I reread and rewatched The Miseducation of Cameron Post, novel by emily m. danforth (2012) and film co-written and directed by Desiree Akhavan (2018), and now I'm sitting in my thoughts. When I first watched the film, it had been years since I'd read the novel (evidently 2012), and so my impressions of how well the film had adapted the source material was based on a vague memory of the events of the novel, basically whatever stuck with me.
Upon rereading the novel, I feel like I can say that it's one of my favorite lesbian novels. I think some sort of connection to Christianity will really make it work for a reader, but in general it's smart, darkly funny, raw, and though it features a teenager as a protagonist, it doesn't quite read as something that would be pitched as YA material. I don't quite know how to describe it but the tone doesn't feel so... aged down in that way? Cameron sounds like a mature kid in the voice given to her. And sex is definitely there and there's definitely language happening. Cameron gets up to all sorts of shenanigans.
What's really clear consuming these two back-to-back is that the film lacked time. It skips the entire first half of the novel, entirely cutting out Cameron's first same-sex experience with then-best friend Irene Clauson at 12 years old, the death of her parents, her definite awakening to her sexuality via films and Seattle-based friend Lindsey, and even the saga of Coley Taylor who is shown in the film but really just in catalystic glimpses instead of the drawn out consuming affair it is in the novel. Gone is the whole set up of Cameron pretty much knowing she's gay, of not-really-but-kind-of-dating guy friend Jamie (who recognized her attraction to Coley and was actually supportive in the sense of keeping her secret!), of shoplifting as a thing she'd already engaged in before her parents' death but that became moreso an avenue of channeling her issues in the aftermath, of a dollhouse her father made for her that she's constantly renovating and decorating in manners Cameron herself doesn't quite understand, or even the way that timing made Cameron entangle her parents' deaths with a sense of shame and guilt about her sexuality that's established with the first sentence of the novel. Oh, and her guardian Aunt Ruth ushers in evangelical Christianity into Cameron's life in a big way so that while Cameron doesn't become devout or faithful, it's a huge part of her life to be part of the congregation's youth group and to be surrounded by the Christian narrative. Also Cameron's grandmother is a really important character who is lost to the adaptation scissors.
All this awareness and baggage Cameron takes with her to conversion camp (after having been with Coley but the setting and situation of those events play out very differently in the novel) and that's just... lost. Cameron can see and understand what's happening at the camp, its Christian bent, and she has a huge amount of skepticism and anger and reluctance to buy into the program that readers recognize right off the bat. One of my favorite lines is Lydia making an offhand comment that "Cameron is always performing."
But not only that, there's not enough time in the film to really cover the experience of the conversion camp. In the novel, Cameron spends an entire school year there and we see her friendships with Jane and Adam develop, we see her working or resisting the system with first one-on-ones with Rick or Lydia after which are the group therapies where we learn more about her fellow disciples, heck she goes home for winter break and all that awkwardness. The details of Dane's addiction and what it drove him to do to get his fixes or how Mark feels so much pressure because his dad is a pastor are lost. Heck, it's not even clear in the film that Cameron, Adam, and Jane resolved to run away until it's happening. In the novel, Cameron declares she's done, she's leaving, and there's doubt at her sincerity at first, then Adam wants to go right then, but Jane insists they need a plan. And so they prepare... for months. And because we lost the whole thread of the impact of the deaths of Cameron's parents, we don't get the resolution of that through the visit to Quake Lake or the Lake's significance, etc. Actually, that Cameron is primarily a swimmer over being a runner is gone, too, though her swimming is the opportunity through which so many shenanigans happen in her life pre-camp.
All these lost details are a victim of time, that there's simply not enough time in a 90-minute film.
Some things are simple changes that range from unnotable (Lydia being Rick's sister in the film instead of his aunt) to "hm, interesting." In the film Cameron sees Jane shoplifting and thus is spurred to attempt her own theft; in the novel, given Cameron's history of shoplifting, she needs no prompt or example. There's an item she wants that she doesn't want to buy because she doesn't want to explain a) how she has money (smuggled in) or b) why she wants the item (it's not a cassette in the novel). (It also felt weird to make Jane a thief. I didn't know how I felt about those optics.) Erin does catch her in the act--and forces Cameron to tell Rick. Mark never steps in to smooth things over as he does in the film and the almost-shoplifting incident ends up postponing Cameron acquiring mail privileges. In the film, Cameron getting mail privileges feels almost like a punishment because Lydia wants Cameron to read Coley's letter to shock Cameron into getting onboard with the program, compared to how in the novel it's an actual reward, where Rick and Cameron share an impromptu karaoke moment and he sees it as the first time Cameron is finally being truly vulnerable and rewards her for it. (That ends up being devastating because Cameron does get to read Coley's letter.) It was an interesting change.
In the novel, once Cameron decides to run, she actually starts cooperating and opening up and being honest in her sessions with Lydia, both because it serves the purposes of the escape plan and Cameron thinks "eff it, why not," and so she does confront things she hadn't before looked at closely.
I can go on and on about the adaptation choices--the depths of Coley's betrayal get really lost but also Coley as a character is interesting, if ultimately frustrating in and of herself in the novel because Coley undergoes her own bumpy journey and you actually get a sense of her, the cowgirl to Cameron's townie--but what it feels like it came down to is that the film feels like it's just skimming the surface. Of Cameron as a character. Of the conversion camp absurdity. Of the stories of the other "disciples." Of the traumas lived and additionally inflicted. It's, ironically, like the iceberg: you get to see the tip, but not what's really lurking beneath. I think I actually felt more forgiving of the film this time around, even as I could more clearly see what it lacked. I could see that Akhavan had a huge task to try to distill such a rich novel down into something that could be shown in 90 minutes, but it ended up a dilution of what really makes the novel shine: its bite, its edges, its depiction and affection and fondness and also criticism of Montana life, the fact that Cameron isn't a bad kid but she's not some angel either and not just because she isn't straight--she really is dealing with shit and no one really helped her. She's a person.
So I stand by my first impression: the adaptation didn't hold a candle to the original novel for me. If you've only seen the film, I highly recommend reading the novel. The novel delighted and surprised me all over again. I wanted to keep following Cameron's story and those of her friends, to find out where they ended up, to hear maybe where Irene and Coley were in their lives in 10 years. I loved, loved, loved that Cameron's story isn't one of total isolation at all, that she had all these encounters and moments throughout her life that she had to work through and figure out but it wasn't about "I am the only gay girl in this small town." Far from it and there's just such frankness in it.
Love this novel and should get my hands on danforth's next novel, Plain Bad Heroines.
Her sweet love
A/N: this is for the writing challenge of @heloisedaphnebrightmore and @haracelovestruck . I enjoyed writing this so much, thank you for organizing the event💘
Pairing: Draco Malfoy x reader
Summary: After a lil prank of Y/N's friend, Draco takes care of her.
Warnings: a bit of a prank, a lil drowning but it doesn't happen too much, and too much fluff
Y/N and Emma were walking along side with the Black Lake, chattering away in the mildly cold weather of early November.
"My little brother has this obsession with those Weasley products and ended up spending his entire monthly allowance on puking pastilles." Emma laughed.
"You know, he is going to get money out of you." Y/N says idly, looking at the the clouded canvas of the sky, painted in the shades of greys and dull blue, somehow still looking beautiful.
"He can try."
"He was successful last year." Y/N murmur, pulling the sleeves of her sweater to cover her cold hands.
"That was last year." Emma insisted.
"If you say so." She replies, halting to look at the lake. The lively shades of turquoise was dancing fascinatingly in the waters where the giant squid and merfolks resided.
"You know," said Emma with a notorious twinkle in her brown eyes, "you can take a dip if you want."
Before y/n could have processed a word of her friend, she was in the water, with a force stinging her skin a little. She opened her eyes only to close them again. She pushed her way to the surface, and she gasped for the air.
The chill of the air combined with that of water was enough to freeze. Her teeth chattered, as she squeezed her eyes shut with her mouth gaping to inhale as much oxygen she could.
Emma had her head thrown back, her contagious laughter filling in the empty silence. Emma hunched over, trying to control her giggles, however the attempt was pathetic.
Y/N scowled and swam to the edge. She grasped her friend's ankle and pulled an unsuspecting Emma into the water.
Now it was her turn to laugh as Emma too gasped for air as she came to the surface. Y/N giggles as her furious friend glared at her and splashed water.
The splash war began, both of them laughing as they were practically drowning one another.
The pair turned to a pair of Slytherin and a Ravenclaw.
"Hi Draco." Y/N smiles at the boy with clenched jaw and his eyes furious but the concern in them made her relax under his stare which would have normally made someone scared.
"Get out of the water, you two." Oscar says, a bit too sternly for their liking.
"Its just some good fun, love." Emma bats her eyelashes innocently at her boyfriend.
"Y/N will get sick," Draco snaps.
"And so will you." Oscar adds.
The girls sighed in frustration as they were pulled out of the water by the help of their friends.
Oscar was fussing over his girlfriend, muttering enchantments that would warm her shivering figure.
While Draco swished his wand, moodily muttering the spell which dried her clothes. She was still quaking with the chill that seemed to bury in her bones.
"Come here, I can warm you up." He mutters, taking her hand and pulling her closer. He took off his warm robes and sweater, leaving himself in a thin shirt.
"You'll get cold, Draco." Y/N pouts.
"You are already quivering," he states. "Arms up."
Y/N reluctantly raises her arms and lets him pull down the warm woolen sweater, and then he wraps her up his robe, checking over her once again.
Y/N was however ecstatic because of the scent that his clothes had. The expensive cologne blended in with cinnamon and apples, the green ones of course, with a touch of parchment was so captivating, and so uniquely him.
"I have told you so many times to not go into the lake when it's cold, but you never listen to me. Now look at you, being so cold." He grumbled, pulling her into his chest and wrapping his arms around her to keep her warm.
She leaned into him, loving how he rubbed his warm hands against her back. His concern made her melt into a puddle of love that was only meant for him, and no one else.
"Ah, someone had a dunk in the lake?" Blaise smirks, walking towards them.
Draco didn't say a word but took his friend's scarf and wrapped it around Y/N's neck.
"Shut it, Zabini." Draco snaps, pulling Y/N closer to himself, taking her cold hands and rubbing them.
"You're still freezing," he grumbles against her cheek, holding her impossibly close to his warm body. He had taken her hands in his and brought near his mouth and was blowing warm air into them, as he rubbed them.
"You don't need to do this, Draco." Y/N pesters, trying to take her hands away so that she can give back the scarf but Draco didn't let her do it.
"Let's get you a hot chocolate." Draco pulls her away from the group to lead her to the castle.
"My bag!" She exclaims, trying to stop him. Draco only twirled his wand in his fingers and flicked it, the bag swiftly coming towards the two of you. He took it and swung it on his shoulders.
Draco noticed how their steps were perectly synchronised, and unknowingly he smiled. With her on his side, he has started admiring little things in life and was slowly starting to appreciate them too.
"Draco?" She asks sweetly.
"Yes, love?" He glances at her.
Y/N leaned more into his arms. He was somehow still warm in the windy weather. She had wrapped both her hands around his, letting his body heat bleed into her.
Draco enjoyed holding her this close, and he smiles as he watched her play with the rings that were cladding his slender fingers.
He ignored all the stares towards them and led her to the kitchens. He tickled the pear of the painting and the door opened. He had practically molded his best friend into his side as they entered.
"Master Draco, Mistress Y/N! What can we get you?" The house elves ask, gathering around them.
"Only some hot chocolate, nothing else." Draco said in a dismissive tone.
"Be polite." She whispered into his ear. Draco did nothing but pulled her into a hug, resting his cheek against her wet hair which were air drying themselves.
"I'm sorry if I was mean to you but I can't have you falling sick, sweetheart." He murmurs in her ear, and a shiver ran down her back at their closeness.
"Sorry." She croons into his chest, keeping her blushing face hidden there.
"Don't say that." He whispers back, running his fingers though her hair and untangling some knots. He smiled a little at the warm feeling that was spreading from his chest into his entire body by holding her close.
She gave him the surreal amount of happiness and warmth that he never knew existed. Her smile was enough to make his bad days into good ones.
He remembered seeing her in his second year when he was having a duel with Potter in the middle of the hallway. She ended up being hit by a hex and Draco didn't know why, but he ran to her and made sure she was alright.
From there, their friendship bloomed. It took a while for them to get closer, but after that stage, they have been inseparable. Even Lucius took a liking for her, which was both suprising yet not so surprising.
Y/N was a half blood and a Hufflepuff, which was already guaranteeing her to get in the line of people Lucius hates, but it was easy to love her. She was intelligent and charming, without even trying.
It took a while but Lucius come to terms with her well enough while Narcissa absolutely adored her with everything she has in herself.
While Draco, he was ready to summon universe if that's what it meant to see that winsome smile that invades his thoughts at any second of the day. He found perfection in her imperfections, thoroughly convinced that she is a wonder that somehow has blessed his life, and he loved her with all his heart and soul.
"Sir?" He heard the squeaky voice of the house elf. He parted away from his best friend and took the two mugs, and y/n took hers from his hand before he could have protested.
But subtly it made him happy because he could have an arm wrapped around her waist. They both went out of the kitchens and wordlessly made their way to the Slytherin common room.
Draco said the password and led her inside. He took her to his private dorm, which he got by his father's money request.
Draco opened the dorm for her, letting her go inside first to which she murmur a quick thank you. Draco let her keep their mugs of hot chocolate on his study table while he searched for some warm clothes.
He pulled out a black sweatshirt and joggers of the same colour and handed them to her. She made her way to the washroom and changed into them, folding the hem of the pants twice so that it could fit her waist.
When she came back, Draco had changed into some comfortable clothes and was sitting on the bed, staring at the fire.
She took this moment to admire the masterpiece of the human he is. The fire was making his silky white hair almost sparkle while his deep grey eyes were focused on the fire.
His elbows were on his knees and his hands were clasped together. His whole body was relaxed into the position and he was looking effortlessly glorious.
He was beyond enthralling to her, confident and head strong to his belief though some of his values changed after he met her. She was happy that he grew out of bullying and changed into a boy who was still brooding, but lovely as ever.
Draco's eyes snapped to her figure which was drowning in his sweatshirt. A small smile tugged at his lips as he watched her pad towards him, her cheeks warm with a delightful blush. They wordlessly took their mugs and sat down in front of the fire.
"Would you mind?" Draco asks her, his heart pumping faster as he gestured her to sit in his lap. She smiled a little and sat in his lap, letting his arms wrap around her and cuddle into her small figure.
She took out her wand and accioed her bag that was on the couch. She rummaged through it and took out a packet.
"What's this?" Draco asks in a whisper.
"Mini marshmallows." She answered, taking a handful and putting them in her drink.
"Would you like to try some?" She blinked up at him.
She put in some in his drink too, then packed it up and levitated her bag back to couch. She leaned against his chest, as she stretched her legs.
Draco gingerly tried it, his eyes widening after the sip. "Salazar, this is incredible. Why don't wizards have it?"
"Because muggles are better." She smiled up at him as he narrowed his eyes at her. "Anyway, this is he tiny version of a marshmallow. Usually they're this big." She showed the measurement by her thumb and index finger.
"Why do you like the mini ones then?" Draco asks her, pulling her closer to him.
"Well, when I was little-"
"Was?" Draco interrupts her, raising an eyebrow in amusement.
She narrowed her eyes into a glare, her nose scrunching up as she did so. She got even more annoyed when he smiled at her.
"As much as I love you and respect you, your anger barely intimidates me." Draco chuckles at her.
"I can be very scary." She states.
"You indeed look very intimidating as you hold this cup by both your hands, wearing my clothes that are practically drowning you, as you sit in my lap. I am terrified." He laughs.
She started to get off his lap but his arms wrapped around her waist before she could have done so.
"Noooo." He whined, pulling her impossibly closer and burying his head in her neck, his arms firmly wrapper around her waist. "Don't go, I am sorry, love."
Y/N smiled, this side of Draco was unseen by the world. The one that wanted affection all the time, the side that made her heart flutter in delight whenever it came out when they were alone.
"Draco." She croons, her hand sliding into those silky hair.
He hummed back in response, pressing a kiss on her neck.
"You're sweet, really really sweet." She whispers softly.
"Only to you." Draco states, pulling away and looking into her eyes as his hand slid up, along her side and then cupping her face. His eyes shamelessly fell on her lips and he stared at them, resisting himself the pleasure of devouring her lips.
Y/N heart melted as she watched the boy she loved so hopelessly look at her lips like that. As if he wanted her, just like she wanted him. She nodded at him when he looked at her for permission.
Draco lowered his head and gently brushed his lips against hers, his soul exploding at the gentle touch. He reached out for one of her legs which were sprawled across his lap, and placed it on his other side of the hip and pulled her closer.
He memorised those sinfully addicting lips which made see heaven with closed eyes. The sweetness of her lips due to hot chocolate was unparalleled and all he wanted was to kiss her till the sun couldn't shine.
Y/N mewled against his lips when he tilted his head and kissed her deeply. She was getting drunk off the kiss which had her head spinning. Her hands fisted the fabric of his sweatshirt, trying her best not to moan into the kiss.
Her head was getting heavier with pleasure and she pulled away for oxygen, resting her head against his chest, her eyes closed as she panted. She was still clutching his sweatshirt for some reason she neither knew nor cared to find out.
"You just kissed me." She awed, opening her eyes to look at the boy who was already looking down at her with disbelief in his eyes, but the way he held her so endearingly made her know that he was only shocked due to the bliss.
"I think so."
She smiled at him. "And you are not apologizing for once."
"No, sorry," he breathed, burying his head in her hair. "Sorry for not doing this sooner."
She smiled as she lifted his head, cupping that beautiful face she loved so much. "Don't apologise." She whispers, gently rubbing her thumbs against his jaw. He leaned into her touch, a soft sigh escaping his oh-so-kissable lips.
"I love you," she croons, making him snap his head towards her in surprise.
Those beautiful words that he so longed to hear from her were finally said and Draco couldn't feel anything but happiness that bursted into his chest and echoed in his bones.
His tongue went dry when tried to say those words back. He couldn't, he just couldn't.
So he leaned in and kissed her again, making her roll her eyes back into her sockets as he kissed her deeper, more hungrily as if he had been starving for her presence for eternities and now she is finally her.
She smiled into the kiss, not being able to resist to do so. She knew saying those words will be tough for him, but she was happy.
She didn't need to hear something she felt every single second they spent time together.
He always looked out for her, making sure she is comfortable with whatever is happening around them or otherwise it had to change. Whether it was the situation or the people, Draco dealt with everyone who dared to upset her in terrifying manner.
He always held her close to him, as if she was the stars to his sky. He walked her to every class even if it meant sprinting down half a dozen of stairs to reach his class within 2 minutes, he was ready to do it.
That overwhelming urge to make her happy showed her that he loved her unconditionally. His heart was hers and hers only for this life and all lives to come.
Draco parted away, panting. He smiled back at her, his heart fluttering when he saw that winsome smile stretched across her lips. He leaned in and kissed her smile, whispering how much he loved her without uttering a word.
He picked her up as he stood up and carried her to his bed. He laid her down, and hovered over her.
"My sweet girl." He whispered, pressing tiny loving kisses all over her face which made her giggle loudly, wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders.
"Stay the night?" He asks her, pressing a kiss on her nose and then leaning away just a little.
"Okay." She whispers.
They drowned each other in love, holding onto each other as letters of a word, clinging onto each other to have some meaning.
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Gloxinia and Meliodas' First Meeting.
Time Period: Sometime during the Holy War
»»————- ♔ ————-««
He remembers the Lord of the Faefolk.
Elizabeth lays limp in his arms.
The world explodes around him, typhoon’s cacophonous touch laying waste to the landscape but he does not feel the slice of the wind. Raindrops pierce through the clouds, bullets of water that seem to attack the thin veil of his cloak but he cares not for them. All he knows is the gellid flesh pressed against his chest, the drooping wings whose feathers seem to swell with water, bright white eyelashes slack from exhaustion, delicate eyebrows devoid of that determined furrow.
He’s running out of options, had gravely miscalculated during his battle with Calmadios and now was left without a place to return to, without a roof with which to weather this storm under. He had no place where Elizabeth could rest and recuperate from her wounds.
Even amongst the wanton destruction Meliodas had wrought in his time in the physical realm, the memory stands stark in the backdrop of his mind. A routine perimeter sweep after they had managed to gain new territory from beating back the Goddess Clan in the south. The normal agenda after such events - visiting the human nests, establishing the new order, weeding out dissenters and surviving pests, setting up scouts; it was all necessary yet monotonous activity so no one particularly fancied running such errands. It was only because Meliodas had drawn the short lot that he had to do the grunt work himself.
He hadn’t expected to find Fairies in the human nest, small creatures with their delicate wings healing humans and helping repair their odd little hutches. He’d not so much as heard about encounters with Fairies since coming into the realm - only knew of the whispers of the so-called Fairy King’s Forest and the great magic that was contained within. Meliodas thought it all nothing more than the mangled stories of drunk demons. He hadn’t felt any significant magic in the physical realm besides the heavy cloud that was the bestial Giant Clan and so he had dismissed even the notion of Fairies as such.
Yet there they were, smaller than even him in their diminutive stature, little faces scrunched in joy and determination even as the nest around them was razed and half ablaze.
And so Meliodas thought, ‘If the Fae are real, then surely their King is no illusion either.’
Zeldris must have heard by now he thinks. Would know that he made good on his word to abandon their people for the sake of Elizabeth and, ultimately, for ending this useless conflict.
Was he laughing at him? Was he gleefully watching his heinous older brother suffer for choosing a lover over the future of their clan only to immediately lose her to his pride? Meliodas alone had made the decision to defect while surrounded by his troops and three Commandments. His confidence in his strength had cost him dearly, but with Elizabeth at his back, he had felt invincible.
The rain continues to pour around them, but Meliodas cannot feel its freezing touch. Elizabeth’s warm blood is beginning to seep through her clothes. He doesn’t want to hold her tighter, fears that squeezing her will only make her bleed out faster. What good is his strength if he cannot help those most important to him in their times of need?
Lightning tears the sky asunder, thunder racing so close to its heel that the world around him seems to quake. He’ll have to land - he can’t risk attracting the bolts with Elizabeth in his grip. He is a demon but he can’t help but pray.
Prays that the chill descending on Elizabeth’s skin is only the rain. Prays that Zeldris finds some way to end the conflict too. Prays that he hasn’t ruined the only thing that could save Elizabeth’s life.
It surprises him even now. The ease with which the Fairies revealed the location of their home to him. Meliodas was quite aware that they knew him to be a demon. Even without knowledge of the rank or class that he occupied, his magic alone was nothing but purest, deepest black - yet, even as they trembled with their breaths caught in their throats and their little fingers halted in their actions, they dutifully told him what it was he wanted to know.
He remembers thinking then that the Fairies were a weak bunch - that they were a naive people who surely teetered on the brink of extinction for the easily exploitable trust they so readily gave.
Then came the fog.
He’s not surprised that even during this tempest, the fog is thick.
The last time he entered, the mist showed him illusions that confounded him for hours. The road disappeared beneath him, he’d ended up on a mountain and then at a lake and throughout it all quiet laughter echoed in his ear, disorienting him. Angering him.
Today there is only the quiet of deep, deep fog and the dampened splashing of rain as it struggles to cut through haze.
Meliodas lands on the muddy ground and takes off sprinting. He slips in an errant puddle, the ground slick and treacherous but even then he does not let go of Elizabeth. The air’s knocked from his lungs as he lands on his back. His shoulder burns but he cannot heal himself. He does not know what effect his miasma would have on Elizabeth in this weakened state. He does not want to find out. With trembling fingers, he adjusts her, frowns as the muscles beneath her fair skin refuse to twitch even when he lets his touch linger on the plush flesh of her lips, her cheek, the puncture in her stomach which gushes, gushes, and was he always able to glimpse the pink of her stomach? Was it wrong that he found that healthy colour as beautiful as the rest of her? But her skin is cold, cold too cold and her blood runs hot and Meliodas curses even the rains, roars his frustration so the lord of the lands knows that he is in no mood for games.
A part of him wondered if the Fairies had conned him; if they had only pretended to be shy things and had taken the opportunity to lead him to his death instead of guiding him to the Forest like they claimed they would. He’d think much higher of them if that was the case.
As it stands, Meliodas only wishes to tear the heads from their breakable bodies for the tasteless jest. Already, he’d found himself at the bottom of a lake, in which swimming in any direction only dragged him further down, a mountain trail which had led to him being apparently attacked by some manner of beast and a desert which stretched for so many hours that Meliodas had begun to sweat through the leathers of his gear. Terrible caterwauling the likes he had only heard in the deepest annals of the Underworld dogged his steps, and when the screeching stopped, the laughing began.
In each direction he was met with nothing but a wall of fog so thick that he could not even see the colour of his shoes and with each step without a discernible goal in sight, his resentment only grew.
And then, oddly, he caught the strong smell of flowers.
An unmistakable flash of red like spider lilies blooms in the corner of his periphery.
The tumultuous rain quiets to a mere whisper and the fog dissipates leaving only a dew laden field of bright, bright flowers.
The Fairy King is no less spectacular the second time around, celestial wings aglow with multicoloured magic which seems to glitter even in the midst of this gloomy, terrible squall. He stands with his hands at his side, thin lips pressed into a fine line. He is unarmed, alone. Unimpressed.
“You have returned,” he says dully and Meliodas does not have time to be offended at the lack of respect.
He tightens his grip on Elizabeth’s thigh, does his best to keep from snarling. “Heal her!”
A perfect eyebrow threatens to scrape scarlet hairline. “I beg your pardon?”
Meliodas growls, refuses to rest Elizabeth against the forest floor yet cannot risk jostling her for the sake of emphasis, “She hurt herself protecting me. I want you to heal her.”
Gloxinia’s neutral expression becomes a faintly bemused smile. “Is that a request or a threat, Demon Lord?”
Meliodas glares (and Elizabeth is growing cold in his grip, cold, cold, he is running out of time-) “Both, Fairy.”
The fog begins to creep in not unlike storm clouds on the placid horizon. The sound of thunder begins to descend upon them, red and purple flower buds disappearing beneath the cloak of the Fairy King’s enchanted mist. The fae smiles and it is a cold, cruel thing which sits comfortably on cherubic features, “Then I bid you farewell.”
Meliodas feels the wrath overflow, feels it in the way his vision goes black at the edges, in the way he can hear Elizabeth’s failing heartbeat. Anger at Gloxinia for refusing him, for dooming Elizabeth to death. Anger at himself for being unable to protect her, for failing her, “I will raze this forest to the ground, Gloxinia! Help her or I will slaughter every one of your kind!”
And that despicable Fairy only looks down at him, golden eyes more damning than any bolt of heavenly lightning, “It matters not, Demon Lord, she will already be dead.”
Then he is alone.
Elizabeth’s heartbeat grows so frail that Meliodas cannot hear it over the rain that has rushed in. Fog blinds his eyes, anger stifles his mind and the breaks and creaks in his bones finally overwhelm him. He crumples, mud splattering all over Elizabeth’s once white battle silks. She will die. She will die and it will have been his fault. Is this how Zeldris felt he wonders? This despair - this deep, gaping emptiness as the warmth of his lover cools to ice beneath his numb fingers.
Meliodas has never cried. It is a foreign concept to one as high born as he but his heart sinks to his stomach and threatens to slip free from his chest altogether. He bends his head, furrows his brows, squeezes Elizabeth’s flesh as he listens to her slowing heart.
‘Please,’ he wants to whisper. ‘Please, please have mercy on a sinner. Just this once.’
A pungent scent like foreign herbs fills his nose -
“[Droplet of Life]”
There is a glow, some bright unfathomable light and Meliodas sits up like he’s been burnt. Elizabeth’s heart suddenly beats in her chest, loud and melodic and it is the sweetest sound Meliodas has heard in years. He looks up to find cold eyes looking down on him, the Fairy King’s red hair spilling over his shoulders like reeds against some sheer cliffside.
He frowns, squints at Meliodas then appraises Elizabeth. Without so much as another word, he straightens himself and makes a gesture with two of his fingers. The fog lifts entirely, revealing a twisted up pathway between massive, primordial boughs. Flowers of every specie litter the ground preceding the entryway and Gloxinia turns his back on them. “Spend the night here,” he says and though Meliodas twitches at the unmistakable authority in that light voice, his gratitude and surprise renders him mute. “This storm will rage for four days and five nights. Regain your strength then leave.”
And then he disappears into the forest, leaving Meliodas and Elizabeth in the stillness of his eden.
4: What’s your favorite line of dialogue?
5: What part was hardest to write?
9: Were there any alternate versions of this fic?
12: What do you like least about this fic?
14: Is there anything you wanted readers to learn from reading this fic?
[The Things That Should Not Be]
4. What's your favorite line of dialogue?
"I think I have glaucoma," Steve whispered somewhere in the background.
5. What part was the hardest to write?
So far, it's the first two scenes of the entire 12th Chapter. I keep going back and changing them. This chapter is taking me the longest to produce because I want it just right. Before the 12th Chapter, it was the scene in Chapter 11 where a quake hits and Chrissy and Eddie fall, and Chrissy basically falls on top of Eddie, and the part I had trouble with most was the dialogue. I changed Eddie's dialogue about sixty times there until I could find something that sounded most like him to me. Still isn't my favorite.
9. Were there any alternate versions of this fic?
Well, it's not finished yet, so maybe I'll come back and answer this more accurately later. Don't know what big events will change as I go! The entire setting of the group staking out the high school was not in the original draft. Originally, they were gonna stake out the woods near Lover's Lake. Then I decided that didn't work/was dumb and changed it to the high school for Future Reasons™.
12. What do you like least about this fic?
I don't like that canonically, the characters would be cussing all over the place, and my fic is sfw down to the dialogue. I'm a big stickler for trying to make everything as believable as possible in fics, aligning with the source material, and if it were canonical Stranger Things, these characters would be cursing every other sentence. They just do. But I won't write cuss words (I don't cuss irl, or think in cuss words either), and I'm not about to start that process just for a fic. So I always have them cut off, but give enough of the word that your imagination fills in the blanks so it still sounds like the characters. But MAN, is it IRRITATING sometimes because it really chops off the flow of dialogue.
14. Is there anything you wanted readers to learn from reading this fic?
^ That and also the thesis so far is that real love is unconditional and sacrificial, so basically around the same lesson depicted muddily in Chasing the Light, I guess.
I love this game! Thank you for the ask and the interest in the fic/my thoughts! So appreciated.
really really really wish they'd stop naming their events like elf on the shelf but it's also so fucking funny every time christopher jerichode takes himself so seriously and is so mad and then has to say "quake at the lake" as if it's not soooo stupid
AEW Returns To Minneapolis For "The Quake By The Lake” Live Shows On August 10th
AEW Returns To Minneapolis For “The Quake By The Lake” Live Shows On August 10th
— Tickets on Sale This Friday, June 24, for “AEW: Dynamite” and
“AEW: Rampage” at Target Center
MINNEAPOLIS (June 20, 2022) – All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the red hot promotion taking the world by storm, will return to the Target Center in Minneapolis with its wildly popular shows, “AEW: Dynamite” and “AEW: Rampage,” for a special THE QUAKE BY THE LAKE event on Wednesday, August 10.
This will mark…
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bestie for pride month… please give the gays what we want: HEADCANONS OF YOUR Prue is given up at birth Piper dies!AU. please, I beg thee 🙏
lmaoooooo. okay. this is for the gays. [post for reference]
patty and sam's affair happens first before she ever meets victor then she gets knocked up grams almost has a hernia it's decided that even tho patty and sam love each other this is too much of a risk, their proximity to one another, and they need to separate in order to stay off the elders radar
patty gives birth to prue and then immediately gives her up at birth, she is taken in by the matthews family
patty later marries victor and has three daughters: piper, phoebe, and paige, but you could say it just wasn't meant to be, because patty and victor do ultimately get divorced
patty still drowns at the lake but in this specific au, she takes the water demon down with her
so there's no demon left in the lake
so when prue finds herself drawn to the lake whenever the matthews family goes camping, she really is at no risk
she'll just lie an the dock and talk, she says to herself, but that's not quite true
but idk it would just sound weird to say she's talking to the lake itself
meanwhile back at the manor piper is definitely very firm and very stern in her role as eldest sister but she's not as rigid as prue
like. bc phoebe and paige are a handful and a half. and piper tells them she tells them don't go out don't fucking do it but of course they do anyways. she doesn't bother to snitch to grams either and she'll still make them a full hangover breakfast the next morning but it always comes with a healthy dose of i told you so
one night paige and phoebe are tearing it up and paige is driving completely shitfaced and she crashes the car and phoebe, who was not buckled, goes flying through the windshield
that was the only time she ever really saw piper lose her shit, she was fucking furious, phoebe was in the hospital and piper came busting into the waiting room already screaming paige's name
but once she saw how broken her sister already was she just sat down and cried with her
that was the event that triggered paige's journey towards sobriety
it definitely also put a damper on phoebe's party spirit but grams's energy after than incident was so suffocating phoebe couldn't take it anymore and moved to new york
paige got her job in social services, piper got her job at quake, prue was working as a photographer, phoebe was a jack of all trades
after grams's death phoebe moved back in and the girls became charmed
their whitelighter in this is actually sam and he becomes something of a father figure to them
then piper bites it
this almost triggers a backslide in paige's sobriety, her & phoebe really lean on each other in this time, it's very heavy, very emotional, very intuitive
so naturally pragmatic prue matthews sticks out like a sore goddamn thumb
but still, there's something about piper's death that feels eerily familiar to her
it reminds her of how her long time boyfriend, a private investigator, andy died
and that scares her
she doesn't really want to go in on this witch stuff
however, the source has clocked her, and in an attempt to kill her, burns her house down or something, killing her parents, but, miraculous, she survived
she shouldn't have
the exits were sealed, they were pounding against the door, desperately trying to escape
there was no way she could have gotten out of the house
(unless she orbed)
so now she has nowhere to go
except for the manor
paige and phoebe really pull themselves together for this bc they were totally content to let themselves wallow their way out of existence over piper's death, but seeing prue
phoebe and paige have lost before. they've lost their mom and they've lost their grandma and they've lost their sister
it stings, but they know what it feels like to have a loved one die and they know they can make it through it
prue does not know that
she does not know how to grieve
she wants to
she doesn't even know
she wants to go to the lake
for piper, phoebe, and paige, how their mom died has always been a mystery
she didn't tell grams where she was going, only that she'd be back for dinner
prue, noting how they're all in mourning and all need the tranquility the lake offers, bring phoebe and paige with her
and they meet patty
Series Content: Graphic descriptions of gore and smut. Din Djarin/Third Person POV.
Chapter Word Count: 8263 (im sorry)
Pairing: Din Djarin/F!Reader - no use “y/n”
The Mandalorian is a driven warrior — traversing the galaxy in search of the ancient Jedi — but everyone has their weaknesses, and he’s no different. The Bounty Hunter possessed three in fact. One he’s discovered—The Child. The remaining two, though, he wasn’t aware of their existence. At least, not until he meets a valorous Sharpshooter underneath a moonless night sky; then he’s plummeting down a dark mission of self-discovery, questioning his morals and his Creed while the moon taunts him, the phases of the satellite corresponding to his personal revelations. However, the Girl has a dark past that may come to inflict hardships on the Mandalorian and the Child; it's up to the Bounty Hunter to decide her fate.
Read on AO3 / Series Masterlist
CHAPTER EIGHT: BLUE MILK PANCAKES
Mando still can’t grasp it actually happened—that he’d been so fortunate to experience such a jaw-dropping night with the Girl, with no ulterior motives no less. Back in his youth, when he was naive and desperate, it wasn’t exactly infrequent for a fling to take advantage of him; spend a quick few minutes so that one may eliminate him in his distraction or gain intel on private matters. The Girl didn’t try that—didn’t want that. She sought to provide him with sweet relief and nothing more, not even her own relief.
He felt so fucking worshipped.
Mando is the first of them to wake in the early rise of the sun. He sits there for a moment, savouring the gleaming rays shining through the viewport to warm his beskar and, consequently, his rigid body underneath. The Crest is coated in a layer of ice, corroding the durasteel beneath and, accompanied by the packed snow resting atop, it’s refrigerating the inside of the spacecraft. Mando slips on the discarded glove from overnight—a warmth surfacing his cheeks upon the reminder of last night’s events—and supplies friction to either hand in the prospect it’ll produce warmth. It’s wishful thinking.
Granting him the opportunity to adjust to his surroundings, Mando stretches in his chair and virtually moans at the pulsations ranging through his limbs. It starts at his shoulders and travels through his core, nudging against the wound on his back and easing the tension out of his muscles, and reaches to the bottom of his toes which practically curl with delight.
Mando considers removing the helmet to rub his eyes—the crust in the corners a botheration—lift it a tad in the least, but he doesn’t get the chance. The Child coos beside him, his little arms reaching up for assistance.
“How did you get up here?” he asks, placing him on his knees. The Child doesn’t answer—why would he—and concentrates on balancing across the joints to tinker with deactivated buttons of the nav controls. “Where to, kid?” Mando scans the system’s database for a paragon planet to hunker down for a few days; spend some time with the kid—and the Girl, of course—before being ripped away from the semi-domestic life and continue on his unwritten path of planet-hopping.
There’s a planet not too far; small population, plenty of wilderness for the kid to explore, and there’s not much traffic that passes through. It’s good, perfect almost, and Mando is hesitant to accept the temptation. The Child’s head rotates to look at his guardian, his large green ears twitching curiously. He sighs and sets the coordinates for the planet despite his better judgement. It’s too fortunate; the last ‘safe’ planet they visited ended up in him protecting an entire village and the kid almost being killed. Although, he’s made a trustworthy ally who’ll assist if something were to go down. He glances behind him at the Girl, raking his brown eyes across her contorted body in the seat.
“Hang on, kid.” Mando lifts himself out of the pilot chair, leaving behind a monitoring toddler in his place, and kneels beside the Girl in the passengers. She’s sleeping peacefully and he doesn’t disturb her, despite the positioning she’s managed to get herself into. It’s unpleasant on his eyes and it couldn’t be comfortable. With a tremble in his back muscles, he reaches behind his neck and peels the cloak from his armour to drape it across her figure, relying on it to provide at least a small portion of warmth to her. She clasps the garment slightly and a smile surfaces his lips, his leathers coming up to brush a stroke across her cheek faintly—only lasting a second or two before detaching from her like an uncooperative magnet. Once she’s finally soothed back into position, Mando retrieves the safety belt from beside her and secures it across her waist before grudgingly tearing away from the Girl. “Looks like you’re with me.”
The Child squeals with enjoyment as the Mandalorian returns to his seat.
“Shh,” he instructs, glancing back to see the Girl motionless. He sighs with relief.
Mando joins the buckle’s latches together and wraps an arm around the Child to secure him against himself. The thrusters wake with a roar and quake the craft’s hull, the ion accelerator chamber thawing the thrusters nozzles of their icy barricade—shit, the ice. It’ll pose a threat, a handicap at the minimum if it doesn’t defrost soon enough. He cringes as the Crest whines against the glacier's dominance on his landing gear, but with the newly-maintenance thrusters, it’s no match against the craft. It rips from the ice and retracts to the hull’s underbelly, allowing Mando to manipulate the ship through the sky and out of the atmosphere; slabs of ice and snow descend to the ground beneath them.
The feeble bumpiness fades into a smooth flight and Mando activates the autopilot controls. “Not so bad, huh?” He disconnects the buckle from his belt and slips out of the chair, letting the Child sit in the warm leather. “Don’t go touching things—and don’t wake her up,” he quickly adds, noting the Child’s inquisitive staring as though he hadn’t genuinely noticed her earlier.
Mando sighs and hopes he’ll listen to his request just this once.
The Crest’s hold had been cleaned, just as the Girl promised to do, hardly even a speck of dust surfaced the floor. She’d been busy—and he had just been preoccupied with himself. Mando sighs to himself and browses through his reserved clothing. It mostly consists of bunking apparel—a couple of loose shirts and favourable pants—that he hadn’t had the opportunity to put to use since he fostered the Child. He’s expected—required to remain on the defensive at all times with the Guild breathing down his neck.
He sorts through the articles and grabs the spare flight suit, his only other. It would be ideal to purchase another, especially now with this one having been ripped, but it wasn’t a necessity presently. The fabric in his hands smells of dirt and grime, residue from the lake he attempted to clean it in all those weeks ago, but it’s better than his current—tattered, bloody, sweaty, and cum-stained. What a combination.
Perhaps he should invest in a refresher for his Crest. That way he wouldn’t be hunched over in the dark corners of the hold, stripping the beskar steel from his body for anybody to stumble across. It didn’t provide much assurance being within eyeshot of the cockpit ladder and with the lack of places to conceal himself, his hurried movements advanced. Then again the sheer thought of the Girl seeing him like this—and joining him—isn’t unpleasant; it would make the situation a whole lot less embarrassing.
He peels the last of his beskar from his body and stacks it against the wall, reorienting himself to slip out of his boots. It’s been a while since he last stood without any armour, excluding the helmet, and it feels refreshing in a way. But it doesn’t feel right.
Mando wasted no time in replacing the flight suit, smoothing the fabric out with his gloves and reapplying the ensemble of beskar; each patch of steel fitting snugly where it belongs. It’s slightly more bearable, not having to feel his own mess rubbing against him on the inside of the fabric, and he shoves the dirty flight suit in replace of the clean. He’ll get around to washing it when he has the time—or burn it by virtue of the rip across the arm.
Speaking of arms, the bacta patch on his bicep had aided the wound significantly and within the next day or two, it should be healed. The lesion on his back was a different story. It’s still sore, somewhat better with a night’s rest, but it’ll be a while before he’s out there firing blasters with that same authority. It could cause jeopardy if he’s not cautious.
The Razor Crest abruptly rumbles and falls into a fit of tremors, hurling the Mandalorian against the stationary carbonite pods with fury. “Shit,” he growls and grips his bicep, pleading he won’t bleed through the fresh clothes so soon. It pulses again and the engines’ whining travels through the ventilation, discharging a high-pitched shriek followed by a low hum of a whistle.
“Man-fuck, Mando!” the Girl beckons from upstairs. Mando is quick on his feet up the ladder, clinging desperately to the rungs upon another spasm. “I was sleeping a-and the kid…” She doesn’t need to finish for him to understand, for the Child is sitting underneath the nav panel with colourful cords in his hands; wire coverings peeled away to expose the electricity hazards sparking in his fists.
“Kid, no!” Mando scolds and snatches the cables from his stubborn claws. He babbles a complaint to his guardian as he’s being relocated far away from the electricity. He’s completely dismantled it—Mando will need to implement an entirely new wiring system for the navigation controls alone; a job he’s not suited for. He turns to the Girl for support.
“Don’t look at me,” she raises her hands defensively, “I only know bits and pieces.”
Innocently burbling besides the Mandalorian, the Child watches as leather gloves track across the navigation controls urgently. He’s unbothered by the predicament they’re in—just glad that his guardian had returned to the cockpit’s cabin, it appears. Mando groans in annoyance, fumbling with the nav and fighting against it’s constant glitching. “We’re in luck. There’s a planet on the way. Tatooine. Someone can help us there.”
“Yeah. Heard of it,” she mutters, regrettably, and he wonders what that is all about but it can wait. It wasn’t the time to sweat over the small details. “We’re not going to crash, are we?”
He contemplates, glancing over the system’s diagnosis and dismisses the electrical yammering it erupts. “Shouldn't—there’ll just be a lot of turbulence.”
That there is—turbulence and a great deal of it. There’s too much to maintain an uncoiled stomach throughout the remainder of the short flight and they’re both surprised when they’re successful in their landing, especially without the contents of their stomach having been dumped over themselves. Peli Motto—an innovative mechanic but a bit too communicatory for the Mandalorian’s preference—stands in her hangar with two greasy hands on her hips, eyes squinting through the viewport to gaze up at Mando. Better have my credits ready to go this time, he can already hear her say and he sighs. Credits he did have, but they weren’t exactly his, and there wasn’t much to spare.
“I’ll see to her,” Mando announces and retrieves the Child, “would you care to join?”
The Girl seems hesitant and peers out the viewport curiously. “Do you trust her?”
Mando takes another glance outside. Peli’s droids are nearing his ship to begin operations but with one stern look from the woman, they back away from the craft. “I do.”
The Girl sighs and peels herself from her seat, fiddling with the cloak that had been laid across her body earlier. “This, uh-”
“Clip it on for me,” he instructs and turns, waiting for familiar hands to run across his shoulders. It takes a moment and he considers retrieving it himself, but he’s patient and it pays off—her fingers playing with the neck covering to manipulate the cloak into place, her digits stroking against the back of his neck underneath all the thick fabric. It’s therapeutic somehow or other. He doesn’t quite understand it himself, but feeling the Girl’s pressure against him relaxes him; eases his eyes closed until all he wants to do is sleep, in her arms preferably and with his head on her chest—his head, not his helmet. Mando wants to press his ear against her flesh and listen to her heartbeat, her breathing, but most of all he just wants to be touched and to touch another.
The Girl smoothes her hands out across the cloak, running her palm down his back and ending just before it reaches the curve at the bottom. “There you go.” She smiles. Fuck, her smile. It makes him want to say something stupid, something embarrassing just to get the same reaction out of her; he wants to be the cause of that smile on her face. She adds, “Thank you.”
Mando twists to face her again, his head tilting. “What for?”
“Buckling me up and, uh, giving me the cloak,” she confesses, a timid hue of pink on her cheeks—she was blushing. “You could have given it to the kid or just kept it yourself, but… you didn’t. So, thank you.”
He swallows and reaches his hand up—for what, he doesn’t know. It’s not until his digits touch the soft padding of her cheek that he notices he’s making a move, his strokes transforming into uncertain shakes. The Girl’s blush deepens at the contact and she places her hand atop his, giving a quick squeeze of reassurance.
With that, his head is back to sorting through indecent thoughts and actions—but none are related to those they had been previously; they’re not obscene nor lustful. It’s his Creed that they’re unethical towards. He imagines the Girl reaching for his helmet, her slender fingers brushing against his chin as she does so, and lifts the steel to unmask the face that’s been sealed away for a long, long time. If she tried to do it right here, right now, he’s not positive whether he would stop her.
“We shouldn’t keep her waiting, it’ll be rude.”
She can wait, is what he wants to say, instead, he murmurs a simple, “Right.”
The Child appears satisfied in Peli’s arms, a large smile on his face as he glares up at the Mandalorian ahead of him. He’s receiving every ounce of attention he can muster out of the woman. “You telling me this little one did all that? Maybe if you gave him a little more attention he wouldn’t be tearing out your cables!”
“What do you mean?” Mando ponders. She runs a finger across the kid’s batwing ears and gestures behind him in the distance where the Girl preoccupies herself tending to their blasters. “What are you getting at?”
“Oh, come on! Do I have to spell it out for you? Are you that oblivious?” She sighs and soothes the Child, “You’ve found yourself another lifeform to harbour—probably spending an awful lot of time with her, aren’t ya?”
He’s not oblivious, not in the slightest; he’s just trying to avoid coming to terms with the thoughts in his head. However, he hadn’t noticed his lack of bonding with the Child and he mentally scolds himself. Of course, the kid wants attention, all kids do, and he’s probably becoming rather frustrated at the inadvertent neglect as a by-product of Mando’s fantasies.
“I ain’t saying ya shouldn’t indulge a little,” Peli chuckles and wags her hairless eyebrows at the visor, “I don’t blame ya for that. It must be hard adapting to having a girl like that on board your ship.”
Mando quietly sighs under his helmet but a blush lines his cheeks nonetheless. He’s relieved she can’t see it. He grumbles, “Get to the point.”
“Point is, you can’t ignore a child like that,” she explains, “he’s an impish little critter—smart, too. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did that on purpose to get your attention.”
“He’s costing me a lot of credits for attention.” Black-brown eyes observe the looming figure of beskar and Mando softens slightly. Peli watches with interest and returns the toddler to his arms. “The Girl-”
“She’ll be fine,” she assures, “if she wants to help, I’ll be sure to give her a real workout—don’t worry she won’t be too drained.”
The Mandalorian commits a final leer at the mechanic, enough to cause her to pull her lips tight into a smirk, and he returns to the Girl’s side to exchange his goodbyes, “I’m going to head into town and see if there are any jobs available.”
The Girl raises an eyebrow in question and pauses polishing the blasters, “I’m not coming with you?”
Does she want to come with him? The vocoder emits a hum of thought but ultimately he knows she should stay behind this time, “Peli reckons I should spend time with the kid. Shouldn’t take too long—I’ll just head in and grab the kid a meal, look around for intel… I’ll be back before it’s dark.”
She nods, understanding. “I’ll—just wait here then.”
Mando reciprocates her nod and hesitantly steps back, but the Girl’s fingers loop through his belt and draws him in close to her once again. He steadies himself with a hand on the dip of her waist, digits unconsciously poking into the flesh deeper, and he angles the helmet to her eye level in disarray.
The familiar weight of his blaster slips into position against his thigh but he doesn’t tear his eyes away to look, he doesn’t want to move at all. “Might need it,” she explains, her tone hushed, “it’s good to go.” She lightly taps the blaster with her free hand and he stiffens when her palm comes to rest atop it, the tips of her fingers brushing against the outside of his thigh.
“Of course.” Her lips curl into a cunning grin and she tries to hide it by lifting herself onto her toes and breathing through the fabric surrounding his neck. Mando’s muscles flex involuntarily and the hand on her hip slinks a path to the curve of her back, where he fists a bundle of poncho fabric in his leathers. She whispers, “How’s your back feeling?”
“It’s - it’s better.”
She exhales softly and he swears he can feel it through the cloth, warming his jugular with her gleaming words, “So, you won’t be needing my help tonight?” Mando groans as she weakly pats the lesion deep underneath his cloak—it doesn’t hurt, more or less stings like a Droch crawling through his skin and draining his energy, but that was the Girl’s disposition more so than the wound’s sensitivity.
“Well,” Mando clears his throat and steps closer—if that’s even possible—so his lower-half is pressing against her waist, evoking a hitch of his own breath from the contact. She’s so soft against him. “I might need a hand…”
She chuckles into his neck, sending the vibrations from her throat into his and it makes a beeline to his heart. It vortexes around the organ, a current so strong it’d be fatal to terminate the stream. Not that he wanted to stop it. It’s such a pleasant feeling, the phantoms of sunshine-esque tendrils applying a pacifying pressure that feels like that of an embrace; warm hands clasping his heart and delivering delicate kisses across the muscle. He can almost sense the cushioning of lips against the pulsing organ.
“Ya know, I’ve got more than just hands.”
“Fuck,” he whispers, practically drooling at the mere suggestion—he’d be so sluggish to drag it out as long as possible, every single touch of his deliberate to commit all her curves, bumps, even bruises, to memory. Store it away for a gloomy day, like a breach in the clouds; sunbeams breaking through the overcast and introducing a warmth like none other.
Mando cranes his neck to the side slightly and she takes the invite to burrow deeper. The blood in his neck is hot and the air in his helmet sultry. He wants to do nothing but drag her back to the ship and lock themselves away for the remainder of the day, but the irritated child on his hip is starting to get antsy. Mando gasps, “Need to - to take the kid out.”
She hums her sympathy against his neck, “Take your time. I’ll be here.”
Well, time was indeed taken, or however the saying goes.
The Mandalorian had been forced into conversations all day courtesy of the Child; he just couldn’t seem to stop touching things or feeding on display products of each stall they’d pass. Mando’s entire vocabulary had been decreased to continuous sorry’s and kid, no! It doesn’t just end there. The Child was inquisitive of all his surroundings, particularly places Mando couldn’t fit himself—it made for some awkward dialogue between him and the kiosk attendants when he’d be on his hands and knees rummaging around for a loose alien baby.
“I’m not stealing!” He’d reassure but it’d have the opposite effect and turn heads, people eyeing him with curiosity; a Mandalorian, like that in folklore, frantically chasing a little green toddler with something half-alive dangling from its mouth. He’s made a fool out of himself enough for a day. The Child, on the other hand, is still persistent—giving him somewhat of the silent treatment until Mando bargains a promise of food.
The Child attentively watches his food in the arms of the server, streaks of steam and a tender fragrance wafting in his direction as it settles onto the table ahead. “Thank you,” Mando nods and leans back in his seat, unequipping a small bag of leftover credits he could spare for the day and sliding it across the wooden surface, “do you know of any employment opportunities?”
“Regrettably not, sir,” the waiter replies and exchanges final pleasantries before returning behind the buffet to assist an unruly patron.
Mando sighs and returns his guard to the Child—who grabs a spoonful of scalding liquid and squeals in delight—and chews on the inside of his lip in thought. Tatooine is just as detestable as the last time he was here—the hustle and bustle never-ending. One would think that the Mandalorian could blend in with such an immense and diverse population, but his outright existence drew attention to himself; it’s becoming a ritual each time he steps foot inside a cantina. People’s discussions quickly cease as they scrutinise the warrior upon his entrance, contemplating whether they could neutralize him and pry the beskar steel from his body to sell in the black market. Some have tried and failed, of course. In his youth, Mando thrived off the sensation. It was empowering to have others tremble in their skin at the sheer sight of a Mandalorian, but he’s matured and those days are long since dead. He’s travel-worn, too exhausted to concern himself with people’s thoughts regarding him, so long as they weren’t orchestrating his downfall.
“I ain’t never seen a thing like this before,” a disembodied voice mutters from behind the Mandalorian, the shoddy cantina lighting casting a shadow across their table. Mando doesn’t tear his attention from the Child but reaches for his blaster nonetheless, the leathers fiddling with the hilt in preparation. “Where’d you get it?”
When he doesn’t reply, the figure shifts to come between him and the Child—a trandoshan with wide-set eyes and sharp pointed teeth, sneering at the man underneath the beskar. She’s got yellow-brown scaly skin and dons a protective piece underneath an unbuttoned shirt, with a hunting rifle across her back and a carbine strapped to her belt. She steals a chair from the closest table and swings it around to join the pair, placing her elbows on the table and looking back-and-forth between Mando and the Child.
“We’re looking to raise a youngling like this, maybe something a lil’ bit more competent than this one.” The Child’s green ears perk up at the stranger but just as quickly dismisses her, plunging the spoon into the womp rat stew for seconds or thirds—Mando wasn’t keeping track. She glances behind Mando and waves a hand and calls, “Bookoo, what d’ya think?”
Bookoo—a Wookiee decked with nothing more than a dual bandolier across his chest and a small satchel at his hip—appears into view, soaring over the accumulated individuals and extends a welcoming smile at Mando underneath the shaggy rug of his face. “Muawa, ur oh.”
“No? What, you think we’re gonna get anything better?”
Mando interrupts, tired of the banter, “He’s not going with you.”
“We have credits,” she taps the satchel on Bookoo’s hip, they clash against one another inside the leather.
“He’s not for sale.” Mando tears himself from his seat and shepherds the Child into his arms, ignoring the burbles and whines he emits as he tries to grab hold of the bowl. Mando turns for the exit, intently listening to the whispers of the pair behind him, but stops when called for.
“Uh-sir... Mandalorian, sir?” He turns on his heels and eyes the waiter who places two small packages stacked together atop the counter. “Your dessert, sir.”
The Trandoshan eyes the Mandalorian as he awkwardly balances the boxes in one arm and the Child in the other. She steps forwards once his hands are far from his blaster to make her claim, “I promised my group I’d bring back an apprentice, ya see? With a lil’ bit of training, that thing should be good to go. Ain’t that right, Bookoo?”
Bookoo steps back defensively, “Mu waa waa.”
“Stupid Wookiee,” she mutters and rises from her stool, her bare feet tapping against the cantina’s duracrete flooring. She places a claw on the counter in an attempt of intimidation, but she only sustains a pathetic reaction from the waiter. “What’s a Mandalorian need a child for anyways? You raising that thing to become one?”
“We’re done talking.”
“Aw, come on. We’re just having a small chat. No need to run for the dunes.”
The Mandalorian denies her the satisfaction of retaliation and continues outside. The familiar crunch of grit a welcoming sound through his filters—he never thought he’d be comforted by such a sound. The Trandoshan yells one last remark before he steers a corner, “If you change your mind, we’ll be here!”
He’s suspicious of their intentions—and uncertain whether they were tailing him—so he weaves through the night crowd, bumping and pushing the drunkards to and fro. Once he’s scampered plenty, and positive they hadn’t been stalking his footsteps, he returns to Peli’s hangar with a drowsy Child and now-cold dessert. Optimally, the kid will be tuckered out for the rest of the night but it was never a certainty—he just hopes he’ll give him some privacy for at least a few hours.
Peli wipes grease on a rag hanging from a belt hoop of her coveralls and offers Mando a smile, “I assume you got yourself a job?”
Mando shakes his head in defeat and delivers one of the takeaway boxes in her hands.
“What’s this?” She opens the box and her eyes practically light up with joy but it’s short-lived as she eyes him suspiciously, “Is this a bribe?”
“Just a nice gesture. I thought.”
“Hmm,” Peli hums and closes the box, nodding her head slightly. “Well, ‘bout that ship of yours… It’ll be two thousand.”
Two thousand. It’ll bleed their funds dry, but the Crest needs repairs. Without them, they’d be stranded here on Tatooine for the unforeseeable future—something Mando really couldn’t accommodate. There’s too much sand. Too many people. His calloused hands aren’t for sitting on; they’re created to work, and he won’t allow himself to leisure around a planet without performing some act.
The Girl won’t be pleased to hear he’s gone and spent a large sum of her earnings—not to mention how she’ll react when she ultimately comprehends she will be required to stay a little longer than expected. Mando feels his lips curling and he tries to smother it with reasoning; tries to tell himself he can’t keep her detained alongside him forever, but he’s obstinate and doesn’t take heed of his own advice. There’s a leap in his heart and a twisting in his stomach at the thought she’ll remain beside him for a little while longer—at least until he has the credits.
Perhaps the Child was onto something when he went and ripped all those wires out.
“That’s with a discount,” Peli adds.
“I should buy more of those.”
Peli scoffs at his jesting comment and tosses the takeaway parcel atop a flat surface. “The Girl. She’s good with her hands.”
If only she knew.
Something within the mechanic suggests that she does, in fact, know judging by the speculation written across her face; her squinted eyes waltzing his figure and her teeth chomping on the inside of her cheek to avoid voicing a sarcastic comment. The shield of beskar may disrupt his facial expressions—concealing them to only his cognisance—but his mannerisms are increasingly heightened to others and he’s gradually realising he’s not as proficient in masking them as he originally thought.
Mando swallows a thick lump in his throat and shifts his weight to one foot, his hip cocking out vaguely. “Is the maintenance finished?” he asks, shifting the topic to something he can reduce the awkwardness with.
Peli clicks her tongue and rolls her eyes, “Oh, you mean the replacement of the entire navigational controls? Yeah, did it all by myself in a matter of a few hours. No help from my droids. No, it’s not done! Do you know anything about spacecraft restoration?”
“I typically leave that in the hands of...professionals.” Mando chooses carefully. “When will it be ready?”
“Me and your Girl are done for the night.”
Mando’s cheeks flush mildly, a faint tint of pink lining across his nose accompanied by a heat tackling the inside of his visor. Those two little words sound exceptional as the settle surrounding him, fogging his head with the seven letters—seven letters that he couldn’t relate to. They don’t belong to him; wouldn’t belong to him.
But he lets himself fantasise they could—they are.
Mando’s lips ghost underneath the beskar, mouthing the words to himself as though to test the waters; dipping his toes in the substance and sampling the texture before sinking into it, letting it engulf him. He thinks of His Girl’s lips and how soft, how gentle, they looked. Her lips are the sandy borders of a beach—sand he wouldn’t mind if it were to wedge its way through his flight suit to abuse his body— and her tongue, her saliva, are the waters; refreshing but salty, leaving him thirsty for more.
Peli drags him out of his daydreaming without realising it, “But it should be up and running before the suns’ at its peaks. So you better have my credits ready! I’m not free labour, ya know.”
“Don’t worry,” he groans, “you’ll get the payment.”
She crosses her arms taut over her chest and squints at him suspiciously, probably wondering how he’s going to manage to pay her, but her determination fades into moderate compassion with a deep exhale. “All right, gimme the kid.”
Her earthy eyes flick up to the cockpit’s viewport and Mando twists his body to observe. The top of the Girl’s head can be seen from his perspective, her arms raised high above her in a stretch and then just as quickly disappears out of sight. Peli teasingly shoves Mando’s shoulder and laughs, “Go on, I’ll take the kid for the night. I’ll even do it for free; reimbursement for the dessert.”
She’s a blessing in disguise—who’s he to decline such a persuasive offer?
“Just-” Peli stabilises the weight in her arms, the Child placidly dozing off in one, “I better not be hearing all that, okay? If you wake either me or the kid up-”
She watches him, stunned, and then shakes her head and mutters something under her breath. Mando doesn’t even feel tempted to know what she’s whispering to herself, he only has one thought on his mind: His Girl.
The Mandalorian reunites with the Girl in the cockpit’s cabin. She’s sitting on the floor tinkering with loose cabling with a craned neck to accommodate for the low-rise control board. Mando’s unsure whether he’s delighted to see her down there or disappointed; something within him expecting her to be somewhere less uncomfortable, awaiting his return—it’s a selfish thought and a very hormonal one at that. He sighs to himself and sits in the passenger’s seat, his elbows leaning on his knees to peer over her shoulder. “I thought Peli said you were finished?” Mando queries.
“She’s finished. I’m not.”
Mando breathes her name, introducing it to the cramped cockpit and it’s stale air, and she pauses a moment to turn her head and look into the magnetising visor. Now he’s the one pausing. It’s comical how he’s so easily conquered by a single glance. She doesn’t look at him like that in holoplays—where her eyes gleam in the low light hanging above and her mouth twitches when she’s restraining a smile—so why does his heart flutter and his blood surge through his veins? Rather, her eyebrows are crinkled with discouragement on account of uncooperative cords and there’s a streak of oil across her forehead—she looks just as gorgeous as ever.
Mando’s voice softens as he talks to her, “Take a break. It can wait until morning.”
She dismisses his recommendation, “It’s fine, I can keep going.”
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
“Quoting me to myself now, are we?”
He shrugs his shoulders. “You’re persuasive.” She chuckles some and he delves into the rumbles, enveloping himself in the bubbliness of it. “I brought food. You can have some if you stop working.”
She quirks an eyebrow and eyes the package in his leathers. “What is it?”
“Come here and look.”
“Are you having some?”
Mando contemplates, but he already knows his answer. “I’m not hungry,” he lies.
“Neither am I.” She deceitfully smiles and returns to her labours—it’s arduous, her fingers firmly twining the wires together and unravelling others apart to reconnect to a bundle loosely hanging underneath the panel.
The Mandalorian had completely forgotten how stubborn she can be, especially with his thoughts distorted by the events of last night; she had been so adaptable and willing to aid him. It’s ridiculous to think they’re the same person. Jaw clenching with defeat, Mando sighs heavily and fiddles with the takeaway box. It’s lid lifts from its fastenings to expose a small stack of fluffy cobalt-coloured pancakes. They’re slightly soggy from the absorbed condiments and stone-cold, having been outside for far too long, but they’re a Tatooine delicacy he had yet to try before.
Mando glances at the Girl and rips the pancake into sections, simultaneously watching her exhaust herself. She groans dramatically and readjusts her position, practically laying on her stomach with her torso hoisted by her elbows. It allows for her to maneuver underneath the control panels—and allows Mando to drag his eyes lower.
His leathers slide underneath the bottom of his helm and dislodge it from position, the beskar expelling a sharp hiss of air. He freezes at the reminder but the Girl doesn’t seem interested in the newly discovered noise; he continues, elevating the hindrance just above his mouth to slot in a slice of torn pancake.
They’re soft like her hands and he lets himself imagine they are—pretends the sweetness of the syrup is actually his cum on her fingers or, better yet, her own slick. He’s reluctant to even chew, not wanting to shred the impure fantasy he’s created upon himself, so he doesn’t. Mando sits there with the pancake in his mouth just holding it there, letting his tongue flatten underneath it and suck the syrup out to relish in the bittersweetness.
It’s only once he’s drained it of its flavour that he finally devours the cake in hunger. It’d been a while since he last ate, but he repeats the process with the other sections he had torn apart—struggling to contain his self-control as he savours the sweetness and imagery of the Girl writhing underneath him.
Mando plops the tips of his leathers in his mouth and absorbs the residual syrup before aligning his helmet in place yet again, his hunger reasonably quenched—his thirst for the Girl, not so much. It doesn’t help matters when she reaches for a cord and her poncho rides up, unmasking the curves of her backside and revealing a splinters-worth of skin above the hem of her pants. He indulges at the sight of taunting skin and licks a drop of syrup from his lips, imagining his head between her thighs lapping at something sweeter—tangier. Mando feels so fucking undignified around her like his honour has been squeezed out of an over-absorbed rag; dripping through the gaps in his fingers and there’s nothing he can do to catch it before it vaporises before his eyes hardly leaving a trace in its wake.
It’s wholly improper how his eyes attack her unclothed skin, obsessing over it like a glass of water in the outskirts of Tatooine. Now that he thinks about it, his mouth is significantly parched and he’s forced to bite his lip to avoid reaching out for the temptation. Still, he hungers to run his fingers across the bare flesh and explore her bumps and curves with his tongue, dragging it over her neck and feel the rumbles of her moans as he sucked on a pulsing vein. Her moans—what a magnificent sound that must be.
The unspoken promise between them plays with the dark crevices of his imagination.
I’ve got more than hands.
Mando’s unsure if she meant it; she hadn’t indicated anything to him since his return. Is she expecting him to make the first move? If so, that’s torturous in itself.
Coffee-coloured eyes battle against the azure cakes and he confronts a moral dilemma. He has an inclination to satisfy the building arousal in his pants but it doesn’t align with his traitorous voice, “Eat.”
The Girl glances over her shoulder and Lord, he could get used to that view especially with him atop of her. She reverts her gaze to the opened box in his lap. “I’m not-”
“I’ve had one,” he confesses and tilts the box to show a stack of three remainders, “two each, but you can have my other.”
“When did you… Did you take off your helmet? In front of me?”
“Behind you,” he corrects.
She doesn’t find the humour in the situation, though, which surprises Mando. “What - what about your Creed? Fuck, Mando. You can’t…”
His expression softens underneath the visor and he sinks to his knees on the ground so he’s eye-level with the Girl, clasping one of her hands in his leathers. “Don’t concern yourself with that. I didn’t remove it entirely, just enough to eat. It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Not that big of a deal? Mando-”
Mando impolitely interrupts her by pushing a torn slab of blue through her parted lips—his digits lingering longer than necessary—and he chuckles at her shocked grimace.
She swallows and slaps his pauldron, “Rude!”
“Sit down and eat.”
The Girl conforms to his invitation and settles beside him, her back firmly planted against the durasteel wall of the cockpit. Mando awkwardly lowers to sit as well, the beskar clanking against the wall behind them but he doesn’t take any notice of it. It’d be like herding a group of Nexu—utterly impossible—if he tried to concentrate on anything but her thigh against his or her hand digging through the box on his lap.
She munches on a blue cake beside him and it takes everything in him to give her privacy and not drool over the sticky syrup running down her fingers. It’s like she can read him though, her unsoiled hand hooking two fingers on the underside of the helmet and dragging it to look at her. “What about you?”
“One. I don’t want you passing out on me. Here, I’ll look away.”
Mando eyes the divided dessert between her fingers and the drop of golden syrup slowly making way to her third knuckle. She’s not looking at him and can’t identify whether he’s accepting her offer or not, but she doesn’t dare retract her hand; it just hovers in the air waiting for his leathers to grasp the food from her—they don’t. Something so much softer does, though.
Mando licks a long stripe along the underside of her fingers, tearing the pancake from her clutch with his tongue and reserving it in the cheek of his mouth for later—too preoccupied with the sugary concentrate coating her fingers. She tenses at the sensations. It’s overwhelming, consuming her thoughts and spitting them out in a pile of goo. It’s almost irresistible to not look at him, to not watch as he sucks on her fingers so fucking desperately, but she’s respectful of his Creed even if it kills her.
“Mando,” she whispers because it’s too quiet, too real.
His tongue is persistent, parting her fingers from each other and lapping at the syrup in the crevices of her knuckles. It’s so sweet and he moans around her fingers at the taste on the back of his tongue. Mando doesn’t concern himself with the potential of humiliation—he ought to look downright laughable right now—because she’s so sweet and soft in his mouth, far superior to the pancake he relished earlier. There’s a puny attempt to pull away on her behalf but with a firm grip on her wrist, she holds her position inside his mouth, especially when his teeth lock her digits in place, while her other hand finds the plate of thigh armour and hooks the fingers underneath.
“Shit,” she breathes and leans into him.
The Girl’s palm flattens against his chin and he stiffens his jaw, his movements slacking behind now that he’s focused on the warmth on his face. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had touched him so tenderly, no - he could but he didn’t want to; didn’t want to ruin the moment with the imagery of blaster fire and his mother’s last loving touch.
Her reassuring strokes against his cheeks with her free fingers urge him on and he sucked the final of the syrup from her digits before freeing them from his lips, placing a peck on the tips. Once the helmet is resealed, he finishes the neglected pancake in his mouth.
“You’re not as reserved as you act,” she chuckles, “where was that last night?”
Mando smiles. “Come here and let me show you.”
Where was all this confidence coming from?
He doesn’t care—he’s making a fucking move while he can.
The Girl contemplates him with a raised brow and a small smirk toying at her lips. It makes him want to know what she’s thinking—formulating—in that head of hers, but he’s not left in suspense for long. She braces a leg over his lap and straddles him, constricting her inner thighs against the outside of his and tilting his helmet back to look up at her.
Mando nearly stops breathing, his organs refusing to cooperate in unison with such an unknown weight atop of him. All that confidence from earlier completely obliterates with just one roll of her hips—maybe it wasn’t confidence but arrogance, he thinks. She’s devious, he can see the pleasure in her eyes at his unfolding below her.
“Are you looking at me?” she asks, a hand on either side of his helmet to steady his head.
He nods because he doesn’t trust himself not to whine if he opens his mouth.
She looks back at him and for a moment, just a second, he feels as though she can see him, and then she grinds down and sketches the outline of his stiffening cock below her heat—and fuck if it isn’t one of the friskiest things he’s ever beared witness to. There’s just something so unique about the eye contact when she’s unravelling him like a ball of yarn; he wants to gaze into her eyes without the guard ahead of him and break her apart. “F-fuck, you’re,”-she rolls her hips again, faster-“ah, you’re too - too good to me.”
“I know,” she quips.
Daunting. It’s so fucking daunting being so paralysed with arousal underneath the Girl, stripped down to an accumulated pile of whimpers and twitches as she takes her sweet time tormenting him—and he fucking enjoys every second of it. He’s fatigued from years of bounty hunting, years of being shot, stabbed, beaten, and it’s stimulating having somebody touch him so languidly and voluntarily care for him in such a way.
“Tell me what you want, Mando.”
It’s so fucking ironic. He’s never had more than a few thousand credits to his name at a time and yet, pinned below the Girl with her being so provocative, he feels like the richest man alive—because it couldn’t be luck; he’d never been so fortunate to as receiving a simple bounty commission, a beautiful girl extracting every drop of arousal out of him no less.
He moans her name and inches his fingers under her poncho, “Want - fuck, I need-”
Mando’s pleas are interrupted by a suspiciously familiar disembodied voice shouting, “Come on out and nobody gets hurt!” It’s a gruff, hoarse sound that oils the cogs in his mind. The Trandoshan. She must’ve followed him here…but he took precautions…
He can’t find it within himself to tear his hands away from the Girl to survey the threat outside, so she takes it upon herself to clamber off his lap leaving him cold and hard in his pants. Molten lava rises in his chest as he raises to his feet, staring out the viewport with such vengeance it almost surprises him. The Trandoshan firmly stands with Peli Motto beside her, the barrel of her carbine pressed against her temple, and the Child squirming in her adjacent limb.
“Shit!” he growls and slams a pair of closed fists against the nav controls. It whines upon impact and blips a malfunctioning screen at his outburst.
“Hey, calm down,” she soothes, a hand slipping into his.
“They have Peli! ...The kid.”
The Trandoshan leers at him through the viewport. “Leave that blaster of yours on the ship and get down ‘ere. No funny business either! I’ll fire a hole through her head otherwise. Then the Kid’s.” She accentuates her point by thrusting the barrel against Peli’s temple harder.
The Girl fishes his blaster out of his holster. “They haven’t seen me,” she explains. “I’ll wait until you get close enough to them but don’t try anything without me.”
It could work. It could fail. He didn’t have an alternative plan.
“Okay,” he agrees, understanding the moment between them is long gone.
With one final gawp outside, Mando pries himself away from the nav controls and heads downstairs, bare. It’s not as though he’s completely defenceless; the flamethrower in his vambraces had enough fuel to get him out of a pinch, the whipcord could serve a purpose if essential, and he still possessed his vibro-knife in his boot. None of that can compare to the comfort of a blaster in his hand though.
The Child and Peli Motto’s safety is his priority, so he’ll comply with the Girl’s strategy and get as close to the Trandoshan as possible. He’ll use brute force if necessary.
They’ve relocated to an open region in the hangar where it’ll be near impossible to shield everybody if a blaster fight ensues. Preferably, it won’t come to that. The Trandoshan flexes her finger against the trigger when Peli fidgets with her hands beside her. Mando vaguely shakes his head in her direction and examines the Child’s wellbeing in the yellow-brown scaly arms.
“I’m here.” He raises his hands to demonstrate his compliance, “Let them go and we’ll talk.”
She sneers at him, laughs. “No.” The blaster reels back and whips Peli over the head, knocking her unconscious in a piled heap on the ground. Mando moves forwards, his fists tightening with each step. “Hold it right there.” The Child whines against the cold barrel pressing into his wrinkled forehead. Mando stops hastily, his eyebrows twitching with rage.
“What do you want?”
“I’ve already told you.”
“What do you need a child for?”
She smiles hauntingly, her sharp teeth locking together through her open-mouthed grin. “We don’t need one, but this one’s got a pricey bounty on its head,”—she aims for the flesh above his heart plate—“as do you.”
Guild members. Just his luck they’d be situated on Tatooine at the same time as he is.
The Mandalorian’s visor tilts to the Child in her arms, his eyes narrowing on the outstretched green claw. The kid’s eyes shut and his forehead wrinkles as he desperately tries to concentrate on something, and then it clicks in Mando’s head. His powers. The Child hadn’t used them since they took down the Mudhorn and Mando was beginning to think they had vanished, but they mustn’t have—he’s too focused on the air ahead of him.
The Trandoshan hasn’t noticed his fidgeting and Mando takes it upon himself to keep the barrel focused on him by stepping forwards, providing the Child time to figure out his abilities. “You won’t leave here alive,” he taunts.
She seems unfazed by his remarks, too confident in her plans. “Ah, what do we have here?” The Trandoshan asks curiously, peering over the Mandalorian’s figure and he whips his head to follow. The Girl is subdued in the arms of the acquainted Bookoo, who must’ve been anticipating resistance and remained obscured from their sight.
The Girl fights against his grip but he’s far too strong for her to overpower and she limps in defeat, glancing up behind her at the Wookiee; eyes enlarging and her mouth falling agape underneath the face-covering she donned for the occasion.
Then—the last thing the Mandalorian expects to hear—the Trandoshan exclaims her name in a greeting, “It’s been a while!”
“Muawa, ur oh” - no, thank you
“Mu waa waa” - please leave me alone
A/N: Good lord I am so sorry for an 8k chapter, I really didn’t want to split it into two. However, with this one being so long the next might not be out until the middle of next week (if I can manage to actually concentrate for long enough to write). Let me know how you enjoyed it and if you want to be added to the taglist! PS I’m running of gifs...please help...what do yall search for such hd gifs?
taglist: @ohhersheybars, @greatcircle79
‘Faith Is My Sword’
a Doctor Strange WIP by @sobeautifullyobsessed
moodboard by the generous and incomparable @strangelock221b 💙💙 - inspiring enough to shift me into gear and finally get to updating this fic!
“Faith is my sword. Truth my shield. Knowledge my armor.”
motto of Stephen Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts
Even as a child, Stephen Strange had stood apart from his contemporaries, reading an average of two grade levels beyond his age, and earning straight A’s on every report card as though it were the easiest thing in the world. But that hadn’t made a world of difference to his father, who always stressed that the most important lessons his sons and daughter needed to learn were in the school of hard knocks, and in the reality of their life as farmer’s children, rather than in any classroom. He made them responsible from their earliest ages for chores around the farm, and as they grew from primary school to middle school and then to high school, he insisted that their chores always came before homework. “You’re on my time, when you get off that school bus,” he reminded them often enough, “You can do your homework on your own time, after finishing your tasks and having supper with the family.”
Therefore, it wouldn’t have surprised a soul that Stephen was often eager to make an escape from such drudgery into a world of imagination, fueled by books that told of exotic lives and circumstances playing out as distantly as could be from his family’s Nebraska farm. On the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, the gangly, precocious sixth-grader checked out a slew of books from the school library, planning to read his way through the lot of them in what free time he might have, hoping to complete them all by Sunday evening. But he only managed to get through one—and that one spoke to him on such an elemental level, that his vision of what his future could hold was drastically changed for the better.
The Sword in the Stone, by T.H. White.
Of course, he’d seen the Disney film on videotape several times—it was one of his sister Donna’s favorite cartoons, so he was vaguely familiar with the story of King Arthur’s coming of age and into his throne. This particular copy of the book had cover art that intrigued him; a boy in silhouette drawing the mysterious sword in a nighttime forest, with dazzling sparks of color denoting the unexpected magic that flowed from the boy’s hands. This was nothing like the childish looking line drawings and primary colors that marked the Disney version—there was adventure there, discovered by a simple boy whose life had seemed to be leading him to a simple, unremarkable future as a farmer on his adopted father’s estate. Wart was a boy just like Stephen—always being told what to do, always being told what his place in life was certain to be—and yet he had broken free most unexpectedly, and a destiny undreamed of was catapulting him forward towards excitement and tremendous purpose. It was exactly the sort of thing an 11-year-old boy with a vast imagination and keen intellect would dream of for himself.
Stephen read that book four times over during that Thanksgiving weekend, and never regretted for a moment all those other books that sat unopened in his backpack, to be returned unread to school on Monday morning. He felt he had found an echo of himself in young Wart and he wished with all his might for a Merlin to find him, and teach him, and lead him to a destiny beyond the ordinary one his father had planned for him. For the first time in his young life, Stephen felt encouraged enough to hope that he could make of his future what he wanted.
Inevitably, over the course of college and medical school, through the many years of his residency and then his ascendency to the upper echelon of his field of medicine, Stephen had forgotten that striking childhood revelation---and even that it had been his impetus to take the first steps towards building the life he envisioned for himself. He was already a Sanctum Master with vast experience in innumerable aspects of the Mystic Arts before that vital memory resurfaced---stunning him when he realized he had forgotten it altogether, while pleasing him with the discovery that there might be some degree of truth behind that grand, mythical tale.
And it all started with an urgent request for help from the Master of the London Sanctum…
As was so often the case, Wong was already waiting for him when he stepped back through the access way from the London Sanctum---reminding Stephen once again of his fellow Master’s impeccable sense of timing. Skipping the preliminaries as usual, Wong simply asked outright, “So---how did it go?”
Stymied by the puzzled presented to him in London, Strange could only shake his head. “I’m afraid I wasn’t much help to Master Banerjee---at least for the time being.”
Wong fell in step beside Stephen as he strode to the grand staircase, “Meaning you have no idea what the creature is or where it came from?”
“Well, from the few eyewitness accounts they’ve managed to gather---and from the evidence left in its wake---I’d say it’s definitely not native to Earth.”
“That doesn’t rule much out, Stephen.”
Strange grunted, while taking the stairs two at a time, making a beeline for the main library of the New York Sanctum. “Of that I am keenly aware, Wong---but thanks for reminding me anyway…” Though he had only logged a few years’ service as a Master of the Mystic Arts, Stephen’s experience was far deeper and much farther reaching than any of his peers---for his judicious use of the Eye of Agamotto had allowed him decades and more for study, training, and exploration across even the most distant reaches of this reality. Making him the go-to source when any in the Mystic Fraternity faced a threat unknown in the annals of their collective experience.
Alisha Banerjee, Master of the London Sanctum, had contacted him with the urgent request to assist in discovering the cause of a rash of animal mutilations that had followed a two-week long, meandering path from Salisbury Plain to the sheep farms of South Cadbury, in Somerset County. In the last two days, humans had become prey as well, their grisly remains following the same patterns as those of the missing goats, sheep, and cattle---remnants of desiccated flesh and bone found in a trail of corrosive slime that ended at the edges of rivers, ponds, and lakes.
Given the timing, Stephen had quickly concurred with Alisha that the beginning of the disappearances and mutilations coincided with a series of earthquake-like events that had plagued the countryside surrounding Stonehenge. Although the violent seismic activity had seemed to emanate from the very center of the ancient stone circle---with onsite tour guides and tourists alike describing quakes that had felt to them like at least a magnitude six on the Richter scale---there was no physical or scientific evidence to explain the disturbances. Not a stone had been toppled, let alone even minutely displaced, while none of the British Geological Survey centers could begin to offer a scientific explanation, for their instruments showed no quakes, no shakes, and not even a vague tremor at the time of the occurrences. Meaning the cause had to be beyond the understanding of human science.
Fascinated by the mysterious details---and ever ready to provide protection for the unknowing, vulnerable people in the creature’s vicinity---Stephen had promised Banerjee to do his utmost to find both the cause of the danger, and a solution. He decided his best resource to begin with, would be the text and scrolls that contained millennia of collected knowledge of the countless generations of sorcerers that came before him.
Stephen and Wong stood at the library entrance, as Stephen contemplated which sources might shed some light on the dire mystery facing him. Cloak had flown off, knowing full well that it’s Master would be immersed in some intense research for at least the next few hours. “But where to begin,” Stephen had muttered, hands on hips as his eyes raked across the rows and rows of books. He turned to Wong, “Any suggestions?”
Wong considered the question for a moment. “Well, it might help if you told me everything we know about the creature so far.”
“Right.” Luckily, Stephen’s memory was exceptional, so that he was easily able to recall what he’d been told about the beast. “No one has been close enough to it to get more than an impression---fortunately for them, or they might have made a handy snack for it. Unfortunately for us, because the descriptions sounds…pretty outrageous.”
“As seen from a safe distance, the consensus seems to be a serpent’s head and neck on the body of some huge, big cat, like a leopard or a lion. Some witnesses claimed it was spotted, so I suppose that’s explains the comparison to a leopard.” Stephen chewed his lip, trying to picture such an odd combination in his mind’s eye, “One of them said the neck scales gave away gradually to fur. But instead of the paws of a big cat, it had hooves. And a long, thick tail with several nasty looking spikes near the end of it.”
Wong looked skeptical, “Sounds like somebody’s bad dream after a trip to the zoo.”
“More like somebody’s acid trip about the zoo,” Stephen suggested with a grin---though Wong didn’t even crack a smile.
“And it leaves a trail of slime…like a snail?
“Slime yes,” Stephen confirmed, “Though snail slime is most often produced to facilitate better locomotion. I think with this creature, that it is more likely digestive juices from whatever it’s consumed. The stuff seems to eat through flesh and bone pretty quickly, unless it’s hit with full sunlight; otherwise, it just evaporates in strong daylight. But most of the sightings have been around dusk, so maybe the creature shies away from the light. Hmmmm…”
“I know that ‘hmmmm’, Stephen,” Wong interrupted, “It means you’ve got a hunch about something”
“Yeah…maybe…could be…yeah, there was something more.” He turned to the Master Librarian, “Do we have any books here about really odd lifeforms? Like native and other worldly?”
“We’ve got a few basic texts, but the bulk of that material will be at the library in Kamar-Taj,” Wong told him. “Why---what are you thinking?”
“A couple of the witnesses whose livestock were taken told Master Banerjee that the creature made a god awful noise. So bad that they thought their eardrums might rupture.” Stephen was not so much as discussing this new information as thinking aloud, mulling it over, and looking for a clue that was just out of his reach. “And one of them did start bleeding from one ear…”
Wong knew his job now was to stoke Stephen’s intellect and draw the answer from his prodigious mind, “So this is something familiar to you?”
“Wellllll,” Stephen hedged, “It’s something vaguely familiar. A beast out of Arthurian legend. It was like an…unholy amalgamation of different animals. The…” Stephen closed his eyes again, reaching for that distant memory from his childhood, “…damn…I haven’t thought of it for decades, for Vishanti’s sake…” He looked back to Wong, grinning, “I’ll be damned…it was described in Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, and over and over again through the ages since, by whomever took up the tale. The Questing Beast…”
Wide-eyed, Wong watched his friend, while finally breaking into the smallest smile he could manage, knowing that Stephen had gotten the answer he needed.
“…I read about it in a book series called The Once and Future King when I was just a kid…there was this old knight named Pellinore whose sole mission in life was to hunt the beast down. He described the sound it made as…,” Stephen turned his head slightly, as though he was hearing the actual sound himself, “…‘like thirty couple hounds a-questing’…basically outrageously loud, like it’s belly was filled with a huge pack of vicious hunting dogs zeroing in on their prey…”
“And that’s what the witnesses in England described?”
“Kinda like, yeah. The farmers whose livestock were taken, said they were alerted that something was wrong by the noise. One of them described it as being like a rabid pack of dogs on steroids.” Stephen sighed, reflecting on the impossibility of his sudden insight holding the answers he sought, “Of course, those tales are pure fantasy, based on Roman legends and Celtic myths. The Questing Beast was never real, just like Arthur and Merlin never really existed.” He shrugged, preparing to dismiss his flight of fancy, “They’re really just composite characters, Wong. Shrouded in folklore, and no more than fables and fairytales.”
Though he moved towards the book stacks, resolute to find any sort of realistic clue to solving Master Banerjee’s deadly dilemma, Wong was quick to stop his brilliant friend. “Hold on a moment, Stephen,” he counseled him, “That assumption isn’t entirely accurate…”
“Right,” Stephen scoffed, “And I suppose you’re going to tell me Camelot was real and someday, when England needs him the most, Arthur will return to wield Excalibur again, and set to right all that has been wronged.”
“Actually,” the librarian and fellow Master of the Mystics Arts informed him, enjoying a rare opportunity to leave his friend speechless, “Merlin was entirely real…and he served as Master of the London Sanctum in those days. It was known as Londinium then—but yes, Merlin was a sorcerer trained in Kamar-Taj.”
Agog, Stephen regarded Wong with a mix of skepticism and surprise clouding his brow. “You can’t be serious, Wong…this is a joke, right?”
Wong smirked and shook his head, “You should know by now I wouldn’t make light about such a matter, Stephen. But if you need proof, there are several volumes that are part of The Ancient One’s private collection---it was a time period she was most interested in, and she prided herself on having one of the few surviving copies left of A Complete History of the Mystic Arts in the British Isles, as dictated by Merlin to his apprentice. I’ve seen it myself…and Merlin himself penned some of the entries.”
“Why am I only finding out about this now,” Stephen exclaimed.
“It’s one of her more esoteric texts,” Wong explained, “I figured you’d get to it when you get to it.”
“Now would be best, Wong, don’t you think? The sooner, the better, in fact.” Eagerness gleamed in his eyes.
Wong turned on his heel, and jogged back down the hall to the staircase, calling back as he went, “Just give me ten minutes. Ten minutes, and I’ll have the books sitting on the desk in your study.”
Stephen rubbed his hands together, a delightful combination of curiosity and anticipation causing the hair on the back of his neck to stand on end. Until just now, he had forgotten the happy hours he’d spent, reading about and imaging what life colored by the magic of a Merlin could be like. That he was now living such a life was not lost upon him---and that a Merlin had actually existed, doing the same work that he was doing himself every day, was a thrill of knowledge he never would have dreamed. Regardless if these books give me some answer to Banerjee’s problem or not, he thought, this is one adventure I’m thrilled to be a part of.
(to be continued- soon, if My Muse cooperates!)
1.6 earthquake recorded near Eastlake | wkyc.com
The February 1 quake marks the fifth event of its kind in the area so far in 2022
Yet another earthquake has been recorded near Lake County [Ohio]!
Just days after a 2.0 magnitude quake hit off the coast of Willowick on January 29, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) says that a 1.6 magnitude shake occurred Tuesday evening about five miles out from Eastlake.
The event, which marks the fifth earthquake in the Lake County area since January 1, had a depth of 8 kilometers and stuck just around 8:30 PM Eastern. ...
"Soon, there will be only one."
“Everything Goes Wrong” || YEAR 3 – Ch.39 (HP au)
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Day posted: 2/2/2021
Word count: 3,346
Relationship: EVENTUAL severus X oc (slow burn)
Rating: E for everyone
A/N: This is my first fan fic I’m writing mainly as a way to practice. This is a retelling of the hp books with an inserted character. Although most every character will be written about, this is mostly for the pro snape fandom. Please do not fear, although this is a severus x oc story, it is an incredibly slow burn as I do not intend for them to get together at all until after the final book events. Chapters will be posted twice a week.
This derivative work follows the events of the Harry Potter books by Jk Rowling and is intended as a fun way to practice my writing. Thank you for reading :D
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The tunnel was much larger than Heather remembered it being. Under her wand’s soft light, it seemed more open and less constricting. On her way through the first time, it felt like the walls could cave in at any moment, crushing them before the Grim or Sirius Black could get a chance. Now it felt like the tunnel was experiencing one long, full breath as wind came in through the Whomping Willow’s opening far ahead.
Heather breathed in just as deeply, opening up her lungs and filling them as much as possible like she was taking in her very first breath. It smelled damp and the dusty mud the others kicked up pricked at her lungs but the knowledge that everything was now under control was enough to soothe the stings.
Heather looked on ahead at the strange, tall man in front of her, still holding Snape up like a doll on strings by Snape’s own wand. By the way Snape’s head bumped on the rough ceiling of the cave, Sirius seemed more focused on the path ahead, eyes trained on glimmer of light just beyond. Sirius’ long curls caught on branching roots but he paid the constant tugging no mind. Did this feel like a second prison break for him? With Peter Pettigrew, he would become a freer man than when he broke out of Azkaban.
Heather winced at the fifth bump to Snape’s head. “I don’t think he’ll forget I blasted him against the wall with so many scrapes and bruises to his head,” she whispered.
Sirius turned to her. “He’ll have more to worry about when he wakes up than you and Harry’s attack on him.” He flicked his wrist down and the toes of Snape’s shoes began dragging along the floor, kicking up more dust but saving his forehead from future scrapes. “He won’t very pleased to see only Peter taken away in chains… and less so to see me freed and reunited with my old pal.”
There was more color to Sirius’ face now, making him look only a bit less grim and skeletal than minutes before.
Sirius cleared his throat. “Do you two know what all this means?”
“Yes. You’re free,” Harry declared from the back. “They won’t be sending you back to Azkaban ever again.”
“Yes…” Sirius kept looking onward but his free hand fidgeted at his side, pulling on the tattered holes of his grey-striped shirt. “Yes, but… Well… You know I’m – Your parents made me your Godfather… to the both of you – I don’t know if anyone ever mentioned it.”
“We overheard it,” Heather admitted. She looked back at Harry who was looking up at Sirius intently. The light of their wands reflected of his scratched glasses and although she couldn’t see his eyes, she could guess she’d find a spark of excitement in them.
“That would make me your appointed guardian,” Sirius continued more stiffly. “That was, if anything happened to them…”
Heather gripped her sweater, feeling her hands begin to shake.
“Of course you both have full say in where your home is – I wouldn’t wish to take you from your aunt and uncle… And… Well… See, once my name is cleared – should you ever want a different home – if you wanted…”
“Are you suggesting we live with you?” Harry stepped on Heather’s heal – she hadn’t realized she had slowed down her pace. “Leave the Dursleys?”
Sirius shook his head and coughed. “No – No, of course I thought you wouldn’t want to – ” he said quickly. “I understand, I just thought you two would want to know you have a choice should you – ”
“Are you insane?” Harry’s smile could be heard through his croaky voice. “Of course we want to leave the Dursleys! Right, Heather?”
“Oh,” Heather nodded. “Yeah.”
“Have you got a house? When can we move in? How many room’s it got? Oh – !”
Heather elbowed Harry in the ribs to push him off her. In his excitement he’d almost begun to climb over her to get to Sirius, as if his proximity would get him answers faster.
Sirius whirled around – Snape’s body instantly began drifting up again – and smiled ear to ear at them. Heather could see why his animagus was a dog. If he’d had a tail he’d be wagging it faster than bee’s wings.
“You really want to? The both of you?” Sirius beamed down at them. “Mean it? Really?
“Yeah, we mean it!” Harry shook Heather’s shoulder. “Heather?”
She nodded and smiled up at Sirius. “We mean it.” Harry beamed at her confirmation as brightly as Sirius and she felt wholly engulfed in their collective eagerness.
Heather pushed Harry’s hand off her shoulder. She looked up at Sirius’ gaunt face and tried to envision that she might one day find it familiar and friendly. He turned back around and at her reminder and lowered Snape’s body back down. Their conversation had only left his forehead a little scratched.
The grunting up ahead had brought the three of them back down to earth. They were only just getting Peter up out of the hole. It took Hermione a few minutes to direct Professor Lupin and Ron on how to maneuver themselves and a few longer to help Sirius get Snape out of the hole in one piece. Heather crawled out, heaving her body onto the grass, and extended her hand down for Harry to take. His hand squeezed hers and she pulled him up fast.
“Can you believe it?” he whispered to her as they stood and shook off dust.
Heather brushed off her shoulders and watched Sirius take in the grand castle up the sloping grounds. They were so far away it almost looked like it was on an entirely different mountain, resting on the edge of a small cliff above the glittering lake.
“Everything will be different now,” she whispered.
Harry squeezed her arm. “Different good.”
She nodded and looked down at the lake. There were lights dancing on its surface. She could almost count all the Hogwarts windows reflecting off the water. ‘Different good.’ …At least Hogwarts seemed to always remain the same.
“Let’s get going.” Professor Lupin called down to them, already moving up the hill. “And one wrong move Peter…”
“I’ll drop the snake and aim for your head,” Sirius threatened.
Hermione, Harry, and Heather brightened their wands and illuminated the path for the others as they walked on silently. The castle lights slowly grew larger and very curiously, less bright. Heather looked down at the lake, almost obscured by the growing forest, and caught sight of a large white moon reflecting clearer and clearer as they walked.
Through the light wind she heard a grunt and stopped, shining her light on the abrupt jam of their party. Sirius had bumped into Snape’s body, which had knocked into Ron who had bumped into Peter who was pressed up and quaking against a very still Professor Lupin.
Sirius looked down at the ground, at their growing shadows, as the moon bathed them in light. He froze and stuck out an arm, signaling them back to him.
Heather kept her eyes on Professor Lupin’s rigid body as his limbs began to tremble one by one. “It’s a full moon…”
Hermione gasped. “He didn’t take his potion! He’s not safe!”
“Run,” Sirius hissed. “Run! Now!”
Heather turned and stopped, whipping back around to Ron. “Ron…”
He was bent down awkwardly, desperately pulling at the chain around his ankle. Harry dashed forward to help him but Sirius pulled him back, dropping Snape.
“Go! Leave it to me! RUN!”
Heather hesitated with Harry and Hermione, still unsure if it was safe to leave Ron and run away. A sickening snarling noise broke the air. Heather’s eyes flickered over Professor Lupin, or what was left of him not yet morphed into a monstrous figure. His head lengthened out into a long snout with jagged teeth and a slobbering tongue. His shoulders hunched and jutted out inhumanly. Rough hair sprouted out along his face, hands, and neck. His shoes shredded in two and rolled down the hill, as if running from the enormous claws that had split them apart. With a single snap of his long jaws, the werewolf wrenched itself free of the shackles that held on to his wrist and ankle.
A large black streak dashed across Heather’s vision. The blur lunged for the werewolf’s neck and pulled it backwards, away from Peter and Ron. The giant bear-dog held its ground as the werewolf broke free and turned, growling deep. In an instant they were locked, jaw to jaw, claws tearing into shoulders and pulling fur by the clump.
Heather snapped her gaze away from the violent battle and looked around at Harry and Hermione. Both as transfixed as she had been. Ron had stopped pulling on his chains, instead pressing himself to the ground in an attempt to melt away among the grass, and Peter –
“NO!” Heather screamed.
Peter pulled Professor Lupin’s wand up from where it had dropped and aimed its tip at his head.
Harry rushed forward. “Expelliarmus!”
The wand in Peter’s hands flew out into the shrubbery behind. Heather’s breath caught and the scenery almost melted away. The sudden snaps of powerful jaws quieted, the grass seized to sway, and the moonlight brightened around Peter. For a second it felt like Harry had done it. Harry had prevented a horrible disaster.
But Peter grinned at them and Heather’s heart sank. In a blink of an eye, the little man shrunk and transfigured into a large rat with patchy fur and bent whiskers.
Crookshanks – who had taken refuge behind a rock at first sign or Professor Lupin’s condition – now jumped out from the shadows and chased after the bald tail poking out from the shifting grass as Scabbers scurried downhill and away.
Heather clutched her throat and tried to breath in. ‘The Servant Will Break Free And Set Out To Rejoin His Master. The Dark Lord Will Rise Again With His Servant’s Aid, Greater And More Terrible Than Ever Before,’ Trelawney’s raspy voice echoed in her mind over and over in overlapping waves. The prophecy will come true! “No, no, no.”
“He’s gotten away! Sirius needs him!” Harry turned back to the beastly fight happening feet away.
A shrieking wolf howl ripped through the air and before they could dive for the ground next to Ron, the werewolf leapt over them and ran into the forest at full force. The giant dog limped after the wolf, staggering off his intended path more and more with each pained step, padding out of sight.
Hermione dashed for Ron who was still on the ground, arms covering his head protectively.
“Is it gone? Please tell me it’s all miraculously over.” He looked up at Hermione who could only look on to Heather and Harry to answer the question.
Snape was still crumpled on the ground, Sirius was gone, Professor Lupin was gone, and Peter Pettigrew was gone.
“We – We need to get to the castle. We take Ron to Madam Pomfrey and tell Professor Dumbledore Snape’s out here and – ”
“And that Sirius is innocent?” Harry interrupted her. “We have no proof. None at all. And if those dementors find him…” he trailed off.
Heather gulped. He was only a few steps away from her. She took a step towards him and he backed away, already pulling his hand farther out of her reach.
“Harry…” Heather warned.
A wounded whine carried softly through the wind and Harry was off, running down the moonlit grounds into the shadowed forest near the lake’s edge.
She took a step, intending to speed off after to him when she saw Hermione point out of the corner of her eye. She turned and saw Snape reaching for the back of his head with a weak hand, but that wasn’t what Hermione was pointing at.
“Dementors!” Hermione took out her wand but did not know which shadowy figure to aim for.
It looked like dozens of unnatural clouds of blackness were blowing in against the wind. The whispy shadows floated in groups across the sky in the same direction as Professor Lupin, Sirius, and Harry, cutting the moonlight beams like nightmare-ish blades as they went.
Heather shivered and fell to her knees, wincing as a cold wave washed over her. Guilt prickled her chest and traveled through her arms, numbing her. She’d let Peter get away. If she had told Harry they could have taken higher precautions. She should have used Expelliarmus on Snape. He could have been restrained and listened to it all. So many things could have prevented Harry from leaving her, running off and facing a werewolf and dementors alone… Heather shook her head, refusing to let her brain dig into her fears. “Think happy… Happy thoughts…” There wasn’t anything happy she could grasp onto. Not a single cheerful event, joyous occasion, or delightful day came to mind. It was all so horrible, painful, and lonely… and cold.
Slowly the image of a large castle pushed through fog, with torches glowing in every window and flames undisturbed by the sweeping wind. A vast lake that reflected every window only disturbed by the ripples from the giant tentacles greeting dozens of small boats. The rush of excitement upon first seeing Hogwarts filled her blood and she sucked in a fresh breath of chilly air.
She looked up and saw the last of the cloaked figures duck below the tree lines. Hermione lay next to Ron and they both looked deeply asleep. Snape got to his feet quickly and looked her way, giving her a cold glare, and turned his attentions to Hermione and Ron.
Heather breathed in again and stood, wiping her grassy hands on her skirt and looked towards the edge of the forest. Harry was in trouble. She hugged and arm around herself and held in a sob, pulling her wand out.
“Don’t even think about it.” Snape growled.
“But Harry – ”
“Take them back to the castle!” Snape pushed her back and ran down the hill. His cloak billowed in the wind making him look like a dementor flying low across the grounds.
“But how am I to – ” Heather cut herself off and gaped at the two stretchers floating at chest-height.
Hermione and Ron each lay on one and when she pushed Hermione’s, Ron’s moved in parallel. She turned back in search of Snape but the wind was already stitching the clouds back together to cover the moon. She had to trust Snape would save him… Professor Snape. If she was trusting him with Harry’s life… and he was risking his own life to save him… he at least deserved that bit of respect from her again.
She turned to her friends and pushed the stretchers up the darkening lawn until she reached the entrance steps. She hesitated with the first step, not sure if she kept pushing it would only ram the stretchers straight into the fifth step, but after a hesitant push she realized the stretchers knew what to do and raised themselves accordingly.
She pushed on the doors and found they opened with easy, left unlocked by Professor Snape from when he rushed out after Professor Lupin.
“Out of bed! Students out of bed!” Mr. Filch screeched from down the entrance hall, waving a finger as he jogged down.
Heather sprinted to the entrance hall stairs yelling back, “Don’t lock the door! There’s more coming!” Shocking Mr. Filch to a halt.
She took the stretchers up to the hospital wing and pounded on the door, wishing Madam Pomfrey would hurry up and take Hermione and Ron so she could run back down to help Professor Snape with Harry… If he’d saved him… She shook her head. “Of course he did.”
“Five more minutes…” Hermione muttered.
“Hermione!” Heather stopped her pounding and shook her awake.
Heather jumped as Madam Pomfrey flung the door open and scolded her.
“It’s nearly midnight and – Oh my! Bring them in – bring them in.”
Hermione rolled off her stretcher and looked around as Heather took Ron’s stretcher to the farthest bed.
“What happened?” Hermione still looked weary-eyed.
“My question precisely.” Madam Pomfrey’s accusing eyes bore into her, having more than enough reasons to believe it was one of their faults.
“I remember dementors.” Hermione lifted her hand to her mouth. “Oh and I suppose Ron’s leg is also broken from a bite wound.” She rubbed her eyes and stumbled as they followed Ron’s stretcher to a bed.
Madam Pomfrey only rolled her eyes and got to work on Ron. “There’s chocolate in the cupboard if you need it,” she said over her shoulder.
Heather motioned Hermione to sit and opened the cupboard. She scanned shelf after shelf until she spotted brown little chips filled to brim in a lidded jar. She took a handful and walked back to Hermione, pouring them into her hand. She jerked her head and motioned for the chairs against the opposite wall under the large windows. Hermione followed.
“Where’s Harry? He left and… and I don’t remember much after that.”
Heather nodded grimly. “Professor Snape went after him… Hermione I need to tell you – I don’t know why I didn’t before – I should have told you guys but so much happened suddenly and I wasn’t sure how seriously to take it and – ”
Hermione gripped Heather’s shoulder, calming her. “What is it? Just tell me.”
Heather calmed herself with a slow breath out. “I thought it was Sirius Black going back to Voldemort tonight. But it’s really Peter Pettigrew that’s going back.”
“What do you mean?”
“Professor Trelawney – when we were getting the cloak – I bumped into her and she – ” Heather shook her head as Hermione’s eyebrow shot up. “No, I know. Professor Lupin also thought – ”
“Harry finished him, twice if you count his journal. He’s dead three times over. You heard Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black and Professor Lupin in the shack. Peter Pettigrew is a coward. He probably ran off to hid in the forbidden forest and Professor Dumbledore will do something about him if he needs to when we explain it all to him.”
“I suppose… I mean there isn’t anything to do now other than tell Professor Dumbledore everything so he can free Sirius and hopefully forgive Professor Lupin.” Heather knelt on the chair and stared out at the darkness below. The moon was well hidden now and nothing could be seen.
Heather and Hermione both jumped when the doors to the hospital wing flew open and Professor Snape sauntered in with an unconscious Harry floating on a stretcher. Heather ducked quickly behind a bed, not wanting to remind him of her existence. If there was a chance he’d forgotten she’d attacked him only a couple hours ago, then she’d gladly hide from him for the rest of the year until the start of next term. Hopefully summer holidays for adults and school events did the same as for students and learned topics.
“Take Mr. Potter here. He’ll need all the chocolate you have.” Professor Snape pushed the stretcher into Madam Pomfrey’s hands and turned on his heel, ready to leave.
“The dementors – why have they attacked the students? They’re not in the castle are they? Surely the Headmaster – ”
“I’m sure Miss Granger can explain to you enough so that you may imagine what has happened tonight. I, however, must speak to the Headmaster and the Minister before he departs.” Professor Snape’s eyes flashed with eager excitement as he walked out the doors, closing them shut with an echoing thump.
Heather wondered if it was only Harry that he found. She hoped it was, and that Sirius had somehow escaped to his hiding place once more. ‘We won’t need to go that far… All I have to do is call the dementors once we get out of the Willow. They’ll be so pleased.’ Professor Snape’s words rang in her head turning his silky tone into a cruel grain.
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A bog of filth piled high with coins
A clang of chains twists fear in your loins
A fire burns high as all sit and stare
A rust corroded man tries to tell you it's not there
A ripple of water reflects something not real
A dust covered track boasts of nothing left to kill
A fan of feathers each as blind as the last
A world so corrupted; a world dying fast.
(digital painting of an apocalyptic/hell-scape version of our current world inspired by the seven deadly sins... as you can probably expect, there is a lottt of symbolism in this piece, which I’ll go more into below, along with some detail shots!)
This piece has kind of been a 6 month long labour of love, starting with a vague idea I had of a piece that is going to reflect the strange and scary times we’ve all lived in over the last year or so, and then slowly begun to take shape into a kinda apocalyptic/hell-scape piece based on the seven deadly sins representing our current world...
(also the poem above is something I wrote too, but couldn’t fit it anywhere in the actual piece itself)
The piece itself took roughly 60 hours of painting over almost an entire month. I originally planned for it to be a big mixed media piece, but instead decided I would try to keep it as purely a painting. Surrealist art was one of my biggest inspirations, purely because I thought the style would fit this piece the best. I also like how as a style it combines things that are familiar with things that are strange, which is exactly what I wanted for this piece!
The piece is split into 3 major sections, and 7 individual sections (to reflect the 7 deadly sins, which I’ve wanted to do my own version of for ages now). I had thought at first I would stick to creating demonic ‘characters’ for each sin, but then found this illustration on Wikipedia depicting the 7 sins as animals which I thought could both be an interesting challenge for me, and would visually be more interesting too!
I also decided pretty early on that I didn’t want any humans actually in the piece, but rather the imprint of humans. Our actions, our feelings, what we leave behind, etc...
First is the section is dedicated to Greed, Gluttony and Lust, known as the ‘lustful appetite’ sins.
At the top is Greed, which is symbolised by a toad. I wanted this to be representative of capitalism, the toad looming over piles of gold, surrounded by a cardboard box (a not-so-subtle dig at people like Jeff Bezos lol), as it is surrounded by a bubbling dirty bog. The toad is ‘crying’ the same sludge, which I wanted to act as ‘crocodile tears’, showing their falsity. (I feel like it’s also important to note here that in my notes for this part I originally wrote ‘won’t someone think of the economy :(’ lol, which was something I heard a lot of in the news last year...).
Below that, and in direct correlation with Greed, is Gluttony. Gluttony is depicted as a pig, which is why I painted a pig skeleton. This is supposed to represent our overconsumption and over-production, and how that has impacted the planet. Plastic hidden in plain sight, increase of forest fires, etc, all under the ‘watchful’ gaze of mother nature (the trees were inspired by a post I saw about ‘Quaking Aspens’) I wanted the ‘overlord’ of this section to be dead to symbolise how humanity’s gluttony has lead to complete destruction, even in hell itself...
The final in this section is Lust, represented as a goat. This one is arguably a lot darker than the previous 2, and is reflecting the violence performed against women over the last year (Sarah Everand’s murder in the UK and the 6 Asian women shot in Atlanta, just to name a few, not to mention the various hate-crimes against trans women which have been helped with the rise of transphobic rhetoric). Lust is often depicted as someone attractive trying to lure you to sleeping with them. But I feel like that misinterprets what lust really is. Someone with lust is described as being a ‘slave to the devil’ (hence the chains in my art), and I wanted to showcase lust as a quest for power over someone else’s body, particularly women’s bodies. The eyes in the darkness are representing the fear that so many people feel about going out at night, and the goat being in the light also shows how danger can come at any time of day, in any place. The design of the goat was inspired by this medieval artwork of a seven eyed lamb.
The central section is Irascibility, and includes the sin Wrath.
Wrath is represented by a Lion. I wanted this section to be dedicated to how racial injustice against black people has been truly highlighted in the last year, particularly in the case of George Floyd’s murder. Angry people are described to being slaves to themselves, a selfishness that is both reflected in wrath and in racism, and is why the lion has it’s paw rested on a ball and chain. I wanted the lion in this section to be a statue, both because of the Edward Colston (a slave owner who lived in Bristol) statue that was pulled down by protestors last year, and also how statues of lions are a significant symbol of Britishness in general (for example, Trafalgar square) and therefore in turn a symbol of the institutional racism that still permeates so much of the UK. This is also reflected in the rust covering the statue and the trees surrounding it, showing how old and well rooted racism is woven into the fabric of our world. The colours surrounding the trees, and the trees themselves, were based on these photographs of Sulphur lakes in Indonesia.
The lightning is a suggestion of change in the air, and a reflection of the Black Lives Matter movement. Although this whole piece is of course a critical look at our current world, I also wanted to have an air of ‘it’s not too late’ to it. That we CAN make this world a better place to live if we’re willing to fight for it!
The final part is the 3 final sins grouped into the ‘corruption of the mind’ section.
The snake represents Envy, which is also a sin that is associated with vanity, which is what I decided to focus on for this. The snake is completely absorbed in it’s own reflection, very much like narcissus. My idea was the concept of the envy of things that aren’t real, much like how social media has created a world where we strive to be something that we are not, something that we will never be. So to us, the outsider, all we see is an abstract shape of a snake, something that’s intangible. Whereas the snake is so distracted by it that they can’t see the rest of the world. The reflection of the water was based on a photo I took of some reeds in water, which I also thought looked a bit like wires or computer circuit boards.
Above the snake, and taking advantage of it’s distraction, is Pride. Pride is shown as a peacock, obnoxious in it’s wings covered in glowing eyes. Pride is described as something that ‘blinds’, hence why some of the feather-eyes are closed. The peacock is wrapped in a snare wire and is partially behind bars. This is to depict how pride causes people to play the victim, suggesting their intentions are pure, only to stab you in the back, so to speak... The ideas behind this one are more general and vague than the others, more of a commentary on humanities general hubris rather than any specific event. And perhaps speaking of how if we’re not careful, pride will sneak up on all of us, and will ultimately be our downfall.
The final section is above Pride and represents Sloth, depicted by a pile of snail shells. I had originally planned for this whole piece to be dedicated to the pandemic, but realised there were a lot of other issues I wanted to talk about aside from that. So Sloth is the dedicated ‘virus section’, representing how slow my country’s government (and many like it) were in bringing in precautions to stop the spread and save lives. Sloth is often described as a failure to love God, negligence at it’s very core. Both Pride and Sloth are partially covered in bars to critique our current justice system, which suffers from being overly prideful and negligent itself...
This piece is in effect my way of trying to deal with a year that has really fucking sucked lol... It includes a lot of bitterness and anger, feelings I think many of my generation will relate to.
But despite this, I don’t think it’s hopeless... I believe in humanity, in the goodness and beauty of it. Perhaps a naïve notion, but one I will cling on. For if we delve into despair, then it will truly be too late...
I hope people like this piece since it took a really long time and effort!
Other inspirations for this piece:
various images & quotes about car crashes, various surrealist artists’ work, Evgeny Sedukhin’s symphony of the 6th blast furnace, paintings by David Mensing, this creepy lad and this lil snake lying in a chalice.
Thousands of Sand Dollars washed up on the Seaside, Oregon beach yesterday. All alive yet dying under the sun. Seagulls probably had a hayday where humans didn't interfere.
There were a few good samaritans who tossed them back into the ocean but it was a sad sight to see. The cause can only be speculated at this point.
What would beach 1,000s of Sand Dollars? (aka sea cookie , sea biscuit) They are burrowing sea urchins.
On the ocean bottom they are typically found together.
The Juan De Fuca Plate borders the Cascadian Trench which off the coast of Oregon and Washington. It had a 3.1 quake 8/18/21. This plate has a lot of pressure baring on it (The entire weight of the pacific ocean)
If there was a really big earthquake (an 8 or 9) at this location, it would trigger the "Cascadia Event" All land west of Interstate 5 will be flooded by a tidal wave.
As a side note: Mt. Rainier has been showing signs of activity. All the volcanoes on the Cascadian ridge are connected from Rainier to Shasta.
As a native from the Pacific Northwest, I pay close attention to keywords like "Juan De Fuca" Every single mountain is an active volcano as it's apart of the ring of fire. I know how incredible these volcanoes are!
I have visited the remains of Mt. Mazama (aka Crater lake and the surrounding regions) I know the power they hold.
So should you. Respect the mountain gods.
Saturn makes waves in its own rings In the same way that earthquakes cause our planet to rumble, oscillations in the interior of Saturn make the gas giant jiggle around ever so slightly. Those motions, in turn, cause ripples in Saturn's rings. In a new study accepted in the journal Nature Astronomy, two Caltech astronomers have analyzed those rippling rings to reveal new information about the core of Saturn. For their study, they used older data captured by NASA's Cassini, a spacecraft that orbited the ringed giant for 13 years before it dove into the planet's atmosphere and disintegrated in 2017. The findings suggest that the planet's core is not a hard ball of rock, as some previous theories had proposed, but a diffuse soup of ice, rock, and metallic fluids—or what the scientists refer to as a "fuzzy" core. The analysis also reveals that the core extends across 60 percent of the planet's diameter, which makes it substantially larger than previously estimated. "We used Saturn's rings like a giant seismograph to measure oscillations inside the planet," says co-author Jim Fuller, assistant professor of theoretical astrophysics at Caltech. "This is the first time we've been able to seismically probe the structure of a gas giant planet, and the results were pretty surprising." "The detailed analysis of Saturn's rippling rings is a very elegant form of seismology to infer the characteristics of Saturn's core," says Jennifer Jackson, the William E. Leonhard Professor of Mineral Physics in the Seismological Laboratory at Caltech, who was not involved in the study but uses different types of seismic observations to understand the composition of Earth's core and to potentially detect seismic events on Venus in the future. The lead author of the study is Christopher Mankovich, a postdoctoral scholar research associate in planetary science who works in Fuller's group. The findings offer the best evidence yet for Saturn's fuzzy core and line up with recent evidence from NASA's Juno mission, which indicates that the gas giant Jupiter may also have a similarly diluted core. "The fuzzy cores are like a sludge," explains Mankovich. "The hydrogen and helium gas in the planet gradually mix with more and more ice and rock as you move toward the planet's center. It's a bit like parts of Earth's oceans where the saltiness increases as you get to deeper and deeper levels, creating a stable configuration." The idea that Saturn's oscillations could make waves in its rings and that the rings could thus be used as a seismograph to study Saturn's interior first came about in studies in the early 1990s by Mark Marley (BS '84) and Carolyn Porco (Ph.D. '83), who later became the leader of the Cassini Imaging Team. The first observation of the phenomenon was made by Matt Hedman and P.D. Nicholson (Ph.D. '79) in 2013, who analyzed data taken by Cassini. The astronomers found that Saturn's C-ring contained multiple spiral patterns driven by fluctuations in Saturn's gravitational field and that these patterns were distinct from other waves in the rings caused by gravitational interactions with the planet's moons. Now, Mankovich and Fuller have analyzed the pattern of waves in the rings to build new models of Saturn's sloshing interior. "Saturn is always quaking, but it's subtle," says Mankovich. "The planet's surface moves about a meter every one to two hours like a slowly rippling lake. Like a seismograph, the rings pick up the gravity disturbances, and the ring particles start to wiggle around," he says. The researchers say that the observed gravitational ripples indicate that the deep interior of Saturn, while sloshing around as a whole, is composed of stable layers that formed after heavier materials sunk to the middle of the planet and stopped mixing with lighter materials above them. "In order for the planet's gravitational field to be oscillating with these particular frequencies, the interior must be stable, and that's only possible if the fraction of ice and rock gradually increases as you go in toward the planet's center," says Fuller. Their results also indicate that the core of Saturn is 55 times as massive as the entire Earth, with 17 Earth-masses of that being ice and rock and the rest a fluid of hydrogen and helium. Hedman, who is not part of the current study, says, "Christopher and Jim were able to show that one particular ring feature provided strong evidence that Saturn's core is extremely diffuse. I am excited to think about what all the other ring features generated by Saturn might be able to tell us about that planet." In addition, the findings pose challenges to current models of gas giant formation, which hold that rocky cores form first and then attract large envelopes of gas. If the cores of the planets are indeed fuzzy as the study indicates, the planets might instead incorporate gas earlier in the process. The Nature Astronomy study, titled, "A diffuse core in Saturn revealed by ring seismology," was funded by The Rose Hills Foundation and the Sloan Foundation.
10 Years Ago
Disclaimer: I do not give permission for anyone to take or post my story anywhere. Reblogging is perfectly fine, however.
Today is March 11, 2021. It is the 10-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that decimated Fukushima prefecture and its surrounding areas in northeast Japan on the main island of Honshu.
I lived in a town called Shin-Kawasaki in Saiwai prefecture. It’s a place about 45 minutes by train south of Tokyo. I resided in an apartment building for students studying abroad through their universities. My room was on the fourth floor. It was my Japanese college’s spring break. I had just woken up around 3:00 p.m. after a short nap. I was at my computer turning it on.
Then it happened. I felt a small shake of the floor. Small quakes are a common occurrence in Japan, being a chain of islands where tectonic plates meet. But this shake didn’t stop. It quickly grew in its intensity. The building was wobbling like it was made of gelatin. My bookcase, which was nearly seven feet tall (roughly two meters), was rocking back and forth. I was terrified. I had never experienced an earthquake. At least, not one that registered with me as “this is an earthquake; not the train jostling or you moving around.”
I’m from the northern Midwest of America. Michigan, to be precise. We have tornadoes, lake-effect snow, flooding sometimes, and pothole-ridden roads. We don’t have earthquakes. I had no idea what to do in the situation I was in. I thought, “I need to get away from the bookcase, in case it falls over, and anything else that might fall on me.” So I ran to the entryway (called “genkan,” a slightly lowered area before stepping up to the rest of the room) of my small apartment. I cowered on the floor with my hands holding the doorframe on either side of me. I have no memory of how long I was there. It seemed like the shaking and wobbling was going on for much longer than the mere few minutes that had actually passed.
When I thought it had stopped, I tried my best to gather myself, grabbed my cell phone and wallet, and went into the hallway. Others on my floor had also gathered outside their rooms. We hurried down the grey cement stairs that spiraled up the exterior of the building and met the other residents in the small courtyard out front at the bottom. The power had gone out in the entire town. None of us knew what to do, so we waited until hunger drove us to the local convenience stores.
The stores were stripped bare of instant noodle cups, breads, snack foods, water, soft drinks, juices, and anything else that wasn’t pre-packaged or perishable. After traveling to all the Lawson’s and 7-11′s in the area, we resigned ourselves to buying whatever we could find. Our group made it back to the apartment building and hung out in the common room until, ten hours later, the power came back on. The event lasted less than a day and there wasn’t much physical damage in Shin-Kawasaki as the ripples from the epicenter of the earthquake hit the area at about magnitude 4.5.
There continued to be aftershocks for days afterwards. I kept a measuring cup of water on a shelf on my bookcase that I stared at constantly. Even the slightest hint of movement of the water and I ran to the door in anticipation of another aftershock. I couldn’t sleep and I became even more withdrawn as my depression and anxiety worsened-- things I already had problems with before studying abroad. I would watch the earthquake alert website at any opportunity. I kept my cell phone on me at all times, waiting to hear the earthquake alert that all Japanese cell phones have; a sound which brings back awful memories for me and I still hate to this day.
I didn’t really have anyone I considered a friend in the area. I didn’t have the money to go home for a visit. My dad refused to pay for a ticket when I called several times in the middle of the night sobbing, pleading, and begging to come home. My boyfriend was 14 hours behind and busy with his own college classes and part-time job. I was trapped. I began to self-medicate with alcohol. I had a falling-out with two friends; a situation that was exacerbated by my developing-alcoholism.
I had dreamed since I was 14-years-old of learning Japanese, studying abroad in Japan, and being a translator or interpreter. At 16, I taught myself hiragana, katakana, and some kanji. As a senior in high school, I took an evening class in Japanese. I listened to Japanese pop and rock music. I transliterated lyrics. I watched subtitled and non-subtitled anime. I read books and manga by Japanese authors. I went to college and majored in international studies and minored in Japanese to try to achieve my dream. I had finally found something that I was good at and loved doing. But in the last weeks of July 2011, before I left Japan forever, I gathered up all my Japanese learning books- textbooks, grammar books, dictionaries, kanji books- and threw them in the trash.
I lived through being forced to stay in Japan against my will. However, I did not come out a better person. I was a broken husk of a girl who didn’t have any direction anymore. The life as I knew it died on March 11, 2011 around 3:00 p.m., Japanese Standard Time. I died that day.
In the last five years or so I’ve been regaining the confidence and renewed interest in the things I used to love: anime, manga, J-pop and J-rock, speaking and writing and learning Japanese. But I’ll never get those years back. Those years of being debilitated by post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism. Those years that were robbed of me by the Fukushima earthquake.