after hours on the highway all the turn offs start to look the same, the neon lights blurring into one long migraine. eventually you have to give in to sleep but where? one mile later you reach it, another one of many odd roadside hotels. the clerk gazes a little too intently at you as you fill in the guest book, her eyes hold some hunger that the old cigarette in her mouth is clearly not satisfying… after the cool wind and bright lights of the road the hallway is unsettlingly dark and humid, the static buzz of tv sets is loud in your ears and just as you are about to drift to sleep between the uncomfortable sheets the feeling that someone is watching you grows…
so, my buddy littledivinity and i have been talking beauty & the beast a lot, because ‘tis the season, and we somehow stumbled upon the idea of the story being told about a middle aged belle and the beast instead of youngins, and how that would make the story even more resonant.
and then just now i randomly thought, “what if nicole kidman and ewan mcgregor starred in such a film?”, because my soul needs nicole kidman and ewan mcgregor to fall in love again on a movie screen like it needs few other things in this life. plus, you know, musical, bright colors, awesomeness, hurrah!
and then i thought, ‘but wait, actually, what i really want in this life, even more than brightly colored musicals, is more lowkey and lovely fairytale movies like exquisite and incomparable 1998 masterpiece ever after’
and just picture it!
nicole kidman is the longtime spinster school teacher who lives in a quaint vaguely magical 19th century-esque country village, but she’s a badass teacher who exposes her students to different philosophies of thought and probably takes them outside for nature studies and calisthenics. (so, basically, miss stacy from anne of green gables.) the school board hates her, probably, and is very suspicious of what kind of IDEAS she’s filling the local kids’ heads with (why does she keep saying it’s okay for girls not to want to be wives and mothers, or that it’s all right for boys to cry???? is it possible that she is A WITCH???), but her parents were very well regarded in the town when they were still alive and so that bought her some respect for awhile. but there’s a new fancy schmancy family with school aged kids in town, and they’re extremely disapproving of miss nicole, and trying to find a way to oust her as schoolteacher and replace her with a man who is probably very similar in temperament to mr. collins from pride & prejudice. a man who will put patriarchal gender roles back into childhood education!
meanwhile, ewan mcgregor is a grumpy old hermit duke or something who once had great wealth and privilege but has fallen into disrepair. maybe someone cursed (magically? complicated vengeance-ly, a la the count of monte cristo? who knows) his family long ago due to their shady rich people business dealings, and his father killed himself to escape the scandal and his mother died of heartbreak and his fiancee who he thought loved him steadfastly dumped him to marry another, and now ewan’s the last surviving member of his once-great family and he just lives alone this grand old manor house that has gone totally to seed. he isn’t an actual beast, because it seems like in this day and age that’s going to require levels of CGI that my quaint b&tb retelling movie just don’t need, but let’s say that he’s quite unshaven and dirty and generally off-putting and he sometimes ventures out into the forest that separates his estate from the village, but is never seen actually frequenting the village. there are abundant rumors that the forest and manor house are haunted by a beast/ghost/warlock/vampire (how does he SURVIVE if he doesn’t come to the weekly market for food???), and everyone knows you don’t go there.also, people like to gossip a ton about his family and the scandal even though it was decades ago and they all dead. because people suck.
so one night, some of nicole’s rowdy teen pupils maybe steal some wine from one of their parents’ liquor cabinets and venture into the woods and dare each other to go past the gate of his manor house, and he catches them at it and gets HELLA PISSED @ THESE UPPITY HOOLIGANS INVADING HIS PROPERTY. kids today!!!!!!!!! he probably locks them in the stables so he can deliver them a 5 hour lecture on why they suck, and also why all of humanity sucks. which isn’t the worst fate ever, but, like, he kind of looks like a straight up crazy ax murderer (crazy hair! crazy beard! tattered clothes! definitely hasn’t bathed this month!!!), so there’s some serious panic in the hearts of these kids.
I have a prompt request. You once mentioned that after Hawke and Fenris get back together, Donnic and Sebastian confront Hawke and ask him about his intentions toward their friend. Would you be willing to write more about their conversation?
The game was just winding down as he walked in the door.
“So that’s seven for Donnic, two for the abomination,”
Fenris said. There was a warm, relaxed amusement in Fenris’s voice as he
counted up the night’s wins, and Hawke paused at the sitting room’s threshold
to watch him. The elf’s smile was not such a rare thing these days, but it
remained a sight to behold.
“I’ll pay you back,” Anders said, and he sounded a little
defensive. Donnic shrugged.
“We can call it a wash,” he said. “After what you did for my
shoulder sprain last week – “
“That’s not the way it works and you know it.”
“I’ll cover it,” Varric offered. He tossed the coin on the
table as he rose. “Come on, Blondie. Walk me back to the Hanged Man.”
“I can cover my own debts,” Anders grumbled, but he rose as
well, and pushed in his chair, and froze when he saw Hawke in the doorway. He
had had trouble meeting Hawke’s eyes over the last few weeks. Hawke caught an
expression of surprise, displeasure, and unhappiness before the blond looked
“I’m a little early,” Hawke said. “Don’t rush off on my
“If I lose any more money, Aveline will skin me alive,”
Donnic said. “Best to quit now.”
Hawke stepped aside so that Anders could pass through the
door, and frowned at the other mage’s retreating back until Varric thumped him
in the belly.
“I know that look,” Varric said. “Don’t let him get to you.
“It’s been weeks since – “
“I’ll handle it,” the dwarf insisted. The mansion’s front
door slammed as Anders let himself out, and Varric shook his head. “He’ll get
over it,” he promised. “Drinks at the Hanged Man tomorrow?”
“Yeah,” Hawke said, though he continued to frown. “I’ll be
“See you, then. And stop frowning.”
“We’re just getting cleaned up,” Donnic said. “You know if
we don’t help he’ll leave it here for weeks.”
Fenris, counting his wins, didn’t look up. “I fail to see
how it’s your business how long I leave it,” he murmured. He was still smiling –
a small, pleased expression. Hawke liked seeing it.
Donnic said, “Hawke, help me with the dishes,” and Hawke
shrugged, and pushed away from the door, and followed him into the kitchen.
Over the years, Fenris had allowed Hawke to do repairs to
the mansion when necessary. He’d allowed Donnic to come in and tidy up when the
guard badgered about it enough. But there was a definite difference in his
livingspace since Danarius’s death that marked a turning point in his thoughts –
the moment when the mansion had stopped being a mere shelter and became his
home. The kitchen was tidy when they walked in, if still sparsely decorated.
Merill had provided the curtains and the potted plants in the window. The
chipped dishes were put away in the cabinets, the floor was swept, and the
counters were free of clutter.
Hawke took up a (clean) dish rag and took his place at the
sink. “I’ll dry,” he offered, and Donnic set the water running. Sebastian came
in with the rest of the dishes from the snacks the guys had helped themselves
to during the game, and he busied himself with them, putting away leftovers
when there was enough, scraping what wasn’t into the garbage bin. Donnic washed
the dishes. Hawke dried them and put them neatly in the little drying rack
Aveline had bought for the elf.
“Fenris seems happy these days,” Donnic said idly, as he used
his thumbnail to scrub at something caked-on.
Hawke grunted. It took him several moments before he
realized he was supposed to answer.
“Happiness looks good on him,” he answered at last.
“And you two,” Donnic said. He handed him a dish, made sure
to catch Hawke’s eye, and met his frown with a smile. “You’ve gotten very…close.”
“We’ve always been close.”
“Right, of course,” Donnic said, and began to scrub the next
dish, and ignored the way Hawke was staring at him.
“The thing is,” Sebastian said, “Fenris is at an important
moment of growth in his life. He’s been through the gauntlet of pain, and it is
time for a new chapter to begin in his life. One of happiness, fulfillment.”
Hawke turned his stare on him. He said, slowly, “I think you
should say whatever it is you’re trying to say.”
“Well, I know you two were physical once before. That that
was years ago, and sometimes the body gets cravings…”
“What Sebastian is trying to say,” Donnic interjected, as
the dish rag slowly began to tear in Hawke’s clenched hands, “Is that we both
just want to be sure you aren’t promising Fenris anything you aren’t really
willing to give.”
Hawke said. He threw the rag down. “I’ve been in love with the man for six
bloody years – what more do you want from me?”
Donnic lifted his hands. Sebastian said, “It’s just that we
want to be sure you aren’t – however noble your intentions – trying to press an
advantage you shouldn’t. Are you planning to commit – oh, now you’re standing
very close, aren’t you?”
Hawke said, “Get to the point.”
“It’s not a bad thing, really – wanting to know how you feel,” Sebastian said.
“Fenris is our friend. We want be sure we understand what your intentions are,”
Donnic clarified. Hawke began to growl – low, menacing.
Neither of them backed down.
After they left, sometime later, Fenris cornered Hawke in
the sitting room – leaning over the chair in which the mage sat, with his hands
on either arm rest, effectively pinning Hawke where he was.
“So,” Fenris murmured, that smile playing at his lips, his
eyes meeting Hawke’s without difficulty, gaze warm and confident. “You plan to
love me for the rest of my life, do you? Spend every waking moment fixed solely
on the acquisition of my happiness?”
Hawke frowned at him. He said, “You shouldn’t listen in on other
people’s private conversations.” Fenris lifted a brow.
“Do you intend to lecture me?” the elf asked. “Or would you
rather join me upstairs? I have my own intentions,