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a tale of trees and espionage

okay story time:

my professor (lovely man, married to our TA, 5'2", about as intimidating as a muffin) is a dendrologist by trade, so he studies trees. it was about three hours into our social sciences course, last lecture before exams, everyone was frazzled and exhausted, so he told us about his most exciting/in-depth research to date to cheer us up.

(the few of us who actually showed up were like “ok sir im sure its fascinating” but in our minds we were totally like its trees what. is. exciting. about trees. You might be wondering the same thing - the acorns? the leaves? the roots? BUT NO. IMMA FUCKIN TELL YA.)

ANYWAY we settle in, he had a few pictures loaded up from his field work (we were chuckling at this point…. ‘hehehe field work’ i giggled to my frend. its trees.) and began to tell his tale. it’s long, imma warn you, but……. god. just read it.

theres an species of tree called the cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata, if ya wanna get all Latin-y). its super endangered, in our region there’s only ~280 that are registered by the government, yadda yadda yadda. my prof thought that was tragic (i know) but also strange, because when he was writing his thesis about local trees years ago, he kept coming across cucumber trees in really random places. we’re talking like backyards, independently-owned nurseries, etc. WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE because, according to tree law (i know) it is very strictly protected by the government, and thus super “illegal to possess, transport, collect, buy or sell any part of a living or dead member of a listed species if it originates from wild sources.” essentially, the govt takes control over growing the trees and anyone who independently raises them is breaking the law (i know)

so he’d ask people “do you have a permit for these trees?” and they were like “uh no, it’s just a tree someone sold me, i think it looks nice, are you gonna arrest me?” so he’d be like “nah nah nah just tell me who sold it to you”

eventually, months/years later, someone did, and turns out it was like this underground sort-of illegal tree dealing club (i know). so my prof went, got a bit of funding from the government, who were getting pissed at independent cucumber tree numbers, and THIS IS WHERE IT GETS INTO THE GOOD SHIT I STG.

he infiltrates the tree trafficking organization. he buys a cucumber tree from an independent nursery, raises it for months, ensures he gets noticed by the traffickers, and then INFILTRATES it and convinces its leader to LET HIM JOIN. he has to pay like a steep entrance fee, which he does (and it blows my mind that the government of my country paid money to illegal tree dealers), but then he is given full access to records and maps because they think he’s one of them, not a SECRET AGENT.

now this part blows my mind because the tree lords don’t even have to try very hard to find cucumber trees because government agents MARK THE TREES AND DISTINCTLY TAG THEM SAYING THIS IS ENDANGERED DO NOT TOUCH. so, ya know…………. it’s a bit obvious. my prof hangs out with the members so much that he figures out their “hit spots”. these are where the trees are relatively secluded and unguarded. (he writes all this shit and numbers down for his research.)

BUT THATS NOT ENOUGH BECAUSE THE GOVT SAYS HES WASTING THEIR FUNDING IF HE DOESNT HAVE PROOF and they are willing to take LEGAL ACTION for misuse of funding (my prof doesn’t have the money nore time nor power to take them to court, which would also blow his cover). so my prof literally STAKES OUT a copse of cucumber trees at a recognized wildlife reserve for. DAYS. he camps there, and watches the trees, is about to give up, he’s going off an unreliable rumor from the traffickers that a harvester would be going there within the next week. finally, this guy comes and takes the cucumber tree seeds from the CLEARLY MARKED trees by the government, and my prof takes pictures (we are shown these pictures, most of us are speechless at this point). dozens of candid shots of a man my grandpa’s age with a grocery store bag, garden shears, and a ladder, clipping away the illegal seeds and then going on his merry fucking way.

so my prof has the proof, he’s been undercover for months now at this point, he writes up his report, gives it to the government who is like…….. “oh shit”, helps them draft up a new LESS COMPLETELY FUCKING OBVIOUS way of marking endangered trees (so that way non-tree-lovers wouldn’t damage them further, etc.), and then never returns to the tree traffickers. he’d given them a fake name, address, everything….. he disappears.

…there was a full minute of stunned silence from us students at this point, during which he grew more and more nervous (again, he’s a muffin) and all of us students are just like……. “whoa.” we asked him what happened to the remaining illegal cucumber trees & if he turned the tree dealers in to the government, and that is when he smiles a little bit and shows us the last few pictures. because here’s the kicker… he never turned the smugglers in. he burned all the data he collected, defied the government pressuring him to turn them in, and the only reason he’s not incarcerated is because his work is so prominent in certain circles now & universities love him, that there would be an uproar if he got arrested. he’s like a fucking anti-hero and then he tells us (i’ll never forget, it’s the most inspirational green-thumb thing in the world) “it may be 'illegal’, but those who risk their liberty to ~save the world~ should never be reprimanded, no matter what those in power say.”

we are all stunned. some of us are considering dendrology as a field we’d now be interested in pursuing. he clicks his slide one final time, before we leave our last lecture and, since he had an asthma attack (lil muffin) he didn’t attend our exam, so i never see him again…………

and there, on the slides, the last picture? THERE HE IS. in his own backyard. with his equally lovely TA wife. both grinning innocently, standing underneath a……. FUCKING. FULL GROWN. ILLEGAL. CUCUMBER TREE.

Bristle

Prompt: 2) Hinny dueling, set anytime post-battle. Cocky harpy vs. wipe-the-floor-with-you Auror? First summer trauma coping? The angst/fluff potential is endless

A/N: so this is a combo of the prompt ^ from @julxr4 and inspiration from @blvnk-art‘s grown up hinny fan art, particularly this comic.

Also available on FF and Ao3!


Harry’s pretty capable, as far as new fathers go.  No major injuries or illnesses to report, and he thinks James seems pretty happy, all things considered.  So when Ginny goes to spring training for almost a month, he does alright.  Aside from missing Ginny like – something he would miss a lot.  Sleep deprivation is not particularly conducive to similes.  Or grooming.  Between a full workload with the Auror Office and handling James on his own every night, certain things get shunted to the side.  And it’s a pretty easy choice if he’s deciding between shaving and taking a kip for a quarter of an hour.

Which is why Ginny comes home to her husband lying spread eagle on the floor with the tiniest Potter splayed across his chest, playing with his newly grown beard.  “Alright Potters?”

James claps his chubby hands and topples back against Harry’s now raised thighs in excitement.

Quickly, Harry catches James around his middle and soon enough has his entire family wrapped in his arms.  Ginny’s warm and firm under his hands, freckles and just a touch of sunburn across her shoulders, her chocolate eyes sparkling in that way that lets him know he’s not the only one who’s been lonely.

James pitches toward Ginny, his kiss overly wet and gummy, while Harry nuzzles her damp hair.  “We missed you.”

Ginny takes James into her arms, showering him with kisses before using her free hand to scratch at Harry’s beard.  “This is new.”

Keep reading

gods of wood and stone

(this may or may not ever turn into something, so I thought I’d leave it here as the product of my procrastination.)


Obito gets lost on the way back to the afterlife.

It sounds like the start of the worst joke ever, like something Kakashi would mock him for forever after finding out about it, but it is, Obito admits to himself with great reluctance, actually true. This is definitely not the Pure Land, Rin is definitely not waiting for him, and he is definitely alive, because apparently using Kamui to skip out on your path to the afterlife leaves you alive even when you don’t want to be.

The worst part is, Obito can’t even regret it. He’d make the same decision again, because Kakashi needed his eyes so he wouldn’t just stand on the sidelines like a useless lump or throw his life away trying to take a hit. With Kamui, Kakashi has a chance at getting them a victory against Kaguya. Without it—

Without it he’s dead, and Obito doesn’t need the blood of any more teammates on his hands.

Cursing quietly, Obito pushes through a particularly tight net of tree branches, trying to figure out where he is. Another dimension, he can tell that much—Kamui gives him a good sense of such things—but unless he wants to kill himself with chakra exhaustion he can’t teleport back out of it. He could try it to get back to the afterlife that way, or just use a kunai, but—

Obito is a stubborn bastard. He was fine dying to save his friend, because there was no other choice and he was dead at the end of the war anyway, but if he’s alive? Yeah, fuck that, Obito is going to survive. It’s what he’s always done, and even if it’s against the world’s best interests, Obito is going to keep it that way. He’s alive, and no one can take that away from him.

The forest thins out up ahead, the spaces between the tree trunks widening as the ground grows rocky, and Obito makes for it, hoping to find some higher ground so he can at least get a look at his surroundings. The earth is covered with old leaf-litter, soft and silent underfoot, and Obito feels like he should know it, like this whole area is familiar, but he can’t quite place it.

He rounds a thick stand of trees, pushes through a thicket of brambles that curl away from the touch of his Mokuton, and hears—

War. War like the one he just left, the one he started, but without the monstrous roar of the bijuu or the overwhelming lash of chakra from shinobi with no concept of human limits. The earth trembles beneath his feet, the air rings with shouts, and there’s a clang and crack of weapons meeting. Fire roars, the smell of scorched cloth and flesh rising in its wake, and there’s a loud cry.

A familiar cry.

Obito reacts without even thinking. He dodges around the last copse of trees, chakra already surging within him, and bursts out onto the battlefield just as there’s a flash of yellow light.

Years of learning how to craft a plan, how to alter it on the fly, how to act and react and take advantage of every skill he’s managed to cultivate—that’s enough to let him take in the fight in one swift glance, ignoring that fact that it should be impossible. Senju on one side, heavily armored and fighting desperately; Uchiha on the other, backs bared because their stupid pride won’t let them wear armor, but pushing the Senju back. Two sources of chakra brighter than the rest—one on the far right, two heads with long black hair, a dragon made of wood, a familiar gunbai and a curl of scorching flame. The other is at the far end, almost dead-center. A fading glow of gold, black hair, Uchiha symbol, and he’s turning but it won’t be fast enough.

But Obito has faced a man who’s even faster, and he can make it in time.

It’s nothing conscious that drives him—the connections are simpler than that. Half a moment to judge, another bare fraction of a heartbeat to let Kamui whirl to life, and there’s a beat in Obito’s blood that sounds like the cause the cause the cause. Nothing solid, nothing certain, but trained instinct and denial working in tandem as he whirls off the battlefield. A portal into the Kamui dimension, and almost before he fully materializes he has another forming, leading right back out, and he snatches up a staff from a pile of stored weapons and is gone. As soon as he’s through he shifts his body sideways, back into the other dimension as he phases through the man—no armor, just robes, and fuck but Obito can’t believe he’s part of a clan filled with such arrogant assholes, thinking they’re too good to wear armor in a fight—and brings the shakujo around.

A sword collides with it in a flash of yellow light, and red eyes framed by white hair go wide.

Obito snarls, in no mood to call for a truce here and now, and plants the butt of the shakujo in the ground. He leaps, using it as a pivot, and slams a foot into Tobirama’s armored chest with all the force of his chakra behind it. The future Nidaime goes flying, and Obito lands lightly, yanking the staff up as he turns.

Uchiha Izuna rounds on him with a victorious laugh, red-and-black eyes bright with triumph, and opens his mouth.

Obito sweeps his feet out from under him, dumps him on his ass, and buries him in grasping roots that drag him to the ground and pin him there. “When the hell is it ever going to be enough for you bastards?” he snarls right in the man’s dumbfounded face. “How many innocent people need to die in this stupid fucking war before you finally decide that you’ve had enough revenge?!”

There’s no answer, only blank gaping, and Obito growls, pivoting on his heel. Several knots of fighting shinobi are watching him with one eye, clearly wary, but not enough to stop their own battles. It’s not going to be enough to save them, because in a split second Obito has made up his mind. It’s a stupid decision, probably the worst he could come up with, but if there’s a chance in hell of stopping all of this before it starts, Obito will take it.

“Stay there,” he growls at Izuna, leveling his shakujo at him, and then turns. A burst of speed sends him hurtling right at a Senju kunoichi with her hair in a topknot and the ponytailed Uchiha she’s fighting, and he shoves right behind them, knocking the woman into the man and pinning them both with Mokuton. The Senju lets out a startled cry, but Obito is still moving. Branches and roots erupt around him, grabbing for shinobi without discrimination.

Those in Obito’s path don’t have nearly as much of a chance to fight back; Kamui makes him a ghost, and even when he’s tangible his speed leaves him all but untouchable. He plows through the ranks separating him from the other fighting pair, drives forward with a wave of Mokuton subsuming everything behind him. There’s a snarled knot of fury growing larger and larger in his chest, a twist of something that’s very close to grief, and he’s had enough.

With a shout, Madara shoves Hashirama away, then whirls in, sword sweeping down. Hashirama catches it on a thick burst of wood, shoving him back, and in the same moment Madara’s eyes flicker up above Hashirama’s shoulder, taking in the rest of the battlefield in an automatic sweep.

Obito, barely three yards away with his shakujo already swinging, catches his eye and bares his teeth in a wolf’s grin.

Oh, he’s going to enjoy this.

Hashirama must see something in Madara’s face—either that or his instincts give him warning, but Obito likes the idea that Madara’s dumbfounded expression serves as warning enough. The man ducks, rolling to the side, and the ring of the shakujo sweeps across the space he just occupied. It just misses Madara as he leaps backwards, a fireball bursting from his lips, but Obito phases right through it, landing lightly and spinning the staff through his fingers.

Madara feints left, but this is man who trained Obito to begin with, almost a century younger and far less skilled, and Obito easily spots the misdirection. He lunges the opposite way, catches Madara’s sword when he reverses directions, then twists past the blow, drives an elbow into Madara’s gut, grabs him by his long, thick hair, and uses it as a handhold as he spins, knocks Madara’s feet out from under him, and drags him down to the ground.

From above and behind him, there’s a cry, and Obito wrenches the sword from Madara’s hand, keeping the other man pinned with the shakujo against his throat, and half-turns to level the blade at Hashirama. It taps the Senju’s chest as he pulls up short, eyes wide, and Obito snorts.

“One move and I’ll happily put another hole in this waste of space,” he growls, seeing the way Hashirama’s eyes flicker from him to Madara and back.

Hashirama stares at him for a long moment, then nods and takes a careful step in retreat. One half-glance around them and he says very quietly, “You have Mokuton.”

Madara makes a sound like a pissy cat dropped into a pond. “You have the Sharingan,” he spits, as though this personally offends him. “You’re an Uchiha.”

“And that fact has been responsible for pretty much all of the misery in my life,” Obito retorts, and for a breathless, terrible moment he’s back in that clearing under the full moon, a handful of seconds too late to save Rin from Madara’s manipulations. One blow and he can stop all of that here and now, can prevent so much of the pain that might come.

Hashirama must see something of that in his eyes, because he takes a quick stride forward, only to pull up short when Obito snarls and levels the blade at his throat again. “Please, don’t!” he insists.

“Get lost, Senju!” Madara snaps at the same time. “This is an Uchiha matter, I will handle—”

“Clearly it is a Senju matter as well,” Tobirama says coldly, coming to a halt a short distance away, but his eyes are on Obito’s sword where it touches his brother’s collarbone.

“I don’t think so,” Izuna counters, equally chilly and just as biting as he edges closer, Sharingan eyes narrowed and wary. “Just because some Senju bastard couldn’t take no for an answer when it was coming from an Uchiha kunoichi—”

Instantly Tobirama whips around, offended rage written clearly across his face, and he grabs for his sword, only to be pulled up short when Hashirama reaches back and grabs his wrist.

“But—” Tobirama starts to protest.

“Izuna,” Hashirama says, carefully even, and he doesn’t look away from Obito but there’s a spark of tightly contained fury in his dark eyes. “Mind. Your. Tongue.”

Izuna flicks a glance between Hashirama and Tobirama, swallows, and takes half a step away from them. “Brother,” he complains.

Madara gives Obito a dark look, but he doesn’t try to move. “You wouldn’t stand for such an insult to our clan, Izuna,” he huffs. “Don’t expect the Senju to have any less pride.”

Narrowing his eyes, Obito presses the shakujo in a little more firmly. “Don’t bother taking that high and mighty tone, Madara,” he bites out. “You’re the one I hold responsible for all of this, and I’m going to fucking take it out of you hide.”

Red-and-black eyes go wide, and Madara almost flinches away from him, hands rising in something like surrender.

Obito doesn’t want surrender, though. He wants to rip into Madara the way he wasn’t able to before, wants to get a hand in his chest and tear the heart right out of him, pay back every bit of pain that Madara inflicted on the world, through Obito and through Zetsu and by his own hand as well. Wants to rip and slash and hack away until this monster is nothing but a pile of bloody flesh, unable to hurt anyone ever again. It overwhelms him for the space of a breath, white-hot rage the only thing inside of him, and before he can think to stop himself he tightens his grip on his shakujo and—

Big hands grab him, one arm around his waist and the other around his chest, and with a jerk he’s hauled right up off of Madara, dragged back against a broad chest as dark hair tumbles around him. “No,” Hashirama says, halfway to a plea, and his grip tightens enough to force the air out of Obito’s lungs.

Obito freezes, stiff and stunned at the touch of another human. Years, it’s been, since anyone touched him to do anything but inflict pain, and his muscles go tense and tight in anticipation of a blow.

There isn’t one, though. No hit, no pain, no kunai slid into his kidneys to gut him and leave him for dead.

No pain, just—

A trickle, wet and hot, against the back of his tattered robe. Blood, by the smell, and since Obito doesn’t bleed anymore it has to be Hashirama’s, has to be from when he knocked the sword aside to save the man who will eventually kill him.

It’s too much. The thought of it, the reality of standing here over Madara, able to end everything before it begins, and Hashirama is the one to save him—

What Obito did, the people he killed—that’s on his head. But it’s on Madara’s too, on Zetsu’s, on Kaguya’s. Uchiha Obito should have died in a cave-in when he was thirteen, but he didn’t, and the reason for that is right in front of him. The reason he didn’t carved a seal into his heart, killed his best friend, and gave him a twisted, broken vision of the world as an illusion, and then set him to unmake it.

Obito is responsible for his own actions, and he knows it all too well. But Madara was the trigger. If Obito was the sword then Madara was the hand that forged and wielded him, and that has to mean he bears at least a part of the blame from the hell of the past few years.

No,” he snarls, and though he shoves backwards to loosen Hashirama’s grip and get away he doesn’t reach for Kamui, doesn’t try to hurt the man (again, again, something in him whispers, hurt him again you mean). “Let go of me! He deserves whatever I do to him!”

Hashirama’s grip isn’t harsh, but it is immovable, and he’s as solid as an oak as he drags Obito back another step. “Don’t,” he says quietly. “This isn’t the way.”

Naruto, Obito thinks, guilt and grief and regret and anger all wound up and tangled together. He curls his fingers into fists, takes a breath that vibrates with anger, and does the hardest thing he’s ever managed in his life.

He opens his hand and lets the weapon go.

The Signs and Liminal Spaces
  • Aquarius: Under the dock at a quiet beach.
  • Virgo: An empty rest stop on the highway at midnight
  • Sagittarius: The back part of the closet of a room you are not supposed to be in.
  • Capricorn: The Alleyway between two boarded-up buildings
  • Pisces: A small clearing in a copse of trees
  • Cancer: Under the covers of your own bed when the rest of the house is fast asleep.
  • Libra: At the end of the movie in a theater right before the lights come back on.
  • Taurus: Your grandparent's attic
  • Leo: Behind the stage at a concert of your favorite band
  • Aries: The stream behind an old farm house
  • Scorpio: Inside a pillow fort
  • Gemini: Under the staircases in a warehouse
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(via GATCOMBE, TOLT COPSE, CHILLERTON | Flickr)