberace s. Off-white furniture, brown and white fabric in a modern piint are used throughout. And as elsewhere in the house, several miniature pianos are on display His mothers room is done In period furniture, with frilly feminine details andt keepsakes of hei family. The powder room decor was inspired by Suzette, the French poodle. Poodle paper Is clever hert and Liberac himself, added smal oal mirrors at intervals over th( wallpapered surfare Its a blue and white kitchen lr the house, with all evidences tha the family has a real flair foi cooking and enjoys It Coppei touches and a bright peasant wail paper in red and blue in the break fast alcove make it a bright happy spot. The world knows Liberace as a tremendous favorite m hotels, supper clubs, theatres, radio and television (he now brings his talent eoast-to-coast to TV audiences wilh "The Llberaee Show NBC-TV Tuesday and Thursday, 7 30 pm. FDT not seen in Los Angeles.) MINIATURE Liberace is shown with part of his extensive collection of miniature pianos, most of which his fans hove given him. RELAXATION Liberace relaxes a moment from his strenuous schedule on the sofa in the living room of his Valley home The custom-made coffee table is a minioture grand piano. RARE PIANO Famous pianist, Liberace, is shown playing his famous Bluthner concert grand piano, the only one of its kind in the world. WHITE COCKATOO - Scenic wallpaper was designed by Liberoce for the dining room, representing his musical composition, "The White Cockotoo." Dollar Day Contest Prize Trip Next Friday will be Dollar Day in North .Hollywood Heralded by red and white banners annouming the one-day sale, shoppers will see the culmination of weeks of pieparalion, market searching merchants for values ftr customers and marking down of practically every tjpe of merchandise. With the theme Silver Anniversary Dollar Saving Values. a contest will be sponsored by Ret-tail Merchants Committee of North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, whose members are in charge of Dollar Dav activities Complete this sentence in 23 words or less, "I Prefer to Shop in North Hollywood Beause... Iji ega Trip Prize Writer of the best essav in the opinion of the judges will be flown via Western Airlines on a luxurious plane as gui st of the Retail Merchants Committee to Las Vegas, to spend three days at the fabulpus Flamingo Hotel. Contest entrv blank may be found in this newspaper, together with rjiles for persons to follow Round Clock I ntertmnment The Flamingo, with Its recentlv completed mill on-dollar wing plays host to the stars in around-the-clock entertainment in the Flamingo Room where the Andrew Sisters are thrilling audienies nightly Breakfast on the terraie overlooking the brilliant Flamingo gardens lounging at poolside, or I swimming in the sun-splashed I Olympic pool are all m store for jl the contest winner. ' I With Las Vegas only 80 minutes I from North Hollywood by West- I ern Airlines, the Flamingo Hotel I offers excellent cuisine In Its Fia- I mlngo Room and the Terrace Room. For a midnight supper more than 70 delicacies are of-1 fered in the Mural Room buffet j Tell Names Of GOP ! August 23, 1952
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Deckerstar request from @mzwraum. Thank you for this, darling!
Lucifer coming back from Hell and finding Chloe sleeping in his bed, wearing a shirt of his, in the Penthouse (ignoring the whole Michael thing)?
What an awful trip, he thought to himself, rubbing his temple with the base of his palm. It was never a particularly pleasant journey back to the surface, but this one was like flying economy with a stubborn child kicking at the back of his chair and wailing at the top of his lungs.
There were plenty of things he was looking forward to on his return; namely the genuinely shocked look on Amenadiel’s face, and he was very heavily considering making a dramatic Jack Nicholson-esque entrance. “Here’s Luci!” Interestingly enough his brother had chosen to stay on Earth, even after he’d absolved him of his nearly impossible mission to put him back where he presumably belonged.
Ah, yes. The baby. Couldn’t leave that thing behind, especially since the good doctor wouldn’t let Amenadiel take him to Heaven. No, the almight virtuous Amenadiel wouldn’t leave his child fatherless, even if it meant pissing off dad.
First things first. HIs attention was needed elsewhere before he made his grand reveal. In his absence he’d neglected more than his fair share of responsiblities. And this was a particularly important one.
And there she was. In all her glory and beauty, the shadows and trickles of light dancing to cascade her in a gorgeous silhouette. Was she ever a sight for sore eyes... A little worse for the wear, perhaps, but still as lustrous as when he left. He looked around Lux with a proud smile, winsomely stroking the hood of his piano as he walked past it. I’ll tinker with you later, old friend.
As he ascended up into his penthouse, he found it refreshingly familiar. Some of Maze’s toys lay about. She’d moved back in, he guessed, though, judging by the fact that he wasn’t in an immediate choke hold or lying face down on the ground with her demon knife to his throat, she wasn’t here now.
Hello….what’s this? Someone was keeping his bed warm in his absence? A slender, blonde someone who he’d very much like to meet because Hell does a number on the libido and why shouldn’t he indulge while he was here?
He sat on the bed, smiling devilishly – if he might say so – as he laid a hand across her back. “Someone looks comfy.”
The woman stirred and her body turned, giving him a gratuitous view of the valley between her breasts as she fought to untangle the sheets from her legs. For a brief moment her hair shielded her, and when she moved it out of her face he realized…the Detective was snuggled up in his California king?
Chloe’s eyes were half opened, and the world was blurring into view. She should’ve been more alert, given her occupation, but the tequila shots Maze made her drink last night had other ideas. She moaned a little, helpless to the headache that was starting to burgeon, and finally saw clearly the figure who loomed over her.
“Is this a dream?” she mumbled, eyes widening.
“Afraid not.” His brows furrowed as she sat up and he tugged at the familiar white cotton she was wearing. “But this is my shirt…” She looked down at herself, blushing as she pulled the covers up over her chest. “Care to explain yourself?”
“Why you came to my penthouse, put on my shirt, and got into my bed. Which is more than I can say of any of my efforts.”
Gathering the many swirling thoughts, she finally asked, “What are you doing here?”
"Well this is my home.”
“I mean why did you come back?”
He frowned at that. “I never said I wasn’t coming back.”
“The way you left was a pretty big indication!” She got up, taking the covers with her. He frowned, opening his mouth to scold her for dragging the expensive duvet, but she whipped around. “Why did you leave?”
He smiled playfully. “A question for a question. Why are you in my penthouse?”
“Because you weren’t!” She bunched the covers to her chest, straightening her shoulders with a frustrated huff. “I mean, someone had to keep Lux running.” He pointed at her and she half nodded. “Maze. I’ve been helping her handle things here after work.”
“Then who’s handling things with your offspring?”
“Dan is handling Trixie.”
“I see.” He nodded, keeping pace. “So that’s your story? You were just looking after my club. And you so happened to wander up here and fancied yourself a walk through my closet?”
She glared. “A question for a question. Why did you leave?”
His expression dimmed and he pressed his lips together. “I thought it was for the best.”
“You’re an idiot.” She turned away from him and headed toward the couch to retrieve her own clothes.
He followed after her. “It’s my turn now, yes? Why are you now trying to storm out of here angrily?”
“Because I am angry, Lucifer.”
“At me?” He looked like a child, and she was succeeding in making him feel like one.
“You left me to go back to Hell. With no explanation whatsoever. Right after I told you I loved you. What, was I supposed to be happy about that?”
“Yes! I did you a favor, detective!”
She scoffed a laugh. “Right. A favor.”
“I was trying to ensure the safety of my nephew. And you,” he added quietly. “If those demons found their way back here, not only would they try to kill you, and Charlie, but it would literally be Hell on earth.”
“I get that, Lucifer. I do. But why did it have to be you?”
“I would think that one’s quite obvious.”
“You've been going on and on all this time about how your father sent you down there to punish you. And how he’s been doing things while you’re here that are making you question where you actually belong.”
“I’m the devil, love. I know quite well where I belong.”
“I don’t think you do.” She stood her ground, even when he flinched at her words. “If he’s put us in each other’s path, if he truly has some bigger plan for you here, then why can’t he send someone else down there?”
There was a bitter resentment growing in his eyes now. “I suppose that’s the million dollar question, detective.”
She crossed her arms, impatient. “So then what changed? You came back, what’s to stop them from coming right now?”
He pursed his lips, his eyes too wide and shining. “Nothing.” He skimmed past her towards the bar, calling over his shoulder. “Which is why this is more of a short sabbatical. To tie up loose ends.”
Her arms dropped and so did the blanket. “Loose ends?”
He nodded as he down the whiskey he’d poured. “Lux, for one. Once I sell it, you won’t have to burden yourself with looking after it.”
She blinked, repeatedly. “You’re going to sell Lux? You love this place.”
“Yes, well, it’s not likely I’ll be coming back so there’s no point in keeping it.”
Chloe was beside herself, blinking faster than the could think. “I don’t get it.” Her shoulders slumped. “You’re just giving up? Just like that?”
He felt a twinge of what humans called guilt, astonished to find he could even fathom such a feeling. If he told her the truth, what harm would it do? And yet, involving her could do more harm than good. There was no middle ground, which of course was his father’s strong suit. Go big or go home, right dad? But then you’d like me to go home, wouldn’t you...
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The Grand Wizard Uzaroo stood by the Deep Pit Where the Magic Comes From, raving over his misfortune.
"Betrayed, Fsrfrdg!" said Uzaroo to his homunculus companion, a little reddish-brown monkey-looking creature that perched on Uzaroo's shoulder.
"I know, my Lord," said Fsrfrdg, soothingly, and patted the back of Uzaroo’s neck.
"And after all my planning , my machinations!” added the Grand Wizard, punctuating his statement by stamping his foot.
"It's awful, my Lord," agreed the homunculus.
"Well, if they won’t aid me in my plans, then to hell with it!" he said and began the incantation, which was accompanied by much arm waving and staff shaking, as is the wizardly way.
O, dark demons of the dungeon dimensions,
hear my cry! Arise from your kingdoms,
principalities, and abominable abodes.
Arise! I command you, by Thurim and Burim,
Eris and Chaos, arise! Arise! Arise! Arise!
Immediately, out of the Deep Pit Where the Magic Comes From, great swirling forms arose, twisting and turning until they gained substantial shape. Only a few grew clearer, though, the others being too horrific for this dimension of ours to comprehend, staying instead on the periphery of the wizard’s vision.
When they had all formed, the head of them, a great blue-red demon of pointed teeth and hanging tongue, stepped forward:
"WHY HAST THOU SUMMONED US, WIZARD?" he demanded.
Uzaroo rubbed his hands together and raised his chin, defiantly: "I have been wronged, Foul Demon. Wronged and besmirched. Those I thought were friends have betrayed me; those I thought allies have turned traitor!"
"AND YOU WOULD HAVE US AID YOU IN YOUR PLOTS," the head demon concluded.
"WE SHALL DO AS YOU ASK, WIZARD," eying the two gems, purple and green, that glinted brightly on the wizard's staff.
"Follow me!" cried Uzaroo and, turning on his heel, he stalked away, demons following him in a great, demonic shambles.
From the mountain upon which the Deep Pit Where the Magic Comes From was located, they marched, through forest, past farm, and alongside fjord, until at last they had reached the Grand Wizard's magic castle. A great, grotesque thing it was, mind-bending in its shape and configuration, and only someone of a wizard's mental mettle might navigate it. Even demons might fail in the attempt, so they stuck close to their new master.
Into the castle they went, and the march continued, through the unholy hall and along strange corridors, until Uzaroo and the troupe of demons stopped before two great, wooden doors. The hall was tall, taller than the tallest demon in the group, and seemed to stretch, stretch, far away, into a murky blackness the eye could not discern.
Humming to himself, Uzaroo leant his staff against the door, fumbling in his pocket for his keys.
"YOU HAVE LED US A GREAT WAY, WIZARD" said the demon, a touch impatiently.
Uzaroo looked up at him: "I promise you, once we go through here, it will all begin!"
The wizard produced the key and unlocked the great double doors, that swung open of their own accord.
The demons stared, wide-eyed (an impressive sight, considering the many eyes that some demons had and an even more impressive sight for those that had none). Before them was a room filled with balloons, with little hats, with little party blowers. The tables were laden with food and drink and, above it all, hovering in sigils designed by a race of men whose civilisation had collapsed a hundred thousand years ago, were the words:
HAPPY 1000TH BIRTHDAY, UZAROO!
Uzaroo turned on them, then, wild-eyed and a little teary: "You see what betrayal I have suffered?!" he roared.
The demons stared at Uzaroo, flummoxed. For a brief moment, all were silent, with the only sounds in the room the undulations of certain, betentacled demons and the soft "schlup-schlup" sound of the ones that oozed.
Then, tentatively, the head demon stepped over to the table, put on one of the hats and began handing out the rest of them to the other demons. Another demon, a big, mass of undulating sludge, shlumped its way to the table and began nibbling at some of the food on the table. And then another and another, all beginning to mix and mingle (some literally, what with dimensional drift and all), until all were involved in the festivities. One demon even produced an animin and began to play, filling the room with the winsome wail of damned souls.
They celebrated late into the next day and, by the time the Sun began to rise above the magic castle, they were all sad to say goodbye, but promised that they would be there next year.
As the demon troupe shambled off, having promised the birthday boy that they would go straight back to the Deep Pit Where Magic Comes From without any detours for heinous deeds, Uzaroo leant against his staff and sighed, contentedly. It had been the best birthday he’d ever had.
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