Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Does Love Do This To Me

For a variety of reasons, I've never been a fan of Valentine's Day. Partly it's connected to my birthday, which was yesterday; as you might have gathered from the entry yesterday, I spent most of the day wishing I was dead. Valentine's doesn't tend to help this feeling at all. Still, on Sunday I went to Isengard, as you can see above, and that cheered me up even before I went into the deep dark hell of birthday!depression. Mostly because I went by horse. I like riding horses. I also got to see the tree that Bean!Boromir died most dramatically under, as Sean Bean is wont to do. WILL THAT MAN EVER LIVE THROUGH ANYTHING, I ASK YOU.

At any rate, I had a terrible morning and was only cheered up when I got home and discovered that the three Valentine's commissions I'd ordered at the start of the month were waiting for me over at deviantart. I had sworn at the time I'd write some drabbles to go with them, so I've spent the last couple of hours writing them. I have three couples, and because I'm all for the Equal Opportunity Pairing, we have the pairings today in three flavours -- one male/female, one male/male, and one female/female. Although the male in the m/f pairing is admittedly bisexual leaning towards gay, not to mention one of the girls in the f/f pairing is probably by default straight, but is totally IT'S OKAY IF IT'S YOU for her partner. D'aw. (Actually, one of the males in the m/m pairing probably qualifies as something dangerously close to a Depraved Bisexual, while the other is actually functionally asexual. I never claimed this was a simple fluffy Valentine's thing, did I...?)

Now, all these pictures were done by the awesomely talented Kayla, who goes by the handle ThePlanPony at deviantart. Go and tell her how awesome she is, would you? BECAUSE SHE TOTALLY IS. Besides, she's still taking on more couple commissions for Valentine's this month. I'm tempted to get another few myself, so...if you have any characters of mine you'd like to see in a fluffy picture and drabble, gimme your suggestions. In the meantime, here's the story so far:

Ever Afters

Aleksandr still felt guilt for a lot of things. Key amongst them were the way he’d left his sister, and then he was constantly troubled by the way he couldn’t be sure he’d ever be able to love the paladin the way he knew the other man loved him. But as he stood in the window of their latest inn, his thoughts drifted to another, to a woman he so very rarely allowed himself to remember.

The silver moon was probably the reason why, he thought with dim melancholy. Its pale orb reminded him of her pallid colouring, of the way she had always seemed a shimmering silhouette against the dull reality of the world she’d been forced to live within. Though he’d not known of her true form for so long, he’d realised from the beginning that she was something different. Something more. A dream, perhaps. And all dreams by their very nature were fleeting.

His hand rose, the tips of his fingers pressing to his lips. For all he tried not to think of her often, he could so easily conjure up the memory of her kiss. Those pale lips had tasted of saltwater; had it been the remnants of her lost ocean home, or simply her tears? Aleksandr had never quite decided. And he’d never been given the opportunity to find out again. In the end he’d never even been able to hold her, not properly, not the way people did in stories. Though they’d been of a height, even with the effects of his own illness upon his body he’d known she’d have been light in his arms. She would have floated there, silent and perfect and real.

Aleksandr closed his eyes, pressed his forehead against the cool glass. It was perhaps better to remember her as she had been at the beginning, not at the end. The first night they’d met she had descended the stairs in the darkness, and then stepped out into the rain. Freshwater had dripped all over him from where it beaded upon her hair like pearls, and her long fingers had been so light as they’d traced the blue veins just below the surface of his skin.

He is dying, she had whispered, but now she was dead and he was alive, and he opened his eyes. The sword of the water-god hung limply in his hand. As he looked down at its iridescent weight his lips twisted into a grim smile. What kind of a hero could he ever claim to be, when he had left the maiden fair to die?

If he closed his eyes again, he could imagine instead the difference of their lives, if it had ended like the stories he’d loved as a child. In those legends the prince always saved the princess – and so often at the last minute, just as things seemed their most hopeless. He wouldn’t have just saved her life, either. In the prince’s house Alyria had been little more than a wraith, a lost lingering shadow. But if Aleksandr had been a true hero, he’d have found her scales, he’d have given them back to her. Then those pale eyes would have danced with the knowing mischief of a siren, and her lips would have pursed with promise and pleasure. She’d have been happy, the sea-song upon her lips spilling forth from deep within a heart that beat with the rhythm of the waves.

“We’d have been happy,” he whispered, and imagined his arms around her shoulders, her pale hair spiralling about his fingers. “I’d have saved you, and we would have been happy.”

His hand tightened about the sword, unknowing; with a sigh, he opened his eyes. The silver blade glinted in the moonlight, cool and smooth. It reminded him of the ice that had broken all across the lake the night she had died. The night her water-god had taken her home, and all because he hadn’t been enough of a prince to save her.

Turning from the window he slid the blade back into its invisible sheath, both winking from view. His paladin would be waiting for him below, and for all night had fallen Aleksandr knew the time for dreaming this evening was over.

He cast one look back to the lake, found it shimmering and silver and silent. Then, he nodded, and walked towards the door. That sad little story had finished, and there was another one yet to be written. He could but hope he’d learned enough to find this story the happy ending it deserved.

In Media Res

It might have been a difficult prospect, to find him – the reticent seneschal had been unable to tell Ryennkar anything more than “the youngest son is somewhere on the back of the estate.” Said estate comprised several hundred acres of both forested and open land. Yet as he exited the back gardens via one of the heavy gates in the high stone walls, he caught a flash of red up on the ridge and smiled.

While not an unobservant person by nature, Arosek had become so involved in his work that once he’d climbed the hill, Ryennkar found it all too easy to sneak up on him. Childish games were not generally his favoured indulgence, but with scarcely a second thought he went to his knees behind his oldest friend and placed his hands over his eyes.

Arosek stiffened, charcoal stopping dead halfway through the arc of one rich curve. Then, his hand relaxed; Ryennkar could feel a smile pressing his cheeks upward. “Ryenn?”

He raised an eyebrow, though he’d effectively blinded the other man. “How did you know it was me?” Pressing closer, his next words were a scarce whisper dropped into one ear. “I could have been anyone.”

Arosek gave a half-snort, far more amused than it was exasperated. “You’re not just anyone.”

Only just suppressing the flash of pleasure this proclamation brought with it, Ryennkar leaned over Arosek’s shoulder and gave his work a curious look. “I thought you’d stopped painting.”

“I’m not painting. I’m drawing.”

With a chuckle, Ryennkar arched deeper into the natural curvature of his friend’s spine. It had been too long, since the last time he’d allowed this. “Drawing so often leads to painting,” he murmured, and he felt Arosek’s smile dim, just a little.

“Not always.” He paused, and when he spoke again Ryennkar could remember the sadness he’d last seen in those dark eyes, all those months ago. “Just…sometimes. Maybe.”

The silence that fell between them was broken only by birdsong, by the soft rustle of the wind through the leaves of the Aekar Forest below. But they were up on the ridge, the forest and the house and entire world held at a distance. Pressed against Arosek’s back, Ryennkar’s chest rose and fell in rhythm with the other man’s shallow breathing. He still did not remove his hands from his eyes. “You didn’t even know I was coming,” he said, soft, and Arosek nodded.

“No.” Something like a smile felt to be returning to his wide mouth. “I’m glad to see you.”

“But you can’t see a thing.”

“I see enough.” Gently he pulled back, angling his body around. Ryennkar let him go, but before he could drop his right arm Arosek leaned back upon it. One hand rose to rest upon his chest, just over Ryennkar’s heart.

“I see you now,” Arosek whispered, sketchbook and charcoal slipping from his lap to vanish into the long fronds of the scented grass.

“So do I,” he murmured, and leaned forward to capture his lips. Sometimes a kiss was only always that. But as Ryennkar steadied himself, palm gathering charcoal dust while his fingertips brushed the sun-warmed grass, he thought that kissing could become something more. He’d always been good at talking Arosek into taking up his brush even after he’d laid it aside with the admonition that this was the very last time.

Best-Laid Plans

“I don’t see why we have to stay in a place like this.” Nan surveyed their surroundings with a critical eye, her brightly-coloured lips pressed into a plump and inviting frown. “Can’t we just stay in a little alehouse or something?”

Alara had to smother an entirely unlady-like grin. The other woman might insist her liking for the smaller and more intimate lodgings to be just because she enjoyed the easy camaraderie she could strike up with the owners, but Alara knew it was more that Nan had never felt the slightest bit comfortable with the trappings of the so-called higher classes. While she was content enough to watch Alara dress up – and had proved rather adept at getting Alara both in and out of even the most complicated high society gowns – she’d never accompanied her to any of those types of events without a great deal of cajoling. Occasionally it had even degenerated into outright bribery, though Alara had to ruefully admit she’d enjoyed those moments just as much as Nan herself clearly did.

“I wanted something a bit more relaxing, tonight,” she said instead, quite mild. “So I felt that these…charming…surroundings were entirely in order.”

Nan screwed up her small nose as she peered around the opulent room, noting the rich sofas and the ottoman set before the great picture window that faced the west. “I thought you had a dinner party, you said?” she asked, and crossed her arms; Alara had to regret the obstacle this presented to an otherwise quite lovely view. “Look, if it’s all the same to you, I might just go take a room in that little inn we saw back near the city walls. You can swing by and pick me up in the morning, yeah?”

After allowing the woman to get as far as the door, she spoke just one word. “Nan.”


Ignoring Nan’s half-suspicious question, Alara crossed the room with an elegant stride, halting only when stood before the great red upholstered couch. Dropping her riding cloak, letting it pool upon the floor in a lazy fashion she rarely indulged in, she turned to take her seat. Beneath the cloak she still wore her preferred riding outfit. When she stood, the panels of the dress hung in demure lines from the wide belt, giving the illusion of a proper skirt. But when she reclined back in this way, crossing one long leg over the other, it split up both sides. Nan’s eyes widened, then focused upon the expanse of skin revealed between the mid-thigh height of her boots and her hip. Alara smiled, propped one hand behind her head; Nan’s eyes immediately leapt to her chest. Though her mouth opened, no sound came out. Alara chuckled, soft and knowing, and Nan gave her an accusing look.

“I…you said you had a very important dinner tonight.”

“Be a dear and lock the door, would you, Nan?” she asked, and licked her lips. “I do believe that dinner? Is already served.”


So, that's me for the day. I suppose I should go and get some sleep before work in the morning. Joy! And I have to admit with some shame that these days, whenever I think of Nan and Alara? All I get in my head is this. Oh, dear...

No comments:

Post a Comment