#i hope you like them because i truly appreciated to create his beautiful hair *-*
When life is pressing on you and stressing you out, pause, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you are not at the center of the universe.
When you’re overwhelmed by life’s daily struggles, it’s so easy to feel like you’re at the center. But you aren’t. None of us are.
Truth be told, we all have the occasional tendency to put ourselves at the center, and see everything in life from the viewpoint of how it affects us. This can have all kinds of unfavorable effects, from feeling sorry for ourselves when things don’t go exactly as planned, to doubting ourselves when we fail to be perfect.
Let me give you a recent example from my life…
This morning I was faced with a painful rejection – an opportunity I applied for was not decided in my favor. At first I felt awful – I felt a familiar feeling of inadequacy. But I caught myself and quickly shifted my focus.
Instead of ruminating over my disappointment, I thought about other people I might help – I thought about writing a new article on marcandangel.com. Finding little ways to help others snaps me out of my self-centered thinking, and then I’m not wallowing in self-pity anymore – I’m starting to think about what others need. I’m not second-guessing myself, because the question of whether I’m inadequate or not is no longer the central question. The central question now is about how I can give back. And writing on marcandangel.com is my go-to way of giving back.
The bottom line is that finding a way to give back – to practice a little kindness and generosity – made a big difference in my life this morning. And it can make a big difference in your life too.
Stories to Shift Your Focus, and Inspire Kindness & Generosity
Over the past decade, via our blog, Getting Back to Happy course, live events, and side projects, Angel and I have been blessed by the beautiful stories that people around the world have shared with us. Angel shared some of these stories with you in her most recent blog post. And right now (with full permission from the original sources), I want to follow Angel’s lead and share twelve more of these stories with you. The stories (or inspiring story snippets) I’ve selected here are super short but incredibly powerful accounts of generosity. I hope they inspire you to shift your focus and give back in your own unique way today…
“It’s been six months since I totaled my car. I’ve been in and out of the hospital a lot ever since with severe back pain. Although the pain has begun to subside, my recovery forced me to use all my sick time and vacation time for the year. But this morning my boss, who is usually ‘all business’ and pretty hard on everyone, called me into her office and told me she talked with HR and donated five days of her own unused vacation time to me so I would still get paid when I go out of town to visit my family for Christmas.”
“Times haven’t been easy lately, but people have been kind. We live in a lower-middle-class neighborhood. My wife was just diagnosed with breast cancer last week, so my 14-year-old son decided that he wanted to raise money to help pay for some of her medical expenses. His idea was to go door to door around the neighborhood with hair clippers and let people shave a part of his head for a small donation of their choosing. He asked me whether a $100 goal would be too much. I told him not to get his hopes up. He came back home ten minutes ago with a bald head and $1,225. Three people gave him $100 bills.”
“This afternoon my two daughters, 4 and 6, wanted ice cream from the ice cream parlor that’s next to the grocery store where we had just finished shopping. But ever since my husband and I were forced to foreclose on our house we’ve been budgeting our money down to the penny, and only using cash for our necessary purchases. I explained to my daughters that I had only brought enough money for the groceries. They were upset, but OK with it. Then, as we were packing our groceries in our car, the owner of the ice cream parlor walked up with two double scoop ice cream cones. He said, ‘I was out front a minute ago and overheard your conversation. Today the ice cream is on me.’”
“On my way home from work today I stopped on the side of the road to help an elderly man who was struggling to change a flat tire on his car. He turned out to be the firefighter who pulled my whole family out of our burning four-story apartment unit when I was a kid. Even though I hadn’t seen him in nearly 30 years, it only took me a few seconds to recognize him. We chatted about it for awhile, and then as soon and I had the spare tire secured on his car, we looked at each other, shook hands for a prolonged moment and said, ‘Thank you,’ simultaneously.”
“This evening my dad brought me into the city to one of his favorite restaurants. He ordered a substantial amount of food and only ate half of it. On the way home, he drove a route I was unfamiliar with. He pulled over near an alley and said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ Then he grabbed the leftovers, ran into the alley, and returned empty-handed. When I asked him what he did, he replied, ‘There’s a homeless veteran back there who I’ve been giving leftovers to for the last year or so.’”
“It’s been ten years since my best friend became ill and needed a kidney transplant. As I was a fitting donor, I chose to donate one of my healthy kidneys to her even after doctors said her chance of survival was only 25%, and that there would be inherent risks to my health as well. But here I am on a Saturday afternoon, getting ready to drive to her wedding venue where, in just a few short hours, I will be her maid of honor as she marries the love of her life – a man whom she happened to meet at the hospital ten years ago.”
“This morning in my checkout line at the grocery store where I work, a flustered elderly woman realized she was six dollars short on cash for her groceries, and she didn’t have any other form of payment with her. The three people in line immediately behind her each chipped in two dollars so she didn’t have to put anything back. Their spontaneous generosity made me smile.”
“Today, at the animal shelter where I volunteer, a little boy and his mom, who had adopted a kitten last week, came into our lobby carrying big bags full of food, toys, blankets, and other supplies we desperately need. The boy’s mom said, ‘Today is his birthday. Instead of birthday presents, he asked his dad and me to help donate to the shelter.’”
“One of my ex-students from nearly a decade ago, who claims that I was his favorite teacher and his inspiration, mailed me $1,000 to help pay my mortgage payment this month after he found out from a mutual acquaintance that the school board had laid me off, and that I was struggling to find work.”
“This afternoon my 67-year-old dad handed me a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towel as we got into his car. He turned to me and said, ‘I just spoke with your mom while she was on her lunch break. She mentioned her windshield got covered with bugs on the drive to work. Since we’re going to drive right by her work anyway, I figured we’d clean them off for her. It’s the little things, kiddo, that keeps love going.’ By chance, while my dad was cleaning the windshield, my mom came out with her kids for day-care recess. Her smile, and seeing how in love my parents are 40+ years into their marriage, is heartwarming to say the least.”
“On the way to work today, I watched a teenage boy help an elderly woman with a cane onto the city bus I was riding. He was so careful with her, assisting her every step of the way. The woman had the biggest smile on her face. They both sat directly across from me, and just as I was about to compliment her with having a wonderful grandson, the boy looked at her and said, ‘My name is Chris. What’s your name, ma’am?’”
“Tonight, at the local convenience store where I work, an elderly man with a guide dog came in, went to the aisle with the greetings cards, picked up a card, held it up really close to his face, and struggled to read it. Just as I was about to walk over to help him, a big truck driver asked him if he needed assistance reading, and then proceeded to read him almost every single greeting card out loud until the elderly man smiled and said, ‘That’s perfect! My wife will love that one!’”
Let Your Appreciation Fuel Your Kindness & Generosity
This morning, after receiving the rejection I mentioned, and after writing my heart out for an hour, I went for a long jog at the beach… sea foam kissing my feet with each step, white sand footprints behind me, and the morning sky bursting with bright colors overhead.
At the end of my jog I turned toward the ocean and took several deep breaths, mostly because the sky, and the Atlantic, had momentarily taken my breath away.
I stood there on the sand and applauded. Yes, I literally clapped my hands in recognition.
Because this is the only response life truly deserves: an appreciative applause.
Today, wherever you are, whatever circumstances you’re dealing with, take a moment to really appreciate this gift we call life, and applaud.
Then do your best to give back to life. Do something – anything – to show your gratitude for this imperfect miracle you’ve been given. Be kind to a stranger, create something others can use, be loving to your family… make a difference in your own unique way.
Let your appreciation fuel your kindness and generosity.
And let doing so change your life.
You Were Never Truly Gone ch.8
>>>Read on AO3<<<
Soooo, you guys saw the leaks? Bruh.....
This was it, her triumph, everything Kiyomi was hoping for. The pair was together in front of the altar, flanked on both sides by the mass of Faceless guard, each member hidden behind the traditional mask. Standing in the first row Kiyomi admired how gorgeous Mikasa looked in her white wedding dress, head covered by a hood. The Shogun was right there with her, dressed in black as a counterpoint to his bride, the smile on his face genuine and Kiyomi felt a pang of pride in her chest.
See? I told you that she’s beautiful.
Everything falling into place, as she listened to the Shogun recite his wedding vows, Kiyomi’s mind was already plotting on what to do next. She was the hero now, the one who brought them the new symbol, and she had to make sure that the other nobles remembered that, first she would….
The man was finished, and now it was Mikasa’s turn to speak. The priest looked at her expectantly, nudging her to begin her vows but the girl didn’t say a word. Instead, her gaze scanned the crowd until she found Kiyomi’s, forcing their eyes to clash. Confused, Kiyomi mouthed for her to go on with the wedding. But to her horror, the Ackerman girl didn’t comply.
An exceptionally cruel smile parted the blood-red lips.
And then the Shogun was stumbling back, a dagger thrust in his chest. One of the Faceless moved drawing his blade, and before anyone could do anything he rammed it into the groom’s back.
Screams from everywhere, sounds of running as people panicked while Kiyomi stood where she was, staring at the scene. The treacherous guard pulled down his mask, revealing that shitty beard and green eyes that Kiyomi despised. Eren Yeager, the bastard, reached out and took Mikasa’s hand, pulling her into an embrace. All around them, the rest of the Faceless guard followed his lead, drawing their swords and hacking into the gathered nobles, blood splattering all over the temple’s walls.
Kiyomi couldn’t move. She stood and stared as the two kissed in front of the altar, the place where she was supposed to have her greatest victory. Instead of that, she was looking at the greatest loss as people around her kept dying, cut down by the Shogun’s guard. To make everything worse the ground itself shook, and faint stomps could be heard.
Separating from Mikasa’s lips, Eren looked her straight in the eye, his triumphal grin disgusting to look at.
“You know how I told you that I can’t restart the rumbling?”
Cracks ran all over the roof, and his next words confirmed Kiyomi’s greatest fear.
A colossal titan’s foot came through the ceiling, and Kiyomi didn’t even get the chance to scream before she was crushed to a pulp.
Waking up with a gasp Kiyomi clutched at her chest, staring wide-eyed over the darkened room. Cabin, it was the cabin, she was still at the ship. A dream, nightmare, nothing else. Breathing deep to dispel the terror, she squeezed her eyes shut while massaging her temples.
It would seem that Eren’s sudden re-appearance did a number on her mental state, and Kiyomi couldn’t even say that she was surprised by that. He was nothing short of a monster, and she was right to hate him, right to despise that man from the bottom of her heart.
No, pull yourself together.
It doesn’t matter that he’s back, the plan is still going, Mikasa agreed to it. There will be no assassination and titan army, that was in the past and wouldn’t happen again. The horrors of the past were nothing but a memory, a terrible one but gone forever. Calming herself with measured breathing, Kiyomi laid back on the bed, looking at the moonlight dancing on the cabin’s ceiling.
It will be fine. Everything will be fine. Just a few more days…
The week-long voyage was supposed to be a beautiful dream. Kiyomi imagined it sometimes, how it would feel when she is carrying the fabled Mikasa Ackerman back towards Hizuru, saving her nation and the world in a single stroke. It was the moment of her greatest triumph, years of plotting and sacrifice finally bearing that sweet, sweet fruit. She wanted to spend the time wisely, get to know the Ackerman girl – the future wife of the leader – better, maybe plant some seeds into her that she could collect on later. Yes, it should have been great, a dream come true.
It was a purgatory instead.
Any time Kiyomi saw Eren she couldn’t help but feel the anger in her rising. He wasn’t even doing anything, just talking to the sailors and soldiers, joking with them even, the bastard truly had no brakes. They all liked him, she heard, Aaron was a popular guy and it made her teeth grit. Nobody knew that they were laughing around with a monster, a man that started an apocalypse.
No, to them this was just Aaron, a friend of the Ackerman girl.
It was even worse to find the two lovebirds together. Kiyomi was never big on romance, always putting career in front of her personal needs, and it didn’t feel good being slapped in the face with it. It was everything, all the little gestures – watching them eat together, passing by as they strolled along the ship corridors hand-in-hand, catching them stargazing while they laid on the roof. She had no issues with Mikasa having fun, laughing, giggling, and being in love, she hated that Eren got to experience it too. It wasn’t fair, not to the millions that he trampled.
Her mood got even worse when she saw them kissing, hidden in corners of the ship, once in a cargo hold too, it made Kiyomi miserable. Didn’t help that after three night of relatively peaceful sleep, bar the nightmare, she was once again awoken by: “Ah, Ah Eren, right there! Don’t stop!”.
That night she didn’t lay in bed and waited for it to end. Fed up with the two, Kiyomi left her cabin and leaned on the railing outside, popping a cigarette between her lips. Smoking in silence she stared over the waves, contemplating her situation.
Hizuru was getting closer and closer. In just about two to three days they would arrive, and she would present Mikasa to the people as their new symbol. Her marriage to the Shogun would be quite an event requiring a lot of planning and plotting on Kiyomi’s part – there were nobles to talk to, bribe, charm and threaten. After the Rumbling Hizuru more or less fell apart, shattered into pieces as many small-time barons took advantage of the chaos. She was serious about needing Mikasa, because through her – and the child of course – they would gain a unifying symbol.
Kiyomi sighed, tapping the ash into the ocean.
So much work, and so far from over. Picking the correct baron and convincing him to have his son marry this imported girl was difficult. He didn’t know Mikasa, and even with Kiyomi’s assurance that she is a beautiful and very dignified young woman it wasn’t easy. She managed, in the end, but now she had to think about what will happen once the future Shogun finds out about Eren. Or Aaron, doesn’t matter.
Mikasa was from the ideal “princess” – she was no delicate flower to be protected and that required a strong man in her life. She wasn’t a shy virgin with a blush on her rosy cheeks that could be presented to her future husband on a silver platter. None of that.
If Kiyomi would describe Mikasa with one word it would be powerful – both physically and mentally she was admirably strong. Quiet but not to be underestimated, not easy to manipulate either as Kiyomi found out recently. She played on the old woman’s desperation perfectly, forcing her to accept terms that would normally be impossible. Her having a lover was scandalous on its own, but that the person was no one else but the genocidal maniac everyone believed to be dead, now that was the cherry on top.
Nothing to do about that now. Kiyomi was played for a fool but that would end soon – Hizuru was her stomping ground, the Ackerman girl knew no one there and would be dependent on her. Maybe the marriage would be rocky but as long as it produced an heir then everyone could walk away happy. And if the sounds that woke her said anything, it was that Mikasa could do that activity necessary for having children very well.
“Sulking on your own?”
The voice. The voice she hated with her entire being. Gritting her teeth around the cigarette butt, Kiyomi turned to see Eren coming to join her at the railing. Everything about him pissed her off. The way his hair was messy, tousled by someone’s fingers. The dark bruises that bloomed all over his neck. The scratches she could see, disappearing beneath his shirt. The half-cocky grin he wore, knowing very well why she can’t sleep.
“Felt like having a smoke.”, she growled, letting the irritation show in her voice, “Want one?”
Maybe getting him to smoke would kill Eren sooner. To her dismay he shook his head, declining the generous offer. Eyes traveling towards the Ackerman’s door, Kiyomi saw that it remained closed, Mikasa not coming out to join them.
“Where’s your “friend”, Yeager?”
“Sleeping. Exhausted, for some reason.”
Sure, some reason.
“And you came out here why?”
“Needed a breath of fresh air. She is very… intense.”
Kiyomi’s lips curved into a frown.
“You are just rubbing it in at this point.”
“You wanted to know.”
Letting the breath out of her lungs create a large puff of smoke, Kiyomi turned back towards the ocean and continued staring into the distance. Maybe ignoring him will make Eren go back. An assumption which proved to be wrong, as he spoke to her soon after.
“You never asked how I came back.”
“Don’t know. Don’t care.”, more ash fell into the rolling waves, “Nothing but trouble for me.”
“That’s fair. I would say that I’m sorry for causing it to you, but… I’m not.”, she could hear the bliss in his voice, “Being alive is amazing.”
At least he wasn’t lying to her, Kiyomi could appreciate honesty.
“Figured as much.”
Eren’s resurrection didn’t interest Kiyomi in the slightest. She couldn’t care less how he managed to cheat death for the last time, it didn’t mean anything. The practical woman that she was, Kiyomi was only interested in how it impacted her own planning.
To be frank, it threw a giant wrench into it.
Yet there was something else she would like to ask, and there would probably not be a better time in the foreseeable future.
“Tell me, how can you be so calm when you know what Mikasa will do once we get to Hizuru?”
“What do you mean?”
“She is going to marry another man, have a child with him. That doesn’t bother you?”
“That’s the terms of the deal Mikasa made with you. This is her show now, I’m just tagging along on the ride.”
“Ha, that doesn’t sound like the Eren Yeager I know.”
“And that’s a bad thing?”, one of his eyebrows lifted, “My previous mindset got me killed, you can’t blame me for trying something new.”
“Still, going from full active to full passive is…”, she studied his face for a second, “Strange.”
“Maybe, but I need to stay hidden and Hizuru gives me that. A sanctuary.”
“Indeed, as much as it pains me, I have promised that to lady Mikasa.”
“You hate me, and you have every reason to.”, Eren’s voice remained passive as he spoke, not rising to answer Kiyomi’s obvious verbal attacks, “I’m not going to apologize for what I’ve done and I can’t take it back either.”
“Good, because your apology would mean nothing to me.”
This time he finally reacted, a chuckle leaving his mouth.
“I do wonder if we will ever get along.”
Kiyomi’s scowl was the only answer required.
“Don’t count on it.”
“As you say…”, pushing himself away from the railings, Eren did that half-mocking bow again, “Good night, lady Azumabito.”
When the door of Mikasa’s cabin closed behind him, Kiyomi threw the cigarette into the ocean, angrily staring after it. Damn him, damn him to hell.
The morning of their arrival’s day found Kiyomi lecturing Mikasa in her cabin, giving her a few last-minute tips. The girl was looking great, happy and elated even, making the old woman forget all about the pesky Yeager.
“We will be arriving in the port and from there we will have a parade through the city.”, Kiyomi began her instructions, “You requested it and I made sure that the public will be there to see you. May I ask why you wanted one in the first place?”
“I want to give the people something to look forward to, I feel like they deserve as much, especially after I made them wait this long.”
Thinking about the working class already – Mikasa had some good instincts in her.
“Very good. The parade will take you to the palace, where I will show you to your chambers and give you a chance to freshen up. Come evening, the ruling council will gather and we will meet them to discuss the wedding preparations. Also, you will meet your husband there. Sounds good?”
The Ackerman girl nodded, taking it all in.
“I believe that you will take good care of me. Of us.”
Of course, couldn’t forget that parasite. And the goat. Then again, Kiyomi had nothing against the goat, it was a rather well-behaved animal. Eren on the other hand….
“I’ll have “Aaron” put on a uniform and march with the soldiers. I doubt that anyone will notice him, and not like people will be looking at them – all eyes will be on you, lady Mikasa.”
“As long as we can reunite in the castle, I like your plan.”, a firm nod, very military-like, “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it.”
They could hear the shouting of the crowd from afar, the water carrying the sound rather efficiently. Standing on the deck, Mikasa looked at the fast-approaching shore, seeing the masses that gathered there in her honor, stomach doing little flips.
“Hey.”, a hand closed around her fingers, “Relax, we will be okay.”
Eren was right there next to her, dressed in a Hizurian uniform, offering a smile in these trying times. She managed to mirror his smirk, despite the twisting of her guts.
“I know. We are together, so there is nothing that I can’t handle.”
The ship’s horn indicated that the shore was even closer now, and Eren left with a last fleeting kiss. Kiyomi took his place almost immediately, ready to accompany her on this perilous journey. As Mikasa studied the port, she noticed that it was very modern, even more than she thought it would be.
“The buildings,”, she said out loud, “look very recent. Did Hizuru rebuild the port?”
“We had to, this area was completely devastated during the rumbling.”
“Most of the damage had been fixed, but there are still areas which are nothing but trampled ground.”, Kiyomi’s face was sour, “We don’t have the manpower to fix it completely, and lack of proper leadership does not help.”
“That’s why I’m here, no?”
That brought a smile to Kiyomi’s face.
With a last booming horn sound, the ship backed into the harbor and the gangplank was lowered. The soldiers fanned out first, Eren among them, joining the forces that were already hard at work, keeping the shouting crowd away. Horses were brought when Mikasa and Kiyomi touched the ground, but that was not all. A small group pushed its way towards the two of them, moving to the left and right in a protective formation. They were wearing masks, hiding their identity, but from the lack of alarm on Kiyomi’s part, Mikasa figured that they weren’t here to hurt them.
“Who are they?”, she whispered to the older woman.
“Oh, I should have told you. These are the Faceless.”, Kiyomi quickly supplied, “Personal guard of the Shogun and his family, elite soldiers that will die for you in a blink of an eye.”
“Do they ever take these masks off?”
“Only if it is requested by their charge, otherwise it is a great dishonor. Why?”
So a personal guard that was supposed to stay with her all the time and never take off a mask covering their face? Hmmm…
Mounting up in a swift and practiced movement, Mikasa waited until Kiyomi also managed to scramble up on her horse.
“You know, we could have used cars.”, she said, watching the older woman struggle.
“We could, but horses are more regal and also it reminds the people of where you came from.”
“I thought that my origin is a thing to be forgotten.”
“Not at all! Your past is what made you who you are, and it reminds us of the strength you possess. Managing to survive such a nightmare you were thrust into takes incredible skill and dedication.”
Unsure on how to reply to such praise, Mikasa directed her eyes towards the crowd instead. There were so many people here, cheering for her, and it made her heart race. Finally, Kiyomi managed to seat herself properly, clicking her tongue at the mount before addressing Mikasa.
The parade through the city was quite an experience. Mikasa had never waved so much in her life before, but here she was, doing her best to appear both dignified and cheerful as she returned the endless love of the people. It reminded her of the times when she and Eren watched Survey Corps return from their expeditions beyond the walls, albeit grander in scale.
The ruckus subsided when they left the port city behind, moving through the countryside towards the capital. There were next to no forests left, trampled beneath the titan’s feet, but the meadows and rice fields stretched to the left and right of the road, restored in the years following the rumbling. High and up, they rode for a few hours before the other city rose in front of them.
The capital was situated high, mostly in the mountains, and because of that a large part had escaped the destruction, Kiyomi said. There were people waiting for her, cheering as their group rode past, and Mikasa was once again forced to smile and wave like an idiot. Eren, hiding between the soldiers, had a time of his life watching her.
The palace was also much greater than anything that Mikasa saw in her life. It was more like a whole city, hidden behind additional walls, towering over the rest of the land. Untouched by the rumbling, it remained as grandiose as before, taking her breath away.
“I take it that you like your new house?”, Kiyomi purred from the right, “A step up from a cabin in the mountains, is it not?”
Mikasa wasn’t sure that she could agree with that statement but forced herself to nod either way.
Still in a bit of a haze from this all, Mikasa was led to luxurious chambers that felt out of this world, with Kiyomi saying that all this is hers now. It was crazy, considering that the most she ever owned was a tiny cabin. And the old woman was all smiles and nods until those dreaded words left Mikasa’s lips.
“I… I’ll send for him.”
Both to give them a little privacy and because being in Yeager’s presence annoyed her, Kiyomi left soon after, saying that she will be back to escort Mikasa to the meeting with the ruling council. Finally reunited with her lover, the pair shared a hug before she pulled back.
“How’s Yams?”, she asked, curious about their animal companion.
“See?”, he grinned, “I told you that you’d miss him.”
Mikasa playfully slapped Eren’s chest.
“Answer the question.”
“In the royal stables, loving it so far.”, he looked around, “Same as you it seems, this is quite the place.”
“Mhmm, not the same without you though.”
“I doubt that I can stay in your chambers without people gossiping.”
“That depends…”, she took a hold of Eren’s chin, making him look at her.
“Have you ever considered joining a royal guard?”
It was almost evening when Kiyomi came back, knocking before opening the door, flanked by two Faceless, to the Ackerman’s chambers. Mikasa was sitting at the table when Kiyomi came in, Eren was staring out of the window, and neither paid too much attention until she cleared her throat.
“We should get going to the meeting, lady Mikasa.”
“In a minute. First, we need to talk.”
A small crease formed between the old woman’s eyebrows.
“What about?”, she asked cautiously.
“I think that it would be better if you sit.”
“I think that I can decide that for myself.”
Coming closer, she leaned on the table. Eren also changed his position, standing behind Mikasa and putting his arms on her shoulders in some sort of protective gesture. Kiyomi didn’t like this – the closeness of the two, the air of mystery suddenly shrouding Mikasa’s words.
She didn’t like it one bit.
“If you have something to say,”, she forced her voice to remain level, “then speak.”
Exchanging a quick look with Eren, Mikasa put her hand over his before meeting Kiyomi’s gaze. And then she dropped a bomb that shook her to the core.
“The thing is, I do not plan to marry the Shogun.”
Her eyes, her grey eyes were burning into Kiyomi, and she felt her knees go weak. Her butt met the chair as she folded, doing so at the same time as Mikasa’s next words finding their way into her ears.
“I never did.”
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Carmine and Charcoal
NOTE: Modern day fan fiction of Shadow and Bone especially the Darkling. Main story will be posted in chronological order BUT I will still marked the additional chapter that will add no development to the plot. English is not my first language. Any feedback will be much appreciated. Enjoy!
Aleksander Morozova/The Darkling x OC !Modern Day AU
Summary: An encounter between the most feared general and a bastard junior Ambassador from foreign country said to be the solution of two nations’ strained relation. Knowing General Morozova, he would not agreed to anything that doesn’t benefit him. But what could she possibly offer?
The Wedding (Part 16 in chronological order)
For me, hoping was never the easy part. Erenya was furious that I shielded the fact about Alina to the extend I was half-expecting she would walk out of the door that night.
A miscalculation on my part, not telling her about my past.
I did not know how that spa trip made her change her mind, or if Genya was able to convince her—it's not like I ordered her to. In the future, I should encourage her to go on another spa trip when she was cross with me. To think, she even handed me two presents; one for my late birthday and one for the wedding.
The wedding gift Erenya had demanded was a full report on Ratimir Romanova. That was not hard to obtain since I was the one who signed all of them. Not much to tell about Romanova as he was a Grisha who had gone rogue and threatened the safety of Ravka by attempting to release a classified information. My most profound regret, sending a rescue team to fetch him when he was detained and finally executed by the Wandering Isle's junta. I did what I thought was right, and I paid the high price.
No mercy, was what Mother taught me since birth, thus it was normal for me to prioritise logic over humanity. Alina used to push my button with her sheer benevolence and kindness, something I would never agree on my own accord.
"What was in the classified information?" asked Erenya with her wide, curious eyes.
"Ah, I can't tell you that seeing you don't have a clearance."
She squinted, "I thought you are the one who issued clearance?"
"True, but I have to be professional. This is matter of Ravka's security, Erenya. I can't just disclose it as I please."
Erenya sighed, "Will you at least tell me what was that about?"
"Ravka and the junta had formed a strategic partnership. Romanova wanted to publish said alliance which might resulting in another world war since other countries won't be pleased."
All that revelation made her tensed. She folded her arms, glaring dubiously at me, "That doesn't make any sense at all. Why would he betray Ravka? For money?"
I smiled, "For good conscious."
"Wait, really? Were these countries plotting a genocide or some sort?"
"No, Erenya. In fact, Ravka was negotiating to prevent one."
"Yet, Romanova was against the idea," she took a deep breath then exhaled, "Due to the fact that the cooperation was not based on the right ground, meaning it was illegal."
"Exactly," it was enthralling how her mind worked. "You do understand, right? Sometimes the necessary measure wasn't always right."
"By whose standard?" she challenged me. "The law? The moral? Is it ethical to detain a foreigner and executed them? No. Is it against the country's law or international law? No. Is it justifiable? No."
"In legal theory, justice itself doesn't always align with law, Aleksander," she said in a patronising tone. "Neither does truth and fairness."
Erenya gathered the reports, arranging them into a stack. I was too in awe to reply, "In conclusion, my father did what he did drove by his own perception and concept of ethic. Your—Alina, fought for him because she shared the same sentiment. In other words, she got to you and my father before I do. Lucky her."
I stifled a smirk, knowing she would be displeased at my inappropriate remark, "I still can't provide a link between Ratimir Romanova and your mother. For all we know, he might not be the Romanova we are looking for, Erenya."
In reality, I knew why she was hellbent on finding her father after abandoning the idea of one for long. Her mother was absent from her only daughter's wedding. She wanted her kin to attend.
"Yes, Aleksander. I could see that now."
I too, shared the same predilection. Convincing Mother was nearly impossible, but perhaps, in the end, she did really love her son. "This better be your only wedding. I will not come to the next one."
An empty ultimatum as I would not marry another woman. Dealing with Alina's death was almost impossible. I blamed myself every day for three years. I had missed her, I still do. There was always a part of me that reserved for Alina.
The rest was for Ravka and my beautiful bride in white. The Lantsov boy was walking her down the aisle, kissing his temple before giving her hand to me.
"Nervous?" she winked, made my heart drop further in my chest.
When it was time to exchange vows, I mean every single word on mine, "That I will always protect you, fight for you and beside you, forever I will share your pain and your smile, together we will rule the kingdom we built and preserve, till death do us part."
There were no traces of doubt when she delivered her vow, her voice was audible and clear. She regarded with such adoration that made me hope for a bright, happily ever after we would not have. Easy life was never meant for us anyway.
"You may kiss to seal the deal."
We didn't need to be told twice.
She smelled exotic, intoxicating kind of good. I cupped her cheek to deepened our kiss, ignoring the howling sounds some of her friends made. When I was about to pull away, she fisted my coat for another one, crushing me with her wicked lips, ensnaring all my senses.
I meant it when I said I had married my soulmate.
We wed one month after she said yes, in a small, private ceremony with no media attendance inside the Grand Palace, courtesy of the King himself, who attended briefly. One look at Erenya, and he crushed her into a hug. Erenya patted his back awkwardly while I smirked, Lantsov boy laugh exploded in the background. Besides, what am I going to do, then? Telling the King he was not allowed to congratulate my wife? Plus, I was in a jolly mood.
I am happy, she made me happy. It's good to finally able to say it.
It was time for me to meet her friends: an angry-looking kid name Kaz who owned a pub in Kerch, a bubbly Suli Ravkan humanitarian lawyer named Inej, Kuwei from Shu Han who worked as a scientist, a merchant's son named Wylan, a Fjerda police officer named Matthias, and last but not least; Nina. "Jesper sends his regard, he said sorry for not making it," she said, crushing my wife in a bear hug. "I'm so happy for you! Who would guess you will get hitched at twenty-two? Saints know you were one hell of a philanderer."
Erenya giggled adorable, carefree as if she was at peace with her troubles. Even Zoya managed to crack a laugh.
Today was by far the happiest day of my life, seeing my wife in her element, joyful as ever. A hint of envy on my part, seeing Erenya surrounded by her friends while my guests were all government officials bar from Mother.
When the night was at its peak, Erenya and I retired to our chamber—my bedroom, previously. Under the dim light, she took off the jewellery from her neck and wrists, undoing the hairdo, wiping all the makeup from her face. "I'm not sleeping with a full beat. If you don't like my bare face, then too bad."
You are fine in my eyes, always.
Next thing I know I was kissing her neck, collarbone, drinking her skin to quench my insatiable desire for my wife. She shivered and pressed closer to me. "Aleksander."
"We should shower. Imagine all the germs," her nose scrunched in disgust. "There's a lot of people we hug earlier."
I groaned with her keeping a distance from me, "You were not this fussy the first time we... ah."
Erenya rolled her eyes, mouth formed into a smirk, "That's because I already had my night shower before you came."
"Oh, so you can already tell the effect you had in me then, you vixen."
"Not just you," she winked, bolted for the bathroom door.
I hated that she was right.
In accordance with her demand, I too took a shower in her old room, washing the remnant of dust, bacteria, and whatnot.
I went back after I was done, and there she was, sprawled on top of a bed, silk nightgown, long hair cascaded down her back. She went for my mouth first, clutching my head to hers. Her lips parted, tongue demanded response I happily obliged. I caressed the nape of her neck, delivering what I meant that could not be said.
We were down in bed, pressed in no distance. Her touch burned my whole body, yet I was still yearning for her. That was dangerous. As a soldier, I should not be easily swayed, as a Morozova I was thought not to want but to create, and as a husband—her husband, I want nothing more than to love my wife, something that was freely given.
"Erenya," her name was the only prayer that ever left my mouth as I familiarise every inch of my Tempel.
"Aleksander," my Sankta whispered, panting, crying, screaming, blessing me with her presence.
I looked up and saw her hair, as red as the dancing fire of a candle, and I was setting her altar, worshipping her, receiving her gifts in return.
"Aleksander, I'm hungry," said the Goddess with her eyelids shut after the moment broke.
I loved not knowing what would come out of her mouth.
"Did you not eat at your own wedding, wife?"
"Shouldn't it be your job to make sure I was well-fed, husband?"
She and her witty comebacks.
"I despise cooking," she had said it when the pizza delivery came that night at her apartment. "But I'm a nice host. You brought cake, I provided dinner and drinks."
Laugh came easily when she opened her mouth to made jokes.
"Thank you, Erenya, truly," I grabbed a slice of pizza. That night I too was bored of eating a proper meal. My conference in Leflin provided three courses three times a day. Then again, her company was the true delight.
"Do you cook?"
"I do, yes."
Often the meal brought to me was not up to my satisfaction, so in order not to starve I would have to prepare the meal myself.
"Hmm," Erenya cocked her head. "Who knows I might have to invite you again for a proper demonstration."
She never did, up until she handed her quarter keys to the Embassy. I have my way, her resignation letter would be there as well. But a promise was still a promise. Perhaps sooner I could tempt her in choosing another occupation.
First things first, a girl got to eat.
"Alright, I'll ring the guards. What do you want to—"
Her answer came out as a snore.
Of course, she was hungry but too tired to eat.
She slept with her mouth slightly opened, eyelids fully down, facing away from me. Tonight was not the first time we sleep in the same bed, nor would this be the last. I won't allow it.
I pulled the blanket to shield us from the chilling temperature before I scoot closer, putting my hands around her waist. As if sensing my presence, she pressed into my chest, bent down so her hair won't be in the way.
I stroke her strands gently, feeling the texture underneath my finger.
She was real, not a fragment of my desire, not a ghost from my past.
"I can't wait to see our empire grows before our eyes, us beside each other. I promise you I will hand you the small world that you deserved," I spoke in her ear, so low for I didn't intend for her to hear me, "You are destined for me as I am for you, moya tsaritsa, Sankta Erenya."
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Marvelous Friends - part 2
Summary: Your best friend introduces you to the man of your dreams
Characters: Reader, Benedict Cumberbatch x Sophie Hunter, RDJ x Susan Downey, Sebastian Stan, Chris Evans, Lisa Evans
The rest of the day was filled with meeting more beautiful people and lots of laughter, you realized that they had created a large family through working together for years and you almost missed being in that type of atmosphere. It was getting late and a few people had started to dwindle out, you were chatting with Robert & Chris when Benedict came up and gave you a defeated look.
Robert looked taken back by the glare you were being given “what’s wrong with you?”
“I’m trying to get my children to listen to me, but I think Y/N broke them, I have no control over them at all” Ben sighed which only prompted you to laugh.
“Oh Benny, you’ve never had control of them”
“Haha, very funny. I’m trying to get them to clean up so we can head home”
“Ok” you shrug trying to figure out what the issue is.
“But both Kit and Hal said they don’t need to because I didn’t play the song” he sighs trying to make you feel guilt or something, but he knew better. "So, I started singing the clean up song”
You couldn’t help but giggle at him “that’s lame, and that song sucks” you mumbled between laughter.
“That’s what Kit said” shaking his head at you “just tell me how to get them to clean up”
Scrunching up your face, you had just enough alcohol in your system to tease Ben much more than you normally would “what’s in it for me?” causing Chris and Robert to begin laughing at Ben’s defeated expression. “Ok, I’m sorry, hand me your phone” you held out your hand.
“Why do you need my phone?” he skeptically eyed you while pulling it out of his pocket.
“Because I don’t think you will be able to sing the song in its entirety and the boys need ample time to clean up” you are searching YouTube and find the song, handing him back his phone. “Start the song when you get in the room, when the song is over, they will be done” you state matter of factly.
“This better work” he mumbled as he walked away. Shaking your head at his attitude towards your methods of child rearing, you got back to your conversation with Chris, as Robert had disappeared. Chris was funny and smart and made you feel completely welcomed in this group of mostly strangers.
Within 10 minutes, Kit was crawling back in your lap with Hal following behind. Looking at Benedict, you raised an eyebrow “yes, ok, it worked. I’m not sure how, but it worked”
“Benny I have a dozen nieces and nephews, I know what I’m doing” you winked at him and turned back to Chris
“Alright, I gotta know, what song could possibly get these boys to behave so well” his Boston accent coming out more and it did things to you that you hadn’t expected.
“Well, I suppose I could tell you, but do you have anyone to use it on? I’ve worked hard to properly gain the trust of my favorite kids, so it has to be worth it for me to reveal my secrets” you respond with a smirk and a small kiss to Kit’s head.
He smiles at you and the way you and Kit are cuddled up together “I have a few nephews and a niece that could benefit from your wisdom, yea” he smirks.
“Ok, it’s Europe’s The Final Countdown. It is incredibly simple and it works like a charm. Once the song starts they know it's time to clean up or finish what they are doing, it’s about 5 minutes long and when it’s over they know they have to be done” you shrug as Kit and Hal start singing, rather loudly.
Chris and you start laughing at the boys knowing most of the words to a random song from an 80s hair band. “That’s brilliant, how did you come up with that?” he asks with a smirk that you could not get enough of.
“I told you, I have a dozen nieces and nephews”
“Seriously? I thought you were exaggerating” he started laughing harder.
“No, and I’ll be visiting all of them in a few weeks and wouldn’t be surprised if there were more on the way” you told him shaking your head.
Kit perked up “are you going to FL without me?” he asked with a sad face like you were abandoning him.
“Well, I am going to visit my mom, dad and brothers, but I promise I won’t go to Disney until you get to join me, does that work?” you asked hoping to avoid any unnecessary tears.
He huffed and mumbled an ok in return before running off with his brother. You and Chris chatted a bit more before Ben returned. “Sophie is changing Finn then we will be heading out, if you are ready” he smirked looking between you two.
“Of course, I didn’t realize how late it was” turning to Chris and extending your hand “it was nice meeting you, thanks for the chat”
“Oh come on, we’re passed hand shakes” Chris laughed as he pulled you into a hug. “And good luck with the book tour”
Chris watched as you made your way through the house with Kit talking rather animated on whatever it is that 5 year olds find so interesting. There was something about you that he hadn’t expected, you were smart, funny but down to earth and confident.
“So, did you get her number?” Seb asked as he walked up to Chris and handed him a fresh beer.
“What? No, she’s nice, but you know, it’s not like that, I’m not looking for anything right now, and she’s nice but that’s it” Chris shrugged.
“Who are you trying to convince, me or you?” he questioned laughing at how his friend was a bit too defensive.
“What? I can’t be friends with someone just because she’s beautiful?”
“I didn’t say that man, but friends exchange numbers too you know” Seb shrugged and patted Chris’ back as he walked away.
“Shit, you’re right. But I can’t run after her now and ask for it, that would seem needy….maybe I can ask Benedict?”
“Yea, that wouldn’t look needy at all!” he laughed at Chris’ pained expression before stepping away.
You were settled in the car next to Kit and Hal when Ben looked at you with a lopsided grin. “Why are you looking at me like that?” you asked not sure where his mind was at the moment.
“No reason, you just seemed to have a good time today, got along well with Chris'' he shrugged as if he wasn’t pushing some agenda.
"We chatted, he's a nice guy, not sure what else you are expecting" you looked at him skeptically.
"Well, did you give him your number?" Sophie asked, trying to push things along knowing Benedict didn't want to make you uncomfortable.
You laughed as you shook your head "no, because he didn't ask for it. It was a fun get together and the Downey's are delightful people, seeing Sebastian again after so long was unexpected and great. Your friends are very nice but they are your friends, but let's not put something there that doesn't exist"
By the time you made it back to their house you were sober and gathering your things to head home.
"Please don't be mad at Ben, he just wants to see you happy" Sophie whispered as she hugged you goodbye.
"I'm not mad at all, not even disappointed or anything. I went with no expectations and had a lot of fun, I would call that a successful"
You knew the week ahead would be busy and you could prioritize and get things done quickly, however a last minute lunch with the Cumberbatch crew was top priority come Monday morning.
Convincing Sophie to let you take Kit for the afternoon was much easier than expected, but the look in Hal’s eyes when he found out he didn’t get to go was almost heartbreaking, so you really had no other choice than to take them both with you. The day was so much fun and you kept in touch with their parents so they would stay calm.
The rest of the week was a blur of last minute meetings and packing and changes to your schedule. Once you left LA, you were bound and determined to have an amazing experience since it had been ages since you had one of your novels published and felt like an eternity since you were out on a book tour.
It was nearly dinner time when your second book signing for the day was finishing up, it was an amazing turn out and you were excited to be back in the city. You were just finishing off your coffee, trying your best to stay alert when the bookstore team tells you that this was the last person in line for the signing.
You put on your most sincere smile when a woman approached “hi, I’m Y/N, I’m so glad you could come by today”
“Oh dear, the pleasure is all mine, I’m Lisa” she told you as she extended her hand to shake yours.
“Well, I always love meeting a fan, but let me warn you, this book is not as fluffy as my last, that is if you’ve read them” you tell her as you are signing the inside cover and adding a personal message.
“I have, but I didn’t realize you had another book coming out until my son told me about the signing here today. He was nice enough to bring me” she mentioned as you finished signing her book.
Looking up as you were handing it back you saw a familiar face behind Lisa and couldn’t help but smile. Lisa immediately noticed you looking past her and turned to find Chris watching the two of you.
“There you are, I was just telling Y/N here that I wouldn’t have known about her new book if it wasn’t for you” Lisa beams at Chris.
"Well, I truly appreciate the support, today had a really good turn out" you tell them when the team comes over to let you know you are done for the day, allowing you to chat with the Evans' a bit longer.
"So, is this day 1 or 2?" Chris asked as you were packing up your belongings.
"This is day one, tomorrow is a bit different than my normal tour”
“Sorry to interrupt, but we need to get going for dinner, Y/N, why don’t you join us? Seems that you and my son have some catching up to do” Lisa smiled at the two of you.
“Thank you for the offer, but I couldn't intrude on you” you try to decline as politely as possible.
“Nonsense, I insist” she told you as she began to usher you all out of the store.
You were about to protest again, but Chris put his hand on your arm grabbing your attention before leaning in to whisper “it will be easier to just do as she says”
“What was that Chris?” you both looked to see Lisa waiting for a response.
“Ma, I was just letting her know that you won’t take no for an answer” he smirked at his mother then you before opening the door for you but his mom hopped in the car first and called for you to sit with her in the back.
“I guess I’m driving” he mumbled to himself before getting in and starting the engine. Once at the restaurant you were seated immediately, and Lisa began her interrogation.
“So, how do you and my son know each other?” she looked calm and poised but you’ve seen the same tactics with your own mother and knew what you needed to do.
“Well, we met last week through some mutual friends, so honestly we don’t really know that much about each other” you are trying to be as honest as possible while answering not sure what Lisa’s angle is here, but you have a pretty good idea.
“Really, you two seem so comfortable around each other, I assume you’ve known each other for a while now and he's just keeping you a secret” Lisa comments and you see her wink at Chris, who just shakes his head. “How long are you in town?”
“I’m here tomorrow, then on to the next stop on the book tour” you tell her as the waiter begins to pass around drinks.
“You mentioned tomorrow is different, what is on the agenda?” Chris asks as you all look at the menu.
“Well, I actually agreed to doing a few guest lectures at Boston College, and to be completely honest, I’m pretty sure I’m over my head” you tell them.
“Oh, that sounds exciting, what made you agree to that?” Lisa asks you with an enormous smile on her face.
You try to remember why you agreed, you loved going to school there, but you were not one for public speaking. The thought is now terrifying to you to provide information to the next round of collegiate masterminds.
“Um, well, it’s my alma mater. And I actually have stayed in contact with my favorite professor after I graduated, he’s been kind of a mentor to me throughout my career. He’s been asking for years for me to come and pop into his classes, and somehow I finally agreed.” you take a deep breath, hoping your anxiety doesn’t get you all worked up and preventing you from sleeping tonight, that would truly only make the session tomorrow more difficult.
The conversation between the three of you flowed easily throughout the rest of the dinner, the wine helps you relax and get to know both Lisa and Chris better.
As your meal was wrapping up you leaned over to Lisa, “thank you so much for inviting me tonight, you remind me so much of my mom, making me feel a bit guilty I haven’t talked to her today" you grimace.
"It sounds like you are close with your family, that's good, a strong support system makes life easier" she reminds you as you all begin to exit the restaurant.
"We are pretty close, I'm the one living furthest away, but I'll see them in 2 weeks, and enjoy a little downtime. Thanks again for the great company" you tell her and hug both her and Chris goodbye.
"Where are you staying? Let me at least drop you at your hotel" Chris states as you begin to pull away.
As tempting as the offer was, you knew you needed some time to work on your presentation for tomorrow and do your best to not become a giant stress ball. You shake your head, "I appreciate the offer but its literally a block from here. I can text you when I get there, so you know I'm safe" you offer.
You usually aren't this bold, but you liked Chris, even if it was just a new friend but since he wasn't making any move towards more than random run ins, you decided to be brave and go for it. But since you knew he was way out of your league the sneakier approach was your safer bet.
"Absolutely" he responded quicker than you expected, reaching for your phone to add himself to your contacts. "Holy crap! You weren't kidding about all the nieces and nephews" he chuckles while he comments on your phone screen pic of you goofing off with the kids at Christmas.
“Hey, I wouldn’t lie about my loves, they are awesome kids….thanks to me” you laugh as you take your phone back. “Thanks for dinner, and drive safe” you wave and head down the street.
Chris climbed back into the car, and headed towards his mother’s house. Lisa kept an eye on him but didn’t say a word.
“Alright, I can feel you staring at me, what is it?” Chris asked with mock agitation.
“Nothing, I’m just wondering if you are ignoring your feelings or you haven’t realized them yet” she responded with a smirk.
“Ma, it’s not like that” he shook his head “she’s a friend. We just met like a week ago, and honestly, I don’t want to be in a relationship right now.”
She hummed in response before turning to him again “just remember, sometimes we are given what we need, even if it’s not something we want”. Chris was turning into his mothers driveway and about to respond when his phone chimed.
Y/N: thanks again for dinner, your mom is awesome, have a great night 😉
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Nikolai Lantsov x reader : Starry night
Words count : 1 310
Pairing : Nikolai Lantsov x reader
In the many years that Y/N has lived at the Ravkan capital never did the night sky looked so beautiful. The moon and the stars were shining as bright as diamonds and their light was reflected so strongly that the young woman could perfectly see young Grisha playing by the lake from the balcony of the Grand Palace. Was it maybe because the darkness left the town along with its cruel owner? It is perhaps foolish to think so but since Alina has taken over the Second Army and the Darkling went into hiding, Y/N noticed that the sky became much brighter than it used to be.
Here she was, looking at the starry night alone, not that she complained. Loneliness is far better company than the people attending the ball, except perhaps some people. In spite of the late hour the ball was not planning to end at all. The (Your Grisha Order) was quite curious on how those nobles were able to party so much and still have the energy to gossip all day long without tiring at all. But then again what more could they do, fight the war? No, that is the work of commoners like her and thousands of others.
If she was quite honest the young woman didn’t know what she was doing here. All she wanted was to get rid of this uncomfortable dress and rip this chocking corset apart. Whoever created those surely must have hated women.
Y/N was tired. Tired of the petty gossips, the glances that were thrown at her, the whispers commenting all of her steps and words. But there was nothing she could do. And she did promise Nikolai to stay until the ball ended. Not for fun of course but because they both knew that he needed her there, she was what kept him sane during those nights. Because while those balls and the people attending them were horrendous, dancing and laughing with the woman he loved made them a little better.
And that is exactly why the Grisha didn’t run away back to her cosy room the moment she could. No matter how hard it was to stay there she did it with her loved one by her arm. Together they put on smiles, laughed at horrible jokes and brushed away any comment about their relationship, his parentage or her lack of wealth or title. But even with Nikolai by her side all of this became too exhausting. She wondered how he was able to keep up with all of this since a very young age.
And it was exactly because of that same exhaustion that Y/N found herself staring at the beauty of Os Alta from one of the many balconies of the tasteless palace. All she wished right now was to be in bed with her lover, a book in her hands while he would write down some new engineering ideas in his notebook. But alas that was not meant to be. At least not tonight.
The peaceful atmosphere was disrupted by two arms encircling her waist and before Y/N had the time to break the hands of whoever dared to approach her in such a way, a soothing voice whispered in her ear.
"You needn’t worry, love, it is only me, your beautiful lover and servant of your heart. » Being in the arms of the man that she loved brought the woman comfort and calmed her down. Every time Nikolai is with her, especially while having some physical contact with her, Y/N felt safe and warm.
"What are you doing here, Kolya? Shouldn’t you be debating with your brother on which horse is faster?"Asked the Grisha while turning around to quickly peck the prince on his lips. From hearing his nickname (one that he let be called only by her) falling from her lips and the chaste kiss that she granted him, the prince’s smile grew even bigger than it was. And without knowing so, the woman mimicked the action but directly frowned when she saw how tired he truly was through his eyes. He might be an excellent actor but the ones who truly knew him could always tell apart his act and his true self through those beautiful hazel orbs of his.
"Well I was in the middle of such debate with my foolish brother when I noticed that my beautiful darling has completely disappeared."I let out a small breath at his words, I knew he would notice my absence. Sensing my fatigue through my actions, Nikolai placed one hand on the side of my face so that our eyes would meet."What is it, love? Is something wrong? Do I need to threaten someone? "He asked with full seriousness while still trying to make Y/N laugh with that last sentence. And he succeeded, his last words did bring out a small yet tired chuckle out of her.
What Y/N loved with Nikolai is that she didn’t have to explain myself, he always knew what to say or do in order to make me feel better. And that is why without having to make her explain herself, the young prince decided that is what perhaps time for them to retire to his chambers. Well, officially she would go back to the Little Palace and he to his chambers but as they say, "the less you know the better".
And that is how half an hour later, the woman found herself in the arms of the man that she loved, both of them laying on a sofa in the living room of his apartments, drinking tea, talking about nothing and everything and sharing more kisses that a couple in the middle of courting should.
By the time the sun started to rise, we only got into bed, our legs tangled, my head on his chest and his hand caressing my hair while the other stayed on the small of my back. The silence was a peaceful one and both of us hoped that no one would disturb it, at least for a few more hours.
"Thank you." Sweetly whispered Nikolai after placing yet another kiss on my forehead. "Thank you for being there for me. I know that being at court is though especially for you with everyone staring at you as if you didn’t belong there. But trust me, you do. You belong by my side and I, by yours, lubimaya."If Y/N wasn’t so tired she would have responded with words as sweet as his but alas tiredness was too strong.
Minutes have passed and Y/N was peacefully asleep on the man’s chest. Her eyes would sometimes flutter and Nikolai would check for any signs of stress on her face to make sure that his lover wasn’t having a nightmare.
Never in his life the young prince would have thought that he would feel such strong feelings for someone. Whenever he looked at the Grisha woman he wondered if his parents loved each other that way. Not his official ones of course, but biological ones. Because right now gazing at the person he loved the most in life he knew that if needed he would take the same risks his mother did so many years ago when she had her affair and then gave birth to him. If being with her meant taking huge risks or even giving up his titles, he would do no matter how much he wanted to save Ravka. But luckily for him, he knew that she understood and even shared his dreams and therefore would never ask such thing from him.
"And that is why one day I will marry you, lyuobv moya." His voice was barely a whisper and after kissing her temple one more time, Nikolai succumbed into sleep.
"Lyubov moya" = "my love"
"Lybimaya" = "my love » (more like "my favourite » while still meaning "my love")
Hope you liked this little Nikolai Lantsov x reader one-shot!
Who is exited for Shadow and Bone to finally hit our screens this Friday?? Because I can surely say that I am! What do you think of the show so far? Like I know none of us haven’t watched it yet but what are your expectations, fears… about it?
Tell me what you thought of this one shot because feedback is always appreciated!
Ps : I am working on the requests that you sent, but there are a lot of them, so it might take a while especially since my classes are starting again this Monday and I also want to take some time this weekend to bing watch S&B.
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Could I please get an Lotr and The Hobbit Matchup, of you're still doing them? Thanks so much!
🌱 18 year old Woman // Bisexual // Autistic and Disabled with a bonus Anxiety Disorder
🌱 I have a litany of Chronic Illnesses including Autism, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Dyscalculia (Dyslexia for Math), Scoliosis, Sleep Apnea, Asthma, a Growth Hormone Deficiency, Insomnia, and a very bad Overbite. I also have a condition where my right leg is physically longer than my left, which causes pain in my hip and right leg, as well as trouble walking. My usual symptoms include Fatigue, Back Pain, Executive Dysfunction (struggle to get tasks done), Difficulty breathing and talking, Very short stature, and difficulties with my balance. I also stim by pacing around in circles and talking to myself.
🌱 I have a serious fear of heights, partially because of my balance issues. It's so bad that I can't even use stairs without holding onto the railing.
🌱 I know a lot of Home Remedies and Superstitions for like no reason. For instance, did you know that Raspberry Tea helps with Menstrual Pain, or that knocking on wood invokes the protection of the tree spirit and that’s why it’s said to give you luck? I don’t know why I know that, but I do.
🌱 Winning a fight is on my bucket list, but it has to be for a good reason. I’m not one to just pick fights for the sake of fighting, and I’m actually pretty conflict-averse due to trauma, so I need to actually have a solid reason for throwing hands. But I’ve always wanted to do it for some reason.
🌱 I really like studying Witchcraft for some reason. The first spell I ever performed was a Healing Spell to help my friend who was sick with Crohn's Disease. Thirty minutes after performing the ritual, I got a text saying he felt a lot better and he was released from the hospital a couple days later, so I guess it must’ve worked. 😁
🌱 My love language is definitely gift giving. I’m pretty cheap, but I’m also an artist, so when push comes to shove I’ll just make something for someone when I like them. I pay very close attention to what people like because it gives me more ideas on how to interact with them. I’m essentially a large, flightless Crow. You were nice, so you get something shiny. But though I like giving gifts to others, I’m not very materialistic at all. I prefer to be practical when it comes to things, and I get very nervous when spending money on myself.
🌱 I’m an avid writer and am actually planning on publishing a book this summer!
🌱 I LOVE going outside and getting messy. Playing in the mud, getting soaked in the rain, I’m the type to go outside and come back home covered in dirt and twigs. It’s just really fun to me.
🌱 I've been told that I'm a very good cook, and I can bake pretty well too.
🌱 I’ve always wanted to be a really good gardener. My dream house is just covered in flowers and plants and such. I want to live in a Greenhouse, basically.
🌱 I have a habit of giggling to myself just by remembering something funny that happened, even if it was a couple years ago. I also laugh when I do something stupid, because I find my flaws and shortcomings funny for the most part. I love to laugh with people, but never at them.
🌱 I know way too much about Spirits and Fae. My favorite book is called ‘The Encyclopedia of Spirits’ and it shows you how to contact and interact with a ton of different deities and spirits, and I’m addicted to reading it. It’s the best.
🌱 I’m basically like a tiny, less-impressive Aragorn. I love travelling on foot, getting messy outside, I was kind of a Horse Girl as a kid ngl, I’ve always wanted to be a knight or king of some sort, chances are that I haven’t bathed in awhile, and I too would pine for a hot elf girl for literal years on end.
🌱 My closest friends say I give off “Dwobbit” vibes. That’s a ½ Dwarf and ½ Hobbit btw. I’m around 4’ 10” tall, I don’t shave, I love crafting and art, I live in the Mountains, I’m tomboyish but I also love gardening and can be a bit of a homebody, I love going barefoot, etc.
🌱 I really love History, Folklore, Mythology and Fairy Tales. My favorite is the Irish myth of Oisín in Tir Na Nog. Look it up if you don’t know it, it’s a fantastic story. But I also appreciate myths from all sorts of different cultures, like the myth of Annapurna in India or the tale of Princess Kaguya in Japan.
🌱 I’m an Aquarius, INFP and 4w5 if that means anything. For reference, characters who are also 4w5 INFPs include Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice), Wirt (Otgw), Frankenstein’s Monster, Luna Lovegood (HP), Napstablook (Undertale), Erik The Phantom of the Opera, and Celeste from Animal Crossing. That kinda tells you a lot about me, doesn’t it?
🌱 I am naturally very shy and take awhile to open up to people. I also get flustered very easily and tend to avoid social interaction a lot. I’m a huge introvert, but I also really do love meeting interesting people, so I try to talk to them when I have the energy to.
🌱 I have very long Disheveled brown hair, that actually used to be blonde when I was little, so there’s a few lighter patches in there. It's essentially a fluffy mane at this point, but because of my poor hand-eye coordination I never learned how to braid it. I have really pale skin, with lots of moles, freckles and scabs. It’s also warmer out, so I almost certainly have a farmer’s tan. I have very light blue eyes and glasses.
🌱 I have a habit of seeing shadows move out of the corners of my eyes, frequently mistaking them for people or animals, but when I turn to look there’s nothing there. I’ve gotten my eyesight checked multiple times, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary, so it’s either a lack of sleep, or the Fae are getting antsy with me. Probably the former of course, but part of me would like to believe the latter too.
Sorry the description is so long, I can't wait to see my results! Thanks so much, wishing you the best!!
Hey darling! First, wow that was really long! Sorry for taking so long to make it, as I mentioned before, I'm a fucking procrastinator.
For LOTR, I'm pairing you up with Aragorn.
Aragorn had probably loved you for a really really long time.
But he's extremely patient and careful with you, so it took him a while to confess his love.
When he did, it was kind of overwhelming for you, and you were really doubting the whole thing. But again, he was really patient with you.
Aragorn doesn't cover you in gifts to show his love. He shows it by remembering all those little things that make you you.
The two of you can spend hours telling stories and tales to the other. It's your favorite thing to do together.
He loves that you write and always ask to read your work. Although, he never pushes you and respects you when you refuse.
He knows about every single one of your illnesses and makes sure that you always have what you need.
For the Hobbit, I picked Bilbo.
Bilbo loves you deeply and truly. He thinks all the things that are annoying to others are what make you the most unique being he has ever met.
He thinks listening to you tell tales is more fascinating than reading.
Most of all, he loves when you read to him the stories that you have created.
Sometimes, your illnesses are a bit complicated for him to understand, but he does his best and listens to your needs.
His favorite thing to do with you is cooking. Sometimes, you will even compete over who is the best cook. Although he admitted more than once that you were.
When you are out gardening, he sits outside with you and watches you. He thinks it's beautiful how hard you work to make his garden look so gorgeous.
He is often insecure about losing you. He is scared that he won't be able to provide you with what you need, or won't be able to show you how much he loves you.
As for you, you fear that one day he might grow tired of you.
But the communication in your relationship is great and your insecurities are even washed away by promises of eternal love.
Again, sorry for the wait! I hope you liked it!
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@beejiesbitch @turtlepated @clairjohnson @yankyo @monsterlovinghours @memedemonhours @saucymangos @edosunshine @go-commander-kim @beetlebitchywitch
Beej listened with a small grin of amusement and adoration as his lover continued, expressing that she didn't feel comfortable taking a cock that wasn't on him into herself. She did seem interested in him re-creating the minotaur's cock for her, though, and so he glanced back over, taking in the sight of him with as much attention to detail as he could from the distance between them.
As BJ offered his opinion on the matter, he chuckled in amusement and slowly his own cock shifted, increasing in girth and length until it looked much the same as the minotaur's. He mimicked a soft cock, and thus his own was soft as it took shape. Once he felt confident that he'd come up with a suitable copy, however, he allowed himself to feel with it, to look back down at her as she asked to be taken once more, not minding the concern that he'd been out for so long that night.
"No need ta worry babes, I got plenty 'a juice left ta stretch that pretty little pussy out," he purred in her ear, chuckling softly.
He smiled more genuinely and widely as BJ responded, though once more he seemed to struggle to find the proper word to describe his lover, and the reminder that she'd left with someone else concerned him slightly. He scanned the crowd, looking for- well, he didn't know what. He presumed that if he and BJ had so much in common that he'd likely be able to spot a fellow ghost's lover in the throng of revelers, though he wasn't positive about that assertion.
He glanced downward though, as he heard something he hadn't anticipated.
She was used to Beej’s extreme form of bodily control, but watching him shift at her voiced whim made Carmen blush. A cock the size of the minotaur’s looked heavy even while flaccid and the thought that he was going to fuck her with it--again, just because she wanted it--made her breath come faster in anticipation. She busied herself with another pull off the hookah, and wondered if he’d take her again right here, still in front of the other ghost as she shivered with his promise against her ear.
Before that could be addressed, however, a small voice and movement came close to their feet.
Jessie took Ollie's hand tightly, also concerned about the man who had tried to take him by force earlier. She was less concerned about the drunken trampling of those around them, though, as she scanned their surroundings. Ollie's mention of the different creatures they passed helped distract her from the deep longing she felt to see her ghost again, and when he would halt and kiss her, she returned those kisses with tender hugs as well, holding him close.
She wouldn't admit that it made her heart ache to know that soon they'd be such different sizes again. She wanted Ollie to always have such fulfilling interactions, though the lack of her normal closeness with Beetlejuice was beginning to make her chest ache internally. When finally they caught sight of BJ, Jessie paused for a moment. She had hoped he would have found others to engage with, and it appeared he had. The girl with them looked mind-teasingly familiar, and it took a moment for her to realize that she had seen her before... not met, but noticed in the store with Eve.
With that first burst of nervousness overcome, she took Ollie's hand more firmly and pulled him along, charging ahead and skipping through space where she could to approach more quickly.
"BJ!" she called, grinning broadly as she got close enough to feel confident judging the distance to his shoulder.
With a sudden tug at Ollie, she pulled the both of them through to his shoulder, then released the leprechaun's hand only to wrap both arms around BJ's neck, though there was no way for her to truly encompass it. Gods she just wanted to hold him properly again, she missed him... that ache and the soothing warmth that blossomed in her chest seeped into him as she peppered the cool skin before her with kisses.
"Oh baby--I've missed you. Did you have a good time?" she asked, rubbing her cheek against the side of his neck.
Jessie, towing a naked and flushed Ollie, came barreling over the trampled grass. In a moment between one blink and the next they were on his shoulder; automatically BJ put a hand up to hold her as she embraced the side of his neck and pressed kisses to him.
“Hey baby,” he murmured, “I missed you too. Have fun? Get to do some things--and I do mean things, like any fey--out of the ordinary?”
As to her question, he cocked his head towards Carmen and Beej. “Didn’t even get a second look till these two came along. Ghosts gotta stick together. Well, Carmen’s not a ghost, she just has impeccable taste like you do and knows we can do what breathers can’t.”
He stroked her back with his thumb. Her skin was just as warm this size as when she was larger. Ollie hadn’t been idle; although the leprechaun hadn’t been included in the palm sized embrace he’d attached himself to the outside of Bj’s hand, and was kissing it too. BJ scowled, but there wasn’t much heat to it.
“You get your kinky little kicks, little bastard? And I do mean little,” he said. He caught Ollie’s gaze flick over to Beej and Carmen as he mentioned them, and chuckled as the small fey’s eyes were glued to the newly enlarged cock hanging between the other ghost’s thighs. He teased, “Jealous?”
“You jealous, big bastard?” Ollie piped back, and BJ laughed out loud.
“Jessie, meet Beej and Carmen, although maybe you two’ve met before?”
Carmen was not expecting the other ghost’s lover to be four inches tall, but tonight had been full of surprises. Respectfully, she greeted the woman who was as naked and looking as painted with come between her legs as she herself was. She didn’t quite remember meeting her before.
“Hi. Nice to meet you. Did we meet before?” she asked, not sure if she should try to offer the other woman her hand.
The tight embrace with which Kadus held her was mesmerizing to Pink, who'd felt undesirable until Carmen had accepted her.
The same witches who before had regarded her approach with envy and disdain returned to their attentions to the centaur as he expressed his wish to hold and kiss her, to talk with her.
If her heart could beat it would have been pounding, though as it was she simply wrapped six arms--as she hadn't had the presence of mind to reabsorb those with which she had held onto him as he filled her--around his upper torso in return. It was flattering that even surrounded by other women, many of whom she viewed unquestionably as more beautiful than herself, he still wanted to hold and kiss and speak with her.
"If things change, I'd be glad to come see. Tell me all about it sugar," she answered simply, cheeks dusted with magenta once more. She pressed another kiss to his lips and smiled, pleased to feel appreciated and desired.
Centaurs had a reputation of being fine orators, and with an appreciative audience who shared herself so fully with him, Kadus held her closely and told her of his home: the temples, the centers for education, the wild places where it was possible to run for hours during the day and where at night it was dark enough to see the faintest stars. He talked of the art created and of the sea coast.
He told her of how it was increasingly difficult to find a way into the mortal world and how he’d almost not attended Beltane, but how pleased he was, as a younger centaur, that he had. That meeting her and being able to celebrate as it was fully intended meant so much.
Through it all, he punctuated his sentences with kisses, and his fingers learned the map of her skin.
Beej's hold on Carmen shifted and grew in pressure as Jessie's approach was met with such affection. The magenta hue of his hair had paled at her initial approach, though it grew brighter as he watched them interact, relieved that the concerns he'd had about her perhaps being a toxic partner were proven to be inaccurate.
"Yes! Ollie took good care of me, just like you told him to. There were pixies and brownies and imps everywhere. Couldn't do much other than just hold on and relax, it was nice . . . definitely missed you, though," she answered, voice filled with happiness as she answered his questions.
When he directed her attention to his evening's partners, she first looked horrified that no one else seemed to have any interest in him, then turned to smile and wave at Beej and Carmen.
"It's nice to meet you both! I'm Jessie, normally not so tiny. Bet you guys had a good time, BJ always knows how tear it up in the best ways . . ." She turned her attention to the crowd and glared, as though offended on the ghosts' behalves. "If I was the proper size I'd take you in front of every damn one of 'em. No interest in ghosts . . .pff. You could be an orgy all on your own baby, it's their loss."
Beej laughed softly, amused and pleased at the fiery introduction and follow-up. When the leprechaun and BJ had their teasing exchange, he looked down at his cock and back to them with a smirk and a wink.
Jessie's eyes were drawn to Beej's cock as well and she whistled, eyebrows raised.
"Ohh . . . 'd you take that, baby?" she asked BJ teasingly, knowing it wouldn't have been like him to bottom for a stranger.
In response to Carmen's uncertainty, she shook her head.
"I don't think we really met, but I saw you at the store, I think with--OH!! WITH EVE! Babe!!! There was a guy earlier who tried to take Ollie! Scumbag snatched him up like he was a collectible, the lychee fruit lady scared him off though . . . I swear, if I see that 'Andy' asshole again, I want to make his outsides his insides and--I am so sorry, please don't mind me," she assured the other two, breaking off her tangent though BJ could feel her anger seeping through their touch.
"Mmm? Ya stuck that size?" Beej asked curiously, to which Jessie took a moment in thought, shrugged, and glanced to Ollie as if to ask how much longer she would be so tiny.
Although still thinking about the newly minted cock Beej had conjured, Carmen giggled and flushed at Jessie’s proclamation that the ghost they’d propositioned could provide an orgy by himself; she’d experienced that with her own ghost. She wracked her brain to remember an encounter at a store. She remembered a glimpse of a striped suit, that she now realized was the same as the one hanging over that nearby tree branch, but to her embarrassment she couldn’t quite picture Jessie.
It didn’t surprise her that her cousin’s name was mentioned, however. Eve seemed to know everyone. Jessie’s more heated outburst about some person who had grabbed her companion and the threat of a violent retribution didn’t shock her.
“Eve doesn’t put up with stuff like that,” she concurred, “so I’m glad she helped.”
He chuckled at Jessie’s tease about getting fucked by the other ghost, and would’ve answered, but her quick righteous anger cut him off. The rage that flooded into him was the same as if she’d been her normal size, and BJ grit his teeth for a minute at the force of it. He wasn’t sure how Carmen felt about what Jessie insinuated--although her non-reaction to the words held a clue--and Beej seemed so pleasant . . . not to mention they were still a party he was only marginally viewed as a guest, so he reined in his immediate response of just going to pay that asshole a visit and feeling around in his guts for a bit, before watching him get chewed on by a Sandworm.
They’d save it for another time.
“I’m glad for Jessie’s sake you’re okay,” he told Ollie, and suffered through another kiss from the leprechaun, even as he could feel the wet from his groin smear onto the back of his hand. If he had his jacket on he’d put him back into a pocket . . . “You okay, baby? That prick didn’t try to grab you, did he?”
Ollie, feeling pleased BJ had acknowledged he was happy--the begrudging tone was a show, he knew--answered the question posed to Jessie.
“Magic gone after the night,” he shrugged. “Special night for people to celebrate, but has limitations. Not much longer now. Beltane will be over, and people go back to their places.”
If his melancholy was evident, he didn’t care. He’d more than enjoyed the night and having Jessie as his lover. He also didn’t tell any of them how much energy it took to bring her to his size, or how much he was going to have to sleep in the next couple of days.
“Not much longer,” Carmen mused. Quietly, she said to Beej, “Should we find a spot for one more round, or would you like to save fucking me with that thick cock in private, so I don’t out scream anyone else here?”
Holding tightly to Kadus as he spoke and listening with fascination and excitement, Pink reciprocated his kisses and his wandering touches. Her cheeks brightened as he expressed the importance to him of having the chance to attend, and she smiled happily, giving him a tighter hug.
"I'm glad, honey. This's been a hell of a night, and thanks to you bein' so sweet, I've got a beautiful memory of my very own. I do hope that perhaps we can meet again, should another invitation be extended to me and another path to this world be open to you,” she said sweetly, brushing her fingers through his hair and offering him a smile that was bittersweet.
"Tell me hun, what's a handsome guy like you study? What're you passionate about?" she asked, trying to let the moment last as long as it might and cherish his warmth, kindness and openness.
Her hands never warmed but felt nice on his bare torso and back. It was pleasant to find someone truly interested in him and not just his cock, which was a warning he’d heard from some of the elders in his herd.
“I’m trained in astronomy, history, archery, and the healing arts,” he responded to Pink, who had floated high enough to be more at his level. If they’d had a more private spot to converse and relax, he would have laid down to make it easier for her, but he was still surrounded by witches. At least they seemed resigned that the ghost kept his attention. “I’m young, so lessons in healing have only just begun, and I’ve not yet been initiated into any forms of magic. Although now I feel as I should study more on specters!”
He chuckled with that last line, and kissed her. His broad hands cupped her tits before one slipped back to her ass to keep her pressed against him. There had been no big flood of come out from between her legs, even when she was upright, so by her own will his seed was still in her, and the idea of that, fueled by the magic of this particular night, made him protective of her and the prospect of her carrying his offspring, even if that outcome was more unlikely than not.
“I am sorry your situation doesn’t allow for you to visit,” he murmured as he pressed a line of kisses under her ear.
tbc . . .
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I’ll trade you your continuity for my reality
So while there were some interesting scenes in Chat Blanc it’s never sat right with me. So I wrote my own version. Here it goes!
@arylace said I could
“Are you really gonna do this?” Tikki asked her Chosen.
Marinette gave her kwami what she hoped was a confident smile. “I am, Tikki, and you know what I won't take for an answer?”
“No,” came Nathalie’s roboticized voice through the camera.
“Okay,” Marinette fidgeted, “well, um uh, when will he be back?”
“I can't tell you,” the answering voice was polite but abrupt. “Goodbye, young lady.” With that, the camera withdrew.
Marinette checked her phone. “But Adrien's fencing class ended 27 minutes ago! He should be back by now!”
She was beginning to panic. This wasn’t the plan! The plan was she’d give her present to Adrien, watching his eyes light up as he unwrapped a thoughtful, handmade gift. Not stymied at the gate by his father’s assistant and dismissed.
“Maybe you can give him his present tomorrow at school?” Tikki suggested.
Marinette hardened her resolve. She’d gone far too long without telling Adrien how she truly felt about him. “No. You heard what Rose said. I can't back out again. She ran to the street so she could get a better view of the mansion. “Since he's not back yet, I can go through the window!”
The kwami knew what her Chosen was planning and decided to put a stop to it. “Oh, no no no! You know it's not a good idea to use your powers for personal reasons.”
Tikki tried very hard to be a good mentor to her Ladybug and usually she thought she did a good job. But alas, the girl was in love and thus in no mood to listen to wise advice.
“I'll be quick, Tikki” she reassured her kwami, “no one will ever know!”
The little Goddess sighed, convinced this plan was going to go horribly wrong. It would all end in frustration and tears. Again.
Adrien sat behind his bodyguard. They had nearly reached home when he saw Marinette run by, carrying something in her hands. He couldn’t help but smile. She was always so cute and energetic, no doubt taking something to a sick friend or a late birthday present.
“Tikki! Spots On!”
Marinette became Ladybug and easily swung herself into Adrien’s open window.
She gasped as she looked around. His room was just as huge and magnificent as she remembered from the last time she’d been here. There were so many of his things scattered around for her to look at.
She shook her head to clear it. None of that mattered! She had to leave the gift and get out before she was seen. She looked around his desk, found a pencil and signed her name before leaving the present on his bed. She ran to the window, deployed her yo-yo, and was gone.
Adrien arrived home, feeling a little less triumphant at the look of disapproval on Nathalie’s face. His father was of course, nowhere to be seen.
“You're very late, Adrien,” she told him.
Wow, no kidding! He dearly wanted to say but doubted she’d appreciate his inner Chat Noir. Instead, he held up the championship medal. “The awards ceremony took longer than expected. Then we gave Kagami a ride home.”
He looked around in the hope his father would suddenly appear. “Will you let my father know I won?” he asked.
Nathalie’s expression stayed neutral, as usual. “As soon as he's done with his work.”
I suppose a “well done” or “I’m sure he’s proud of you” is too much to ask for. Adrien silently trudged past her and up to his room.
Adrien opened the door to his room and went inside. It was just as cold and empty as he remembered, except for a wrapped blue package on his bed. It looked just like the gift Marinette had been carrying! Had it been for him the whole time?
He gently unwrapped it. A beret? It was a black beret with stripes in green, yellow and purple. It reminded him of his favorite shirt! Marinette had made him a beret to match his shirt. That girl was incredibly creative and clever.
He looked over the beret and his smile faded into confusion. There were two white hearts embroidered on the back, very discrete and easy to miss.
“Why would Marinette give me a beret with two hearts on it?” he asked out loud. He frowned. “And how did she even get in my room?”
If Plagg could sweat he would. Adrien was dangerously close to figuring out Marinette and Ladybug were the same person! All because the lovesick girl used her powers to sneak Adrien a gift. Really, he thought he was supposed to be the adorably chaotic rule breaker, not Sugar Cube. He’d expected better from her.
“Well, maybe she…” Plagg dithered but his Chosen wasn’t listening. He saw the light dawn in the boy’s eyes as he finally figured it out.
“Marinette...is in love with me.”
He thought of all the times she’d stuttered in front of him. How she struggled to speak to him.
“Oh, so you watched the show, then! Well, uh, look...about what you saw on the show last night — the totographs, in my room—
“You mean the photographs?”
“The grotographs, exactly! It-it's not what you think. See...I'm really into fashion, and, umm…
“Are you lying?”
“No! I'm so not into you—I mean, sure, I'm interested in you, but, um, not in that way; well, you know, ha-ha-ha-ha...ha ha!”
But she had been, all this time. Lying to protect herself from heartbreak if she were rejected. He had been so sure she was just star-struck because he was a celebrity but really she had been in love with him.
She’d kissed his cheek.
She’d listened to him rave about how great Kagami was, even helping him on a date.
His heart warmed as he thought of everything his good friend did for him, then drooped as he realized he’d have to turn down an awesome girl like Marinette for the second time, this time as Adrien Agreste.
Hopefully it will go better this time.
Marinette ran up to her friends, her heart beating nearly out of her chest. She’d done it! She’s managed to leave a gift for Adrien and sign it! It was a good start and she was proud of herself.
Her hair ties had fallen out as she’d ran but she didn’t care. She’d finally let Adrien know how she felt about him!
She ran closer to her friends. “Ta-da! I did it!”
Her friends gathered around her in a hug, laughing as they did so.
“I'm so proud of you.” Alya told her.
“You rock!” shouted Mylene.
Rose proudly reclaimed Princess Twinklepeach from Alix, who groaned in annoyance.
“So, how did you get to Adrien?” Alya wanted to know.
Marinette blushed. There was no way she could say “I transformed and misused my powers.” Tikki was already disappointed with her. “I was very...convincing?” she laughed nervously.
The girls were too busy at first congratulating their friend to notice the blond boy waiting his turn to speak.
Six pairs of eyes looked over at Adrien, who suddenly looked very nervous. He rubbed the back of his head. “I have something to tell you.” He looked from her to the Girl Squad and then back at Marinette. “Alone?”
He didn’t look pleased to know how she felt about him. Judging by his slumped posture and nervous expression, he had the air of someone who had to tell someone their pet hamster died but were unsure if they would be sad, angry or both.
Marinette’s gut twisted and she felt cold all over. She took a deep breath and hoped her smile was reassuring. “Of course.”
Alya noticed they’d walked away far enough so no one could eavesdrop on them but close by in case Marinette needed them. Smart girl.
She walked him over to a place where they wouldn’t be overheard. Deep down, she already knew what he was going to say. She’d thought about it nearly constantly when she imagined what he would say when and if she were ever able to confess.
She looked up at him. He was smiling his fake model smile but his eyes were sad. This wouldn’t be any easier on him than it would be on her. In a strange way, that made her feel better.
She took another deep breath and tried to steady herself. Time to get this over with.
Adrien forced himself to look her in the eyes. She deserved that much. Realizing he still had the beret in his hands, he handed it back to her.
She looked beautiful with her hair down. It framed her face and brought out her usually beautiful bluebell eyes. Her eyes reminded him of...no. He refused to think of his lady right now. Marinette deserved all of his attention.
“Marinette,” he began and almost faltered when he could see the look on her face. She looked resigned, as if she knew the whole time what he was going to say, didn’t want to hear it, and was forcing herself to hear it anyway. He was reminded of the disastrous family brunch he’d had at her house. He hoped he could do better this time; after all, Adrien couldn’t hide behind a mask at school.
“Marinette...you’re an amazing person. You’re wonderful; kind, caring, a great class president,” he tried not to falter. “You’re so creative too! Your gaming skills are awesome, you can bake and sew and create incredible designs. You’re going to be world famous someday and all of us can brag about how we knew you when you were just starting out.”
Her expression didn’t change; she just nodded to show him she was listening.
He couldn’t tell how she was reacting to his words. Part of him wanted to run away but he knew that was selfish and cowardly. He would tell her what he came to tell her and if she needed to cry, scream, or hit him to feel better, he’d take it. She’d earned the right to be angry. He’d broken her heart. Twice.
“I just…” he longed to look away from her somber blue eyes but this was his punishment. “I don’t feel about you that way. But someone else could!” For some reason, he’d always assumed she had feelings for Luka. “You’re-you’re so pretty and sweet and smart I know there are tons of other guys out there for you! Much better for you than me…” he stopped talking because he realized how arrogant he sounded. “I’m...I’m so sorry, Marinette. I never meant to hurt you.”
But he did. And he’d done it twice. At least this time he hadn’t done it at her house in front of her parents. He hadn’t accepted their hospitality under false pretenses. No, he’d broken her heart in front of all her closest friends. His friends as well. Girls who had welcomed him into his class and to any events he could manage to sneak out to. He wasn’t sure which scenario was worse.
She blinked and he could see she wasn’t crying but her eyes had an almost unnatural sheen to them. “There’s someone else.”
It was a statement, not a question and he had the feeling she’d seen through his attempt to let her down easy. He would be honest with her. “Yes. There is.”
Marinette looked up at him and then braced herself. “It’s…” she forced herself to speak, “...it’s Kagami, isn’t it?”
He hesitated. Yes, he and Kagami had been becoming closer lately, especially after Ladybug had continued to reject him. It was her right and although he still hoped they’d be together in the far future (they were still partners, that had to count for something) he couldn’t ignore that she didn’t feel the same.
Kagami...was glorious. He found himself drawn to her strength and confidence. She was brave and fierce and so very many of the things he wanted in a girl. She wasn’t Ladybug, and maybe it was time he stopped comparing every girl he met to the Hero of Paris. It wasn’t fair to them.
“Well…” he tried to explain, “Kagami and I...we just have so much in common. Father and her mother are friends, we fence together...study together…”
“Yeah, I get it,” Marinette’s smile is heartbreaking but he still won’t look away. “She has your father’s stamp of approval. She’s of a good family, you two have tons in common...she’s a good fit.” She blinked again. “Kagami’s my friend and...I’m happy for you. Both of you.”
Adrien felt a little bit of the tension in his shoulder ease. He had Marinette’s “blessing”...sorta. Maybe he should finally let Ladybug go and concentrate on a girl who wanted to be with and he could want to be with too.
“Adrien,” she managed a tiny hint of a smile and for a moment he could barely breathe. She really was lovely when she wasn’t tripping or stuttering. None of this was her fault. “Thank you.”
He felt very confused. “For what?” You shouldn’t be thanking me.
She chuckled and almost sounded like her old self, before heartbreak. “For talking to me and telling me how you feel. For being honest and trying to be gentle with my feelings.” She held her hand over her heart and looked at him. “ Now that I know how you feel, it’s like I finally have closure and can finally move on.”
Adrien smiled in relief and reached out, impulsively grabbing her hand. “So...you’ll be okay? Even though we’re not in love with each other, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. Right?”
It was what she told Chat Noir, so he hoped the same would be true for Adrien.
“No!” she pulled her hand from his and backed away.
He stared at her, unsure of what to do. He’d messed up again. If she became an akuma because of her, he’d deserve it.
“No,” she said again, quieter this time. “Not right away.” She looked up at the surprise on his face and explained. “You see...I liked you for a long time. Longer than...longer than I’ve ever liked anyone. So...it’s going to take me awhile longer to get over you than it would another boy.”
“Sounds like you and I both need a bit of cheering up tonight.”
“You? You've gotten your heart broken too?”
At the time Chat Noir had wondered what idiot would break the heart of a girl as awesome as Marinette. Now he realized it was him. Twice. Maybe more but this last time was permanent, even if it would heal.
“For now, Adrien…” she looked down at her feet. She would be proud of herself any other time. She was able to speak to him, have a full conversation in fact, without stuttering. It was just her luck the only time she managed it was while getting her heart broken. At least he was trying to be gentle and kind. That didn’t help as much as she thought.
“I think you should give me as much space as you can.” She made herself look him in the eye. “It’s going to take me a while to heal and get over you so...do your best in class. I’m sorry…” She truly was. “I just don’t feel like I can be a good friend to you for a while.”
He nodded. “I understand.” She looked so distraught he wanted to hug her but knew he didn’t have the right. “I’ll go now. I’m sorry again, Marinette.”
With nothing else to say, he turned and left.
Alya and the rest of the group waited until Adrien was safely out of sight. Then they rushed over and clustered around their friend. She was still clutching the beret she’d made for Adrien in her hands, staring off in the direction he’d left.
Her best friend approached the girl softly, cautiously. “Hey, Marinette? It’s Alya.” She touched Marinette’s arm and she flinched. Pulling back Alya asked, “You okay, girl?”
Marinette seemed to have been waiting for Alya to collapse. Her face crumpled and she burst into tears. “No! Alya! Alya he-he doesn’t want me!” she wailed and dropped to her knees, cuddling the beret for comfort.
They all clustered around her, trying to hug every inch of her they could.
Mylene crouched down and stroked the distraught girl’s hair. “I’m sure that’s not quite true,” she tried to soothe her friend. “What did he say?”
“We saw him give back the beret but we just thought his old man wouldn’t let him keep it,” Alix pointed out.
Marinette shook her head. “I doubt M. Agreste even saw it. He-he told me that he thinks I’m wonderful and awesome and cool and stuff...he just doesn’t see that way.”
The girls all looked at each other, unsure of what to say. They had always known rejection was a possibility but somehow still held out hope.
Marinette continued to sob. “He-he was really nice and tried to make me feel better. But...he’s not interested in me.”
“Wait, who-” Alix tried to ask but was quickly shushed by Rose.
Marinette hesitated. “If...if I tell you, you have to promise not to get mad. She can’t help how she feels and neither can he.”
Alya stood up and adjusted her glasses. “Kagami,” she growled.
Juleka thought for a moment then shrugged. “Makes sense. They went to England and the movies together.”
“Juleka! That’s not helping!” Rose chastised her as they both looked at Marinette.
The goth girl wished she hadn’t spoken. “Sorry, Marinette,” she mumbled.
“It’s okay,” she tried to reassure them but barely seemed to be holding herself together.
“No offense, the sword is cool and all, but how can Adrien pick Kagami over Marinette?” Alix wanted to know. Mylene tried to quiet her but she pulled away and looked at Alya. “I mean...come on! Kagami’s a total ice queen. All she has going for her is Adrien’s dad wants him to date her for business reasons.”
“She can’t compare to my girl Marinette,” Alya declared loyally. “Daddy’s boy needs to wake up and see what’s in front of him before it’s gone.” She none too subtly looked Juleka in the eye, who nodded and texted her brother.
“Kagami should be ashamed of herself!” Rose squeaked angrily. “She knows how Marinette feels about Adrien. Marinette saw him first. They’re supposed to be friends! Kagami is totally violating the ‘sisters over misters’ rule! She’s breaking the Girl Code!”
“I guess…” Juleka wasn’t sure but agreed with Rose on principle.
“Ugh! With Adrien dating the Ice Queen he’ll have even less time to hang out with us. She’ll hog him all to herself,” Alix groused.
Alya snarled as she tried to hold on to her best friend. “They both need to pay for hurting you like this.”
Mylene tried to calm the group down. “You know, this could be good for Marinette long term. She can get over Adrien and move on to...someone new,” she also looked at Juleka. “Someone who can appreciate her.”
“Someone without a snobby dad.”
“Someone with taste!”
Everyone stopped arguing and pulled away to stare at Marinette.
She was no longer crying. She’d dropped the beret, the hat she’d spent hours making and embroidering on the ground like litter.
The girl group couldn’t help gasping. “Marinette?” Mylene asked.
Alya risked putting a hand on her shoulder. “You okay, girl? Look, I know you’re upset about...about what happened…”
“You mean my rejection,” Marinette’s laugh was a little bitter as she looked at the shock on her friends’ faces. “It’s okay to say it. I was rejected. Adrien likes another girl.” She sighed and looked down. “I kinda knew it, you know? It just...sounded different to hear it out loud.”
“Kagami…” Rose tried to say.
“...did nothing wrong.” Marinette’s head came up and met her gaze. Alya shivered, reminded how determined Ladybug always looked when she had a fight to win. “She didn’t steal Adrien, he was as interested in her as she was in him. She was always honest about her intentions towards him. I have no right to be mad at either of them.”
“And that includes you too!” She looked everyone in the eye and they felt like they couldn’t look away. “I’m happy for them. I’m firmly on Team Adrigami and I won’t hear an unkind word about either of them.” She still cried but she was smiling. “At least I’m going to try to be. They deserve to be happy.” She picked up the beret and walked over to a nearby trash can. Turning back to her friends she said, “and you know what? So do I.”
Her friends awwwed and gathered around her again for a group hug, gentler this time and longer.
Marinette felt something bumping against her head. She opened her eyes and saw Princess Twinklepeach.
Alix smiled at her, not in the least bit embarrassed to be holding the plushie. “She needs you more than I do right now. Just give her back to Rose when you’re done.”
Meanwhile in a nearby mansion a man dressed as a gimp felt a surge of negative emotion bloom and then die before he could send an akuma. Sighing, he decided to give up and detransform. There was always tomorrow.
The weekend was relatively quiet but the fallout on Monday morning at school was nuclear. Even students from other classes gave Adrien curious or nearly hostile glances as he walked into school. At first he was confused but he quickly caught on as he remembered Saturday’s events. He wanted to crawl into a hole and hide for a month until the situation blew over.
“Dude! What did you do?!”
Nino met him on the front steps, looking at him with a mixture of horror and awe. Other students passed by on the way to class. Adrien was sure someone tried to kick him. Nino noticed and asked, “how did you go from top model to persona non grata around here?”
Adrien rubbed the back of his neck. “Marienette...told me she had feelings for me…”
Nino adjusted his headphones then stared at his best friend. “Wait, really? Dude...it’s about time!” He laughed and then saw the look on his friend’s face. “Uh oh...you rejected her, didn’t you?”
“I tried to let her down easy-” Adrien broke off and stared. “You knew? You knew and you didn’t tell me? Warn me?”
Nino took off his hat and less than gently hit his best friend with it.
“Ow!” Adrien rubbed his head. “What was that for?”
“Are you serious?!” Nino rolled his eyes. “Dude...everyone in class knew she had a crush on you. Even Bustier. We were even taking bets on how long it would take you to notice.”
“Wait, what?” Adrien asked.
Nino just shook his head. “The girls were pretty firmly invested in Team Adrienette. They had all sorts of crazy schemes to help her.” He sighed. “But you went and broke her heart.” He patted his friend on the shoulder. “Nice knowing ya, dude.”
Walking into the classroom was even worse than the courtyard because the rage and hurt and disappointment was perfectly distilled into one room. No one would even look at him except for Lila and Max. Most everyone else was hostile or confused. Marinette refused to look at him and Alya looked ready to throw hands if he as much as waved.
Chloe was wailing loudly and accepting tissues from a sympathetic Sabrina. Chloe turned her back on him but continued to talk dramatically to her best friend.
“How could he, Sabrina? I mean, I could see him rejecting Dupain-Cheng, but why me? Why Tsurugi? I’m perfect!” She continued to cry.
“He’s clearly an idiot for not seeing what’s right in front of him,” Sabrina consoled her friend.
“Clearly,” Chloe sniffed. She glared at Adrien with red eyes. “Don’t talk to me, you traitor.”
Adrien looked at Nino, who shrugged and walked to his seat. He spent the rest of the day ignoring the girls who sat behind him.
Up near the back of the class Lila seethed as everyone ignored her. Even a new Prince Ali story did nothing to turn their attention away from the relationship drama in the front. Adrien was officially dating Kagami Tsurugi! There were no lies she could think of to discredit her because she didn’t attend their school, her family was rich and powerful and worst of all, M. Agreste approved of her! Adrien was clearly a dead end.
What made it worse is nearly everyone in school was talking about Marinette’s rejection and how Adrien was awful for turning down such a great person. Marinette’s popularity went far beyond the classroom, farther than her own! Anything she said against the other girl now would just make Lila look bad and Marinette gain more sympathy.
She slumped over her desk. Damn I can’t claim she’s jealous of me now, she has no reason. She hid a glare behind her bangs. And she’s throwing all her support on Kagami’s behalf. Time to cut my losses.
It’s Marinette who should be moping and feeling bad, not this spoiled kitten. Plagg thought as he hid from his Wielder in a desk drawer. His poor little Sugar Cube no doubt had her paws full trying to keep the girl from drowning in tears and depression. And possibly cookies.
Logically, he knew Adrien was right to reject her. It was kinder to the girl in the long run to know where she stood. Plagg was wise enough to know her heart would heal and she would move on. She would find love with someone who could appreciate her, break up, fall in love and do the whole dance all over again.
It still ticked him off to see Adrien lying on his bed and sighing like he was the one who was turned down. With his closest friends only a few meters away so they could watch someone tear him apart as gently as possible. At least Ladybug’s rejections when he told her he was in love with her were always private.
He peered out and looked at the boy. As usual Gabriel was a deadbeat dad and Nathalie was practically his shadow so as usual it was his job to cheer up his Wielder. That, or kick him in the ass.
Mage above, he couldn’t wait for the kids to unmask in front of each other. He imagined the look on the boy’s face when he saw who he turned down. Well, Marinette would too, but by then she’d probably have moved on to someone more available. His romantic nerd would probably still be carrying a small torch.
Giving up, he flew over and tugged at the sheets. “So are you going to move sometime this afternoon, or do you want a few more days to wallow in self-pity?”
Adrien groaned and buried his face in his pillows. “Not now, Plagg. I’m feeling very guilty at the moment.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” Plagg flew over to the desk, grabbed a pencil and flew back to drop it on his Wielder’s head. “I forgot. Poor Marinette is crying her eyes out, feeling like her world is ending but the important thing to take away from the past few days is you feel bad about it.” He huffed and crossed his paws. “I’m ever so glad you’re using her misery to learn an important life lesson.”
Adrien groaned again and sat up. “Give me a break, Plagg.” He thought for a moment and looked up at his kwami, eyes narrowed. “Since when do you care about people other than me?”
“Since you started going to school with the daughter of the best bakers in Paris of course,” Plagg countered. And she’s Ladybug and is partnered with my Sugar Cube. Tikki loves her so she has to be pretty special. “Plus, I’ve seen her in class a few times. She’s a pretty likeable human.” He glared at the boy. “I may live half the time in your bag but I’m not blind or oblivious.”
Adrien heard the dig and knew he deserved it. “Look, Plagg, it wouldn’t have been fair to Marinette to keep on being in love with me when I didn’t feel the same about her.” He tried to explain himself. “She could have almost anyone she wanted. She’s amazing,” he shrugged. “I’m sure she’ll be dating a great guy in no time. Someone like Luka.” He muttered to himself. “To be honest I thought she was already dating Luka.”
Plagg flew closer to his face. “And will that make you feel less guilty?”
He shrugged at his kwami. “Maybe?” His eyes implored the little creature. “You’ve lived a long time with different heroes. What would they do to help a friend they’ve hurt?”
Plagg shrugged back. “Depends on who they were. Herakles would have offered to wrestle until the friend felt better. Hei Mao would play games. Everyone responds differently.” He pinned Adrien to the bed with a glare. “But neither of those were when they hurt someone who cared about them so in your case, you need to back off and leave her alone until she tells you otherwise. She said she needed space. So maybe now you can listen to what a girl tells you.”
“But that’s not good enough, Plagg!” Adrien shot up and began to pace. “I have to do something. I have to make things better!” He looked out the window then back at his kwami. “Did you see the way everyone looked at me? I thought they were going to eat me alive.”
That was it.
Plagg punched his Wielder in the nose.
“Ow!” Adrien rubbed his sore face. He was lucky Plagg couldn’t hit hard but it still hurt. “What was that for?”
Plagg pinched him just because he could, taking pleasure in watching the boy wince. “Is that what’s important to you? How do you look in public? Do you have any empathy, kid?” He felt oddly disappointed in his kitten. “Imagine being publicly rejected. Imagine having to see your face everywhere she goes because you’re all over town.” He crossed his nubs. “Now imagine having to go to school all day hearing people talk about you, feeling sorry for you, like you’re pitiful or something.” He huffed. “And all you can think about is yourself and how you feel.” He pointed to his tiny chest. “Yeah, I’m selfish but at least I’m honest about it.”
Adrien slumped. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” He seemed to withdraw into himself. “I’ll leave her alone until she’s ready to talk to me again.
“Good. You’re finally making sense,” Plagg approved. He hovered near his Wielder’s shoulder. “You were right to be honest with Marinette about her feelings. It wouldn’t have been worse in the long run to leave her hanging. But you’re not obligated to like someone back just because they like you.” Plagg thought about what he’d just said. “That’s also excellent advice for your situation with Ladybug! In the meantime, you need to finally accept your partner isn’t interested in anything but friendship and move on.”
The boy’s face scrunched up with anguish and for an uncomfortable minute the kwami thought his Chosen would go on another hour long rant about how Ladybug was his true love, that she was just being stubborn and would see for herself one day. That they were still partners in the future had to mean something and blah blah blah…
“You’re not meant to be a couple if only one of you wants to be, kid,” Plagg told him kindly. “Getting angry at her for rejecting you or blaming her for how she feels isn’t fair. If something happens between you someday, it’ll be because you’ve built up a relationship, not because you think it’s destiny and she had no choice.”
All the fight went out of Adrien and he sagged in defeat. “You’re right, Plagg,” he slumped down on his couch. “After all, I barely know her. I can’t be really in love with someone I barely know.”
“You can’t know each other. For your own safety,” Plagg reminded him.
Adrien nodded, face solemn. Then he brightened. “But Kagami likes me!” he remembered. “We share the same interests. I can talk to her about the pressures of my life and Father likes her!”
Plagg tried not to sigh. One step forward, five steps back. “That’s not a stable foundation for a relationship,” he grumbled. Sounds like he never even considered Marinette as a possible girlfriend but I think she’s better off without him. At least until he grows the hell up.
“But it’s a start!” He wasn’t going to let his grumpy kwami stop him. “Sure, everyone thinks we’re dating and I think it’s a good idea to let our parents think that so they’ll let us spend more time together.”
“Wait a minute-” Plagg began.
Adrien held up a hand to stop him. “But I’ll tell Kagami the truth; that for now I just want to be her friend and let our relationship go from there. If there’s no spark, it’s no one’s fault, but if nothing else we’ll both get someone we can be ourselves around.”
Plagg looked into the kid’s hopeful face and couldn’t bring himself to crush him. “It’s a start,” he conceded.
After school Marinette called out a quick hello to her parents and then trudged up the stairs to her room. She made sure her trapdoor was firmly closed before collapsing onto her bed and cuddling her cat pillow for comfort.
Tikki floated above her, dithering hither and yon. It had been some time since her Wielder had any sort of love problems. Most of her more recent Wielders had avoided romantic relationships altogether until they surrendered their Miraculous. Seeing her poor baby bug cry her heart out made her think being single might be the best course of action for now.
Marinette sobbed, nose red and eyes swollen. “I thought I’d cried all the tears I’d needed this weekend, Tikki.” Her blubbering was inelegant but heartfelt. “I thought,” she began to gesture. “I thought ‘oh...it’s been a few days to get used to the fact he’s not interested. Well, it’ll be okay. We’ll be friends again and now at least I know now.’ That’s better than wondering, right?” She spoke to her kwami but she really didn’t expect an answer.
Marinette pulled her cat pillow a little closer. Its smiling face reminded her a little of Chat Noir and she was sure if he were there right now he’d probably tell her some boring old model wasn’t nearly good enough for her and she was awesome.
“I mean, no more stupid plans to catch his attention. No more stuttering and stammering when I try to talk to him.” She rubbed the pillow on her cheek. “No more following him or acting like a crazy girl and dragging my friends into my weird plans.” Tears fell down her cheeks. “I’ll finally be able to interact with him like a normal person. No guy is worth humiliating yourself for him or hurting another girl because you’re jealous of her.”
“Marinette…” Tikki wanted to comfort the girl but she would also be doing her a disservice by lying. She gently lay down on her Wielder’s head. “Marinette, I’m so sorry you’re hurting right now.”
“Thank you, Tikki,” she whispered.
She thought her Wielder could use a little Tough Love, but gently. “I know right now he feels like your whole world and it’s ended,” she could feel the girl nod. “But it hasn’t and it won’t. Your heart will heal and you’ll rebuild your world. Take all the time you need to heal.”
“Tikki,” she sniffled, “I love him,”
The kwami sighed. “No, Marinette. You don’t.”
Marinette stopped crying and looked up at her in surprise. “But...yes I do,”
“Marinette,” Tikki’s eyes were filled with wisdom and compassion but she knew she had to be firm. “What you felt for Adrien was infatuation. You like him a lot and you’re attracted to him but this love...it came on suddenly and strongly, didn’t it?
Eyes wide, she nodded.
Tikki began to explain. “That’s not real love. That’s infatuation. It’s a sudden strong love, almost like an obsession. It was like a clap of thunder, out of nowhere, remember? You didn’t even like him until he apologized and gave you his umbrella, remember?”
Marinette blushed and nodded.
“Real love is longer, slower. It’s the kind of deep feeling that can come from knowing someone a long time and being close to them.” Tikki smiled as she remembered her eons-long relationship. “Sometimes you’ll argue. Sometimes they’re your best friend. It might not be as exciting as a bolt out of the blue, but it can be very rewarding.”
“Love takes time and love takes work,” Marinette quoted Garnet from Steven Universe.
Tikki giggled. “That’s not a bad way to put it.” She wiped what she could of her Wielder’s face. “I think the best kind of love is when you get to know a person before you fall in love. Maybe even start as friends. Many of my previous were friends and never even considered falling in love with a best friend or a comrade-in-arms, but those were always the strongest relationships.” She smoothed Marinette’s hair out of her face. “Take your time. You’re still so young and have plenty of time to fall in love.” It’s good for you to take time for yourself.”
Marinette looked at Tikki and sniffed once again. “I...didn’t really know him all that well before I fell in love with him, did I?”
“No,” Tikki’s tone was gentle.
The girl sat up and looked around her room. Her heart still clinched when she saw Adrien’s model perfect face staring down at her but it didn’t wound her. She wouldn’t die of a broken heart. She was stronger than that.
“You know, Tikki,” she began, “I think I should take down some of his pictures. Not all of them, just the model shots,” she explained. She started to rip a few on the wall above her bed. “It’s past time I start to redecorate.”
“Great idea, Marinette!” Seeing all these pictures would just continue to hurt her chosen so it was good she was weaning herself off the boy’s face. She tried to pull down a photo and it tore halfway. “Um...I might leave the heavy lifting to you.”
Marinette chuckled for the first time in days. “Yeah. Good idea.” She got most of the larger pictures and began to throw them on the floor. She left the modeling photos for the hat she made and a cover from his very first shoot. They were good references.
“I also think I should save maybe three or four of the gifts I made him,” she told Tikki. “Then sell or donate the rest. Then I’m going to change my desktop. After that I’ll still see him at school but for a quick hello or goodbye I won’t have to talk to him. Unless we’re grouped together for a class project. Then I’m sure Chloe would be glad to switch with me. No, she’s not talking to him either. Maybe Max-”
The girl had leaned a little too far over to reach a far picture and tumbled off the bed.
“Mari-” Tikki wanted to call out to her Chosen but she sensed someone else in the room. She covered her mouth with her paws and phased quickly to hide.
Instead of the hard floor Marinette found herself cradled tenderly in the arms of Luka Couffaine.
She felt her whole body blush as she stared up into his calm blue eyes. She wondered if she was staring up at him like a brainless idiot. Judging by his knowing smile, she probably was.
Marinette scrambled madly out of his arms and stood up straight. She smiled at him nervously as she played with her pigtails.
“Luka!” her voice was high and nervous. “So good to see you! Um, did you have a delivery in the area?”
He smiled and showed her his phone. “Juleka texted me. She asked me to come see you after work because you weren’t doing too well.”
Marinette slumped as she remembered the events of the past week and her rejection by Adrien. It made her feel bad all over again. She glanced up at Luka from under her lashes and remembered the beautiful love confessions he made to her at the studio. That made her feel even worse.
Luka saw how her music was sad and off-key and knew what to do about it. He held out his arms. “I would like to give you a hug, if you don’t mind.”
Marinette nodded. “I would love a hug from you, Luka.”
He wrapped his arms around her back and held her close. She wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head against his chest. She could feel his slow steady heartbeat and felt comforted by it. He smelled nice; not like a fancy cologne but cooking spices and a faint whiff of the Seine.
She was worried she’d cry around Luka and make a fool of herself but she didn’t. She was at peace in his arms, as silly as sounded. It wasn’t the coup de foudre falling for Adrien had been but she felt like she could be herself and draw strength from his presence if she needed it.
He drew away from her and it was all she could do not to pull him back. She didn’t want that feeling of peace to leave her.
“Thank you, Luka,” she smiled up at him as she felt a tension she didn’t know she had left her body. “I needed that.”
He smiled. “No offense but I could tell.” He looked her over as if checking her for injuries. “Do you...need to talk?” He didn’t want to hear all about M. Wonderful and how he threw away something precious but he also understood the need to talk things out.
Marinette shook her head rapidly. “No! No...I’ve done more than enough talking about him. And my feelings. And how stupid I’ve been over him.”
“Your feelings are never stupid, Marinette,” he reassured her. There was a part of him that was glad she was finally trying to get over the guy but he hated the idea of her being hurt, even temporarily. Adrien was a nice guy but dense as lead.
He was sure his mother would urge him to begin an all out assault for Marinette’s heart and if he was honest with himself (and he was) he wanted to as well. She wasn’t ready and he respected her enough to wait.
Her smile was small but it lit up her whole face and he couldn’t look away from it. He wanted to stare at it forever but he doubted her parents would appreciate that.
She stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. “Thank you for saying that, Luka. You’re the sweetest, coolest, kindest, most talented boy I know.”
That sounded promising. “...but…?”
“But…” Marinette took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “But. I’m recovering from heartbreak.” She laughed at herself and looked up at him. “Overly dramatic, I know. But I need time. And before you ask-” she held up a finger against his lips. ‘-I don’t know how long or when I’ll be over him. But I don’t want to jump into some relationship just because I’m hurting and want to move on just to feel better.” She put a hand on his chest, eye pleading. “I don’t know when, or who, if anyone and I don’t want you waiting around for me thinking I can fall in love on purpose, don’t.” The thought of seeing Luka in love with someone else made her both happy and sad. “If someone comes along who could love you, you should go for it. “ She gave into the impulse to wrap her arm around his waist again. “You deserve to be happy.”
Luka tried not to look as shocked as he felt. She really thought he’d leave her? No. Not unless she asked him to.
He leaned in and kissed her cheek. Her skin was soft and warm and he couldn’t help but wonder how her lips might feel. Then he chastised himself for being a greedy pirate. “So do you, Marinette. You deserve someone who loves you and wants to be with you. If not me, then someone extraordinary.” It killed him only a little to say that out loud.
They looked at each other, smiling, for several minutes until they realized what they were doing and looked away.
Luka cleared his throat. “So, uh...I had another reason for coming over.”
That made her curious and glad for a change of subject. “Oh?”
“Yeah,” the usually self-assured teen looked nervous. “In about a month and a half is my mom’s birthday and I wanted a special party dress for her. Something festive but easy to move in…”
“Something that wouldn’t look out of place on a ship!” Marinette rushed over to her desk and grabbed a sketchbook and pencil. Luka smiled. Her eyes were alight, her cheeks pink and she glowed with energy. Just the way he loved to see her most.
She sketched for a bit then gave Luka a sheepish grin. “Oh, um...what are you mom’s favorite colors?”
“All of them,” he smiled at the look on her face as she calculated the possibilities. “I can play while you work if it would help.” He looked down at his Jagged Stone t-shirt. “I don’t know much about fashion but music helps me create.”
She cheered and did a cute little kicky dance with her feet. “That would be perfect! Thank you, Luka!”
“He stood up and headed downstairs. “I’ll go get my guitar.”
By Tuesday morning Monday’s rage had gone from simmering just below the surface to whipped up into a frenzy. Adrien, already feeling guilty and no longer seen as a person had to be escorted into class by his bodyguard. The huge man glared at the other students and motioned them to behave Nino guarded his best friend as best he could but he was risking one of two things; either risking his girlfriend’s wrath or violating the Bro Code. He hoped no one would make him choose.
The anger was being subtly influenced by Lila of course. A word in an ear here, being “accidentally” overheard there. She might not be able to have Adrien for herself but she could leave a lovely scorched earth behind her. She didn’t even care if M. Agreste pulled him out of school if he was of no use to her. That this would also hurt Marinette still raw emotions was icing.
Hawkmoth would have a field day.
Nino tried to shield his best bud behind him but Adrien wanted to be brave and face his angry classmates. “Um...morning guys!”
Chloe barely looked up from her nails. “Oh, it’s the traitor and the only person still talking to him. Backstab any childhood friends lately?”
Adrien was taken aback, not used to people attacking or hating him. “Chloe, I-”
Sweet, tiny Rose stood up and slammed her hands on her desk and outright glared at him. “I hope you and your little man stealer Kagami will be very happy together.”
“Um...thanks?” he answered timidly as he rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
“If you can be happy while Marinette is crying her eyes out and trying to piece her broken heart back together I mean,” Rose finished and sat down.
Adrien had no idea what to say, no prepared statement, no back-up. Except Nino and he wouldn’t ask his best friend to take the fall with him. He was frozen with his tongue stuck to the bottom of his mouth and no idea how to get himself out of this situation.
He looked around in a panic and heard angry mutterings all around him. Marinette wasn’t here yet and neither was Mlle. Bustier. He hoped one of them would arrive soon to settle the class down before someone, maybe more than one, attracted an akuma.
Why am I always looking for the women in my life to save me?
Lila tried to look disappointed in Adrien but she could barely contain her glee. This was almost as good as if she’d turned the entire class against Marinette! Oh, they hated their pretty little Sunshine Boy right now. Maybe after the inevitable akuma she’d find Adrien alone and hear him out. A sympathetic ear when everyone was against him would mean a lot to a goody-goody like him. Maybe she had a way to get him after all, drive a wedge between him and the fencer.
“Maybe he’s not so nice after all,” Nathaniel mumbled.
“And we threw a party for him and everything,” Ivan growled.
No. This wasn’t good. He hoped he could sneak away and transform before the akuma showed up. Maybe he could fake sick and run off.
Alya and Marinette stood in the doorway. The reporter looked like her usual self but Marinette…
She had changed. There were no cute flowers or pink in sight. Marinette wore a new bright red blazer with a cute black bralette top, showing off her well-defined collarbone. She’d traded in her usual capris for black skinny jeans and her ballet flats were replaced with black ankle boots. The pigtails were gone. Marinette wore her hair in a high ponytail with a decorative comb. All the girls recognized it. Kagami had given it to her as a sign of friendship. Their class president was letting everyone know where she stood.
She strode forward, looking confident and in control, even with a room full of chaos and classmates seconds away from drawing blood. She looked stern, commanding…
Like Ladybug. Or Kagami.
I really have a type, don’t I?
“I thought we discussed this yesterday and I was hoping we’d never have to discuss this again.” She caught everyone’s eye and they all looked away. Even Chloe and Lila couldn’t meet her angry gaze. The look in her eyes was calm and terrifying.
Marinette raised her eyes to the ceiling and took a deep breath as if readying herself for an unpleasant task. She looked around again.
“I heard a lot of gossip and...speculation...I guess about what’s been going on,” she might have looked at Lila. “So I’m going to be clear. And if you didn’t hear this directly from my mouth, don’t believe it until you talk to me.”
Alya tried to keep her mouth from gaping while she watched her timid best friend pace slowly in front of her now intimidated classmates. There was no stuttering or clumsiness. Even Chloe couldn’t think of anything nasty to say to her. She rarely saw the other girl like this, not unless there was only an hour to go before having a project done and people were goofing off.
Marinette continued. “You know...it’s kinda messed up that you’re all giving Adrien a hard time for things that are really no one’s fault.”
“But we were just looking out for you!” Mylene protested and some people murmured in agreement.
“And I appreciate that but I didn’t need you to start a mob on my behalf,” Marinette countered. She hoped what she was trying to say sunk in this time. “Look, Adrien never meant to hurt me and would have avoided it if he could. But he was honest. It hurts but I’ll be okay. Besides, I like Kagami. I fully support their relationship and it’s kind of hypocritical if you say you’ll support a friend except when they’re dating someone you don’t like as much.” Most everyone looked ashamed and they should.
“Everyone. Look at me.” Her voice was gentle but firm and they obeyed her without thinking.
“We’re all going to be okay.” She sounded like she could make it happen just by saying the words. “We’re all going to be friends again. Stop treating Adrien like he did something horrible. No one has to like someone else just because that person has feelings for them. “
Alix and Kim looked like they still wanted to protest but Marinette shut them down. “No. This isn’t a debate. You’re not going to change anything by arguing. It’s over.”
Her words sounded final and they had no choice but to accept.
She walked towards her desk, Alya trailing behind her. She stopped and looked at Adrien. He opened his mouth to apologize again and she shook her head. His mouth closed with a snap.
“Just so you know,” she looked him in the eye, unwavering. “Kagami and I have our usual Wednesday juice date so she won’t be at fencing practice. Make sure you tell M. D’Argencourt as usual. He still forgets.”
Adrien nodded and Marinette looked satisfied as she took her seat beside Alya.
The bell rang and Mlle. Bustier arrived in class. “Good morning.” She looked at Marinette with surprise. “Marinette! That new outfit is spectacular! “ The attractive teacher smiled in admiration at her student’s creativity.
Marinette sat up a little straighter at her desk. “Yeah. I just felt like I was wearing the same outfit forever. I wanted a change. So I made a brand-new Marinette original.” Her proud smile was almost genuine. “You can commission me on my website if you ever want to change up your style.”
Bustier’s smile was a little speculative. “I might take you up on that.”
Class began and while the previous tension hadn’t left, it had at least lessoned. Nino and Adrien took several well-needed deep breaths to relax.
“Hey, girl? You okay?” Alya whispered as Bustier discussed Sartre.
Marinette grinned as she thought of all the soul-searching she’d done. She thought of her newly clean walls and new projects. Of Luka’s smile. Her future and her place in it.
“I will be,” she whispered back.
A universe away, Bunnix carefully examined a time window. Whatever disrupture that had occurred had been resolved without her intervention and the time stream healed itself.
She reached into her pocket and pulled something out. Princess Twinklepeach was still there, looking cuddly and sweet.
The time streamer couldn’t help a tiny sigh of relief. “And this is why you’re the best, Mini-Bug,” she grinned.
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The Wine Library
Wedding Week - Day One
Wedding Week – Day One
Celeste nodded not knowing what exactly Caleb had said, her fingers tapping lightly against her thighs as the nerves took over her. She wished her common sense had awoken before she was in a taxi cab in Portugal on the way to their luxury hotel, Six Senses Douro Valley which was about an hour drive away from the airport, apparently the Palácio do Freixo was a beautiful place to get married but not for staying in. It was going to be a little hard to run away when she got there but maybe she could pull an all the commitment scared her off, it wouldn’t be nice for Caleb and his family would surely hate her but the last part was going to happen anyway.
“Are you okay?” Caleb asked placing his hands over hers. Celeste sucked in a breath, she was already a mess she didn’t need his hands on her body, especially not on her thighs.
“Nervous, very nervous, contemplating opening this taxi door right now and legging it type of nervous,” she said chewing at her lip, eyes trained on Caleb’s hand, his fingers threaded through hers.
“Cel, there is no reason to be nervous,” Caleb said softly. “My family will love you, half of them already do,” he said with a laugh, that Celeste was sure was meant to comfort her.
“No half of them love what you told them, they don’t even know me,” she huffed. Sure she had met his sister a few times and his mother once when he first signed to Spellbound but that was it. How could she live up to whatever image Caleb had painted of her? The Celeste he described had to be better than the real thing, Caleb by definition was the world’s best hype man - read how he talks about Daniel, and of course, he had to make her someone he could believable date.
“Cel, I created an imaginary relationship, not an imaginary you, the Celeste i described is the exact same Celeste that is sitting beside me,” Celeste dared to look up to find Caleb frowning down at her. “Why i would i change you?” he asked as if the thought never occurred to him. Celeste’s face was beginning to get hot, why did he have to say something like that.
“I think we are here,” Celeste said shifting slightly as the taxi slowed down, the six sense resort was surrounded by an 8-hectare vineyard so if anything goes wrong she could drown herself in wine. As they drove up the road she spotted the pink mansion it was known for. “Wow,” she said under her breath.
“I should have known bringing you to a vineyard would make you feel better,” Caleb teased. Celeste rolled her eyes playfully nudging him as the pulled to a stop at the front of the hotel. Two massive wooden doors welcomed them, their taxi driver opened the boot as their luggage floated out into the hotel. “Let’s get checked in,” Caleb said reaching out and squeezing her hand one last time before exiting the taxi and coming around to open her door holding his hand out for her.
“Well aren’t you a gentleman,” she said sliding her hand into his trying to ignore the way his face lit up, she had to squash these feelings. Her friends comment about how she should be careful could be heard in her mind, purposely ignoring the hopeful voice that said Caleb choose you to be his fake girlfriend.
They entered the hotel. A large reception desk was in the centre of the lobby, a textured art wall was behind them candles floated around the staff. The staff greeted them warmly, one of them gushing about Caleb was even more handsome in real life. Caleb chuckled muttering a thank you. Celeste couldn’t stop herself from smiling, it was cute when he got bashful, a rare occurrence given his chosen career. Another staff member came over directing them to the balcony and handing them their complimentary glass of port wine.
“So how rich is your family again,” Celeste asked raising an eyebrow at Caleb who gave her a sheepish smile.
“One you can’t talk given who you are related to,” he said holding one thing up, Celeste sipped on her wine shaking her head, her family just had a name, a single famous member, money-wise they were just average. “We are decently rich but Fiona’s fiancee’s family is way richer,” he pouted. “Speaking of which guess who just message me,”
“Should Dohyun be worried about Fiona’s fiancee messaging you? Don’t tell me the bromance of the century is over?” she joked, bring a hand to her heart as she faked a gasp. “What will you tell the AMM kids?”
“Cel you know that nothing can come between me and Dohyun, we’ve been together for over 10 years,” Caleb said seriously. Celeste wanted to believe he was playing along with the joke but given it was Caleb she had a feeling he truly meant that. “And as much as i would appreciate Cass texting me it was, unfortunately, Princess Fiona,” he sighed dramatically.
“Did you just?”
“Make a Shrek reference, yes and yes i am fully aware that implied my sister is a troll,” Caleb cut her off, he must have taken the giggling fit Celeste was having as judgement because seconds later he opened his mouth to explain. “In my defence, Penny said Shrek was one of the most important cinematic pieces in history and gave me an hour-long speech about the version of I need a hero from Shrek 2 redefined a generation,” he said with a roll of his eyes.
“Ignoring the way you rolled your eyes at a very true statement, it was iconic Cal iconic, what did Fiona want?” Celeste asked.
“Oh my family is down in the Wine Library waiting for us apparently,” he said simply, Celeste’s nose scrunched her nerves returning full force. “We can always wait, take our time with these drinks or if you really aren’t ready i can say you were exhausted from the trip and you wanted to rest?” he suggested.
“No no it would look weird if i didn’t show up as well,” Celeste frowned. “I wish i knew that they were waiting, we could have skipped the wine,” she said. Well not skipped the wine since they would have been on their way to the wine library and his family instead of making them wait.
“Celeste, it’s fine,” he said softly, “No one is upset if anything Fi is just anxious to start her embarrass Caleb plan,” he huffed. “She is been wanting to get back at me for years but jokes on her i have no shame,” he said puffing his chest out proudly.
“Yeah right, remember the time Daniel showed me those pics from your BNT photoshoot, you squealed and ran out of the cafe,” Celeste pointed out as Caleb’s face scrunched at the memory.
“I wasn’t prepared for that betrayal,” Caleb huffed. “But now i know it’s coming, Fiona wants revenge after i told Cas she used to chew on her hair,” he said eyes narrowing. “It is not my fault she is weird, I tried so hard with her you know,” he said shaking his head.
“Why do i have a feeling you made her life ten times harder than it needed to be,” she asked raising an eyebrow looking up at Caleb who smiling sheepishly.
“It’s what brothers do,” Caleb said. “Plus it’s not like Fiona doesn’t make my life harder,” he pouted, a voice in Celeste’s head pointed out that the whole reason she was here was one of those inconveniences Fiona had caused for Caleb. “And you should be on my side you know, as my girlfriend,” he pointed out with a whine.
“As your girlfriend, i think we should get going,” Celeste murmured.
“Fine,” Caleb groaned. “Let’s go see my family,” he said wrapping his arm around Celeste’s shoulders. “If it gets too much for you let me know and I’ll cover for you,” he said pulling her into him. “Gotta look out for my girlfriend,” he added with a cheeky wink. Celeste let out a laugh as she pushed herself away.
“How kind of you,” she joked, reaching down and linking their hands squeezing his hand to make sure he knew she appreciated that he was looking out for her.
“Do you think i should have got changed?” Celeste asked as they stepped into the elevator watching in mild horror as the door slid shut in front of them. Her outfit, a pair of dark skinny jeans and an oversized pink knit sweater was perfect for the trip over but for meeting your supposed boyfriend’s parents.
“What? No, you like fine Cel,” Caleb said looking her over. “Adorable even,” he said cooing with a big smile. Celeste’s eyes narrowed at him, he too was wearing more comfortable clothes, a plain shirt, dark jeans and a beige coat, yet he looked like he had just come from a fashion shoot, not a plane ride.
“Just because you could show up in pyjamas and still look good doesn’t mean the rest of us can,” she said bitterly as Caleb blinked at before chuckling shaking his head. “Yeah yeah laugh it up model boy,” Celeste said with an eye roll. “In all seriousness, how is my hair? And do you think i should fix my make up?” she asked, reaching into her purse before Caleb reached out and cupped her face.
“Hmm in professional opinion, as the part-owner of a very successful modelling agency you don’t need any more makeup, you’ll be the prettiest girl there,” and squeezing her cheeks before giggling. “And your hair,” he said reaching up and ruffling it. “There we go, perfect,” he said with a wide grin. “And you can’t argue because look we are on the 4th floor,” he said as the elevator came to an easy stop. “Seriously though you look beautiful,” he said.
“You have to say that but thank you,” she mumbled. Celeste sucked in a breath as the elevator door opened with a ding. Caleb seemed to notice her hesitance and stepped placed a hand on the smalls of her back. Nodding to herself Celeste stepped forward as Caleb followed hand never dropping from her body.
The wine library was a large space, its cozy interior matched the miserable weather outside. The place was filled to the brim with hotel patrons, lounge chairs were scattered around and in the middle of the room, there were large wine tasting tables. The wine cases were on the side, protected by glass doors.
“They are further in,” Caleb said softly his hand dropping from her back and reaching out to grab her hand as he moved forward, pulling her along. Celeste followed, not that she had much choice, despite his comments about Fiona earlier it was clear that Caleb was excited to see his parents, his eyes were lit up, a wide smile on his face and the way he was rushing forward Celeste swore he was going to pull her arm off. She assumed by the happy squeals off Caleb’s name they had reached their destination. Without a moment’s hesitation Caleb raced forward dragging Celeste along with him, she tried to break out of his grasp before she tripped but he had a death grip on her hand.
Celeste’s hand was finally given a reprieve when they reached the table where Caleb’s immediate family sat. Within seconds Caleb’s mum had launched herself up from her seat and into her son’s arms. Just like that the rest of his family was up and coming over to them, well Caleb, Celeste just stood to the side not sure if she should say hello or wait. Give her room ballbusting movie executives and she would have them eating out of her hands, give her an affectionate family who openly love each other and she will be a timid wallflower wishing the ground would swallow her whole.
“Celeste,” she was greeted by Fiona, one look at her and she was reminded that good looks were hereditary in Caleb’s family. “I am so glad you could make it,” she said pulling Celeste into a hug. Oh, they were all huggers as well. “How was your flight -”
“Fiona you better not be pulling that girl into wedding stuff straight away,” she heard Caleb’s mother said pushing past. Fiona rolled her eyes muttering that she was just saying hi. “Oh look at you,” Caleb’s mother said holding her arms out and looking Celeste over. “Oh aren’t you a sight, it’s about time someone bought his beautiful girlfriend to meet us,” she said sending a faux annoyed look over to Caleb who must have known he was being talked about because he paused his conversation with his dad to look over a curious look on his face. “Come sit let get you a glass of wine and some food, have you eaten? “ she said pulling Celeste over to the table where Caleb’s older sister Rosalind, her husband, Fiona’s fiancee and what Celeste assumed were Cassius’s parents.
“Honey, could you get two glasses of Quinta do Vale Meão,” she called out to her husband. “Evelyn, Byron, you remember Caleb,” she said looking proudly at her son who had come over sliding to stand beside Celeste. “And this is his beautiful girlfriend and my future daughter in law Celeste Scamander,” she tacked on with a happy smile either not noticing or choosing to ignore the way Caleb choked and Celeste’s eyes bulged.
“Mum what are you saying?”
“Scamander? As in Newt Scamander?” Byron asked curiously. Celeste plastered a fake smile on her face trying to calm herself after Caleb’s mother’s comment.
“I am putting it into the universe and why are you acting like I’ve said something bad, after all, things you put this wonderful woman through, two years Cal –“
“Yes, well no, he is my great uncle my great grandfather is Thesus Scamander,” she explained leaning back as Caleb and his mother bickered about her. God she wished Caleb’s father would hurry up with the wine, talking about her family and listening to Caleb and his mother bicker of why their fake relationship hadn’t been upgraded to a fake engagement was doing her head in.
“Celeste herself is quite successful,” Rose commented, “She works for Spellbound management, I’ve been told by multiple sources that she is the sole reason my little brother is so famous –“ she said with a wink as Caleb spun around at the mention of his name.
“I was just telling the Nam’s here about how Celeste was a driving force in your career,” she said with a roll of her eyes. Caleb nodded in agreement.
“Yeah if it wasn’t for her lord knows where my career would be? Probably still the designated eye candy,” he laughed.
“Please you aren’t pretty enough to be eye candy, you would be the ahjussi,” Fiona commented with a laugh.
“And you’d be cast as a troll,” Caleb said eyes narrowing at her. “And go tell my fans I am not pretty, I dare you,” he said, tilting his chin up pompously. The Nam’s stood up muttering a quick excuse us as the stood up and headed to one of the other rooms.
“What fans? I thought they all dropped you as soon as Daniel burst on the scene,” Fiona said as Cassius came to sit beside her shaking his head at the bickering siblings. “And you can’t ask Celeste because she is biased, no offence,” she said looking at Celeste with an apologetic look.
“Celeste isn’t biased,” Caleb huffed. “And how dare you bringing up my protégé, bringing up Daniel like I wouldn’t trade you for him in a heartbeat, my life would be so much simpler with a little brother,” he said wistfully. Celeste’s nose scrunched up wondering about Caleb’s sanity if he wanted to actually be related to Daniel.
“You come to my wedding week and say such nonsense,” she tsked, for a second there Celeste thought she was in the godfather and was going to be asked to kiss the ring. “Celeste did you know when Caleb was little he was scared of goblins,” she said with a smirk.
“And Fiona used to say she was going to marry a teddy bear named Mr Snuggles,” Caleb said.
“And now she is marrying a wonderful man name Cassius and you are here to support your sister,” Caleb’s father said finally bringing the wine over. “Here you go Celeste,” he said handing her a glass of red wine. “Now I hope this whole scene hasn’t scared you off our family,” he said.
“Yes, unfortunately, our children, no matter their age, still act like bickering children,” Caleb’s mother sighed. “It’s just how families are,” she said shaking her head.
Celeste nodded awkwardly, the last time she had been around her older sister their fight had reduced her to tears so maybe sibling bickering was a bit out of her quidditch pitch. “Uhm I forgot to say it earlier but congratulations,” she said to Fiona and Cassius, “thank you for allowing me to come to your wedding,” she said.
“Well thank you but there is no need to thank us,” Fiona said. “Your pretty much family and anyway you are part of the bridal party,” she said with a wave of her hand. “I can’t wait to show you your bridesmaid dress tomorrow, you are going to look amazing in it,” she said with a wide smile before launching into wedding details.
“See I told you there was nothing to worry about,” Caleb said as they walked down the hallway to their hotel room. “My family love you,” he grinned.
“They like me though to be honest I think its what you’ve told them because they were way too nice to me,” Celeste laughed.
“Nope,” Caleb said shaking his head. “They just love you because your awesome,” he said as he stopped outside the door. “This is ours,” he said swiping the card and opening the door. Celeste stood on her tippy toes sneaking a peek over his shoulder.
“One bed,” she said.
“One bed,” Caleb repeated. “It’s okay, I can just –“ he said reaching for his wand.
“Cal, it’s fine, we are two adults, we can handle sharing a bed right?” she asked. “Because no lie I kinda wanna just go to sleep,” she said with a whine.
“Yeah we can do this, just two adult friends sharing a bed, nothing will happen,” Caleb said quickly scratching the back of his neck.
“It will be fine,” Celeste confirmed, ignoring the way her chest ached at the word friends. It will be fine.
Retrouvailles | l. hyunjae
💐 pairing: florist!hyunjae x fem!reader
💐 genre: cliché fluff
💐 word count: 2.6k
💐 tw: i think i swore once or twice?
💐 synopsis: you are back in your hometown after living in paris for years with your family and a special encounter won’t make you regret your decision.
💐 requested: yes from kyu! i hope you’ll like it!! 💌
💐 a/n: i am so sorry but i absolutely love writing for florist!au, i promise it’s the last one ! (of this series) constructive feedback is always appreciated!!
Looking around you as you got off the bus, you scoffed in utter shock as this neighbourhood hadn’t changed at all, even if you left eight years ago. All the shops and cafes remained the same, just two new ones got added to the ones that you always found welcoming and cute.
You got a weird sensations when you came back from school a few years ago, your parents stopping you in the entrance and asking you to follow them in the living room. Your siblings were already there, and they all looked down, your little sister on the verge of crying. You were fourteen at this time, and you had imagined the worst.
“Mom, Dad, what’s happening?” you worriedly asked, trying to catch your older brother’s gaze, but his head remained low, a visible disappointed look on his face.
“It’s a bit complicated, sweetie, but Dad found a job in Europe. We are going to receive more money and live more comfortably, but we have to follow him,” your mother tried her best to explain you the situation without hurting you, but it was to no avail. You couldn’t control the tears submerging your eyes and cried uncontrollably, your mother rushing to take you in her arms.
“When are we coming back, Mom? Are we going to keep the house? I don’t want other people to live here,” your mother soothingly rubbed your back, trying to ease your pain, and she nodded.
“I don’t know baby, but your grandparents are going to live here, it’s better than the house they currently have,” you pouted as you kept on crying, your mother resting a reassuring hand on the back of your head as she drew you closer, but immediately abandoned her arms as soon as your little sister started crying, rushing to hug her instead.
The move was hard, packing all your stuff had you feeling extremely sad to leave all your memories behind, unsure about the future years. The next day, you bid farewell to all your friends, hugging them tightly as you spent your last day at school trying to find solace in your friends and classmates’ presence before leaving. You cried in your best friend’s arms right in front of your mother’s car, and waved at her until she disappeared from the rear-view mirror.
Paris was a wonderful city, not quite like in the movies, but it was still charming. French was a tough language and you kind of struggled go get yourself understood because the other students didn’t really speak your native language, but with many months that turned into years of trying, you managed to now have a decent level in the language of love.
Despite your passion and admiration for this city, creating landmarks in the surrounding neighbourhoods as well as making friends were not easy tasks. However, with the help of your siblings and your parents, you had managed to make a bunch of friends, and that did you good when you didn’t have to think too much when you were talking since you were conversing in your native language.
Your time is France was amazing, you created great memories with awesome friendships, but you couldn’t help feeling nostalgic sometimes. You missed your neighbourhood, your grandparents, and your other relatives, only being able to see and talk to them via Skype or FaceTime. Years passed, and finally, at 22 years old, you decided to let your family in France, where your siblings had already constructed things with people, and come back where you grew up, where you felt like your heart truly belonged.
The shock on your face had to be very visible since some bystanders threw you a weird look as you stood stoic in the middle of the pavement. Spontaneously walking inside the kiosk that was as old as you remembered it, you warmly greeted the owner, an elderly woman that hadn’t changed a bit. Still the same hunched shoulders, long, white hair secured in a tight bun by a flower pin, her wrinkled smile was still as warm and as wise as you knew it when you were buying sweets from her.
You exchanged a few words with her, giving you a pack of the sweets you used to buy and the prepaid card you asked for. You still had your French number, so it’d cost you a kidney if you ever decided to call your relatives with it. The old woman looked extremely happy and somewhat pleased to see you, because she admitted that she got worried when you suddenly stopped passing by and buy sweets.
“And you decided to come back, how wonderful,” she said with her shaky, warm voice while handing you what you just bought. You smiled at her and nodded, eyes slightly widening when she grabbed your wrist.
“If you need anything, my husband and I will be happy to help. I’m glad to see you back by us,” she said, and you felt your heart flutter. It was truly where you belonged.
“Thank you, I really appreciate it,” you answered as she winked, wishing you a great day.
The fresh air welcomed you once you got out, feeling it clear your lungs from the slight more polluted air from Paris. You opened the bag of sweets and munched on a few, feeling the memories rushing back in your mind as you started wandering around the neighbourhood. You quickly texted your cousin that you were near their house, but he was probably too busy playing video games or napping, so you decided to go grab something more consistent to eat and wandered around, walking further into different areas.
The beautiful, light colours of a shop window caught your attention, not remembering its existence when you were younger. You got near the window and observed inside, discovering a jungle of beautiful flowers arranged by species. A manly back was working behind the checkout, assembling a bouquet of what seemed to be roses. You were tempted to go inside the shop to know more about this new place, but you quickly hid from the window when the man turned around. His face looked familiar, a tingling sensation appearing in your stomach as you tried to remember him. You knew him from somewhere, you were sure of it, but you just couldn’t put your finger on it.
The young man inside the shop slightly frowned as he saw someone suddenly disappearing from the window, the hems of their long brown coat lingering in his gaze. He slightly shrugged with a smile and petted the cat at his feet, who was demanding cuddles and attention. His hands were occupied with the order he had just finished preparing and he wrapped the flowers in some brown paper craft before placing it in the back office, where all the other orders were ready to get delivered by his co-worker Juyeon. He finished his cup of now cold coffee that was forgotten on the main counter, hearing the bell above the door chime.
Much to his great disappointment, it wasn’t the young lady that vanished before his eyes, it was Juyeon’s mother, who was here to pick up flowers for his sick grandmother. Hyunjae hid his dismay behind a warm smile, quickly pacing back and forth to give her the bouquet and bank her total.
A middle-aged woman walking out of the shop looked at you from the side as you still hid, tugging on your lower lip, rummaging your mind in order to find who this man was. You were getting frustrated as you stomped the floor with your foot, getting tired of your brain playing tricks on you as you were sure that you knew this man.
“Fuck it, I’m going in,” you said as you pushed the door open, the intense smell of flowers and pollen attacking your nostrils. It smelt really nice and welcoming, but your allergies said otherwise.
You sneezed once, twice, and one last time before you could properly greet the man in front of you. He looked as curious as you were, he must have seen you since you weren’t the best at hiding.
“Welcome to the Butterfly flower shop, how can I help you?” the voice of the man sending a nice wave of chill down your spine, feeling yourself smile at who seemed to be the owner of the shop.
“Hello, I’m just going to look around for a while,” you said while gesturing to all the flowers around you, sniffling to try and hold a sneeze in, but it didn’t help at all. It actually did the exact opposite that you had wished.
Hyunjae empathically smiled as you kept on sneezing, trying his best not to vocal how cute you were when the pollen seized your entire nostrils. You apologised profusely, mentally cursing yourself for being so curious. Maybe, just maybe, you should have stayed outside and admire him from afar, you wouldn’t be embarrassing yourself just like you were doing right now. But it was so tempting, you had to take a look. He was nice enough to hand you a pack of tissues, which you gladly took with a nod.
“I’ll be in the back office for a minute, don’t hesitate to ask me if you need any help,” he said with a warm smile and you nodded, holding a tissue to your face.
“I appreciate it, thank you,” you answered as you started looking around the shop. All the flowers were beautiful, it was really tempting to just buy one of each without even caring about the prices. Since this was impossible, your eyes landed on some daisies, whose petals looked really nice and healthy. You felt bad to have made your choice just a few seconds after the man left for the back office, so you decided to wait for a bit.
Yet, another bad idea. Your nose felt ticklish, no matter how hard you rubbed your finger under it, it only became worse.
“Hum excuse me?” you politely said, and the man reappeared almost instantly, close to scaring you. His whole face lit up just with a smile, and you felt your heart skip a beat at the sight. Staring at him for a few seconds, mouth slightly agape as you detailed his face, his smile and manners hitting you like a truck.
This man was none other than Hyunjae, the young boy you had a crush on during the late years of middle school, right before you left for France. He grew up so much, yet his facial features had barely changed, they only matured. His smile was the thing that made you fall for him, his personality and physical features not helping the hopeless romantic that you were. You barely talked to him when you were younger, only when you were assigned in groups with him since he always hung out with the athletes and dancers, a group that you were dying to join but never did. Hyunjae was an incredible dancer, always performing for the school team and even outside.
“Ma’am? Are you okay?” you heard his voice bringing you back to reality, feeling embarrassment invading your body as you’ve probably been staring at him for long, way too long to not be weird.
“I’m-I’m sorry. Can I have a bouquet of those daisies over there, please?” you asked, and he nodded.
“Sure thing,” walking around the counter, you followed him to the said daisies, the man gathering a good portion of his stock. Your eyes widened a bit but didn’t dare to say anything, only to follow him back to the counter.
“Are you from here? My usual customers are my acquaintances or the people living in the neighbourhood,” his voice trailed as he arranged the flowers, briefly looking at you with a smile before busying his hands in the plants again.
“I was actually born and raised here, but I had to follow my father abroad for his job,” you said while delicately touching the petals of a peony right next to your head. Hyunjae’s hands stopped, and he looked up, eyes going wide.
“You are from here? Where in the neighbourhood?”
“I grew up in the house right at the corner of the street, the beige one with the burgundy wooden shutters and the garden.”
“Hold on. Y/N?” his voice sounded so light-hearted as his eyebrows raised in shock. It was his turn to look at you with a surprised look on his face, his mouth stretching in a wide smile.
You offered him a smile and you fell in a comfortable silence. Thousands of questions were trotting in your head, dying to ask the other, but you were both trying to find a topic that didn’t sound too curious and invading. And it was hard because you both became suddenly very shy, your attention focusing on the flowers. It was normal for you, but Hyunjae wasn’t the type of guy to get intimidated this easily.
“So-” you both said at the same time and chuckled together, the florist gesturing you to go first.
“No, no, go ahead.”
“So you decided to finally come back? I understand if you missed this town, I would too,” he said and you smiled, approving his words.
“I was too tired from France, plus I missed my family that stayed here. I just wanted to pay them a visit and maybe stay over until I find another place to stay on my own,” you explained while observing your former crush wrapping the flowers you had chosen.
He secured them in the same crafted paper he did for the previous bouquet, placing it on the counter closer to you. Handing him your credit card, you stayed with your hand hanging in the void, Hyunjae typing something on the cash register. He religiously ignored your card and handed you the bouquet, giving you the brightest smile he could.
“Take this as a gift to welcome you back in town,” he said and your eyes widened, hand slowly moving away.
“I can’t accept this,” you said, suddenly feeling nervous. Hyunjae encouraged you to take the flowers by placing them right under your nose with a smirk, tickling your nose.
“Please do. Welcome back in town, Y/N,” he said as he noticed some fallen petals stuck on his dark green apron, wiping them away before offering you a smile.
You took the flowers away from your face and sheepishly smiled, thanking him for his generosity.
“Thank you, really,” you said with a shy voice, struggling to look at him in the eyes. He shook his head, indicating you that it was nothing, and he cleared the counter.
“Have a lovely day, Hyunjae. It was good to meet you again,” you said as you walked to the door, hand on the knob.
“Wait Y/N- would you like to get some coffee sometimes? I’d love to hear about your time in France and… get to know you a bit better and make up for lost time?” His offer wasn’t something you had expected, but who were you to refuse getting closer to your former crush.
This random encounter with him had your heart fluttering like it did when you watched him perform in front of the entire school a few years ago, when you were still a young teenager hopelessly in love. It was hammering in your chest, warmth travelling in your entire body as a radiant smile appeared on your face.
“I’d love to.” You said with a smile as you walked back to the counter, only to take the business card he was handing you. Your eyes landed on the black ink scratching the phone numbers, only to find another one messily written at the top of the small card. You thanked him and walked through the front door, waving at him with a smile as you walked away, clutching the piece of paper tightly in your palm, excited of what this reunion was going to offer you.
╰☆☆ Les retrouvailles nous font rappeler de vieilles histoires, mais elles consentent également à en créer de nouvelles. ☆☆╮
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Tear You Apart. One.
Summary: In a world where you don’t physically age past 25 unless you meet your soulmate, at 39, divorced and trying his hand at coaching after retiring from football, Antoine really isn’t looking for love; especially not with his daughter’s friend who is about to stop her own aging process. With his moral judgement compromised and fate trying to intervene, Antoine quickly learns that meeting a soulmate doesn’t mean that happiness comes easily.
Warnings (if you don’t like these, do not read the fic. You’re responsible for what you consume): age gap (39-25), voyeurism, angst, oral sex (male and female), squirting/multiple orgasms, cream pie, secret dating, sexting, exchanging of pics, dirty talk, mutual masturbation, mutual pining. (More may be added later)
Warnings for the chapter: None. We start off light.
Chapter words: 1,382
A/N: I am still unsure if this will be a Patreon exclusive or come here too, so please let me know if you like the first two chapters. Like/reblog/send me asks, let me know!
You sit in the car, fingers drumming against the steering wheel along with the music as the air con blasts through the car. Charlotte was due to finish fifteen minutes ago but a text earlier had notified you who she was on shift with and oh boy, you knew you could be sitting here for some time; especially as they had a team meeting just before the end of the shift. You had considered going home first, collecting a few things from there and then coming back for Charlotte but knowing your luck, she’d be out early.
Charlotte had truly been a saving grace since moving here. Her large welcoming smile, dimples popping, dirty blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes had drawn you in.
“I’m Lottie,” she’d said, “if you call me Charlotte I’ll assume you’re pissed at me. Char and Charlie work too. But for the most part, I’m Lottie.” She’d grinned at you and that had been it. She’d taken on the role of your best friend, hooked her arm through yours and showed you the ropes.
Almost four years younger than you, she had an air of maturity about her that was lost on a lot of your peers her age, something she puts down to her parents divorcing when she was younger.
“It’s fine,” she’d waved her hand to dismiss your concerns to change the subject. “I’m over it. I think they are too.” It’s not something you’d pressed her for more about. Divorce was tricky and it wasn’t something you could casually bring up, nor would you want to - especially so early in a friendship. You’d been to her mom’s house a handful of times, mostly when she was out because you hadn’t yet met her. The two of you spent time either at your apartment or out, somewhere she could study casually while the two of you talked.
The doors open and a flurry of bodies exit, followed by her stretching her arms out above her head before allowing them to drop slightly, tugging the tie from her hair. She looks as drained as you feel. Tonight would definitely be a wine and takeout night. She stands with her hands on her hips, surveying the parking lot until her eyes fall on yours, a smile breaking out over her face and you can almost hear the happy sound that would naturally follow.
“I need wine,” she states the moment the car door is open. “Sitting through her meetings sober should be illegal. We need a wine version of a water cooler in that room.” She huffs, sitting herself down, dropping her bag into the footwell and resting against the headrest. She runs a hand over her face and lets out a long sigh.
“I was thinking wine anyway,” you tell her, nodding towards her seatbelt and wait for her to put it on before you start the car up.
“Ok, mom,” she rolls her eyes and clicks it into place. “But I also want something from that little Italian place again.” You both make the same appreciation noise at the same time, her hand rubbing her belly and her tongue swipes over her lips in a childlike manner. “Have you decided where you want me tonight? Staying at yours or my dads?”
You pull an expression showing your awkwardness, “I don’t know...I’ve never even stepped foot in his house before or met him and I’d be sleeping over? It’s a little weird.”
“Hey,” she laughs, “that house is just as much mine as it is his. I grew up there and I probably lived in it more than he did for years. I can have friends there. Aaaand,” she says in a sing-song tone, “you have the choice of where. You can either stay with me in my room or you could stay in the guest house.”
“Oh, you have a guest house.” You hope it doesn’t come out mockingly but the laugh that follows tells you she hasn’t taken it in such a way. “And here I am, lucky to be paying my rent on time for one place let alone a buy-one-get-one-free property.”
“You get the free house when you stay over, I’ve now decided. Because you’re cheap like that.”
The decision to stay at yours was made quickly, though you promised to stay at hers as soon as introductions had been made and you felt comfortable enough. She directs you through the streets until reaching the large gated property. Lottie unclips her seatbelt and climbs onto the seat, leaning across where you sit and extends her arm out of the window to press in the code, green lights flashing as the code is accepted, creating a clicking noise as the gates begin to open up to grant access.
“This is….” you find yourself leaning forward, chest pressing to the steering wheel as you try to take in as much as possible.
“Home.” Lottie finishes, amusement causes the corners of her lips to twitch, threatening to pull them into a full smile. It was always the same with people who hadn’t seen the other half of her life. Her mom’s house was humble, bigger than a standard home but nothing like this. She was glad he never went through with the idea of selling it, it may be large but it offered what he deserved: a second chance.
She points out where you should park, forcing your eyes away from the building and to the space that she’s offering. “You’re in luck.” She tells you. “Dad isn’t home yet.”
Something about that helps to settle you. At least it’ll just be the two of you for a little while and you don’t have to try to be on best behaviour immediately. The last thing you want is to be in awe of the house next to the owner. Once out of the car, you follow her up to the front door, listening about something that happened in one of the other departments today as she unlocks and pushes open the door, guiding you into the lobby and closes the door behind you as you take in everything that greets you.
“He lives here alone?” you ask, surprised.
“Well, whenever I’m not around, sure.” She shrugs, dropping her keys onto the sideboard and kicks off her shoes. “I’ll give you the tour once I’ve got my things. Care to join me in my bedroom?” She wiggles her eyebrows and speaks in a sultry tone.
You’re about to answer, your feet trying to remove your own shoes pause at the sound of gravel crunching beneath tyres. She turns, standing on her tiptoes to see who is coming up the driveway and smiles. “Never mind, he’s home. He’s going to love you.”
“You seem so sure.” You reply, suddenly feeling more like a teenager by the second. Meeting parents even as an adult always fills you with dread, just like passing the police; something about being near them made you worry you’ve suddenly done something even though you know you haven’t.
“I am.” She nods.
“You are what?” His voice sounds as the door opens, catching the back end of the conversation. He’s dressed in dark blue, hair short but with enough length that you could run your fingers through them and tug gently on them. He has the same piercing shade of blue eyes that Lottie has, framed by beautiful lashes and heavy brows above. His top lip curved in a perfect Cupid’s bow is complimented by a slightly fuller bottom lip. His daughter looks like him but there’s certainly a look of her mother, you assume, about her too. Something not genetically him.
His eyes move from Lottie to you. Your eyes are fixed on his face, noting the way his eyes flicker over you, taking in each detail that he can within a matter of seconds before his eyes are locked with yours once more. He holds your stare, his expression neutral but the confidence in the way he holds it means something; almost as though he’s waiting for something to happen. When nothing does, he looks back to Lottie.
“Certain the two of you will get along.” She answers him. His eyes are on you again.
“Yeah. She is.”
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How Longingly I Look Upon You
Fandom: The Mandalorian
Collection/Series: Western AU- Putting Down Roots
Pairing: Sheriff Din Djarin x Female Teacher Reader
Writer: @writings-of-a-hufflepuff aka @hufflepuffing-all-day-long
Summary: Valentine’s Day is a holiday you love, for it’s celebration of tenderness and appreciation. It matters very little that you never have a partner to share it with. This Valentine’s Day the Sheriff offers an opportunity, a potential, something you never thought he’d do.
Notes: This took me way too long to finish thanks to work, but I hope it was worth the nearly 2 month wait!
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Ba’vodu - Aunt/uncle
Cyar’ika - darling/sweetheart (with Paz, i’m using this informally in a way you’d call your friends babe or love as a term of endearment but non-romantic)
Ne shab’rud’ni - don’t fuck with me
Cyare - beloved, loved
Mesh’la - beautiful
Cabur’ika - Lit. Little Guardian, but Din’s term of endearment for reader after ‘Never Mess With a School Teacher’ because she is a true guardian of her kids.
Mandokarla - having the ‘right stuff’ basically being truly mandalorian in spirit.
Valentine’s day was a holiday you actually quite enjoyed. It was a day to celebrate love, whether Eros, romantic love, Agape, unconditional love, Philia, affectionate love, or even Philautia, self-love. For you it had always been a day to celebrate the people in your life and while certainly you’d never had a suitor or a courtship during Valentine’s day, that hadn’t mattered so much. You filled your life with love for your family, even if they were now gone, love for your friends, and love for your students. It mattered very little in the end, Valentine’s day was a day for love in all its forms and for you, it was a joy. A joy to teach your students about the day, about the significance, to watch them create cards for their families, and see the red faces and giggling laughter when one of your students braved the walk across the classroom to hand a gift to another. Rather than dwell on what was missing, you chose to focus on all the joy that the day brought.
Today was no different, you had gone into your school house the day before. Spent your Sunday afternoon hanging red and pink bunting, crafty paper hearts and cupids. You wanted every holiday for your children to be worthwhile, to feel like a special day and part of that was decoration. The school house looked like a Valentine’s dream and the lessons for the day were to centre around the same theme. You would cover the history of Valentine’s day and St Valentine, work on mathematical problems in a Valentine’s context, create Valentine’s cards and write stories about great romances and read some of the best love poems that great poets had produced.
You had even gone with a colour scheme of red and pink for your outfit that day, despite your mother often saying you shouldn’t mix the two. Your dress was neatly ironed, almost gaudy in its Valentine’s nature, but fun. Your mother would have no doubt said that the lace and frills, the large puff sleeves, were all a bit much. Much too gaudy for you, a simple school teacher to wear. You wore it anyway because that was how you wanted it. Gaudy, happy, joyful, and overly extravagant for a day teaching. It was flattering, following your silhouette and grazing the ground gently. You had placed little delicate pink flower pins in your hair, surrounding your high updo. You had even rouged your cheeks, something which you rarely did anymore, usually much too busy.
You’re at the schoolhouse door smoothing down your skirts when you see the first of your childrens making their way down the main street. Lunch pails are flying behind them, skirts and ribbons whistling in the wind as they run. You greet each of your children with a bright smile and a ‘Happy Valentine’s day!’, like clockwork, as part of their routine they hang their coats, scarves and hats on the coat hooks by the door and settle into their seats, pulling out slates, books, pencils and chalk. They begin to chat amongst themselves as they wait for you and the lesson to begin. You had them well trained and so allowed them the time to chat knowing they’d listen up the moment you called for it.
Little Grogu is the last to arrive, running on little legs beside Din who always walks him to school in the morning before beginning his day as Sheriff. The little boy wraps his arms around your legs in greeting before wandering in with a wave to his father. While he can speak and you’ve witnessed it more and more, he is generally mute, preferring to use other forms of communication. You’ve noticed this little quirk of his, but don’t mind. If he would rather not speak that’s fine, so long as he’s progressing in his school work then you have little to worry about.
“Happy Valentine’s day, Din.” You tuck a stray strand of hair behind your ears, a little nervous to wish him a happy Valentine’s Day, oddly enough. All these months of knowing him and he still makes you nervous, not in a bad way. It had gotten worse since that kiss in the school house, the nerves of wanting him but not being sure if that kiss had truly meant more to him causing you to become shy when near him. You feel completely and utterly safe with Din, yet at the same time feel that bubble of excitement and nerves in your stomach, that roiling sensation you’ve not felt since you were a child with a crush. You wanted him to see you as more than just Grogu’s teacher but as a woman, an unmarried woman, a woman he could potentially see himself with. A future wife. While he’d expressed interest in courting you that day, nothing had happened since whether he’d changed his mind or the busyness of life had taken over, you weren't sure. You had never thought much on the prospect of marriage, despite your mother’s many warnings, you had simply not cared all that much. You had decided to live your life on your terms, as much as possible, but Din...Din was a man you could see yourself marrying.
It had grown over the months of knowing him from an objective enjoyment of his features, an acceptance that he was an incredibly handsome man and kind as well, into what you could only describe as longing. The beginnings of something greater, something akin to love. Din was everything you could ever want in a prospective husband, prospective father of your future children. He was handsome, so much so that you were ashamed of the thoughts that on occasion, usually in the quiet of the night, ran through your mind. He was kind and caring, a surprisingly gentle man despite his broad shoulders, large hands, and more violent profession. Ex-bounty hunters weren’t known for their softness and yet that was the only way to describe how he treated you and the children. He was gentle in voice, never raising it around you, never shouting or yelling, he chose his words carefully. He was soft in the way that he allowed the children to sit in his lap as he told stories or helped them down from trees when they got stuck. He was kind in that he was always caring for you, whether making sure you were given adult company during the school day or ensuring you ate after a long day without stopping. He was protective, but not overbearing. Kind and soft, but not weak. He would make a wonderful husband, that is something you were utterly sure of and you knew that you were not the only unmarried woman in town who’d turned their gaze to him.
So it made you nervous to wish him a happy Valentine’s day because on a day of love, he was someone you wanted to celebrate and yet found yourself too nervous to do so. It wasn’t becoming, it wasn’t ladylike to take that first step, that first plunge into the unknown world that was love. Despite that spontaneous and daring kiss you found yourself thinking of your mother and shying away from making another attempt. Your mother, God rest her soul, had always made it a notable detail, a finer point in the plan of your life. You would be approached by a man, not the other way around, and you would ultimately make the decision as to whether you wished to be courted by him with the intent to marry or whether you did not. Despite breaking tradition in the way you taught your children, this was something you didn’t have the courage for. Not again. While Din had expressed interest in you all those months back, the time between had seen nothing but his usual friendly behaviour. It made you conscious of your behaviour and the risk of getting hurt. If Din had an interest in you as a potential spouse, a riddur as he told you once, then he would have to make the next move.
Now standing before you with one hand behind his back and the other holding his hat by his stomach he looked infinitely more nervous than you expected for simply dropping off Grogu to school. There was a hint of red to his cheeks, the tips of his ears, his deep brown eyes darted around, from the floor to your own, before looking over your shoulder. You hadn’t truly seen him like this, this nervousness was unusual for him and you could have sworn he’d combed his hair with some pomade, an attempt to neaten the unruly dark curls that you thought were quite dashing on him.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Miss Y/N,” You frown at the formality, confused as to why he isn’t calling you cabur’ika like he usually does. The formality of calling you miss had dissolved almost the moment you met him and it was strange coming from his lips after so much familiarity between you. He has only ever called you miss when talking to the children about you.
For Din, he has never felt quite as nervous as in this moment. Perhaps it’s the time that’s elapsed that does it. When he kissed you he meant it, he meant his intent to court you, but his job had become busier over the months after...and in truth, he had doubts about his worth. He was unsure if he was truly enough for you. He felt ungentlemanly, improper, too rough. For months he’d been struggling with whether or not he was good enough for you, he knew you wanted to be courted by him, but was it the right thing for you? After months of soul searching, a healthy dose of want and longing every time he saw you with the children or whenever you smiled at him, he’d decided that it was your choice to make. He wanted to be with you and maybe he wasn’t damn good enough, maybe he wasn’t the man that should get to be with you, but if you wanted him then he wasn’t strong enough or selfless enough to or cold enough to do anything but love you.
“I...I have something for you, it ain’t much but I…well…” The flush to his cheeks grows deeper, a bright beaming red that screams against his bronzed skin. From behind his back he pulls his arm, hand outstretched towards you. He knows there’s a subtle shake to his arm, nerves at bearing his heart open, however, subtly, racing through his blood. More adrenaline than he’s felt anywhere but in a gunfight.
There, clutched tight between the fingers of his left hand is a beautifully bound book, green leather cover and gilded words, tucked between the pages you can see an envelope just peeking out at the top. You gently take it from his hands with your left, the meaning of that burned into your memory from lessons with your mother. To give and receive a gift with the left hand is to recognise and accept an active interest in oneself. The weight of it has your heart pounding in your chest, almost violently so against your ribs. You read the cover, ‘The Complete Poetical Works of Walt Whitman’, the tears gather in your eyes before you have any time or thought to stop them. There’s a blind panic that fills Din’s chest, like the blaring of a ship’s foghorn in his mind, at the sight of tears collecting in your eyes. There’s a moment of genuine fear, that he’s somehow messed up, that he’s caused you to become upset.
Walt Whitman was the poet you used to read with your father every evening after he finished a long day of work, his works are some of your favourite, some of the most important to you, but you’ve never been one to spend money on yourself. You often spend your wage, what little of it you have, on items for the school, books for the children, a globe, an anatomical skeleton. You have a small copy of his works, old and worn, some pages missing. This book means more to you than you think Din knows. Afterall, Walt Whiteman is a well known poet and books are one of the few perfectly acceptable gifts to give to a woman that you are not married or engaged to. It was presumptuous to assume that the gift had any added meaning behind it. Foolish your late mother might have even said in her damning indictment of romance.
“How did you know?” You clutch the book tight to your chest, heart aching with happiness and longing, that this man had given this to you, on Valentine’s of all days. It brings burning heat to your cheeks, a stutter to your heart, a dryness to your mouth. This is a step that you had dreamed, hoped of, that move towards something more. This was confirmation that he meant it all those months back, that he intended to court you and hadn’t had a change of heart.
“You...he’s the poet you mention the most when you’re teaching the little ones, cabur’ika” You realise what this is, what this all means. He isn’t just a kind sheriff or your friend, he’s an unmarried eligible man showing you that he’s paid attention to you, that he’s interested. There’s a shift, a shift from the easy friendship to a new undercurrent of tension at the unspoken understanding between the two of you, at the prospect of courtship that he’s extending towards you. It’s not a marriage proposal, it’s not marriage, but it’s an offer to begin on the road towards that. It is confirmation that the kiss you’d shared hadn’t been a mistake, a whim, something fleeting and insubstantial.
It makes your heart flutter in your chest at the prospect that Din Djarin is putting his foot forward, extending a possibility, an opportunity, a potential future. That out of all the unmarried women in town Din was actively showing interest in you. He could have picked any number of beautiful, intelligent, eligible women to show interest in, to potentially court, but he’d chosen you. The weight is added at the prospect that he’s not just offering you a marriage, but a family, because little Grogu is part of his world, part of his life and you would never want anything less.
“Thank you, Din...I...Thank you.” You feel a little lost for words, they’re stuck in your throat, knowing that there are so many things you wish to say but so many things you can’t say.
“I should leave you to your teaching, Miss Y/N. I…” There’s a pause as he thinks over the words in his mind, and stops himself. Din is a fool for you, that he is certain, but the last thing he wants at that moment is to make a larger fool out of himself. So he places his hat back atop his head and says, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
You watch as he says a sweet goodbye to Grogu, kneeling briefly on the ground to touch his forehead to the boy’s before reminding him to ‘be good’ for you.
The envelope is a temptation, sticking out from the top of the book, it calls for you to open it in that instant. But, you don’t, smiling at Din as he walks down the street towards the sheriff’s office, you turn back to head inside, Grogu walking with you to his seat, ready for you to teach the class. Despite the nagging desire to see what letter, what words lie in that envelope, you place the book atop of your desk and begin your day of teaching. You attempt to put the letter to the back of your mind, to keep the thoughts of being courted by Din at bay so that you can effectively teach, but you know you are distracted.
The children are just as unfocused as you, the day goes both fast and slow with dramatics abound. Jonah receives at least 5 love letters, Grogu catches a frog for little Mary-Beth and your entire class takes time to gift you with a drawing by themselves of you and the entire class.
Despite a whole class to distract you, you find it hard to teach, your eyes drifting back to your desk. That unassuming little envelope poking out from beneath the pages of a little poetry book that means more to your soul than you can possibly put into any sort of words. You find yourself thinking ahead, of the future, of Din. If he did indeed wish to court you, to go down that path of potential and intended marriage, then he was truly to be part of your future, he and Grogu.
There was no doubt in your mind that you’d accept such a proposition, that you wanted him in your future. Din was your friend, something that had taken very little time in truth. From the moment you’d met him and his son, he’d managed easily to worm his way into your affections without even a thought to do so. He was kind, competent, caring. He was good with children. Respected you, your intelligence and your authority in your classroom. While he happily joined you to tell stories to the children he would always defer to you and respect your right to dictate what happened inside your school house. He helped when you needed it, but never jumped so eagerly to help that he took over when you did not need it. While he was certainly quiet, had a temper hidden beneath it all and a danger to him that you’d seen on the few occasions he felt the town or it’s occupants were in danger, he had never made you feel anything but safe and secure. He had proven himself competent the moment he stepped into town, arranging your school house to be built and demanding the respect of every inhabitant. He had done more for you in the months you’d known him than anyone else had done in years.
He, in truth, captured your attention unlike any other person you’d ever met. You had always had an abstract desire for love, marriage, a family. But, no one had ever caught your attention, no man had ever been thought of as a potential father to your children or life companion. Din from the start had you take notice, you couldn’t quite comprehend the idea that he wanted to potentially marry you of all people.
He had his fair share of admirers, in a small town like your own, he was the man that stood out the most and one of the most handsome. He had a lot of eyes on him at all times and you assumed that he knew it, some were less subtle and ladylike than others. You knew he’d received a few propositions, something your mother would have been horrified at, but he’d yet to accept a single offer. To receive one from him, meant that out of all the people lined up outside the sheriff’s office begging for his attention, he’d chosen you. Something which excited you.
It’s on your lunch break, the children running around outside, that you finally have time to pull the envelope from its resting place between pages of inked words and sit with it. When you retrieved it from between pages of poetry, you had found yourself faced with little dried and pressed flowers between the pages of Walt Whitman’s works. A little additional that made a smile crawl across your lips. You’re sitting on the front steps, watching the kids play, one eye on them, the other on the unassuming letter in your hands. Grogu has come to join you, toddling up the steps on little legs before plonking himself down next to you, leaning his chubby cheek into your arm.
“Shall we see what your buir has written, mm?” You ask the little boy, he grins up at you at the mention of his father, he’s missing a couple of his baby teeth right at the front and the gap adds to the sheer adorable nature of the boy. You don’t know how much he knows, but Grogu has always seemed to know more than he let on, to understand the world around him better than most. There was always an intelligence behind those big eyes that made you think he knew more than either you or Din.
The envelope is unassuming, just a cream coloured piece of paper, neat cursive writing along the front spelling out your name. You’ve never seen Din’s handwriting before and it speaks of someone who received a decent education, hours of being drilled on the correct way to hold a dip pen, how to form each letter. There’s a hesitation to the writing that speaks of someone who hasn’t had reason to write in a while, a little judder to the letters. You trace a fingertip over your name, how it looks in his hand, black ink stark against cream paper. It looks pretty when he’s writing it, you think.
You turn over the envelope and slide a finger underneath the lip of it, careful to open it and not tear the paper in your haste. You glance up briefly at the sound of a yell, seeing that Jerome is fine and just laughing with the others, red in the face from receiving a kiss to the cheek, you turn your gaze to the folded letter that you pull from it’s confines.
It takes everything within you to keep your composure as you read the letter. There is a girlish part of you that wishes to giddily squeal, throw the page into the air and run around in circles to express the sudden burst of energy that fills you. Instead, you sit there calmly, fingers and hands shaking as your eyes dart across the page following each line, hungry for the next.
Dearest cabur’ika, Y/N,
In truth I do not know how to write this letter to you, but it felt less forward and presumptuous to put my thoughts onto paper than to speak them to you clearly and in the open where the town gossip would get involved. I do not want you to feel forced to return my affections or embarrassed by them. While we’ve shared a kiss and i’ve expressed my intent towards you in the past, it has always been private, quiet and anything but bold. It has always left room for doubt, uncertainty and movement. You deserve surety.
I have never been nor will I ever be a poet or a writer. I am a former bounty hunter, a sheriff, a mandalorian. I was raised to fight, to defend, not to write poetry or put down my thoughts and feelings into prose. I apologise if this letter is less than you dreamed of. If it fails to live up to lofty expectations or childhood dreams.
I wish to make it plain and clear to you that I find you to be beautiful. Not just in form, or face, but in soul. You are a protector, a guardian, a caregiver and teacher. From the moment I met you you treated myself and my son with a kindness that I doubt I will ever forget. You have enchanted me in body, soul and mind. When I kissed you in the schoolhouse it was not on a whim, nor was it a false promise. I had and have every intent to court you, to one day marry you. I apologise that I have been distant or allowed room for doubt to grow.
I am eager to see but a glimpse of you in the day, to make you smile or offer you some respite. I am eager to hear your voice even as you talk about topics I have no interest in. I am eager to be in your presence, to see the kindness with which you treat each of your children and the sweetness of your smile, the fierceness of your nature when called upon to protect your class. In the words of Walt Whitman, ‘you do not know how longingly I look upon you’.You are mandokarla, built with the soul of a warrior, the kindness of a mother, and the mind of a teacher. Perhaps my words are too strong or forward, perhaps you do not share my feelings, but I wish to lay my intentions at your feet. I do not wish to presume you return these feelings, perhaps that kiss was a moment of weakness, perhaps your feelings have changed. But I cannot in good conscience go on as we have.
I wish to step out with you, I wish to court you for the town to see, to one day marry you. If you ever allowed me such an opportunity I think I might be the luckiest of men, to have you join me in equal partnership as my riddur. To wake each morning to your smile, to raise our children and Grogu with you. To help you at your weakest and stand and watch you at your strongest. I long to build a life with you.
I ask, will you allow me the great honour of courting you?
If you do not feel the same then I shall end my pursuit, I shall respect your feelings or lack thereof and we shall be friends, as we have been. But, please, consider my words. I would be blessed if you ever saw me worthy of you, you would not just be an excellent riddur, but a loving buir to Grogu. If I did not feel seriously about you I would not make this offer. But, the choice is yours and I shall respect it no matter what your decisions may be.
Yours with love and affection,
The shake to your breath comes from a good dose of shock and giddiness that collide together inside of your chest like two wagons that haven’t been watching where they were going. It’s not a proposal, but it is a proposal at the same time. There is a giddiness that fills you knowing that Din wishes to step out with you, that he wishes to show the town his intention to one day marry you, that he has affection past that of friendship for you. It’s the giddiness that comes from returned affections, shared interest, you no longer feel as if you are the only one gazing at the other, that your feelings are unrequited. It feels as if all that worry, all that doubt had been for naught, simply a foolish girlish thing to do. How had you ever doubted his intentions towards you?
“Miss, it’s time for history…” It’s Annie standing in front of you, hands on her hips to remind you that you need to call the children in, that has you hastily folding the letter and pocketing it, picking Grogu up and resting him on your hip as you rise. You, as most teachers, do not have the time to be giddy or dwell on love confessions during the school day.
The day drags on in its last moments. Your desire to return home, to write a carefully crafted response, to find some sort of gift in addition, has you counting the seconds, minutes, and hours as they slowly tick by. Your children can tell you are unfocused and they become incredibly distracted as a result, but despite this you can’t find it in yourself to be frustrated or irritated, not today of all days when your patience with them has been extended by your supernaturally good mood.
When Din collects Grogu at the end of the day you give him your sweetest smile and thank him earnestly for the letter. He isn’t sure what it means. It’s not an outright rejection or acceptance and despite the burning desire in his chest to receive an answer, he knows how to be patient, tipping his hat at you and offering to walk you home as a gentleman does.
It isn’t unusual for Din to walk you home after the school day ends, even on nights where you stay late at school he often comes back with Grogu to walk you as the dark sets in. He has never been anything but a gentleman when it comes to making sure you get home safe even in a small town where very little happens and you know everyone. Still, you’ve always appreciated the gesture and you do now, even if wrapping your arm through his and walking side by side takes on a new tension, a new feeling.
There’s a little thought in the back of your mind, niggling, that you can’t quite get rid of. The thought that this is what your little family could look like if all goes well. That you, with your arm wrapped through Din’s, hands in the crook of his elbow, and him, with Grogu on his hip, little arms wrapped around his neck, could easily be a future image of a family. Not just the Sheriff, a single father, walking the school teacher home because he’s polite and gentlemanly.
“Thank you again, for the letter and the poetry book. I...you don’t understand how much it all means to me, Din. I...I want to respond properly, take my time….I.” The air is cold, as it always is in early February, but your entire body feels warm as you try to explain that you’re not rejecting his offer. You don’t want him to doubt for a second that you intend to say yes, but it doesn’t feel right to say it. There’s a desire to take your time, to write a heartfelt reply, to ensure that the time he took for you, you take in return.
“You ain’t gotta tell me right away. It’s okay to take your time, mesh’la.” The reassurance has your shoulders dropping, a sense of relief, the removal of pressure. Any fear you had that Din would grow impatient dissipates and you're reminded once more of how safe you feel with him. Both physically and emotionally. He is a calming, solid presence. There is nothing fickle or finicky about Din and that is a relief when so much of your social world is confusing to navigate.
“Thank you.” You tell him earnestly, drawing closer to him as you walk. Your side pressed fully into his, hip to hip, arm to arm. You cannot truly comprehend Din Djarin, the many elements that make him a better man than most, but you don’t think you have to fully comprehend him to enjoy being around him, to find comfort in him. Perhaps it will take years for you to fully understand who he is, but you like to believe you’ll get the time to do so. To learn him just as well as he seems to have learnt you.
Your home isn’t particularly large. When you first came to town the Mayor had informed you that the post of teacher came with a small lodging. It was small; a separate bedroom off of the main living area, a water closet out in the back garden, enough room in the kitchen and living area for your tub to be placed in front of the fire when you need to wash. It was, however, homey, something Din had admired from the first.
You ensured that blankets and pillows, knick knacks and trinkets covered the space. That it felt like a lived space, a place filled with love and warmth.
He’s reluctant to leave you when he reaches the top step to your door. There’s a part of him that rarely wants to part from you, that enjoys your company even if it’s silent. You are comforting and familiar, he feels like he can be himself around you. There’s an implicit trust between the two of you. He trusts you with his son, he trusts you with his safety and protection, he trusts you with himself and even his heart, something he has protected ever since the death of his parents at the hands of bandits and thieves. He would be happy so long as he is in your presence and it is that fact that makes him certain about his decision to propose courtship, there is no one he would rather spend the rest of his days with. Terrifying, overwhelming, massive, but he can sense how entirely worth it it will be.
The two of you go to say goodnight at the same time, stopping short and laughing under your breath. You tug at the fabric of your skirt and shift, feeling a wave of embarrassment at talking over each other, an odd feeling when neither have done anything to be embarrassed of.
Grogu shifts on his father’s hip, leaning forward a hand reaching out to wave at you. You begin to smile, waving back at the little boy, your smile only grows wider when the usually mute boy giggles out “Goodnigh’!” at you with a large smile on his face.
The boy manages to break the tension with a simple word and smile, once again you wonder if he knows more than he lets on. That this six year old is, perhaps, wise beyond his years.
“Goodnight, Grogu. Goodnight, Din.”
“Goodnight, cabur’ika” There is a pause from Din as if he wishes to say something, before stopping himself, turning and walking down your stairs. You wait there at your door, watching him leave until your eyes can no longer follow his figure as he disappears around a corner and out of sight.
Your home feels empty, unusually so, with their presence gone, but you decide to put your energy and longing into a response. The first part is your famous spiced cookies. You know that Mandalorians prize spiced foods highly, a cultural aspect that your teacher Atin’a Caivass had shared with you as a child.
The recipe was hers, one thing she gifted you, shared with you, and entrusted to you. So you get to work, mixing together flour, butter, sugar, egg. Adding spices that are one of the little luxuries you deign to spend a little extra on. They’re the sort of cookies that have a lovely mixture of sweetness and kick, they hit you in the back of the throat just enough to make your mouth tingle. The coco powder in them balances out the heat nicely,
Once the cookies are on the side cooling you hunt out your letter writing items. You haven’t had reason to write a letter since the passing of your parents many years ago. But, you know, in your organised way, where your things are. You collect your writing paper, envelopes, dip pen, ink. You find out your sealing wax, the stamps you haven’t used in years. You lay out each item on your kitchen table with care, feel a thrill go through you that you haven’t felt in years. You always enjoyed writing letters, taking your time to put thoughts and feelings into words onto paper.
You take up your pen, dip the metal nib into black ink and bring the tip to cream, clean, fresh paper and begin to write.
Dearest Sheriff Djarin, Din.
There are few words in the expanse of the dictionary that could truly describe how I felt upon reading your letter. Ever since the kiss we shared I had worried, doubted. I was scared that perhaps you had changed your mind, decided that I was not worth your time, that I was not of interest anymore. When to me you had only become further ingrained in my dreams and wants. I was scared that I had made a terrible fool of myself.
To know that those feelings are returned, that you can see a life and a future with me means the world, it means everything. Grogu and you have become an inextricable part of my life, a part I would never wish to do without. You and that sweet boy make my soul sing and as Walt Whitman once aptly put ‘I am to see to it that I do not lose you’.
You enchant me and thrill me to no end and perhaps that is not ladylike to say, perhaps I should write a quick acceptance of your offer and leave it at that, but I feel that such honest and open words should be returned in kind. I adore you.
I adore the crinkle in your brow, the blinding smile when you drop your guard. I adore the kind, gentle nature you have around children, the ease with which you cause them to smile and laugh. I adore the respect you have for me, the respect you have for my authority in the classroom. I adore the curls of your hair, the hook of your nose, the patchy beard that grows on your jaw. I find there is very little I do not adore about you, Din Djarin and that is both a terrifying concept and one that I too adore.
There was a time I thought little on marriage. I was told I should marry, but what of it? Why would I? You have, for the first time, made me truly desire marriage, a husband, children, a life of pure domesticity and family.
To put it plainly, and I hope my feelings are not off putting or too forward, I would be glad, happy, ecstatic to one day call myself your wife and to call you my husband, my riddur.
You asked if I would allow you to court me and my answer is yes, a hundred, a thousand times yes. I would love nothing more than to step out with you, to hang on your arm and begin to take steps towards a life together.
I wish to make it equally as clear that Grogu matters to me. That I understand that he is part of this, part of you, and that I would never wish for you to part from each other. If you one day saw me as worthy of becoming his mother then I would take that responsibility on with pride and with love. He is a little angel, he captured my heart from the very first day I met him, even with his mischief and I would never wish to part with the two of you or come between your aliit, only to join it. I understand that he is as much your son, your child, as any child born of your own blood.
I accept your offer of courtship and I knowingly enter into it, and all that it entails.
All my love and affection,
You wait for the ink to dry, in the meantime you take some muslin and begin to wrap the cookies carefully in the fabric. The twine you wrap around you knot into a bow. Redoing it multiple times until you're happy with its shape. There’s no real need for a knot of twine to be perfect, but you want it to look perfect, to be perfect, for him.
The ink of your letter is dry and you’re careful as you go through the motions of folding the pages, slipping them into a crisp envelope and weighing down the lip. You’re selective in your choice of wax and seal, careful as you melt the wax, pour it and stamp it. There’s a quiet calm about it all, sealing your words behind wax and paper. Knowing that the next time they’re revealed the one person they’re meant for will be reading them.
You place the times together on the side with care, ready to be collected in the morning as you leave for the school house. You take a few moments to think about when it would be best to deliver them, deciding that as much as it pains you to wait, the evening, after school, is better than the morning. It would simply distract you more, you have little time to do it, and the evening gives you that time to talk, to enjoy the change in your relationship.
You go to sleep that night with thoughts of Din’s smile, the one he gives whenever he tells a story to your class, soft, gentle, filled with contentment. Thoughts of the way his hair curls over his ears and his neck moves as he swallows. Thoughts of how he had come into your little mining town of Navarro and shaken everything up in the best sort of way, put to right all the wrongs, solved problems and brought forth solutions.
When you wake the next morning you’re extra particular about what you choose to wear, how your pins look in your hair and how much rouge is on your cheeks. You know, deep down, that Din could care less about the way your hair is pinned or how much rouge is on your cheeks, but it’s something to occupy your hands and mind in the morning before you get to the school house. Once you’re teaching you know you’ll have little time to worry or think about the response you intend to pass on to Din at the Sheriff’s office that evening, but in the meantime you busy yourself with your daily routine.
The day seems to drag, your smile and good morning to Din as he drops Grogu off for school is filled with tension and unspoken words. Your lessons seem to take forever to teach and where you’d normally be enthused you find yourself more eager for the day to end than anything else.
Paz is the one to come by and collect Grogu at the end of the day. The large man had settled into town as the deputy not a month into Din’s stint as sheriff. You knew that Paz and Din were close, practically brothers, having grown up together in the covert and that had been the main reason for you warming to him so quickly. Without Din’s presence you would have likely shied away from Paz. He was large, if you’d thought Din was broad shouldered, then he had nothing on Paz, who was a veritable giant. His size and his resting scowl made him intimidating, but his interactions with the children and women of town showed his character instantly. Like another Mandalorian you knew he’d been gentle and sweet, respectful, despite his size and intimidating demeanor. You liked Paz, even if he seemed to enjoy embarrassing you around his brother.
“Hey there, Little One!” You watch Paz crouch down, arms open as the little boy barrels towards him as fast as his little legs can go. Grogu absolutely adored Paz, he was his uncle, his ba’vodu, and the little boy loved being swung about, hefted to and fro by the giant man. It was the tenderness with which Paz always encompassed Grogu in his arms, lifting him gently to his shoulders, that reminded you of the soul inside Paz. The cover of his book was intimidating, scary, tough, the face of a mercenary and bounty hunter, but his inner pages, his soul was just as soft as Din, just as caring. You were happy to call Paz a friend.
“Hello, Paz”, You smile up at the man, Grogu now sat about his shoulders, arms wrapped around the top of his head with a little smile. The man in question smiles down at you, “Good evenin’, cyar’ika”, You smile wider at the familiar endearment, happy to see your friend even if the nerves from your impending visit to Din buzz in your stomach and chest.
“Is Din working late?”
“Yeah, the kid’ll be at mine for the night, Din’s working the graveyard shift so to speak.” You’re, in truth, glad that Paz is watching Grogu for the night, that Din is working late. It gives you the privacy to give your response, without either the watchful eyes of a child or any other sort of audience.
“Well, have a good night, Paz”
“Not as good as yours i’m sure” It’s said with that teasing glint that Paz often gets in his eye and a smirk that twists the shape of his beard. It causes a sort of panic to fill you, at the thought that Paz knows, that he knows what’s going on even if it’s completely believable and acceptable that Din would tell his brother about his intentions towards you. Your body feels warm all of a sudden and you're sure there’s a look of panic in your eyes because Paz’s glint softens down to something kind and gentle as he nods a goodnight to you and walks away.
You force yourself to go about your normal routine, spending a few hours at the school house marking books, organising the next day’s lessons, tidying up and generally making sure you were ready for all your children the following morning. You may spend a little too much time rearranging the items on your desk and sharpening pencils that don’t really need to be sharpened.
It’s as the sun begins to dip low in the February sky, and people begin to light lamps in their houses or, for those with enough money, turn on their electric lights that you finally decide enough is enough and grab the parcel and letter from your desk. You march with a strange sort of determination, that hides the mess of emotions you are inside, across the street and to the Sheriff’s Office. It doesn’t matter that Din had already shared his feelings with you, you were still nervous of his reaction, had you responded well enough? Was it romantic enough? Would something in your letter be off putting for him? Was it too forward? Not clear enough?
He is leaning back in his chair, legs crossed on top of his desk, heels of his boots digging into the wood of the table. The warm light from various gas lamps bounces across Din’s features, accentuates the sharpness of his cheek bones, the curve of his hawkish nose, the shadow from the brim of his hat.
His chair makes a sharp screech across the floorboards as he rushes to stand at the sight of you, feet falling to the floor as he bounces to them. The hat is swept off his head, politely removed to show the curls of his hair as he, dare you say nervously, tugs at his waistcoat and checks his attire. It’s somewhat relaxing, the endearing nerves with which he greets you, the quick attempt to perfect himself, to show you the best of him, even if you would have happily been greeted by him even if he were covered head to toe in mud.
“Cabur’ika…” He’s a little breathless and it causes a flush to reach his cheeks. He’s embarrassed that he sounds like a school aged kid, that he isn’t standing before you behaving like a man, an adult. But, you take the breath out of him. You’re frazzled looking after a long day teaching, the hair of your up-do frizzy and falling out in places, chalk across your cheeks and skirt, wrinkles in your clothes that he was sure weren’t there that morning, but you still looking breathtaking, you still make his heart jump a beat.
“Din…” You’re breathless yourself, it feels like your nerves have a hand around your throat, a tight grip keeping the breath from leaving your lungs. You fumble a little as you step towards him, tripping on a loose floorboard but catching yourself. Your hands nearly drop the precious cargo they’re carrying and you clutch tighter in response.
“I...uh...Here.” You had the parcel and letter to him, as he reaches for the envelope first you panickedly say, “The parcel! Open...open the parcel first?” He can see the nerves in you, the way you twist your fingers and bite at your bottom lip, in an effort to ease them he nods with a smile and puts the envelope on his desk, focusing on the package of muslin and string.
He’s careful as he opens it on his desk, pulling apart the perfect bow you’d tied and unravelling the package with careful hands. His fingers are too delicate in that moment for such large hands, for hands that have choked men unconscious and lassoed bounties, that have held guns. It’s odd for him, how easily he has fitted into the domesticity of town, odd, but not unwelcome.
The wrappings fall away and he’s greeted by the sight of warm brown cookies, irregularly shaped, although somewhat circular. They’re delicious looking, but what gets him the most is the smell, it reminds him of winter nights in the covert, of his adopted parents and warm cookies and milk, spices that he’s almost forgotten about. He should really ask before grabbing one and tucking in, but he can’t resist the urge to find out if the spices are the ones he remembers from his childhood.
The cookie is moist and soft as it crumbles away easily onto his tongue, he can’t resist closing his eyes at the taste. He recognises the spices, the taste taking him back to fond memories and warmth, a familial bond between him and those who had taken him in, protected him, given him a purpose, a life. He finishes the whole thing without really realising it.
You watch on, anxious to see if he likes them. It had been a risk, spicing the cookies, you hoped the significance to his culture was a good thing and not bad. You found yourself second guessing your decision as his brow furrowed, eyes closing, but then he took the next bite, and the next, until the cookie was no more and Din’s chocolate coloured eyes opened and blinked over at you with the lightest sheen of tears.
“How did you know?”
“I...I had a mandalorian teacher, remember? She...she always liked spiced cookies, I…are they okay? Was...should I not have?” You feel the worry bounce through you, at the thought that you’d crossed some invisible line, some sort of boundary not meant to be crossed.
“No, no! They’re lovely, thank you. They...they remind me of home, Mesh’la.” He’s quick to reassure you, a warm hand reaching out to give one of your own a quick squeeze, just long enough to comfort you, but no longer than appropriate.
You watch him turn back to the envelope, picking it up with care before glancing between the seal and you, eyes darting back and forth as if he is unsure if he is allowed to open it, to read it. “Open it.” You force the words from your throat, nervous for him to read your words, your thoughts and feelings put to paper, but knowing that the relief once he has done so will outweigh your current anxiety.
You stand and watch, a lump in your throat, your hands twisting into your skirt as he opens the envelope. A careful finger pulling the seal free and gently easing the pages of your letter from it’s confines. You wait and you watch, eyes intent on his features as his own carefully trace across the curvature of your words.
He can feel his heart pounding in his ears, feel the tears well in his eyes as he reads further throughout your letter. It is not just your open acceptance of his offer that has his emotions rising within his chest, but the clear admiration of him and the openness with which you accept his son. Grogu was his child, you were right, as much as any child of his own blood would be, and he had, in truth, stupidly worried that you might not accept the boy as your own. Your excitement at the prospect of one day being a mother to him causes his heart to ache in the best sort of way.
Din was purposeful as he placed the letter down and strode up to you, the toes of his boots touching the hem of your skirt. He invades your personal space in a way that sets your skin aflame, yet it is not uncomfortable. You welcome his presence as much as it causes your heart to beat rapidly and your throat to swallow.
“May I kiss you?” He asks, his voice soft and gentle, the southern twang just under the surface. He’s so close you can feel the warmth from his skin. You nod, letting out a shaky breath as his hands come up to cup your cheeks. So large they enclose you so well, make you feel secure even as your heart tries to stutter out of your chest. It matters little that you’ve kissed before, that was quick, this was slow, your attention undivided, your thoughts completely encapsulated by him and his entire being. His hands are warm against your cheeks, thumbs brushing back and forth in gentle strokes as he gages your reaction, eyes focused on your own. He’s slow as he moves forward, as if giving you time to back out, to pull away, but you don’t.
He tastes like spices and sugar, the cookie lingering on his tongue long after it had melted away. He is soft, but not so gentle, the gentle, delicate nature of your last kiss is replaced by depth of emotion, passion and fire. His lips firm against yours, a large hand cupping the back of your neck to pull you closer, while the other falls to your waist. His beard scratches against your skin pleasantly and you think you could happily grow used to this. You think little of propriety, of politeness, when you open your lips to his and meld yourselves closer together, think little of it as you clutch at his shoulders and breathe him in, as your fingers come up to tangle in those chocolate curls and tug incessantly, as his tongue tangles with your own. There is no fear of it going too far, of Din pushing you for more, of demanding more because you both know the lines that must not be crossed, because you trust him implicitly and because you know he respects you enough to not risk your reputation or livelihood for something carnal or baser, even if he desires it. Even if you desire it.
The lack of fear is what allows you to get swept up in the kiss, in the feeling of his hands and lips on you, the warmth of his skin, the smell of his soap. It allows you to forget that the world outside exists, that you are not in your own private world, but in the easily accessible space that is the Sheriff’s Office.
The spell is broken by the sound of the door slamming open and heavy, booted footfalls on the floorboards. You pull apart with a gasp and Din is quick to stand in front of you, as if to protect you from view, scowling at his deputy in the doorway. Not even the little boy on Paz’s shoulder can take the frustration from Din, he is frustrated at the interruption, embarrassed for you, that you were caught in a compromising position, and irritated by the smirk that’s heavy on Vizsla’s lips.
Paz hadn’t meant to interrupt, in truth he hadn’t expected to find you there, lips locked to his brother, but Grogu was being fussy. Refusing to eat his dinner and then outright refusing to be put to bed. Paz had decided the kid just needed to see his buir, he hadn’t expected Din to be...in the middle of something.
“Am I interrupting something, Djarin?” He’s teasing and he feels a little sorry when he sees how embarrassed you look, but it’s worth it for the glare he gets from Din. His smirk widens as Din practically growls at him, teeth clenched tight.
“Vizsla, don’t make me shove my boot where the sun don’t shine. Ne shab’rud’ni.” He softens a little at Grogu grinning at the two of you, but he still wishes the interruption had never come. He knows it was inevitable, he has a young son, the chances of romance going uninterrupted are slim, still…
“We’ll be outside, Vod. Don’t take too long” Paz says it, still with that smirk attached to his face. He’s gracious enough to give Din a little more time with you, before demanding the man take his son home and tuck him in bed.
The door closes softly behind him, the moment he’s out of sight Din turns back to you, sighing out an apology, “I’m sorry, cyare…”
He presses his forehead to your own, hands smoothing across your waist and back in gentle motions. As if trying to soothe the embarrassment from you, bring you back to a sense of peace that had since been disrupted.
You push your forehead back into his and nudge his nose with your own, “Don’t be. He’s your son.” You mean it. As embarrassing as being interrupted is, as frustrating as it may be, you understand. His son is massively important, and he’s young, there are bound to be interruptions. It’s okay.
“So, we’re really doin’ this, huh? Haven’t changed your mind yet, Mesh’la?”
“Not at all…” You press forward, a soft, sweet little kiss to lips before pulling back, “You should go...Grogu needs you. Wish him a goodnight for me?” You pull away slowly, untangling yourself from his arms despite your own reluctance. You want to stay there, warm and safe forever, but Grogu needs his father and you do not have the heart to deprive him.
Din doesn’t want to leave you, but you make the decision for him, grabbing his hat and carefully plopping in atop his head before ushering him out the door. You watch as he takes Grogu from Paz, putting the boy onto his shoulders and walking with the man down the street.
He can’t help but look back.
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Title: Love Blossoms Here
Summary: Toni noticed her the second she walked into the LGBT Center. How could she not? With her bright red hair, penetrating dark eyes, and blood red lips, this woman commanded attention.
Notes: Written for cherylmarjorieblossom as part of the Black is Beautiful Exchange.
Toni noticed her the second she walked into the LGBT Center. How could she not? With her bright red hair, penetrating dark eyes, and blood red lips, this woman commanded attention. Not to mention the fact that she was absolutely gorgeous. She looked a little lost, a little unsure of herself, but then again, many first timers to the LGBT Center did.
Toni watched as a determined look slid onto the woman’s face and she stepped into the room. Her eyes swept the room, landing on each person in the Center until her eyes locked with Toni’s, making a jolt pass through Toni’s body. Toni had to bite her lip to keep from shivering. Yeah, this woman was going to be trouble. She just knew it.
The woman wandered over, purpose behind every step of her three inch heeled shoes. Toni put down the clipboard she’d held and turned to fully face the redhead.
“Hi,” she said in her most welcoming voice when the woman got close enough. “I’m Toni. This your first time in the LGBT Center?”
“How ever did you guess?” she asked. Her voice had a bite to it that Toni liked.
Toni smirked. “I definitely would have remembered you,” she replied.
A pretty blush spread across her cheeks before that determined set to her face came back. “That’s quite a compliment. Do you say that to all the girls?” she asked.
“Definitely not,” Toni admitted. “Just ones I find interesting.”
“And you’re so sure I’m interesting,” the woman said. Her voice was filled with ice, her eyes flinty.
Toni wasn’t sure what she’d done or said to cause the abrupt change in behavior, but she wanted to remedy it. Toni normally wasn’t one to let others get away with being rude to her, but the LGBT Center was the exception. So many of the queer people who showed up at the Center had been burned by cis and straight people that they were wary by nature. Toni was willing to give the woman the benefit of the doubt because there was a set to her shoulders that told her this woman had been through a lot in her life.
“I’m sorry if I’ve offended you,” Toni said. “Let’s start over?”
Just like that, the tension left the woman’s shoulders and she deflated. “Actually, I’m sorry. I’m just so used to people trying to use me that I get defensive.” Ah, so Toni was right. She had been burned.
“I get that,” she said, empathy in her voice. “I think that happens to a lot of us here.”
“Do you get a lot of people here who get defensive like I just did?”
“A fair amount,” Toni admitted. “We all have our story and reasons for why we are the way we are.”
The woman hummed in agreement.
“So, did you come here to talk to someone?” Toni asked.
“I honestly don’t know why I came. I’ve known for awhile that I’m a lesbian, but I’ve never spent much time around other LGBT people. I’ll never admit this out loud again, but I think I’m a bit lonely for company,” the woman said. She had her arms crossed over her chest and looked like she was shutting herself off. Toni recognized it as something she used to do back when she’d first come out several years ago.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” she said. “Why don’t we sit down and talk a bit? Your ankles have to be killing you.”
Just like that, the woman opened back up. “I’ll have you know I can walk in these heels all day long!”
“I have no doubt you can, Red,” Toni replied, amused. She led her over to a small round table and took a seat. After a moment’s hesitation, the woman joined her.
After they settled in, Toni asked, “So what can I call you?”
“Oh,” she said in surprise, “I never introduced myself, did I? I’m Cheryl Blossom.” She stuck out her hand and Toni shook it.
“Toni Topaz,” she said, enjoying the warmth of Cheryl’s smooth hand. “Nice to officially meet you, Cheryl Blossom.”
Something struck at Toni’s memory banks. Blossom was a pretty uncommon last name. Her eyes widened. “You don’t happen to be from Riverdale, do you?”
The expression on Cheryl’s face crumpled. “Yep, I’m one of those Blossoms.”
“Gotcha,” Toni said. For a moment, she didn’t know what to say to Cheryl. Cheryl’s family was the reason that many of Toni’s relatives lost their jobs when they closed the maple syrup plant, making times hard for them for years after. Still, Cheryl would have just been a kid. It wasn’t her fault it happened.
Then she remembered what had been all over the news a few years ago, that one of the Blossom twins had been murdered. That had to be Cheryl’s brother. She was the right age for it. “Oh,” Toni said, her voice soft.
“You’re surely thinking of Jason, aren’t you?” Cheryl asked.
“I really am sorry about your brother,” Toni said. She wished there was something that she could actually do for Cheryl, something more than just offering platitudes she’d likely heard dozens of times before.
“Thank you,” Cheryl said. “I appreciate that, Toni.” Cheryl gave her a smile that was so blinding it made Toni’s breath catch in her throat. Wow, Cheryl truly was beautiful.
Before she could stop herself, Toni said, “I know you probably don’t want to talk about it, especially with someone you just met, but you can talk to me about your brother if you ever want to. My parents died when I was little, so I know what it’s like to lose someone.”
Cheryl looked surprised. Recovering, she said, “Thanks, I might just do that. I’m sorry about your parents too.”
“Thanks,” Toni said. She didn’t like to talk about her parents, not with anyone outside of her family, but she didn’t mind talking about them to Cheryl for some reason. Okay, so Toni knew the reason, but she wasn’t ready to delve into that just yet.
They continued to talk to each other until Cheryl had to go to class. Toni felt as if she could talk to Cheryl for hours. She was disappointed when Cheryl had to leave, but they exchanged numbers so that made her feel a little better. Within minutes, Toni had an incoming text.
Thanks so much for talking with me today. You’re a really great listener. I hope we can see each other again! Xo
Of course Toni had to text back. They continued texting each other throughout the evening. Cheryl sent her a photo of her dinner that she dropped on the ground right outside her dorm and Toni told her stories about growing up on the south side of Riverdale. They might have been from the same town, but they grew up in totally different worlds.
On Thursday, they met up for coffee together in the student union. Standing in line together, Cheryl pointed to a flyer by the cash register. We’re hiring , it read. “I wonder if they would hire me,” Cheryl mused aloud.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, Cheryl, but I thought your family was rich,” Toni said.
“Oh, they are,” Cheryl replied, a peculiar look on her face. “But Mumsy cut me off when I came out to her right before I left for school this year.”
“That’s terrible!” Toni said. Before she knew what she was doing, she grabbed Cheryl’s hand and gave it a little squeeze. A blush stole across her face and she let go.
“Thanks, Toni,” Cheryl said, giving her a half smile. “My parents have always been terrible people. Jason was the only one I really had growing up.”
Cheryl told Toni all about her brother until it was time for them to place their orders. Within a few minutes, they had their drinks and claimed a table on the edge of the cafeteria.
Toni debated with herself about whether she should tell Cheryl about how unaccepting her Nana was. Ultimately, she thought it would create some commonality with her new friend. “And it’s not that I don’t love her - I do - I just don’t understand why she can’t accept who I am.”
“I wish I knew, Toni,” Cheryl replied. “You deserve to be accepted for who you are. You’re wonderful.”
Toni had to fight to keep the blush from her face. “You know you deserve to be accepted for who you are too, Cheryl.”
She watched as Cheryl’s eyes darted to the side. Clearly, there was some part of her that still struggled with accepting herself. Ultimately, Cheryl sighed and looked back at her.
“I know that there’s nothing wrong with being a lesbian, I do. It’s just that I grew hearing my entire life about how bad it is. Sometimes it’s hard to let things like that go,” she said.
Toni reached across the table and took Cheryl’s hand in hers for a second time. “I know,” she said. And she did. Toni liked to think she was a calm, confident, put-together sort of person, but even she had doubts about herself sometimes.
“You’re really easy to talk to, Toni Topaz,” Cheryl said. She laced their fingers together, making Toni’s heart begin to beat hard in her chest. Oh, she was totally in over her head.
“Thank you, Cheryl Blossom,” she said, “You are too.”
Toni went home that day totally confused. While she knew she was attracted to Cheryl, that she had a bit of a crush on her, she was also excited to have a new friend. The Southside Serpents were almost all guys so she’d never really had any female friends growing up. Sure, there were a few people at the LGBT Center that Toni was friendly with, but no one she was particularly close to. It was nice being friends with another woman. She just hoped her crush didn’t get out of hand and ruin her friendship with Cheryl. It had happened to her once in high school and had been devastating because it had ruined the friendship. She didn’t want that to happen again.
Unsure of what to do, she turned to her roommates. Fangs and Kevin were a couple who’d both grown up in Riverdale too, though they went to different schools. They’d met at Pop’s, the local diner, and had bonded over their love of musicals, quickly falling head over heels for each other. Toni loved them to death, but their lovey dovey-ness could be a lot sometimes. Still, they were the best people to talk to when it came to matters of the heart.
“That is the third time you’ve sighed in as many minutes,” Keven said as the three of them sat together on the couch watching the new season of The Great British Bake Off .
“Kev, she’s got a lot on her mind,” Fangs said, cuddling into his boyfriend's side. “It takes a lot of energy to pine over a girl.”
“You two both suck,” Toni said. She grabbed the throw pillow she’d tossed on the floor earlier and whacked them both with it.
“We know!” they said in unison, making Toni roll her eyes.
Fangs leaned around Kevin and patted her thigh. “Why don’t you tell us what’s going on?”
So she told them all about Cheryl, how she was new to being out and how much they got along and how pretty she was. “I do really like her, but I can’t put that on her. She’s new to everything and doesn’t need me projecting on her.”
“She could like you too,” Fangs said.
Toni buried her face in her hands and growled. When she pulled her hands back, she looked at her roommates and said, “But what if I’m the first girl that’s been nice to her and she’s projecting on me ?”
Kevin looked thoughtful. “That’s pretty common for gay and bi people to do after they come out. Maybe you could wait a bit, see how things go?”
Always the diplomat, Fangs said, “In the meantime, why don’t you invite her over? You said this girl doesn’t know any other queer people.”
Toni looked off, her expression thoughtful. “Yeah, I could do that. We could make a movie night of it. Maybe this weekend?”
“Sure,” Fangs said. “We don’t have any plans for Saturday night, right?” Kevin shook his head. “Saturday night then.”
“Great!” Toni said. She felt a bit better. Fangs and Kevin were right, being friends with Cheryl and just seeing where things might go was definitely the route to go. She didn’t want to crowd Cheryl during such a vulnerable time in her life. And she needed a friend, someone who knew what it was like to grow comfortable with their sexuality. Toni could be that person for Cheryl. She wanted to be that person for her. She might have a crush, but she genuinely wanted to be friends with her first and foremost.
Smiling to herself, she grabbed her cell phone from the couch armrest and brought up her text thread with Cheryl.
Movie night at my place on Saturday?
Thirty seconds later, she got a reply. What sort of dress code would movie night entail?
Definitely comfy clothes. We can get out pillows and blankets and make it a sleepover with my roommates. You’ll love them. Cute gay couple.
Sounds perfect! See you Saturday xo
Saturday came much faster than Toni anticipated. It was probably a good thing though because she’d spent the last few days totally distracted. Fangs even commented on how antsy she was.
She just couldn’t help it. The more she and Cheryl texted, the more she liked the sometimes flirty, sometimes wildly sarcastic woman. Sure, she was a little apprehensive about being someone’s first girlfriend right after they came out - that was a lot of pressure on someone - but there was more than that. For one, she didn’t even know if Cheryl felt the same way as she did. And for two, she didn’t know if it was a good time for either of them to get into a relationship.
Cheryl was still figuring herself out and, between classes, her job, and the dance team, Toni was busy all the time. When would she even have the time to hang out with a girlfriend? It was all so confusing that Toni wanted to scream.
“You’re doing that thing again,” Fangs said, taking a seat next to her on the couch. “I can tell.”
Toni scrunched up her face. “What thing?”
He sighed and slung an arm around her shoulders. “That thing where you’re trying to talk yourself out of being happy.”
Toni felt cold shock course through her. “How on earth can you possibly know that?” she asked.
Fangs rolled his eyes. “We’ve been friends forever, Toni. You think I don’t know all your tells by now?”
She raised an eyebrow. “What tells?”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I’m not gonna tell you that because then it will be harder for me to read you.”
Toni pouted, knowing it wouldn’t actually get Fangs to tell her. He was almost as stubborn as she was.
“Right now, I’m guessing you’re psyching yourself out about your girl coming over.”
“She isn’t my girl,” Toni reluctantly said despite how much she wished otherwise.
He rolled his eyes again. “But you like her. I can tell. Hell, even Kevin can tell.”
There was no point in keeping the truth from Fangs. He’d know the truth as soon as Cheryl stepped inside the apartment. It would be written all over her face. For as good as Toni was about keeping her emotions hidden, she wasn’t so good at it when she fell head over heels for someone like she was with Cheryl.
“Yeah, yeah, Fangs, I like her,” she said. “So what?”
He sighed and gave her a look. “Just...just don’t write off your own happiness, okay? I know we’re both used to having nothing, but you’re allowed to take something for yourself once in a while. I look a chance with Kevin and I’ve never been happier.”
Maybe Fangs was right. Maybe she shouldn’t write Cheryl off as a potential girlfriend so quickly. After all, Cheryl was an adult and could make her own decisions about when she was ready to start dating.
After twenty minutes of scrolling and re-scrolling through all her social media accounts (and rereading texts she’d sent to Cheryl) a knock sounded from the door. Toni jumped up, darting to the door. Before she could ever think about it, she yanked the door open to reveal Cheryl wearing cute pink star pajamas and holding a bag and pillow. She still had her hand raised from knocking on the door.
A smile spread across Cheryl’s face, automatically making Toni smile back. “Wow, that was fast,” Cheryl said. She looked happy to see Toni and it made something warm settle in Toni’s stomach. Happiness.
Toni continued to smile at her until an odd look crossed Cheryl’s face. Toni could smack herself. Stepping out of the way, she said, “Sorry! Come in.”
Cheryl did, depositing her bag and pillow on a chair. “It appears that I’m appropriately dressed,” she said, eyes roaming down Toni’s body, taking in her camisole and plaid pajama bottoms.
“You are,” Toni said. Cheryl wasn’t wearing her trademark red lipstick and it made her look a lot younger, somehow softer. Her eyes darted down to look at Cheryl dressed in a tight pink vee neck t-shirt that showed just a hint of cleavage. Her cheeks burned as she looked back up at Cheryl, who simply smirked at her.
Toni was just about to apologize for gaping at her when Kevin and Fangs stepped into the room. “I thought I heard company,” Fangs said, walking over to them.
Kevin stayed rooted to the doorway of his bedroom. “Cheryl?” he said. His voice wavered.
Surprise took over Cheryl’s face. “Keller?”
“Oh, that’s right,” Toni said, “I forgot that we all grew up in Riverdale. You went to the same school, right?”
“You could definitely say that,” Kevin said. He looked like he was about ready to bolt.
Cheryl hesitated but then stepped closer to him. “Kevin,” she said, “I’d like to apologize to you for how I treated you in high school.”
“Um, okay,” Kevin said. His shoulder, which had been tense and raised, slumped back down. “Go on.”
“You probably won’t believe this, but I was so jealous of you in high school. You were out and happy. Your dad accepted you and you were free to be who you wanted and I just couldn’t be. I wasn’t ready to be. I hated myself so much. It didn’t help that when my mom suspected that I was a lesbian, she threatened to send me to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy.”
All four of them grimaced. They knew exactly what happened at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy.
“That doesn’t excuse me being a total bitch to you though,” Cheryl said with a frown. “I don’t know if I deserve your forgiveness, but I do want you to know that I’ve had time to reflect on who I used to be and am sorry.”
“You’re, um, you’re really gay then?” Kevin asked.
Cheryl nodded. “I am. It’s taken me a long time to be able to say it, but yes, I’m gay.”
All the tension in Kevin’s body released. “Okay,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m ready to forgive just yet, but I would like to get to know who you are now.”
“Thank you, Kevin,” she said. She stuck her hand out and Kevin shook her hand.
“Well,” Fangs began, clapping his hands together, “for as nice as this mush fest has been, we have some movies to watch, don’t we?”
They all laughed. He’d always been good at diffusing tension in a room.
Hours later, after Fangs and Kevin headed to bed, Toni and Cheryl lay on the floor together. They faced each other, talking about anything and everything while a movie played in the background.
“What you said to Kevin earlier,” Toni began, “it takes a really big person to admit when they’ve been wrong. I like that about you, Cheryl.”
“It was the right thing to do,” she replied. “He deserved an apology.”
“Yes, he did.”
“After tonight, I think we might even be able to have friends.”
Toni smiled. “I’m glad. Fangs and Kevin are my best friends and if we’re going to be friends, you have to get along with them.”
“Is that all we are?” Cheryl asked, tucking one of Toni’s braids behind her ear. “Just friends?”
Toni sharply inhaled, her breath catching in her throat.
Cheryl frowned. “If I’m reading things wrong, then please let me know.”
Gulping, Toni quickly said, “You aren’t! I was just surprised! I thought I was going to have to pursue you.”
“I’ve always been one to go after what I want,” Cheryl said, widely grinning. “And what I want is you.”
Toni returned her smile. “Oh yeah?”
“Then come and get me,” Toni said. “I’m right here.”
After that, all Toni was aware of was the feel of Cheryl against her, their bodies melding together as they kissed and touched every inch of skin available. They rutted against each other, their legs slotted together as they moved their hips. Toni’s hand slipped under Cheryl’s shirt and she moaned above her.
“Do you want to keep going?” Toni asked, loving the feel of Cheryl pressed against her.
“Oh yes, Toni, I do,” Cheryl said, biting her lip and moving her hips in an enticing circle.
“Me too,” Toni replied.
Her fingers moved to the hem of Cheryl’s t-shirt and she pulled it up Cheryl’s body. Cheryl sat up and pulled her shirt off the rest of the way, revealing lovely pale skin. She wasn’t wearing a bra and her nipples were pink and pulled into hard nubs. Toni’s hands immediately went to them, taking them in her hands. Cheryl threw her head back and moaned. With her red hair falling down around her shoulders, Cheryl looked like a goddess, more beautiful than anyone Toni had ever seen before.
Her breath caught. Damn but she wanted to keep Cheryl with her always.
“Toni, please,” Cheryl murmured, canting her hips forward and riding Toni’s thigh.
Toni grabbed Cheryl’s hips and sat up, her lips just an inch from Cheryl’s. “Anything you want,” she said. “Anything.”
“Touch me,” Cheryl said breathlessly.
“Anything,” Toni repeated.
Without a word, she flipped them over so Cheryl lay on her back, nestled in the pillows and blankets they’d laid on the floor. Her hair spread out around her like a reaching flame, one that Toni felt herself quickly becoming ignited by. She reached down and ran her fingers through Cheryl’s hair. It was just as soft as it looked.
“Toni,” Cheryl murmured. To Toni’s ears, it sounds like a prayer, like the sweetest song she’d ever heard.
She leaned down and kissed her lips, relishing in the taste of her before kissing down the side of her neck, her clavicle, her breasts. She sucked a nipple into her mouth and laved her tongue over it. Cheryl writhed under her.
Cheryl brought her hands up and under Toni’s camisole, quickly stripping her of her shirt and sports bra. Her hands cupped Toni’s breasts and she was sure that she never felt anything as lovely as Cheryl’s hands on her.
“You said you’d give me anything I wanted,” Cheryl began. “Well, I’ve decided that I want to touch you. ”
“Are you sure, Cheryl?” Toni said, straining to think while Cheryl touched her. “I’m more than happy to touch you.”
“I know,” Cheryl said, wearing a cheeky grin. “But I want to touch you first. I want to make you feel good, Toni.”
Toni didn’t even need to think it over. Cheryl touching her sounded like a dream. “Okay.”
Cheryl grinned wickedly at her. “Good,” she said, “now on your back, TT.”
After that, things passed in a haze of Cheryl’s hands on her body, her lips on her thighs, and her fingers buried in Toni’s pussy. It was magnificent and before she knew it, she was coming hard around Cheryl’s fingers.
Slowly, she came down from the pleasure, rolling onto her side to give Cheryl a long kiss after Cheryl laid down next to her. “That was amazing,” she said.
“What can I say?” Cheryl said. “I’m a fast learner!”
“That was your first time?” Toni asked, surprised.
“With a woman,” Cheryl said. “I’ve had sex with men before, but I never enjoyed it. But I really enjoy having sex with you.” Cheryl looked vulnerable as she said it, as if Toni was about to contradict what she’d just said.
“I enjoy it too,” she confessed. Cheryl’s face lit up. “Now, how about I finish what I started before?” And she did. Several times.
They slept cuddled up together all night. For as nice as it felt to have sex with Cheryl, waking up in her arms was a revelation. Toni decided then and there that she wanted to wake up in Cheryl’s arms as often as she possibly could. If she played her cards right, maybe she could do it forever. It was too early to say that for sure just yet, but she had a good feeling about it.
Just as she was getting ready to doze back off, Fangs’ and Kevin’s bedroom door opened and they walked out, stopping near where they lay.
“Toni?” Cheryl mumbled, opening her eyes. When she saw Toni looking at her, she smiled.
“Morning,” Toni said, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
“Good morning!” Kevin said, startling Cheryl. She rolled over in Toni’s arms to look at them standing there. “We thought we heard the sounds of sapphic lovemaking late last night.”
Fangs grinned at them. “And early this morning,” he said.
“And early this morning,” Kevin agreed.
Toni didn’t normally get embarrassed, but she blushed. Over Cheryl’s shoulder she saw that her pale skin had flushed scarlet.
“So,” Fangs said, “are you two Facebook official now?”
Cheryl looked back at Toni. “Are we? Girlfriends?” she asked.
Toni smiled. “I’d like to be.”
“Yeah, me too,” Cheryl said, her cheeks still pink.
Toni heard the guys wander away but paid them no attention. She leaned forward and pressed a sweet kiss to Cheryl’s lips. “I’m glad,” she said. “So glad.”
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Eye of the Beholder
Summary: Sam encourages Cas to try to express himself by taking up drawing. It seems to be a lost cause...until Castiel tries to draw Sam’s soul.
(Something warm and soft and hopeful after FebuWhump)
* * *
Sam leaned against the low wall surrounding the picnic area park and let his head tip back to catch the warmth from the sun. They'd hit this town to check on rumors of a demonic possession at the local college, only to find Claire and Kaia had beat them here and pretty much had the whole thing taken care of. Now, he was enjoying just keeping an ear on the banter as Dean checked over the girls' gear and Jack chattered enthusiastically about the old fantasy novels he'd found on one of the rooms at the bunker (apparently Kaia had heard of the author and they were bonding, much to Claire's amusement).
A hint of movement at his side had him cracking one eye open to see Cas settle into a similar posture. Watching Dean and the kids with a fond look on his face, Cas caught Sam's eye with a smile. “He's good at that.”
“Dean's always been good with kids,” Sam agreed. “Probably because he still acts like he's twelve.”
Cas gave a very un-angelic snort, and Sam shifted around enough to watch the angel now. He couldn't remember when life had been this peaceful before. There were hunts still, sure, but it finally seemed like there wasn't some big bad pulling the strings behind it all. He couldn't remember a time in his life that had been like this—just the routine of the hunt and home, with their own network of friends and family.
It took him a moment to realize Cas's attention wasn't on the others anymore. The angel was looking out across the park at a mural painted on higher wall that ran around the park's perimeter. He was pretty it was a memorial to the town's history as part of the underground railroad, based on what he'd learned before they got here.
“I think the high school kids work on that every year,” Sam commented, nudging Cas with his shoulder. “When I was researching the town I found an article that said it was one of their graduating projects, and every year a group of students repairs and restores the mural.”
Cas shook his head and looked back at Sam. “Humanity's capacity for creation will always amaze me.”
Sam blinked. He hadn't...thought about it like that. Dean had always said Cas was just a weird little nerd, but was that why he always seemed to stop when he saw a statue, or a carving, or a painting? That it wasn't a type of art he preferred, but he was appreciating the human act of creating art?
“Have you ever tried?” Sam asked, trying to be casual about it. “Making something, I mean.”
The look Cas shot him was quick, but Sam thought his friend looked grieved. “Angels weren't made to create. We can only replicate.”
Sam started to protest, but hesitated. Zachariah's Beautiful Room...he'd offered Dean things from Dean's past, not some idealized thing he'd want. Gabriel had pulled from human television to make his TV world. Even Lucifer, in creating Jack, had used a human body to impregnate a human, not some celestial act of creation.
“Have you ever tried?” he repeated.
Cas pushed away from the wall. “There's enough in this world to admire,” he replied, though he wouldn't meet Sam's eyes and his shoulders remained tense. “You don't need my...'pitiful scratchings'.”
* * *
Cas's words twisted through Sam's head as he followed the others through the small downtown area back toward the hotel. Had Cas ever tried to make something around them? Had one of them said something like that? Or was this some distant event from heaven, some other angel stomping out any fraction of individuality?
He pulled up as they passed a small, disorganized craft store. “Hey, go ahead without me,” Sam called when Dean turned around. “We need a couple things.”
Sam waited until the others turned away, giving Jack a reassuring nod and smile, before pushing the door open and slipping inside the store. It was cramped inside, with shelves and bins overflowing, and the smell of cinnamon and beeswax filling the air. It wasn't completely a lie...they always needed things like natural pigments and scraps of leather for hex bags, and some places sold essential oils or crystals he liked to keep on hand for emergencies.
It just wasn't why he was here now. He squeezed past a rack of wooden beads and nearly knocked a dressmaker's mannequin over, but finally found the drawing section. The sketchbooks were easy enough to sort through—he grabbed a large one with a dark cover that had an elastic band to keep it closed when not in use. The pages were about the size of a standard sheet of printer paper, so it was big enough for Cas to have lots of room to experiment on each page but small enough to travel with him. The drawing supplies, though, were a little harder.
Sam stared at the selection of pencils, paints, and markers. If Cas had truly never tried something like this before, where could he even begin? Would he want something like colored pencils, that would have a smooth texture on the page but need to be kept sharpened? Or paints, which might be easier to blend and shade but wouldn't be portable? Or start with the very basics and get a box of crayons and hope Cas didn't think it was too childish?
A long, flat box at the end of the shelf caught his eye. Pastels. He had a flash of memory of one of Jess's friends in college who worked with pastels, the way their hands swept over the canvas to leave bright ribbons of color and then darted back to smooth and shade. Sam could suddenly imagine Cas, pastel stick in hand, a smear of pigment on his chin, brow furrowed in concentration as he filled a canvas with bright color.
He bought the sketchbook and pastels plus some silver charms to make a stronger protection hex bag for Claire's car, to make it seem like the drawing supplies had been a spur-of-the-moment thing. By the time he got back to the hotel Dean had already ordered pizza, while Kaia and Jack had Claire sandwiched between them on the couch as they tried to convince her to watch an old fantasy movie with them (Sam was on their side, Willow was awesome). Cas looked up from picking at the label on his beer bottle when Sam walked up to the table, eyes widening further in surprise when Sam set the bag from the craft store down in front of him and presented the drawing supplies with a flourish.
“I thought you might like to try,” Sam explained as he pulled out a chair and sat down next to Cas at the room's little table. “I mean, I'd kind of be interested in seeing an angel's...uh...'pitiful scratchings', you know?”
Cas hesitantly ran the tips of his fingers over the dark cover of the sketchbook. “Sam...”
“Just try?” he suggested. He scooted closer so that his shoulder brushed Cas's, knowing the physical contact helped when the angel was dealing with something new or difficult. “No one's gonna laugh if you can't do it. Well, maybe Dean, but he's an ass.”
“I heard that!” Dean shouted. As far as Sam could tell, his brother was completely focused on something on his phone. That was obviously just an automatic response.
The angel was quiet. Then, slowly, he tugged the pastels out of the bag and lifted the lid of the box. The colors almost seemed to glow under the room's overhead light, and Cas gently brushed the bright gold stick with the tip of one finger. “I'll try.”
“Good,” Sam bumped Cas's shoulder with his own, then leaned a little more closely against him, grounding him. “I can't wait.”
* * *
Sam bit his lip as he flipped through the first few pages of Cas's sketchbook. The angel leaned against the table almost despondently, arms folded across his chest and head tipped forward so that Sam couldn't see his eyes.
“These are good,” Sam said, trying to sound encouraging. “I mean, they look just like the, uh, things you were sketching. That's...that's good.”
Technically speaking, the sketches were good. There was a vase of wild flowers Kaia had put on the kitchen table the second day of her and Claire's visit. The bust of one of the old Men of Letters. Jack's profile as he read from a large leather-bound book. They were perfect and lifelike and exact, yet somehow...empty.
Cas took the sketchbook out of his hands and gently folded it closed. “Angels weren't given the breath of life,” he said, his voice quiet in the stillness of the library. “We can't...we can't create, Sam. All I can do is copy. These are copies of life.”
Sam winced. “Maybe you just need some practice. I mean, this is your first time, right? Nobody's perfect their first time.”
His friend's smile was sad when Cas finally looked up at him. “I feel no inspiration, Sam. I look at the world and nothing calls to me. The flowers and Jack...I chose those because I knew that was what a human might choose. I could have just as easily chosen the scalpels in the infirmary, or the backseat of the Impala, or every doorknob in the bunker. There's no...it's not creation, Sam. They're just copies of life.”
With a sigh, Sam ran one hand through his hair. “Cas, a lot of artists struggle with that. Maybe you just haven't found the right thing yet. With some more time I bet you could find the, the soul of a vase of flowers, or whatever.”
Cas grunted. “Flowers don't have a soul.”
“You know what I mean. Artists, they...they capture a part of themselves in the world around them. Their art reflects their own soul, you know?”
“I don't have a soul either, Sam.”
“You know what I mean.” Exasperated, Sam took a few steps away, then paced back again. “When you look at something that kind of pulls at your heart, you can make something that has a bit of your soul in it, you know? It's what humans have done for thousands of years, even longer.”
Cas let out a mournful sigh and rubbed one hand over his eyes. “If you could see your own soul you might understand,” he said wearily. “Compared to that even an angel's true form is inadequate.”
Sam huffed out a breath. He'd just wanted Cas to have a new experience, maybe find a hobby that could bring him joy. He hadn't meant to start some kind of identity crisis. Then his friend's words caught up to him. “Wait...Cas, are you saying you can see my soul?”
His friend gave him a flat look. “I am still an angel.”
“No, no, I mean...you can see my soul?”
“Of course, Sam.”
Heart pounding, Sam spread his arms out. “Then draw that!”
Cas stared at him for a moment, then slowly shook his head. “Why would you want to see something like that?”
“Are you kidding? Of course I want to see it!” Sam turned in a full circle before grabbing one of the library chairs and dragging it in front of Cas. “Is this good? Or, wait, do you need better light?” His soul through the eyes of an angel...who wouldn't want to see that?
There was still hesitation in Cas's movements as he slowly picked up his sketchbook and lifted the cover off the box of pastels. “You're sure?”
Cas flipped to a clean page and stared over the top of the sketchbook at Sam. Sam waited, eyebrows raised expectantly.
“Do you need me to do something?” he asked, when Cas made no move to start drawing.
Cas frowned, then reached in the box for a pastel. “Just talk. About one of your passions.”
A passion...okay, Sam could do that. Like Dean had always said, he was a huge nerd. “Oh, I found that book about cuneiform we were talking about,” he said, sitting up a little straighter. “You were right, the author was completely ignorant of the language schism toward the end of the Bronze Age....”
He talked on and on while Cas drew. The angel glanced up at him from time to time, a little smile brightening his face. It was almost exactly the image Sam had conjured in the craft store...Cas with a smear of pigment on his chin, bright colors filling the page in front of him. As he drew the angel seemed to relax, the perpetual slump of his shoulders easing back, the worry lines in his forehead smoothing out.
Sam could have pumped his fist in victory. He knew this had been a good idea.
Then Cas set the pastels down and hesitantly pulled the lid over the box. He seemed unsure of himself again, tipping the picture up to makes sure Sam couldn't see it.
“Is it done?” Sam asked. “Can I see?”
For a moment he was afraid Cas would refuse, then the angel slowly turned the sketchbook around.
Sam had seen human souls before...or at least he thought he had. They'd been wispy balls of bluish light, nothing too amazing. This was...this was something else.
The page was a riot of colors. Sweeping and dazzling, greens and blues with threads of red twisting through them, all turning back in on themselves over and over. There were jagged cracks in the swirling shapes, but they'd been filled in with a golden color so vivid he almost brushed his finger over the page to see if it felt warm.
“In some cultures,” Cas's voice was quiet as he explained, “when an item is broken they mend it with gold, so it is more beautiful and valuable because of the cracks.”
Sam drew in a breath. “This is how you see my soul?” The cracks...memories of Lucifer and the Cage, everything they'd lost, the darkness he'd hidden for so long...Cas saw them mended in gold?
“Oh, Sam,” Cas's hand was warm on his shoulder and he looked up, surprised to see tears in his friend's eyes. “This is you.”
He swallowed and looked back down. There was so much...so much hope. Despite it being almost incomprehensible swirls of color on paper, he could feel the hope and faith and trust nearly radiating off the page. Was this...was this really what Cas saw in him?
“Whoa, am I interrupting something?”
Sam pulled back, scrubbing a sleeve over his face. He hadn't even heard Dean coming. “We were just,” he tried to explain, gesturing at the page.
Dean was staring, tilting his head to one side. “Okay, man, call me crazy, but why does this look like Sammy?”
He let out a shaky laugh and ran his hands through his hair. “That's my soul, man.”
“You drew this, Cas?” Dean was leaning in even closer. “Ha, yeah, there's the little part that died when I told you Santa wasn't real. It really is your soul.”
Sam couldn't help but smile at his brother's antics and looked up to meet Cas's eyes. “Can I have this?”
“No way,” Dean interrupted, putting his hand on Cas's wrist.
“Dean, it's my soul.”
“Yeah. We're framing it,” Dean took a step back and held his hands up, like he was envisioning the drawing in a frame. “This is going next to the family pictures, Sammy.”
“We don't have family pictures, Dean.”
“We do now,” Dean clapped Cas on the shoulder. “You should do Jack next. I'll get 'im.”
“Wait,” Sam lunged after his brother. “What about you?”
“Not happening,” Dean replied, easily twisting away from Sam's hand. “Let me go get the kid.”
* * *
Jack, predictably, was thrilled. He sat in front of his adopted father, eyes bright, as he talked about his first memories of Castiel. Sam stood behind Cas's shoulder and watched the picture take shape—all interlocking golden halos bursting out of a dark shadow, radiating a light that was somehow yellow and blue at the same time that banished that darkness away. It was peace. It was strength. It was family.
It was Jack.
Claire and Kaia were next, crowding together into one of the big armchairs with their fingers intertwined. Sam had been expecting some kind of double drawing, maybe two pages side-by-side, but the drawing Cas produced was somehow Claire, somehow Kaia, and somehow a blend of the two of them that went beyond anything the human eye could see.
“That's what it looks like to be soulmates,” Cas explained when Sam asked.
When they went back to Jody's house with the girls, Jody sat for a drawing. Her soul was all graceful arcs swooping around a central, solid core. Sam could almost feel it extending beyond the page, pulling them all together around the woman who had chosen to care for the motherless.
There were others, as hunters checked in at the bunker or they met them in the field. Eileen's soul was a fury of purple and silver, sharp with the kind of love that dove into battle with sword held high. Bobby's was a blend of muted shades that spoke to the loss the older hunter had experienced, and his determination to carry on.
Sam was dropping a new sketchbook in Cas's room one day, a few weeks later, when he spotted a few loose papers that had fallen out of the old one. Meaning just to pick them up and shuffle them back in, he was startled to find he had a picture of Dean's soul in his hands.
It couldn't be anything else. While Sam's had had cracks mended with brilliant gold, Dean's looked like it had been broken and pushed in on itself over and over, more like overlapping plates of ice from a lake that had been melted and refrozen. There were layers and sharp edges, and a few twisting shadows of darkness that lingered in odd corners.
But it was warm. Despite the cracks and the broken parts...despite the trauma and ache and pain it was good. It was the soul of a man who loved so completely he would—and had—lay down his life for his family.
He heard a shuffle from the doorway, and turned to see Cas was standing there, staring at the paper in his hands with something like guilt on his face. “Sam, I...”
“When did you draw this?” Sam asked in a whisper. “He kept saying he didn't want you to do it.”
Cas hesitated, then approached close enough to gently take the drawing from Sam's hands. “It was from memory. Dean and I have always had a connection, since I pulled him from Hell.”
Sam almost laughed. “A more profound bond?” he teased. Cas's lips twitched in a smile and he nodded. “We should hang it up with the others.”
Shaking his head, Cas frowned down at the drawing. “He keeps saying no one would want to see it.”
“Well, he's wrong,” Sam looped an arm around Cas's shoulders. “Come on, I know where he stashed the extra frames.”
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The Story of Aphrodite Part 1
The sketch was done with 4H and B7 pencils and a little color for her majesty’s eyes.
This story is a snippet of a background I’ve written about Aphrodite the Goddess of Love regarding how she became the goddess of love. This piece is rated PG but installments will be rated R and will have additional warnings. Mostly writing this because it’s always bothered me how it seems like pop culture appreciates her because she’s hot and thinks she’s just a petty manipulator. I see a lot more of an icon and wanted to paint her in a different light.
Word Count: 3377
For so many, the beginning was chaos, but for Aphrodite, that was more than a poetic truth. While the world would have one believe that the goddess of love, sex and beauty was put on this earth already ordained the most beautiful or the most sexual, it was a long and strenuous road for the goddess to become the icon mortals will remember her for all time. No, her entrance into the world was anything but beautiful.
The sky cracked angrily with flashes of lightning jetting from one end of the world to the other as the ground quaked with Mother Earth. Gaia was shivering in stunned horror at the brutality of Uranos’s death. Though she had orchestrated the entire event, nothing could have prepared the celestial for seeing her husband slain like cattle, his severed genitals scattered across her lovely planet like seeds to tilled soil.
It was from his blood that various creatures arose from Mother Earth's womb. The Furies: a rightfully dreadful group of female monsters with sharp teeth and claws made to rip apart oath breakers; the Giants: massive beasts of great strength and aggression; and the Meliai: a melancholy family of ash-tree nymphs.
But there was one last piece of the Sky Father left unnamed, floating along the water in a white foam of divine seed. Gaia blew the breath of life into the water, then watched as the waves of the oceans lead the mass away from the grizzly scene of patricide towards the quiet white beach of Paphos Cyprus. Here, in the crystal clear waves, something extraordinary happened.
From the foam emerged a shimmering pink clam that opened to reveal a head of thick wavy hair the color of blood, which rose as the being stood. With surefooted steps, a creature rose from the sea, a creature that didn’t resemble the Furies, the Giants, or even the Meliai. No, this creature was something else entirely.
She somewhat resembled the Titans in shape, with smoothe, earth toned flesh and hair that reached past her hips, but there was something different about her face and body that set her apart from her half siblings. Nude, as all beings were after birth, every inch of her perfect form was on display. Long, strong arms, a shapely form, ample breasts and a round bottom. Her dark skin glistened in the remnants of sunlight, giving her the characteristic glow of what Gaia recognized immediately as that of a goddess.
Her face was lovely, with eyes that held curiosity as they scanned across the beach she found herself on and supple lips pursed in awe at her own spontaneous existence.
“Hello?” she called out in a soft voice. “Is anyone there? Where am I? What is this place?”
Gaia didn’t answer at first, instead she watched from a distance, as she usually did in these types of situations. Best see how things will play out in her own absence before interfering unnecessarily.
Just then, the waves retreated from the shoreline, then rose up into what looked to be a wall that stood a great deal taller than the woman. Dropping down in a sudden downpour, two bodies were left in its wake. A man and woman dressed in thin, iridescent robes with bluish toned skin and black hair gave a shallow bow to the newly birthed woman.
"Hello," the man spoke tenderly, "I am Oceanus, the lord of the ocean. And this is my wife Tethys." His wife gave a small smile and tilt of her head.
The woman who had only lived for minutes inhaled sharply, then glanced around.
"Don't be alarmed, I won't harm you. I saw you appear so suddenly and heard you call out. Do you have a name, my child?"
She shook her head.
"Then we should see to it that you find a fitting name. I'm sure you must be confused, we can help you. And perhaps Mother would be so kind as to come to your aid as well.”
At the que, Gaia materialized in the sand, a grand creature shaped like any other woman save for the granules of rocks and mud used to give her large body form. Tendrils of the seaweed that had been floating along the shore were swept into the manifestation of Mother Earth and to anyone she appeared the epitome of a Primordial Deity in all her ancient glory. “If you knew I was here then I assume you’ve seen what Cronos has done.”
“You mean what you’ve had him do,” Tethys gently corrected. Her large dark eyes fell upon the soft fleshed woman standing between them all, not shivering in the draft of wind sweeping across the land. “Yes, we’ve seen. Is it not what you wanted, Mother? Father dethroned?”
“Not like that,” she answered honestly with a gentle shake of her head. “Your father wronged me and deserved to have his strength stripped of him, but not disrespected. Not disgraced. What Cronos did will forever taint my soils as the first ever blood crime.”
The three bowed their heads in silence as they contemplated what to do next.
It was the newly birthed woman who would break their thoughts with a soft, melodious voice, “What is to become of me?” All eyes turned to Gaia, who tapped a finger on her chin while brooding.
“You don’t strike me in the same way as the other creatures. And I can’t be sure that Cronos even noticed her being born, I myself would have missed it if I hadn’t seen the current pull away as it had.”
“What is that supposed to mean, Mother?” Tethys asked.
“Nothing. I’m simply making an observation. One never knows when such information can be useful.”
Tethys and Oceanus shared a glance at their mother’s scheming ways, but it was never a good idea to argue when Mother Earth was involved.
This was, after all, entirely her domain that the Titans inhabited. She was, and always will be, the great force when angered.
Uranous, the Sky Father, had learned this lesson the hard way.
“Oceanus, Tethys. I would like you to look after this child for the time being. I know you’ve your own children you’re rearing but she doesn’t look to require much care. She should be strong enough to carry her own weight, have her work hard alongside your other daughters and raise her to be good and loving, but also strong.” Gaia reached out and lightly stroked a sandy finger across the unchildlike face with round dark violet eyes glossed over like a sparkling amethyst. “She was born of your seas, Oceanus. She belongs with you. Take care. I can sense great things will come from this one.”
The woman’s eyes met with Tethys, who offered a sincere smile while taking her husband’s hand and offering her other towards her. “I have enough love to spare for one more. You are more than welcome to join us in our home.”
The woman looked between these three and, seeing no other alternative, took the light blue hand of Tethys and followed her and Oceanus into the salty water of the Mediteranian Sea.
And so, the world was given the one born of foam, Aphrodite.
Life with the gods of the world’s oceans was as good a life as any other Aphrodite could have hoped to have. The kingdom of Oceanus spread across the seabed, with a central, enormous palace in the deepest crevices of the seas, carved out of various corals blossoming in red, pink, and yellow reefs. The inhabitants of the kingdom ranged from the fish, whales and sharks that filled the waters to merfolk with tails in place of legs as well as those like Aphrodite with feet. The main difference between the foam goddess and other oceanic humanoids was her lack in ability to change shape at will like those truly born of water. In certain corners of the palace were air pockets that one could dry off and rest their weary limbs after a full day of swimming, which is where Aphrodite found herself most evenings stretched out on beds of seaweed and sponges.
Many years passed since that fateful day on the beach of Cyprus and the young goddess found herself happily living as a member of the Oceanus’ courts. He and Tethys raised thousands of children who would grow and leave to venture into the world, creating streams, rivers and ponds to preside over as their own domain. Many bore children, whose children had children, and so on and so forth. All while Aphrodite stayed the same, day in and day out. Her brothers and sisters tried for many years to try and find a suitable partner for their beloved, adoptive sister, but none caught her attention, though she caught many other’s eye. While she seemed to be, without question, the most beautiful creature yet to be born, she remained, for the most part, content with being single. The love of her family was all she needed, perhaps one day she would find a mate to settle down with but for now she reveled in her freedom of such responsibilities of being a wife and mother. Instead she worked on herself, studying the power of the sea in synchrony with Selene’s moon, helping to classify the many sea creatures she came across, to staying physically fit and maintaining strength. She was just as strong as any man in the sea and as fast as any fish.
For the most part, the goddess had a leisurely life. On any given day, Aphrodite and the daughters and granddaughters of Oceanus swam from one end of the world to the other in races, searched the seafloor for rare shells and gems, or explored underwater caves for new signs of life. On rare occasions they would find themselves on the beaches playing with crabs and gulls, but for the most part they were warned against going above the water surface.
“I rule all within this realm, but once you are under Helios’s sun, I cannot protect you. So take care, my daughters of the sea, to stay close and stay safe,” Oceanus told the women in all seriousness, though usually it would fall on deaf ears. The ladies had never known harm unto themselves or anyone else, truly this life was perfect without danger.
But Oceanus knew all too well that the world above was not as peaceful as that within his home. Cronos, after the death of his father, had grown more cynical every year. While at first his reign was dubbed the Golden Age for all the food abundance and peace that came after the initial slaying of his father Uranos.
The peace, however, was not meant to last. Over time, Cronos became paranoid that his rule was tainted by the curse his father spouted in his dying breath, that he too would someday be dethroned. It was said to be empty words by his brothers and sisters, merely the final cries of a being desperate to have the last say in how the world he helped reign over would crumble without him. Cronos tried to hold onto that thought, tried desperately to quail the nagging suspicions he had playing in the back of his mind like a fly buzzing in the ear of a bull. Until the day the ruler of all the world found out something terrible: his wife Rhea was begotten with child.
He tried to maintain his composure for the most part, but in the end, his own paranoia got the best of him. At the end of the infant’s gestation, Rhea gave birth to a beautiful, clay toned baby girl. While all of her sisters, who had helped with her delivery, were busy tending to the new mother, Cronos stood in the corner of the room holding the newly washed, freshly born child in his arms. She was small, incredibly so, compared to other children of titans. And she held a slight reddish glow around her fragile form.
How strong would she be?
His eyes went over to Rhea, who gave a soft smile in return. “Darling?” she called out.
But he didn’t move. Instead, Cronos looked back down at the infant.
He couldn’t risk it.
To the horror of everyone in the room, Cronos raised the child by her ankle, high above his head, and with a crack unhinged his jaw like a snake.
He swallowed the child whole.
Rhea was so stunned she passed out while her sisters stood in mortification as the king of all the world quietly left the room.
Five more times did Cronus do this unspeakable act of consuming his children, each time sliding more and more into madness.
Where once the world was bursting with life, now it had grown dark from clouds that offered only lightening and thunderous roars. In a few places his misery hadn’t tarnished the lands and those who could fled to escape his wrath.
But those under Oceanus’ rule knew nothing of this pain and suffering, spending their days playing oceanic games and hosting grand feasts as their neighbors above starved.
It was on a particularly normal day that Aphrodite was babysitting for her adoptive sister Doris. It was nothing new for the lovely foam goddess to be asked to keep children, as she didn’t have her own and typically didn’t have any worldly duties like her siblings. She hadn’t a river to attend or a kingdom to rule, and so she found herself with her niece Amphitrite and nephew Nerites playing hide and seek in a grotto off the coast of Megiste. As children of Doris, Amphitrite and Nerites could transform into tailed creatures to help them to move through underwater caverns, though that did little to keep Aphrodite from catching up to each of them. She had been swimming for immeasurable years before these two thought of being born and she had grown to be as fast as her aquatic brothers and sisters, despite being tailless. Over and over, the children cried out in delight at their aunt’s ability to best them repeatedly at their own game, no matter how hard they tried or what animal they transformed into, she would catch them.
They had gone nearly one hundred rounds when Aphrodite stopped just short of tapping Nerites’ arm at the sound of thunder.
His high pitched voice echoed when he shrieked in surprise at the sound, making his sister laugh at his plight.
“You’re such a guppy,” she giggled.
“I am not, I was startled is all!”
“The water seems to be getting worse,” Aphrodite cut in, looking outside as the water began to pour. Fortunately, underwater seldom changed from the surface weather problems, but it still would warrant a cautious swim home.
“Did you see that?” she asked, her amethyst eyes rolling over the cavern walls.
“See what, Auntie Ditey?”
“I,” she narrowed her eyes, was that a shadow on the wall? No, it must have just been refracted light. No one ever came into the blue caves, she reassured herself. Most land dwellers were afraid of unknown waters. “It’s nothing. Who is ready to head back to see grandfather and grandmother?”
“Oh, can’t we play one more time?” Amphitrite begged, her oversized eyes sparkling with the last of daylight echoing off the water. “Just once, please, Auntie Ditey?”
Both children sported their largest eyed pleads they could muster before Aphrodite shrugged, “Now what kind of aunt would I be to say no to such sweet faces. Alright, darlings, we’ll play once more, then we have to hurry off.”
“We can race home!” Nerites offered in a boast. “I’ll turn into a dolphin!”
“Of course, and I’ll beat you like I always do,” Aphrodite teased.
The children turned her towards the cave wall and she proceeded to wait for their collective, “I’m ready!” before she began her hunt.
As they played their last match, somewhere just inside the mouth of the blue caves floated a wooden raft that had rolled inside to escape from the oncoming storm. A man quietly sat on his makeshift boat as he watched the woman and children playing until they swam away, mere feet away still unaware of him. In truth, he wasn’t paying them much mind until had a good view of the earth-toned woman's rise from the water to stand on the outer ridge of the cave’s wall before throwing herself back to make a splash. The children yelped in delight as the man’s jaw fell agape. She was lovely, in the most sincerest of forms, unlike any creature he had ever seen. Her dazzling eyes, her smooth skin, her flaming hair. It was nothing to him that she was nude as most creatures, particularly those of the water, chose to forgo such trivialities as hiding their bodies.
Yet here this man was, watching the woman with a rise within himself he had never imagined before. What was this yearning he felt? He didn’t speak up, in fear
When the storm passed, he made his way out of the caves towards the beaches of what would later be dubbed Athens. There he made his way towards Mount Othrys, where his father and uncle eagerly awaited his return. All the while, images of the enchanting woman played over and over in his mind’s eye.
“Atlas!” his father Iapetus greeted from the dining table. He sat as always to the left of King Cronos, who was brooding over a meal a servant had just served like it had been burnt. Atlas never liked his uncle, but didn’t care enough about politics to press the matter, rather he explored the corners of the globe in search of adventure and unseen lands. “I was beginning to think you had been held up somewhere and we’d have to track you down.”
“No, not at all, I got caught up in some weather just on the other side of the eastern islands. Nothing too concerning.”
When he took his seat beside his mother Clymene, dinner commenced and the guests took up their light conversations as Atlas stared down at his plate deep in thought. Around the table, he could hear everyone carrying on, his uncles Coeus, Hyperion, and Crius, his aunts Queen Rhea, Theia, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, and Tethys, and a few cousins whom he never took the time to memorise their names unless he liked them. As they carried on as normal, he replayed the images of the intoxicating woman he had seen in the cave.
Why hadn’t he spoken up?
Why hadn’t he asked her name?
“Dear, you’ve been out all day, surely you’re hungry?” his mother gently asked.
He heaved a heavy sigh before his eyes landed on his mother, her glistening light blue skin reminding him of the children that played with the woman. That’s right, they would have been descendants of Oceanus. And that woman, she must have been someone from his court. Perhaps a nymph of some kind?
An idea popped like a bubble into Atlas’s head.
“Actually, Mother, I was wondering. Tomorrow could we visit your father’s kingdom? I haven’t seen grandfather Oceanus in quite some time.”
“Oh, well, I’m actually going to be busy tomorrow, but I’m sure your father-”
“I can accompany you.”
The table’s idle chit-chat ceased as all eyes fell on Cronos, who rarely spoke at such events as trivial as family dinners.
“Tha-that won’t be necessary, your highness,” Iapetus reassured, “I know you must be busy with more important things than traveling into the realm for a family visit.”
“No, I’d like to visit our brother. I haven’t heard from him in quite some time, it would do some good to… catch up with one another.”
Atlas noticed the tension in the room thicken. As far as he’d known, Oceanus was as dedicated to Cronos as any of his other brothers, but there was speculation that Oceanus had closed his doors to most of those above sea level because he didn’t agree with the way his younger brother ran in domain.
But again, politics wasn’ t what interested Atlas.
For now, it was finding out who that mysterious woman was who had ensnared his heart.
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Too Good To Be True - Ch. 1 | kth (m)
Summary: Kim Taehyung is a world famous idol in the hit K-pop group, BTS, and you are his personal stylist. Per your contract with BigHit, he is absolutely, 100% off-limits, and yet, you are completely and hopelessly in love with him. You’ve spent years trying to shove your feelings down, but it’s getting harder and harder to ignore and hide them, especially considering the way Tae always treats you. He’s affectionate and protective and sometimes outright flirtatious, but that’s how he is with everyone, right? Confused, frustrated, and lovesick, you find yourself wondering if it might finally be worth risking your career and your heart to find out.
pairing: Taehyung x reader
genre: Idol! au, fluff, angst, eventual smut, friends to lovers, slow burn
word count: 2.2k
warnings: none (for now)
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Chapter 1: Special Lady Friend
It was the night of the Mnet Asian Music Awards and you were running late. You shoved opened the door to the dressing room and strode over to your station to find Tae already seated, casually scrolling on his phone. He looked up when you set your bag down and flashed you his famous, boxy smile.
“Thank goodness you’re here, Noona,” he said exaggeratedly. “I need you to make me beautiful for the show tonight!”
You couldn’t help but laugh as you looked over the man in front of you. He was, without a doubt, the most naturally beautiful person you had ever seen. “Tae. You and I both know that isn’t true. You roll out of bed every day looking perfect. I actually don’t even know why I have a job, come to think of it.”
He blushed slightly and his smile turned shy.
“I, on the other hand, need copious amounts of makeup to look even remotely presentable,” you said with another laugh as you started unpacking your bag.
A small frown quickly spread across his face. “That’s not true, Noona. You’re not wearing makeup now and you look fine,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Fine,” you repeated, giving him a playful smile. “Geez, Tae. You really know how to flatter a girl.”
He opened his mouth to respond, but was suddenly cut off by the voice of Namjoon who was sitting in the adjacent chair.
“Please forgive my dongsaeng, Noona. He’s clearly a little confused. I believe what he meant to say is that you look very pretty today,” the older man said warmly.
“You are too kind, Oppa,” you said with a small smile, hoping you weren’t blushing too much. Namjoon may not have been the one you were madly in love with, but he was still an incredibly attractive man whose compliments flustered you.
He was also, however, a married man.
Having finished with his hair and makeup, Namjoon was about to get up from his chair when you suddenly reached out and lightly grabbed his arm. “Ring,” was all you said as you nodded your head towards his left hand.
“Oh right,” he said, following your gaze. “Thanks for the reminder.” He then slipped the slim, silver band from his left ring finger and placed it in his breast pocket.
“Anytime,” you said with an easy smile. “Mrs. Choi has put us all on ‘ring patrol’.”
He laughed at that, saying he and his wife, Aera, appreciated your vigilance, before excusing himself and heading out of the room. Once he was gone, you turned back to Tae and got started on his makeup .
“He’s going to get caught one of these days,” you mused. “Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s adorable that he tries to wear it as often as he can, but one slip up and the secret is out. ARMY sees everything.”
“They do,” Tae agreed thoughtfully. He was quiet for a couple moments before adding. “But, would it really be such a bad thing if ARMY found out? They are going to find out eventually. Why not just announce it now and get it over with?”
“I guess not”, you replied. “At least then they could stop with all the secrecy and hiding and just be together.”
“Exactly,” Tae said pointedly.
“But,” you said after a few moments of thought, “it wouldn’t be easy. A lot of people would be really upset. Angry even, as crazy as that sounds. And it could be dangerous, especially for Aera.”
He let out a long sigh and was quiet for a minute. “It would be tough. I know some ARMY would be really sad at first,” he said solemnly before adding more hopefully. “But, eventually they would be happy for us, right?”
“I hope so,” you offered with a small smile.
“Me too,” he said wistfully.
He was quiet again after that, no doubt pondering the complicated situation he and the rest of the band currently found themselves in. They were loved fiercely by their fans, truly cherished and adored, but it came with a price. The guys did so much for ARMY, gave so much of themselves to ARMY, that many fans grew strangely and unfairly possessive. Suddenly there was this expectation, this desire that everything they do, every romantic lyric, every sweet gesture be for them and only them. The guys being in open, committed relationships would shatter that fantasy and could threaten the powerful bond they’d long had with their fandom.
On top of that was the far more serious issue of their significant others being in legitimate danger. It was bad enough that the guys and their families were constantly being followed and threatened, but things would get exponentially worse with a significant other in the picture. Media outlets and crazed sasaeng fans would undoubtedly stalk, harass, and possibly even physically harm them to gain information about the guys and the relationship.
Sadly, you’d already seen it happen firsthand. Namjoon and Aera’s relationship, engagement, and eventually marriage had yet to become public knowledge, but there still had been several incidents over the years. She had been followed numerous times, her apartment had been broken into, and her photo had even briefly circulated on some sketchy websites. Namjoon and BigHit had stepped in and taken care of things before they escalated, but everyone, including the other guys, had been extremely unsettled by it nonetheless.
It was an incredibly unfortunate, but seemingly unavoidable reality for all of them which honestly just broke your heart. Though you were in love with Tae, you loved all the other members like family. They deserved to be happy and to openly and safely share their lives with loving partners, but sometimes it just didn’t seem like that would ever be possible.
As you were doing his hair a bit later, Tae began absentmindedly playing with the ring that was hanging from a chain around his neck. It was a beautiful piece featuring a large, purple diamond surrounded by smaller white ones. He wore it almost constantly, often switching it to a longer chain so it would stay hidden beneath the neckline of a more open shirt. In the few instances where he wasn’t able to wear it as a necklace, he would put it in his pocket for safekeeping. Though it was a ring, you’d never once seen him wear it on his finger.
Although you were his stylist, and therefore the one who created and approved all of his outfits, including his jewelry, you never said anything about the ring. You knew it was a nonnegotiable. He always kept it out of sight anyway so it didn’t really matter.
You didn’t know why he wore it, but you knew it was of great personal value to him. That much was clear from how delicately he handled it and the fact that he never let it out of his sight. You sometimes wondered if it was a promise ring, but you were fairly certain he wasn’t dating anyone. At least you hoped he wasn’t.
You often found yourself mindlessly staring at it, marveling at how beautiful it was and wondering what exactly it meant to him. You must have been doing it again now because suddenly Tae was looking at you through the mirror with a small smirk.
“All these years and you’ve never asked about it,” he said, clearly referring to the ring.
Feeling flustered for having been caught staring, you quickly dropped your gaze as you casually replied, “I didn’t think it was my place to ask. It seems very important and very personal to you. I figured if you wanted to talk about it you would.”
A beat of silence passed.
“It’s not a promise ring,” he finally said, eyeing you curiously, “in case you were wondering.”
“Oh, I definitely didn’t think it was that,” you replied quickly as if trying to convince yourself that you hadn’t spent an absurd amount of time worrying about that very possibility.
“Ouch, Noona,” he said, feigning hurt. “Is it that hard to imagine someone wanting to date me?”
You laughed at the ridiculousness of his question. Who wouldn’t want to date him? You knew you did.
“Come on, Tae. I think I’d know if you were seeing someone. You gush about the new friends you make at the dog park. You would never be able to keep quiet about a special lady friend,” you said teasingly.
“Ok, I can not believe you just called my non-existent girlfriend a ‘special lady friend’,” he said, looking mortified.
At that you burst out laughing; the term ‘special lady friend’ sounded so much more ridiculous when he said it. His face was also just priceless.
He eventually started laughing too, as usual being unable to contain himself after taking one look at you. When you first started your job, the two of you discovered your shared sense of humor almost immediately and it had been an endless string of giggles ever since. Both of you were all but physically incapable of not laughing when the other was laughing.
This phenomenon only occasionally interfered with your work, Tae having learned the hard way that it was both difficult and dangerous for you to apply his eyeliner while your body was literally racking with laughter. Out of the seven member/stylist pairs, you two had been unanimously dubbed ‘the rowdy’ ones. It was a title you two wore proudly, except when the stylists’ manager, Mrs. Choi, was around.
She was not a fan of your antics, however, like almost everyone else on the planet, she had a soft spot for Tae. You sensed she merely put up with you out of affection for the young man. But, at the end of the day, your continued employment at BigHit and position as Tae’s stylist wasn’t up to her. It was up to Tae and Bang Si-Hyuk.
Knowing that made you feel rather secure with your position. You were certain Tae was never going to ask you to be replaced, the terrified look on his face whenever you jokingly threatened to quit serving as proof of that. And, Bang Si-Hyuk had taken a strong liking to you after you saved him from a rather embarrassing wardrobe malfunction at an award show shortly after you started at BigHit.
Yes, your job was perfectly safe...as long as no one knew you were in love with Tae.
You were reliving some of your favorite chaotic memories with Tae when his sudden change of tone pulled you back to the present.
“The ring was my grandmother’s,” he said in a quiet, solemn voice. “It was her wedding ring.”
Sensing the sadness in his voice, you immediately stopped fussing with his hair and looked up at him through the mirror. He was looking down at the ring in his hand, his expression stoic.
“She left it to me when she died,” he continued. “She told me to keep it safe until I was ready to give it to the person I wanted to spend my life with.”
Of all the possibilities you’d considered over the years, this one had never crossed your mind, but it made complete sense once he said it. Growing up, Tae had been incredibly close with his grandparents, his grandmother in particular. He talked about her often, always recounting funny stories and fond memories. She passed before you started working at BigHit and honestly you were grateful for that. Tae had been absolutely devastated when it happened and you knew it would have crushed you to not only see him like that but to be unable to comfort him the way you truly wanted to.
“Tae, that’s incredibly sweet,” you said softly. “She’d be proud to know you’ve been taking such good care of it. I mean, I didn’t know what it was, but I could just tell that it meant the world to you.”
“Thanks, Y/N,” he said, giving you a small, somewhat sad smile. “I really appreciate you saying that.”
“But anyway,” he continued, brightening up as he spoke, “now you know.”
“Now I know,” you repeated slowly.
“Are you surprised?” he tentatively asked a minute later.
“Maybe a little,” you admitted.
His face fell a bit when you said that, and it suddenly struck you that he might be self-conscious of why he wore it, so you quickly clarified.
“It's just, I didn't realize you were such a romantic,” you said with a laugh.
“A hopeless romantic,” he responded dryly.
“Aww, don’t say that,” you said, giving him a serious look.
“You’ll find someone special...who is a lady...and also maybe a friend,” you then said as you tried and ultimately failed to keep a straight face.
“I hate you,” he said with a laugh.
“I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself,” you said, your own laughter spilling out.
“But, I did mean it,” you continued more seriously. “You’ll find someone to give that ring to.”
As you said that, you turned around to rummage through your bag for something. The thought of him presenting that beautiful, purple ring to someone else made your heart ache and you knew the anguish you felt would be written all over your face.
‘’I hope so,” he said wistfully, taking a quick glance at you through the mirror before tucking the ring into his shirt. “It’s too beautiful to stay hidden forever.”
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So Long, Farewell, and Goodbye For Now -
“I don’t know how you are so familiar to me—or why it feels less like I am getting to know you and more as though I am remembering who you are. How every smile, every whisper brings me closer to the impossible conclusion that I have known you before, I have loved you before—in another time, a different place, some other existence.” - Lang Leav
Hello, You ♡ Yes, You. You ethereal, beautiful being. I am writing to you with bittersweet yet wonderful news - depending on the perspective. I am writing this post to inform all of you that I will no longer be writing for this blog for the foreseeable future. What I mean by that is that I am not giving up writing forever, no. But my life has changed so much over the last two years, I do not see myself writing again for quite some time. But don’t worry! I will be back!
Below the Read More section, I have poured my heart and soul into the real reasons why I’ve made this decision. I warn you, it’s lengthy but it’s everything that has led up to this over the years. So, if you fancy, have a read. If not, I bid you farewell and wish you all the happiness in the world. Thank you for supporting me so far. I truly appreciate it and love you all very dearly. Now, if you wish to read it at a later time, I will have a link available on my page at all times for anyone who is curious. It’s a hell of a story if you ask me ~
Edit: Made by Me - also, a surprise photo at the end
Warnings/Triggers: Talks of emotional abuse, depression, and suicide but also happiness and love -
When I first started this blog, it was 2016. I had been on Tumblr for over a decade now but BTS led me to writing passionately for 2 years. I was incredibly active and utterly consumed by this website. Not just for the writing, but I was so obsessed because of my friends and mutuals that I made along the way. Can I just say that I’ve met some incredible people on this platform - including my best friend and soulmate? Truthfully, the absolute best friend I have ever had. But more importantly, Tumblr was my greatest escape. I mean this website truly has been my saving grace through very dark times.
In that part of my life, I was in an extremely toxic relationship; by then, it was 6 years I was with him. He was emotionally abusive, had such a short-fuse temper, hated everyone I knew which led me never really seeing any of my friends after college, knew I was anorexic and did nothing to stop me, knew I had depression since we started dating and always argued it as if it wasn’t real, crushed my dreams and ambitions, mocked potential suicide attempts, expected me to just abandon all hope to ever leave home to explore someplace new or get a job that I actually love. He was...just the worst. Never hit me though, so I’m grateful for that. But sometimes I wish he would so it would have given me the voice I needed to get out of that relationship much sooner than I did. But regardless, because of him plus having a soul-sucking job that wore me down to the core, Tumblr was my escape. BTS was my escape.
I fell hard and I fell deep. I created a fantasy world within this world. All of my dreams, fantasies, desires, and hopes were poured into my writing. My imagination was running wild. My activity was through the roof because I was always on here day in and out, just pretending like the outside world didn’t exist. It consumed me...but I needed it. Looking back, it was pretty excessive. At the time, I seemed perfectly normal because everyone else was just as active and saying the same things and doing the same things. I felt a belonging, like I fit in.
But I hated the person I became. It took me getting yelled at, mocked, ridiculed, and belittled by my ex to snap me out of that illusion I built and back into reality. That was the roughest night that we had filled with lots of screaming on his end and crying on my part. He thought my obsession was sick. He thought it was disgusting. It all started because he found fake texts I had made with Jimin and Tae. Don’t recall the story it was a part of but he thought they were texts with the actual members… In my eyes, I should get credit for making them look so legit but he didn’t see it that way. He thought fangirling over men was essentially cheating. No matter how hard I tried to explain, he didn’t understand. But a part of his view was right. I learned that I was a bit too much into it and I really needed to take a step back from Tumblr for a while. So I did. I deactivated my account and disappeared for months. Also because he made me and threatened our relationship if I didn’t. Should have taken the out but ah well.
Just two months prior to this incident, I attempted suicide. Well, contemplated. Everything was planned out. Bought a hotel room for Thanksgiving night as I was working a super late shift until about 1-2am. My commute home was an hour long and I still had to come back to work at 7am. So I got a room. Brought a large amount of pills with me and I was going to call it. No notes written to friends, family, or loved ones. Nothing. I was done. Didn’t think anyone would miss me. I just figured the world would keep turning without me. I had thought about doing this several times before but this was my first time making plans for it. It was my lowest of the low. But then I met someone that night that changed my life entirely just in a 10 minute interaction of talking - nothing special. We’ll get to that later. But this person just gave me hope and to this day, I still can’t explain it. It was euphoric. I felt clarity. It was in that night that I thought I might hold out just a little bit longer.
And thus @strwberrytae was born - but it was far from the same. At first, I restarted the blog in secret. Why would I do this? Why would a 25 year old open a blog in secret? Well, two months after the awful fight, my ex proposed to me and I said yes. I know. Believe me, I know. I was scared. My depression was getting worse again. I no longer had an escape except for books. All I did was read so I had some sort of reality to be in besides my own. But returning to a brand new blog did not give the same satisfaction as returning to an old blog.
I worked so hard on my first blog and this redo, I tried to consider it as a gift. Perhaps this was a chance to start anew and rebrand myself. This optimism kept up for quite some time. Slowly, I added my favorite past works then added some new chapters. If you’ve been here with me since 2017, you would know that my appearance on Tumblr was still not the same. Then I got married in October.
An empty, loveless marriage that I regret to this day. Needless to say, my writing and activity on Tumblr was still practically non-existent as I was still too scared of getting caught. Even though he finally gave me permission to use it again because he could tell how miserable it was making me. Yes, gave me permission. Thankfully, it all ended after a year. I finally went to a therapist even though I hated them so much and all past therapists I had. She was pretty great. Within five sessions, I summoned the courage to break up with this guy. I was finally set free. Nearly 9 years together and I finally felt like I could breathe.
Unfortunately, although I was free, I had to live with the guy for about 5 months after the breakup. Which was beyond rough, believe me. Imagine someone writhing in pain and bawling their eyes out and venting non-stop about all of their faults and wrongdoings every single day. At the end of the day, as shitty as he was to me, he was my best friend too. We went through a lot of shit together and he did have some good sides to him too. So witnessing this was horrendous. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting much privacy either. Writing was not my top priority. Now it’s 2019 and things changed drastically for the better - and worst.
Remember the person I met in 2016 on Thanksgiving night? Well, that person is someone I crushed on every since that night. For 2 years. People, I’m telling you. He did absolutely nothing special that night. He didn’t flirt with me. He didn’t check me out. He didn’t do anything remotely to make a girl swoon but I was so drawn to him. The only word that could describe it was “cosmic” - beautifully cosmic.
Well in January 2019, 2 months following my break up, he came into my store one day. And my god did he look incredible. He was dressed head to toe in black - a fitted black suit at that. He even wore this long, designer jacket to match. Hair shaved on the sides with beautiful, thick dark hair on top. So tall - 182cm. A smile that could kill; quite literally. The canines are on point. He looked like a five course meal. That day, he definitely flirted with me. By the end of the week, we had our first date. Sadly, I also lost my job in the same week and was unemployed for a year because no one would hire me. I was laid off and one of my seniors took my job. Of course, they needed to keep me around for the holidays and then give me the boot. I was devastated. I hated that job so much as it only aided in fueling my depression but losing it was definitely an amazing thing. And! I survived on my savings and definitely didn’t spend my time writing. I had life to sort out last year - like from the ground up. No worries though. I got a job in February 2020 and I love it, so it’s all good, baby. Now I’m in the health field and feel like I’m actually helping people, which I love.
Now, here we are 2 years later and I’m engaged to the man. Someone who makes me smile everyday, believes in me, encourages me, let’s me be 100% myself, travels with me, taught me how to love myself, taught me to accept my body, gets me on a level that only my best friend could, and someone who goes above and beyond every single day to show me how much he loves me. Bonus, he welcomes my love for BTS with open arms, reads my writing, AND has even been sucked in himself to the fandom. Jungkook and Jimin, look out. You got another fanboy. I thought true love was impossible for me but I was very, very wrong.
He has shown me that I can be happy and I have finally experienced true happiness. When people ask how I’m doing, I don’t cringe and lie through my teeth. I smile and say that I am doing well because by George, I am. Everyone around me has seen me over the last two years and made the comment, “you look so much happier”. They meet him and swoon just as much as I do. Is he perfect? No, he’s not. He has flaws just like everyone else but he actually grows and learns from his mistakes to better himself. That’s what amazes me the most. Even if we argue, which is seldom, he refuses to let it go without resolution so we can always fix whatever the issue is. As we like to call it, we’re in-sync. In everything, we’re always so in-sync. I’m wildly in love, my dudes.
So, why am I not writing anymore? To put it simply, I’m happy and don’t really feel the desire to write anymore - at least not fanfiction. Even when I was super young, like elementary school, I used writing as an outlet for my dark escape. I wrote poetry primarily and by middle school, it turned to fanfiction for Supernatural, Simple Plan, and Panic! At The Disco. Along with a very long list of other bands and shows but anyways. I’ve been severely depressed since I was 15 and fanfiction put me in this hole that I couldn’t get out of. I relied on this method to help me get through all the bad shit I was dealing with. It was my coping mechanism.
Now? While depression never truly goes away as the lovely disease that it is, I am genuinely happy. Because of this, when I opened all of my past works and works in progress, I felt nothing but guilt. Guilt for not keeping up with my chapters or keeping my account active. I felt dread to have to escape in this world that I had created. I felt no joy or excitement. It was the strangest feeling that happened all in a matter of seconds. Thus leading to my final decision to take a step away from writing. Do I still love it? Absolutely. But now I think I’m going to re-route and focus my writing on what I love - reality. I’m going to get back into journaling and write essays about love and beauty as I’ve always loved to do. But for escaping into a fantasy world? I don’t know when I’ll be back.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “But you can write and be happy!” Nah fam. Writing has been my aid through dark times and now I mostly associate it with those dark times. And for once in my life, I feel this desire to enjoy reality and remain in it - with the exception of journaling here and there. Even daydreaming is difficult. It’s strange. I love my reality. This sounds like gloating now but it’s truly a remarkable feeling. When you’ve been battling depression for 15 years, it feels really freaking nice to say that I’m happy.
So that’s why I’m taking a break - in a very long, drawn out way. But my hope was that after this long story, you might understand truly why I am doing this. It would have been easier to just say that writing doesn’t bring me joy anymore but I feel that I owe more than that; especially because I really don’t know if I’ll write for this blog ever again. The last time I took a break, I disappeared without being able to explain myself and I wanted to do so now that I have the chance.
Ultimately, thank you to everyone who has stuck by me over the years. It’s truly been one hell of a rollercoaster. The friends I’ve made on here have seen me at my lowest of the lows. But hey! I’ll still be around. I just won’t be publishing or continuing any of my works anywhere in the near future. Seriously though. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This website has helped me tremendously and I’ll never forget it. Besides, there’s lots of other exciting things happening in my life now so you’ll certainly see me pop in here and there to talk about it ♡
If you wish, you can message me for questions or anything you want to know. I’m an open book - at least about most things hehe. And don’t worry. I still very much love Taehyung and still wildly obsessing over how marvelous he is. Umf.
(here’s some recent photos of me as i rarely take selfies anymore haha. and a derp photo of me and the man i love >_< why is the cutest photo of him with the worst photo of me? still cute though hehe)
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Muzan x reader ~ Lily
This is a song fanfiction on the song Lily by Alan Walker, k-391 and Emelie hollow. This story is inspired by the Japanese legend of yamato no orochi. I might do a second part as well. It's my first ever fanfiction so please excuse my mistakes.
Warning : mention of slight gore and blood
Lily was a little girl
Every decade on the night of full moon the first born female child of (L/n) clan are sent as bride to a powerful demon named Akai lurking on the mountain of Akakura which was believed to be inhabited by oni from ancient times. Your great grandfather and his then pregnant wife was attacked by that demon although on their constant begging and vows of servicing to the demon he spared their lives but on one condition that was they needed to send him one girl from their household every decade on this very full moon night. Your sisters and aunts, who you never get to see were presented to that oni. You being the oldest daughter of your family was nominated as the bride this year.
Afraid of the big wide world
When you first get to know about this, you were absolutely terrified and angry of the idea to be separated from your parents and siblings in order to serve your duty as a bride to that potentially harmful demon who you knew would devour you as you never saw any of your elder sisters or aunts come back therefore it was nothing but a human sacrifice in your judgment and being a child it horrified you, often causing nightmares of the said demon. From a very tender age you were brainwashed that the outside world was a dangerous place and it consists of unknown creatures lurking around the earth's surface with the sole purpose of causing grave harm to people. Being a child you were easily convinced but as you grew older your curiosity got the best of you as well as the urge for understanding the outside world became a necessity.
She grew up within her castle walls
Now and then she tried to run
And then on the night with the setting sun
She went in the woods away
So afraid, all alone.
As a child most of the time you were confined inside the four walls of your room, you were not allowed to go out unless required. There were servants who tended you day and night. It was necessary because the child for the sacrifice should be flawless in every aspect and most importantly healthy or else great catastrophe would fell upon your family. Sometimes you wish you were a sick person. That doesn't mean you didn't try to run away from home. Every now and then you tried escaping from your residence and one time during sunset you were successful in escaping, that was for the first time you went out from your house, you ran miles and miles away, bare foot. For the first time in life you were so far away from home you never imagined this day might come. The softness of the green grass beneath your feet, the fresh air lingering in the atmosphere made your heart giddy. As you stopped running for a while you encountered the sight of a city in which there were lots of people gathering around the street, both men, women and children of your age wearing lavish clothing and accessories, you have zero social interaction skills, servents being an exception even your parents also were not available all the time, on top of that you were timid and young, this overwhelming crowd of unknown people startled you which was honestly frightening but you were determined. Therefore you brush off your worries in order to explore the city, you were happened to be in the middle of a festival, which you seem to know since your servants who served under (L/n) family often talk about such festivals obviously they are not allowed to discuss such things infront of you but somehow you managed to eavesdrop and acquire information. Festivals are truly majestic, it was way better than the stories you have heard from the maids at your residence. It was colourful, lively, cheerful, loud nothing like the world you are used to see. There were various stalls consisting of items like jewelry, cloths that are being displayed on the street, on both sides of the road. The the smell of hot dishes like yakisoba, Takoyaki and ikayaki from different stalls hitting your nostrils making your mouth watery. As you were wandering around aimlessly, admiring the lighting and beauty of the festival, you bumped into a bunch of drunk men, you quickly turned away to apologize but a man with rough demeanor pulled your arm and started throwing curses at your way which definitely made you uncomfortable as you looked around to ask for help but none of them responded or came to your aid.
"look where you walking, brat!"
"I am sorry, please forgive me" you were not accustomed to such rude behavior as your maids and servants and even your family members were gentle towards you which was likely because you came from a very wealthy family. Which was quite visible by those men by the way you dressed, expensive (f/c) kimono wrapped around your figure made with the finest silk in the country and the gold hair pin tucked in your smooth (h/c) hair.
They warned her, don't go there
There's creatures who are hiding in the dark.
"What's with the hurry miss, join us for a bit?" With that said from the other guy, your eyes widened, you tried your best not to cry, they warned me your mind started to race with the worst case scenario as you started to remind your parents word about the outside world but you came back to your senses as they yanked you down the alley. Your heartbeat increasing rapidly, sweat covering your (s/c) countenance, your mind was going blank but you snapped out from your thoughts as you noticed the man's arm closed to your face without wasting any time you bit the man harshly causing him to drop your hand, taking advantage of that situation you ran towards the opposite direction earning screams and curses from behind. You didn't try looking back but you knew they were chasing you from behind. You stumble across the way as never in your life you ran so fast and somehow manage to get into the wood. Being exhausted and breathless you collapsed onto the ground. The sound of footsteps growing lounder as they were approaching you, tears stared to form up in your face am I going to die?
"Found you kitten" one of the drunkards chasing you commented, grabbing a handful of your (h/l)(h/c) hair roughly, lifting you up from the ground, then he took out a knife from his pocket and brought that near your neck in order to create a minor cut which begun bleeding instantly. You screamed in pain but no words came out from your mouth, you felt completely defeated and tired. There was no hope. You felt as if you were going to die but you didn't want to. Yet.
Then something came creeping
It told her, don't you worry just-
Suddenly rustling of leaves and bushes were heard from afar which caught you and the rest suprised.
"Who's there?" The man holding you shouted but complete silence was observed. This pissed off the man even more and he shouted angrily this time with more intensity.
"Come out or I will kill this girl in this instance" no sooner did the words left the man's mouth than he saw you were out of his sight and standing before him was a slender pale man in his late twenties having remarkable dark curly hair and plum red eyes contrasting his features sharply. He was holding you firmly but gently in his arm.
"How did you-"
You saw his eyes glowing under the moonlight pointing directly towards those men, his glare was deadly and menacing which could make anyone fall on their knees. One of the men began to charge towards you but his attempt went futile because the man holding you kicked the man with such immense strength that he went flying over the air and died a painful death crashing loudly against the ground snapping his neck in the process. The other man in feat of pure rage tried to punch that mysterious man but his head exploded due to the pressure of that raven hair blocking his attack. The other man who watched all of that fainted. It was a gruesome scene for you to witness but you tried your best not to cry because the man infront of you just saved your life.
"Thank you mister for saving my life, I thought I was going to die if it were not you I'd be dead, I appreciate your help" your voice still shaking, you lowered your head and then look up for the first time his red orbs met your (e/c) ones. The moonlight reflected through the branches of the trees made you see his face clearly, you have not interacted with men before except your father, siblings and uncles so being closed with a man this handsome made you a little nervous. You could feel your blood rush through your cheeks. Seeing you nervous made him chuckle slightly, he gently put you down on the ground from his arm.
Follow everywhere I go
"A young girl like you should not be roaming around in the woods late at night, there are a lot of people and creatures having full intent to hurt fragile beings like yourself" he spoke to you with his calm, monotonous voice.
"Yes you are right mister and I apologize for causing you trouble but I really needed to come out" you replied with a soft hum. Which made that man curious.
"Is that so? What's your name child?"
"My name is (y/n)(l/n), and yours?"
A perfect chance for him to devour this girl which was driving him crazy because of the aroma she was emitting, he can take full advantage of this situation, there was no way in hell this girl could protect herself as minutes ago she was cowering with fear and misery, how pathetic he thought.
"I was meaning to say this for a long time now kibutsuji san you have the most beautiful pair of eyes, it's very unique, I am glad to meet you" the sudden compliment coming from you widened his eyes. He have been living for a thousand years now both humans and his underlings alike are scared of him even his demons admire and respect him out of fear. All of them knew how ruthless, manipulative, egoistic and deceitful this man is but this girl shows her genuine gratitude towards him even though she is vulnerable and exposed. What a clueless human he thought letting her guard down to none other but the dangerous Muzan kibutsuji. There was pure innocence in her voice and glowing admiration in her eyes, gleaming with positive energy which evoked strong emotions in all his seven hearts that were stoned ever since he abandoned his humanity.
"Its dangerous for you to go back alone let me escort you home" the demon replied which you gladly accepted. For now.
Muzan held your hand tightly as the two of you began to walk out from the forest and enter the town again, talking on the way, learning about each other.
"How old are you (y/n) chan?"
"I am 13 years old, kibutsuji san"
"Muzan will be fine, (y/n)"
"Sure Muzan!" You smiled enthusiastically, you enjoyed his company as you were not allowed to have friends it made your heart flutter with an unexpected feeling of warmth. You wanted to clinge on it. Never in your life you felt so secure and content.
Top over the mountains or valley low
"Say (y/n), why did you ran away from home?" Muzan asked
"I don't want to get sacrificed to the oni" you replied with sudden drop to your voice. Muzan stopped walking and looked down at you with concern written over his face, he didn't know why he was acting this way but there was this sudden urge to keep you safe, the thought of seeing you suffer made him somewhat sick to his stomach.
"What oni?" He asked this time holding your shoulders gently, he could say you were scare to talk about this but somehow you felt at ease around him which you never felt towards anyone, you started to trust him even though you just met him.
"There has been an old tradition in my family for generations, every decade on the night of full moon the first born female child of our family is sacrificed to the oni living on the mountain of akakura for last 50 years, I am next in line that's why I was running away, I am not ready to die" you replied almost sobbing
Give you everything you've been dreaming of
Just let me in
"Once I attain the age 18, I will too be send to the oni as his bride" tears came rolling down your cheek, the demon lord can sense your terror which you were trying to hide. What a pitiful creature, I shall be your savior he thought to himself.
"You are a brave girl, I admire your inner strength (y/n)" he cupped your face with his arms, caressing your features softly brushing away the tear drop forming in your eyes.
"I don't know for how long" you replied smiling a bit. appreciating his effort to soothe your anxiety.
Everything you want in gold, I'll be the magic story you've been told
Everything was good until you heard your name coming across the other end of the street, it was two of your servants and your uncle approaching both you and Muzan. The look in your face suddenly changed to that of a drastic one, the slight flush which covered your countenance few seconds ago was gone and was replaced with a pale look similar to that of muzan's. It was evident to the demon from your expressions that it was rather unpleasant for you even though they seem to know you and by judging the looks of your uncle, he figured you two are related.
"Where have you gone milady?" One of your maid came rushing towards you, but you hid behind muzan's back averting your gaze from the maiden and your uncle. As you could feel an intense glare coming from him. Thanks to your uncle you are in great trouble now.
"My name is (u/n)(L/n), this girl's uncle, I apologize on behalf of my niece for causing you trouble" the (h/c) hair man said to muzan.
"I am Tsukihiko kibutsuji, Do not worry about that and (y/n) didn't create any disturbance" it would be a bit suspicious to you that why muzan lied to your uncle about his real name if he didn't mention he was a demon earlier when you two were conversing and he needs to hide his identity in order to survive.
"Thank you so much for your help, (L/n) family will owe you for this" he bowed to muzan showing his gratitude towards him while glancing at you with the corner of his eyes.
"You here young lady, I hope you won't run away like this you could have just asked our servants or me if you really wanted to go out that badly, you have made your mother worried sick" the man cooed directing towards you.
𝚕𝚒es you thought You'd never let me go out, you are only behaving nicely because of muzan.
"(Y/n)" the soothing voice hit your ears and you looked up to see muzan "you must go back home, as your uncle stated they must be really worried, right?"
You felt really defeated but you decided to let go of him, he already saved you from a great disaster. It would be selfish of you to ask for more but you really hoped he'd help. Before you headed back you asked turning your head back at his direction.
And you'll be safe under my control
"We will still be friends right?" Muzan was taken aback friends? He thought a genuine smile appearing on his face. He nodded at you which made you sigh with relief and then you waved goodbye to him in the hope of seeing him again someday, your first friend.
"Yes (y/n), we will meet again"
Just let me in, ooh.
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“The Undoing” A Review: Was the Reveal Just Eh for You Too?
Recently I re-watched HBO’s The Undoing for a second time and felt that I was ready to form an opinion on the hit limited series. Like many, I found myself in November 2020 waiting from Sunday to Sunday for the next installment of the series and spent the entire week in between conjuring up theories and predictions for how the mystery would resolve…
And then I was disappointed. Were any of you? I had dreamt up wild plot progressions, unseen and untold character histories and conditions, and by the end [SPOILER ALERT] the murderer really was the obvious choice after all.
The Undoing stars Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman as the beyond perfect couple, Dr. Jonathan and Grace Fraser. Both are doctors, he a pediatric oncologist and she a psychologist, who live in a lush Manhattan townhouse raising their school-age son Henry played by Noah Jupe. Enthralled in a world of obscene wealth and where everyone sends their children to the most prestigious private schools on the island, the people we meet in the first episode are the picture of privilege and opulence. Everything is all well and pearly until Elena Alves played by Matilda de Angelis comes along to stir up some trouble. Elena befriends Grace at a planning event for a school charity where both women’s sons attend. Elena is not wealthy or a powerful career woman like the other moms, she is an artist and her son attends Rearton School on scholarship. Grace finds Elena mysterious, intriguing, and unsettling, but before she can know her any more, Elena is discovered savagely murdered in her apartment. There begins the “Who Done It” and the “undoing” of Grace and Jonathon’s perfect life.
Fans everywhere enraptured by The Undoing attempted to guess who killed Elena Alves, guessing and hoping that it most likely couldn’t be the obvious suspect. Being someone who loves to pay attention to details and who attempts to put herself in the mind of the director, I was convinced that it was Nicole Kidman who killed Elena, and here’s why:
Because I hate when details and scenes go to waste, I was convinced the attraction between Grace and Elena seen in Episode 1: “The Undoing” had to mean something. For the entirety of the episode the two women are drawn to one another. Elena is seemingly taken by Grace’s kindness and sincerity and Grace is entranced by Elena’s youthful beauty and feels a sense to protect her as an outsider in her posh world. Hours before Elena is murdered, she, Grace, Jonathon, and the rest of the school’s parents and donors are seen attending a lavish charity event for the school being held in a glass-windows-to-the-ceilings multi-million dollar apartment owned by one of the parents. Grace finds a distraught Elena in the bathroom and attempts to comfort her before Elena insists on returning home. In the elevator down to the lobby, Grace offers her driver to Elena to drive her back to Harlem, but Elena politely refuses and thanks Grace for her kindness. She then raises her hand to the back of Grace’s neck and pulls her in for a tender kiss. Elena departs from the elevator and Grace is left speechless.
Viewers learn alongside Grace in the next episode (after Elena is found murdered) that Elena was carrying on an affair with Jonathon who had treated Elena’s son’s rare cancer. Jonathon later claims Elena had become dangerously obsessed with him and he believes she had been trying to get close to Grace as a part of a sick plot to terrorize him and his family. Jonathan is the obvious suspect because he was Elena’s lover and he fled after the night of Elena’s death, but we all knew there had to be more to this story.
My friends and I began a game after episode 1 where we decided to write down our theories and see who was closest to the actual ending after the finale aired. This was my take:
Do any of you remember the opening credits where Nicole Kidman sings “Dream a Little Dream of Me” ? In the opening, a small girl probably around age 5 or so with curly red hair is seen innocently playing, and we are to assume this little girl represents Grace as a child. At around 1:05 (one minute and five seconds) into the opening, we see a flash of dripping blood come across our screens with the backdrop being an image of the small girl. Super eerie… to me, this had to mean something.
Because Grace was raised rich, always privileged, often times aloof and far off, I guessed that she might have some sort of condition that made it difficult to distinguish reality from dreaming and possible for her to forget moments and actions in the past. I imagined that Grace went to Elena’s apartment the night of the charity event to check on her. I imagined the two got to talking and possibly picked up from where they had left off in the elevator. Then I imagined that Grace found a jacket of Jonathon’s at the apartment or Elena guiltily confessed the affair, and Grace, confused, angry, dissociative, not in control, murdered the young woman. I thought it could be possible for Grace to act seemingly normal the next day if she was able to dissociate from her memories, and I believed the unraveling of this discovery would provide a great mystery premise. In one episode Grace even wakes up in the hospital because she had spent the past night into the morning wandering around Central Park until she collapsed and was discovered by playing children.
But when it became clearer and more evident that Elena’s character was not going to be further explored beyond her murder and that she and Grace had never interacted beyond what we saw in scenes prior, I knew my theory couldn’t be correct. My question remains today after knowing how it ends, “Why bother developing their relationship in such a way in the first episode for it not to contribute anything to the rest of the plot?”
My mind turned towards Donald Sutherland’s Franklin, aka Grace’s millionaire dad, who always disapproved of Jonathon, and also to Lily Rabe’s Sylvia, a high-powered lawyer and Grace’s best friend. I thought maybe Franklin could have concocted an elaborate and deplorable scheme to have Elena killed if he believed Elena could have put Grace or Henry in danger, Jonathon going down as collateral would be a bonus. Or maybe Sylvia was Jonathon’s other extramarital rendez-vous and there was a behind-the-scenes plot between Elena and Sylvia audiences didn’t see. Even Henry is subject to suspicion as he is seen obsessed by the news coverage of the murder and later found concealing the murder weapon in his violin case…
But by the end of Episode 5: “Trial by Fury,” it is about certain Jonathon killed Elena and we discover that he has suffered from narcissistic personality disorder for the entirety of his life. Jonathon lacks the capability to feel neither grief nor suffering which made it possible for him to have monstrously killed Elena and so convincingly act like he hadn’t. The “plot twist,” if you will, is his disease itself. Jonathon truly is a sick man, sick as in deranged and also sick as in ill. His wiring to always put himself first even extended to him trying to cast doubt on his own son as the murderer, knowing full well that it was himself, and this is the moment Grace knows she must do everything in her power to distance herself and Henry from Jonathon for their own safety. Later after the fateful trial in the finale episode, there is a brilliant scene on the bridge where Henry is begging his father not to jump off it to his death, and Grace is running towards them screaming for Jonathon to come down and not harm their son. Jonathan, in his illness, takes this as Grace still loves him. Seeing this as a reuniting of his family, he climbs down the bridge, smiles, and opens his arms to embrace his wife and son in a hug. I love this moment because it puts on full display how his mind works (or fails to work) and we see a man who is completely sick. It is scary to think how many people like Jonathon could exist in our everyday societies, those who seem normal, intelligent, compassionate, but hide something dark within that could at any time be awoken.
Though I can appreciate the story concluding in a place where mental illness is explored, I cannot shake the feeling that we were robbed of a “better” twist. The overall plot and its progression and resolution remain sore points for me, but I have to praise the performances of the actors, especially Noma Dumezweni who plays the badass lawyer Haley Fitzgerald and Donald Sutherland who plays Franklin Reinhardt. Also notable are Édgar Ramírez as Detective Joe Mendoza and Ismael Cruz Córdova as Fernando Alves, Elena’s husband. David E. Kelly continues to deliver wonderful television and I found the overall cinematography and screenplay well done. I simply wish the puzzle had more satisfyingly come together… that all the pieces they presented to us joined in the end to form a composition that we couldn’t have fully seen coming, but one that had utilized individual components (small details and individual character traits) to create a masterpiece that looked and felt whole.
When it comes to The Undoing, I greatly enjoyed the ride. However, I was met with feelings of disappointment and lack of fulfillment once I arrived at the destination.
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(Posted in another marriage subreddit, but is very important here too.)Love language is incredibly important. Speaking to them in YOUR love language may as well be a foreign language if it is not theirs; just know that does NOT make you a bad person, it is very easy to do.This is for dating as well as marriage!Story-time: My hubby and I obviously love each other very much, but we had very different ways of showing it. His love language is physical touch, whereas mine is quality time. In the beginning we spoke about it, but putting it into play was a whole different game. He would spend hours doing his hobbies, while I sat on the couch waiting desperately for him to talk to me for just a few moments. Instead, he would get up, hug me, and then sit back down and keep doing his thing. I felt lonely and unloved, while he thought that he was being caring by taking that brief break to hug me. He believed we WERE spending time together by being in the same room. On the flip side, I’d always ask if we could have a nice dinner together at the table. Nothing fancy, just together. He’d get bored doing that so often, and he generally didn’t like the formality of a table setting rather than a comfy couch supper. I’d be upset because I was trying so hard to show him that I cared and mad that he just didn’t see that.Problem: We were so familiar with the fuel that filled our own tanks that we were not able to see how empty it was leaving each other’s. I was pouring diesel in his gas engine truck, and vice versa.I know that “love language” is a buzz phrase now. But it is TRULY important that we learn what our SO’s love language is and learn how to speak it.It can be so hard to step outside of what you’re used to, especially if it has not been a part of the way you communicate love. For example, my husbands Mum is a gifts person. I have never cared for gifts and neither did anyone in my family, so it was weird to get used to. She was showering me with gifts and I didn’t understand why until I learned her that is was her way of saying “I love you.” Nowadays, we have agreed that on holidays and the like we would go out for a Timmies for Mum-daughter bonding rather than JUST giving gifts for each other. It’s so sweet, and it’s because we are learning to speak and act out each other’s love languages!Nowadays, life is so different for hubs and I. The main difference? I’ve started doing foot spa’s for him. It’s simple, and the rule is that there is no tech. That way, he gets his physical touch and I get my quality time. I’ve started speaking up when I need a moment with him, and he has started speaking up when he needs some sort of physical touch, even if it’s me playing with his hair for a few moments.Learn to speak their love language and see the difference it makes. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get it right all the time either!Here are some ideas:Physical touch: Get out the foot scrub, moisturizer, and even massage oil if you want to. There’s something special and intimate about washing someone’s feet! If you’re squeamish, do a homemade hand scrub. Also, there’s nothing wrong with plain, non-sexual cuddling!Words of affirmation: Write a letter. Men, write out why you love your wife. Wives, write out the reasons you respect your husband. Note the key words. Read “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs if you have any further questions about the importance of specifically using those two words for specific spousal roles!Quality time: Board games. A nice walk. Create art together. Watch a movie. And if you’re like me and find most of those things boring, take a drive and bring the camera. It’s actually amazing how much of God’s creation we don’t appreciate on the regular! Oh, and snap some pics of your sweetheart while you’re at it!Gifts: The sweetest gifts are the well-thought through ones. Get a little basket and fill it with small things that they like. If you’re crafty, a homemade photobook is beautiful. If you are able to, surprise them with that thing they’ve been wanting for SO long but refuse to get because they don’t want to treat themselves!Acts of service: A clean house is as basic as you can get, but it does wonders for the average busy person. Cook them a meal, or even a dessert. Draw them a bath and light those candles, and give them a calming moment to themselves. Sometimes the greatest act of service could be a little bit of space (especially for the Mums and Dads out there, I see you.)I hope this helps at least one person! via /r/dating_advice