best reading of the year

what's a fire and how does it - what's the word? - burn

so i have this disney playlist i listen to usually when i’m driving and i was blasting poor unfortunate souls this morning and i was thinking

what if ariel didn’t sign the scroll?

because she’s about to, okay, and she looks at the paper. the parchment made of seaweed, the ones that’s specially treated to survive underwater. and she thinks of her cave of treasures, her books that remain perfectly preserved underwater. “no thank you,” she says slowly, becoming keenly aware of air of this place, of the not-people she’d seen who hadn’t been able to pay the price for sea witch’s bargain. “i – no. thank you. but no.”

ursula tries to convince her otherwise, but ariel runs. she goes back to her cave, destroyed as it was by her father’s anger, and thinks.

she’s the daughter of triton. her books never got wet, though she lives in the ocean. she feels a pull inside her, to the land, to somewhere else, but what if – what if –

what if she doesn’t need the sea witch or her father to perform magic for her? what if she has her own?

ursula had wanted her voice because that’s how she performed her magic. singing in this cave had given it powers and protection, and when she saved her prince from the sea – she sang then too, to keep him safe, to guide him back to life and away from death.

so she has magic. she only needs to figure out how to use it.

so that’s what ariel does now. she’s quiet and keeps to herself, and her father and sisters think that it’s because she’s upset with her father, that she’s busy licking her wounds. she’s moved on from that. she has no trident, and is uninterested with fueling her magic with the souls of the damned like ursula has. so she needs to figure something else out.

she does what she’s not supposed to do, and goes where she’s not supposed to go, slipping past the guards and patrols to the one place in the sea that is forbidden to all of them.

the crevice in the earth where what remains of her grandmother lives.

ariel goes to amphitrite, and the sea goddess is so much bigger than ariel, the size of great whale as she curls at the bottom of the sea floor, too old and too tired to do anything more than sleep. “granddaughter,” the great being croaks, opening an eye as blue and as unfathomable as the sea, “you look like me.”

“they say i look like my mother,” she says, and to herself adds: that’s why father can barely stand to look at me.

“you have more of me in you than your mother,” she says, and she shifts and pulls her mass of red hair over her shoulder. “more of me in you than your father does, even.”

“i have magic,” she says, pulling her bravery to the fore as she swims closer to her grandmother, “i want you to teach me how to use it.” amphitrite pushes herself up, and it’s the first time she’s moved in a millennia, and ariel notices for the first time that her grandmother isn’t a mermaid – she has legs.

she has legs.

“you have power,” amphitrite corrects fiercely, “and i will teach you to wield it.”

and so she does. ariel spends her nights by her grandmother, learning to harness the power of the sea that runs in her veins, and sleeps her days away while her sisters and flounder and sebastian grow more and more concerned, but she refuses to tell them why. she refuses to be stopped.

but her heart still aches. she fell in love with her prince, and she wants him still. so she swims to the edge, goes to the beach where his castle resides in the dead of night when her lessons with her grandmother are complete, and sings

. she’s careful not to let any magic leak through, only her voice. she does not want to enchant him. she wants him to love her as she is. so she sings, her voice clear and powerful and cutting through the air. she hopes he can hear it.

then one day a figure walks to the beach, and it’s him, her prince. “hello?” he calls out, “are you out there? are you – please, it was you that saved me, wasn’t it? won’t you come out and let me see you?”

so she does, waves her tail at him until he catches sight of her and takes hesitant, disbelieving steps closer.

“you’re a mermaid,” he says, eyes wide, “i thought i saw – but it couldn’t be.”

“i am, and it can,” she says, heart beating wildly in her chest. he’s just as handsome as she remembered, and she wants him just as much. “my name is ariel.”

“ariel,” he repeats, and pulls off his boots and goes wading into the water, watching her to see if she flinches away from him. she doesn’t, and his strides grow bolder. “my name is eric.”

“eric,” she whispers, and when he’s close enough he touches her, trailing fingers across the bare skin of her shoulder and tangling them in her hair.

when he kisses her, she feels powerful enough to undo the world.

so there’s that now, spending her nights with her grandmother and her prince, and she knows how to make her own legs now, could walk onto land and be made a queen among the two legged men.

but she’s a princess here first, and before she can do that she needs to take care of something.

ursula.

the rotten sea witch with her rotten sea magic won’t be allowed to torment her people any longer.

she tells her grandmother, and amphitrite smiles and says, “an excellent decision, child. i’ve enjoyed our time together, but i think it’s time for me to sleep once more. i’ve taught you everything i can.”

and tears prick ariel’s eyes, but she holds them back. she knew that it couldn’t be forever, that her grandmother can’t die but no longer desires to live and this is the in-between.

“you’ll be an amazing queen,” amphitrite murmurs, and closes her eyes for a millennia more.

this isn’t something to be done in the dead of night, although it would be easier to do it then.

she will make a spectacle of it, she will remind the sea that her people are not to be trifled with.

once upon a time they feared a blue eyed, red haired sea queen with the power to destroy them all. it’s time for them to do so again.

so she drives ursula to the center of the city. her sisters cower and people hide, and her father comes rushing forward to save her.

“you’ve committed great crimes against my people,” she says, not flinching as lightning gathers in the sea witch’s hands, “so now shall a great crime be committed against you.”

“foolish girl,” the sea witch snarls.

triton is yelling. he won’t get there in time.

he doesn’t have to.

she doesn’t need to sing anymore. instead she lifts her hands and pulls ursula apart without ever touching her, not only renders flesh from bone but also sets free the souls she’s been hoarding, reverses the magic done to those who’d fallen into the sea witch’s trap.

they all stare at her, her people, her father, and her sisters. she looks to triton and says, “i’m not a little girl anymore.”

he opens his mouth, closes it again, then says, “i can see that.”

all at once everyone’s perceptions are turned sideways about their youngest princess. she commands a power that even her father doesn’t have access to, she’s not depressed and dreamy – she’s powerful young woman who knows exactly what she’s doing.

so she does what she wanted to do, she gives herself legs and steps onto the sand and launches herself into eric’s arms. she becomes his bride, and the rumors run rampant of what she is, of where she came from, but they can’t prove anything and so they rule.

they live long, happy lives. ariel is his consort, his advisor, his wife, his tactician, and his best friend. all those years reading drowned books have certainly paid off. she ages herself along with her husband, bears his children and then teaches them they ways of her – their – people.

her husband dies, and she disappears, like the stories of selkie women that everyone whispers around her. their children give their father a sea burial, and vow to see him again one day. what they know and none of their subjects do is this – their father’s body isn’t in that casket.

she returns to her ocean, her legs form into her glittering green tail, and she goes home. she uses her terribly powerful magic, and brings her husband with her. she went from princess ariel of the sea to queen ariel of the land, and now she’s back again.

she’s not quite a teenager, but neither is she the old woman she pretended to be on land. she’s returned her and her husband to the prime of their life, and as she gained legs to be with him, he now gives his up to be with her.

eric becomes a merman, and a prince by virtue of being ariel’s husband.

she returns to her family and her world without missing a beat, and they all welcome her as if she never left, treat her husband with kindness and respect.

because they all know.

it doesn’t matter that she’s the youngest. when, far in the future, triton’s reign ends –

ariel’s reign will begin.

9

I may surprise you, pixie boots. 

2

books read in 2016 —  all for the game series by nora sakavic

   Better than that bright future was what he already had: a court that would always be home, a family who’d never give up on him, and Andrew, who for once hadn’t wasted their time denying that this thing between them might actually mean something to both of them. Neil hadn’t even noticed the silence at first, too distracted by his dizzying thoughts. Now he couldn’t help but smile and pull Andrew in.

    This was everything he wanted, everything he needed, and Neil was never letting go.

8

social media demigod style: Percy Jackson.

7

the tenth doctor by the numbers (info)

favorite fics 1/?

Walk My Days on a Wire by @theprizeofcoolness

Harry hums, staring at his hands in his lap, and Louis can still feel their smoothness, how solid they were in between his own. “Do you think it’s the same for us? Are we here only because of the likeliness of our jobs? Of our lives?”
“We’re here because we have inventive managers,” Louis says, giving Harry’s leg a little nudge with his knee, but all that’s going around in his head is, I think I’d be in the same spot in every possible universe.

or, when actor Louis Tomlinson used to daydream about dating Harry Styles, this is not what he had in mind. (38k)

wait i never told you guys about my final day prank where me, @browngyal and @chelcoast stuck communist propaganda all over our 300 year old private school much to the amusement and anger of the many bourgeoisie students and teachers there. By lunchtime the couple hundred posters we had put up had been taken down so phase two was these posters:

When our deputy-head was asked about the posters, not knowing it was us who had put them up, he said “Well, I quite like being called the bourgeoisie, it makes me feel empowered”. Honestly the greatest day of my life.

4

Noblesse Summer Event » Prompt: Tease

Rai, you’re such a tease. Frankenstein REALLY wanted to be “punished”.

reminder that bisexual military boys don’t need to come out of their tents for ANYTHING

that means!!! not even

- the pleas of comrades or old babysitters
- destroyed barricades
- friends hurt
- ships on fire
- ten weighty talents of purest gold
- twice ten vases of refulgent mould
- seven sacred tripods, whose unsullied frame
-yet knows no office, nor has felt the flame
-twelve steeds umatchd in fleetness
-seven captive Lesbians (women from Lesbos)
-Briseis in all her charms, I swear they were never mine, pure from my arms guiltless of my love, etc
-yet more – three daughters in my court are bred each well worthy of a royal bed
-myself give the dower
-seven ample cities in argos
-a twentieth of the wealth we plunder from Troy
-best friend crying like a girl
-honor, deathless glory

NONE of these are worth more than YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH.

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO STAY IN YOUR SAFE SPACE

2

And Then We Were Chasing Comets

That same, elusive shrug. “It’s a secret, princess.” He says pointedly, snagging the book from her before throwing the truck into park, “But you’ll be the first to read it once it’s done, okay?”

“Wow,” she says, nodding. “I’m honored.”

 A beat as he sizes her up, his brows furrowing together in exasperation before he says, weary, “You’re going to ask me what it’s about again, aren’t you?”

 “Bellamy,” she says obediently, grinning, “what’s your book about?”

 If you told Clarke Griffin that she would become best friends with the resident black sheep of Arkadia, she would have difficulty believing it, let alone the fact that he apparently wrote an entire book about her.

 (Or: Clarke and Bellamy through the years, as childhood best friends.)

Read on AO3//

Me on my death bed...

Me: Tell my family that I love them

Grandkid: Yes, grandma.

Me: And tell telanu that Truth and Measure is the best novel I’ve ever read.

Grandkid: I think you mean fanfiction, grandma.

Me: Did I fucking stutter?

highlights of the author meetup w/ megan whalen turner

•"Gen, who has impulse control issues,“
•how she was determined to not write a book about a Quest and then ended up sort of writing book(s) about a Quest
•how she got into a fight with a friend one time about how to say “Avonlea” and wouldn’t say she was wrong for a long time, so we’re allowed to pronounce the names in her books however we want.
•”(it’s about) a Thief, who has bad impulse control,“
•Conspiracy of Kings is about Sophos learning to “put his big boy pants on”

We need to have a serious talk about this Gilmore Girls fic.

As Will Smith once said, OK. Here’s the situation. 

Someone is writing The Subsect. Jess’s novel. I’m frankly amazed that in all the years of online Gilmore Girls fandom that no one has attempted to do this before, and it’s entirely possible that someone has. But I’m too new to this fandom to know, and if someone tried to write The Subsect before, it probably wasn’t like this story. 

Because here’s the thing. This version of The Subsect, in its current online metafictional form, is fucking amazing. It’s so good that I thought, after a first pass, that it might actually be very good, very well-placed guerrilla marketing for the revival. But I don’t think it is. I think it’s just a fic. Written by some wicked smart person somewhere out there. 

If you want to read it, it’s here. The single most devastating thing about it, so far, is that it’s only two chapters long. 

I have many thoughts about this story, but let’s start at the beginning, in the first chapter. 

And as a note, the following contains many spoilers, so if you want to remain unspoiled in regards to this story – however filthy and corrupted your mind may already be – stop reading now, go read the damn first chapter of The Subsect, and then come back and read this. 

I’ll wait. 

Thoughts on the first chapter of the fanfictional Subsect, in no particular order. Here come some bullet points…

  • The first chapter is set in New York City, where we find Jess growing up as a youthful hoodlum and accomplished card shark, as you would expect. The level of accurate, ultra-specific detail about NYC in this story, though, is mind-boggling. Subway stops. The names of businesses. Geography. Every word of it – with a couple of fascinating exceptions, which I’ll talk about – is real. And it’s not just accurate in general. It’s accurate to the period of the story. An example: At some point, the narrator – called J., but I’ll presume it’s Jess – mentions a bookstore near Columbia University named Labyrinth. It’s real, but it’s now under new ownership and has a new name. You’d never know this, ever, unless you went to that bookstore before it was renamed. So whoever’s writing this is a New Yorker and has been for a while, or they’re a research freak of truly epic and admirable proportions. 
  • The story contains a freakishly contextual reference to Italian opera, and an ominous quote from Julius Caesar in Latin that both foreshadows the conflict later in the chapter and harkens back to Jess’s growing affinity for gambling. This is not garden-variety fanfic, friends.
  • The story invents a completely genius plot device that has Jess leaving NYC for Stars Hollow not just because he’s bad and is doing bad things — although he is and does, per cannon and the details of this story — but he also leaves the city in the wake of 9/11. The craziest thing about this? It totally works. The episode where Jess steps off the bus in Stars Hollow aired on October 20, 2001.
  • There are two references in this story that are clearly fictionalized. (And there may be more. I just haven’t spotted them yet.) The first one is about Liz working at Shrafft’s as a waitress. Newsflash: There is no Schrafft’s anywhere in NYC, and there hasn’t been since maybe the 1970s. So why the fictional reference amidst all this hard, cold, New York-y reality? Well, here’s the deal. As the story mentions, the Scrafft’s where Liz works is on 79th Street, and there was indeed a Schrafft’s restaurant on East 79th Street, though it was closed long before the action of this story takes place, and has now been torn down. But this particular Schrafft’s is notable because it was mentioned in a J.D. Salinger novella called Raise High the Roofbeam. Who would write that kind of obscure reference into a novel that’s otherwise positioned as a thinly veiled memoir? Why, your favorite pretentious literature nerd and mine: Jess Fucking Mariano. In fact this reference breaks the otherwise factual fabric of the story. It fucks up everything that’s been so meticulously plotted before and after it — including the piece’s careful attention to geography. As Liz gets off her shift at the fictional Schrafft’s, she beelines it for the 2 train to head uptown to her next job in the Bronx. Well, the Salinger Scrafft’s was on the East Side of Manhattan, where there is certainly no 2 train. The point of all this? To make you, dear reader, believe in your soul of souls that Jess Mariano wrote this story. If he wasn’t a fictional character on TV show, I might think that he actually did. The other fictional reference is when J. describes being robbed and beat up in a park in Bensonhurst by the Jones Street Boys, who are a fictional gang in the video game The Warriors.
  • It’s also worth mentioning that the chapter’s opening language is so very, very true to Jess’ character. The sense of poetic surreality. The ten-cent words. The thin veil of fiction over what’s clearly a memoir. It is the kind of stuff that first-time dude novelists do when they’ve spent too much time reading the beats. The result? It’s all weirdly convincing. I don’t just believe that Jess wrote this story. I believe that there is, in fact, a Jess. So how did we get here? Where the best piece of metafiction I’ve read all year is a Gilmore Girls fanfic? Tell me that.

I have more to say about this story. But I need to re-read the second chapter first and this post is really long and annoying, so I’ll stop.