romeo and juliet: suburban july. scraped knees, bruised knuckles, blood in your teeth. bare feet on hot concrete. restlessness. your high school’s empty parking lot. love poems in your diary. a window open to coax in a breeze. burning inside. an ill-fitting party dress, a t-shirt you cut up yourself, the time you tried to give yourself bangs. biking to your friend’s house. bubble gum. gas station ice. the feeling that you’ve met before. rebellion. a car radio playing down the street. cheap fireworks. a heart drawn on the inside of your wrist with sharpie. switchblades. red solo cups. dancing in your bedroom. screaming yourself hoarse. running out of options. the forlorn-looking basketball hoop at the end of the cul-de-sac. climbing onto your roof at night while your parents are asleep. flip-flops. a eulogy written on looseleaf. the merciless noontime sun.
hamlet: speaking in a whisper. holding your breath. a browning garden. a half-remembered story. furniture covered with sheets. fog at dawn, mist at twilight. losing touch. the ethereal space between winter and spring. the soft skin at your temple. the crack in the hallway mirror. things you’d say if you knew the words. uncombed hair. books with writing in the margins, books with cracked spines, books with lines scratched out. prayers on all souls’ day. a chipped ceramic bathtub. a cold stone floor. uncomfortable awareness of your own heartbeat. the sparrow that got in your house. shadows. the creek you played in as a child. a dirty night gown. a big black t-shirt. a collection of your favorite words. soil under your nails. ghost stories. the strangeness of your own name in your mouth. deep silence. exhaustion. a cliff with a long, long drop down.
twelfth night: wicker deck furniture. new england summer. big dark sunglasses and a blonde bob. a storm over the ocean, patio umbrellas flapping in the wind. chlorine smell. muffled laughter. sarcasm. starched cuffs. day drinking. bay windows. the idea of love, love for the idea of love, love for love’s sake. hangovers. wandering over the sand dunes. a vagabond with a guitar, a crab fisherman with tattoos, a pretty boy with a slackened tie. a light house. growing too close. boat shoes. feeling yourself change. finger guns. big floppy sun hats. double-speak. a song you keep listening to. turning red under their gaze. margaritas drunk on an inflatable pool lounger. string lights on a balmy night. sleepy june days. fights you’re unprepared for, hope you weren’t expecting, pranks that go too far. bad poetry. pining. pool noodles. becoming less of a stranger.
macbeth: the space where your grief used to be. a bird that’s lost an eye. old blood stains. heavy blinds. the smell of sweat, the stillness after battle. a fake smile. a curse. the taste of metal at the back of your tongue. your house, unfamiliar in the dark. a dusty crib. a sulfur smell. an orange pill bottle. streaks in the sink. a black cocktail dress. your hand on the doorknob, shaking. chilly breeze. crunching from the gravel driveway on a moonless night. clenched hands. a rusty swing set. a flashing digital clock stuck on 12:00. a snake that crosses your path, an owl that watches you, a dog that runs when you approach. red smoke. dark clouds. cool steel. tile floors. footsteps in the hallway late at night. a baggy suit that used to fit before. visions. insomnia headaches. nursery rhymes. being too far in to go back now.
much ado about nothing: the high drama of small towns. a pickup truck, military supply duffel bags in the hall, hugs all around. tulip bulbs. a wraparound porch, a pitcher of iced tea. barbecue. a rubber halloween mask. someone on your level. indian summer. ill-timed proclamations. stomach-clutching laughter. rushing in. not minding your business. crepe paper. white lies. secrets written down and thrown away. southern hospitality. homemade curtains in the kitchen, a sink full of roses. hiding in the bushes. old friends. the wedding dress your grandma wore, and her mama before her. a dog-eared rhyming dictionary. camomile with honey. the intimacy of big parties. lawn flamingos. gossip. a crowded church. friendly rivalries. unfriendly rivalries. shit getting real. love at five hundredth sight. not realizing you have a home until you’re there.
king lear: cement block buildings. power lines that birds never perch on. the end of the world. useless words. rainless thunder, heat lightning, a too-big sky. arthritic knuckles. broken glass. chalk cliffs. the pulsing red-black behind closed eyes. something you learned too late. wet mud that sucks up your shoes while you walk. a cold stare. empty picture frames. empty prayers. the obscenity of seeing your parents cry. a treeless landscape. bloody rags. grappling in the dark with reaching hands. the sharpness at the tips of your teeth. the blown-out windows of skeletal houses. decay. jokes that aren’t jokes, shutting up, holding your tongue. prophecies. aching muscles, tired feet. stinging rain. invoking the gods, wondering if the gods are listening, wondering if the gods are dead. white noise. shivers. numbness. the unequivocal feeling of ending.
a midsummer night’s dream: wet soil/dead leaves smell. listening to music on headphones with your eyes closed. wildflowers. the distant sparkle of lightning bugs. a pill somebody slipped you. fear that turns to excitement, excitement that turns to frenzy. mossy tree trunks. a pair of yellow eyes in the darkness. night swimming. moonlight through the leaves. a bass beat in your chest. a butterfly landing on your nose. a kiss from a stranger. a dark hollow in an old tree. glow-in-the-dark paint. drinking on an empty stomach. a twig breaking behind you. spinning until you’re dizzy. finding glitter on your body and not remembering where it came from. an overgrown path through the woods. cool dew on your skin. a dream that fades with waking. moths drawn to the light. giving yourself over, completely. afterglow. the long, loving, velvety night.
Pairing: Kagehina Show: Haikyuu!! Summary: Howl’s Moving Castle AU, in which Kageyama makes a wish upon a falling star, and gets Hinata instead.
The days that followed passed by with
ever-growing tension. Upon reaching a safe distance from the town, Tobio had
carried a limp, rapidly cooling Hinata onward, up into the mountains, where he
found a cave deep enough to seek shelter.
There, he built a fire of his own,
contained in a little pit made of stacked stones, and he laid the demon out
beside it to keep him warm. He fed them both with dried wood that he gathered
outside the cave, and when he cooked for himself, he slipped Hinata his egg
shells, seeds, or cut-off strips of meat, but it was difficult. Hinata was
barely present enough to eat. Tobio spent his time crushing, grinding, or even
chewing up his food enough for Hinata to swallow it down.
All the while, the little hollow in his
chest where his heart used to be grew colder. In the hours when the weather
beyond the cave was dismal and the fire not enough, the empty space in him ached
with the chill, so much so he had lifted Hinata up into his lap before the
flame, and wrapped his arms about his chest to hold in what little heat he had.
It helped to warm him, but the pain
remained all the same.
The training room was silent, excuse the small ‘Oomph’s’ and the laid back grunts of a man piling the weights, with the scribbling of paper and pencil, then yes, the training room would have been considered a ghost town, if not for those distinct sounds.
“Your doing perfect-” A frail girl stated, jogging little notes of the soldier’s mental and physical Helth, who sat under a pile of weights. Bucky had gotten a new bionic hand, but they wanted to test out its limits and bugs.
“Perfect enough to take you on a date-” The old man retorted, watching as she benumbed in place. This wasn’t the first time the assassin tried to score a date with his little personal nurse.
“James…” The young girl threatened, tucking her lose brown hair behind her small little ear. “-Don’t let me call Steve on you again-” She pouted, her glossy pink lips formed in annoyance after watching him wink her way, not even giving much heed to her lilliputian threat.
“There’s absolutely no need for that, Sweetheart.” He sat up strait carful not to smack his forehead in the pole of weights. “It’s not much askin’-” He stood up, his ruthless form and glory emitted from his core sending waves of confidence to the girl standing just beside him. Tucking a strand of chestnut lose locks of hair behind his ear, with his new metal arm. He instantly took note of her staring, a sudden interest with his metal plates, to be perfectly honest, he was even awakened in the new metal arm extension, it felt different and didn’t even come close to making him feel as powerful and miraculous as his old vibranium metal arm. So, to make matters worse, he clipped down all the plates in his arm to cause a chain of reaction, rippling a soft gasp from his prey. Smirking as She absentmindedly tried to reach out to the vibranium metal to softly glide her hand across the smooth surface to satisfy her needs. And like that, she was scared down to a mere mouse, the sudden shout of Sam Wilson shattered the silent atmosphere like an anarchy. Causing the bitty little girl to flinch back, as if being brought to reality and not her fantasies about the winter soldier.
“Do you mind explaining to me why you’ve all of a sudden decided to hide Red Wing?”
“Your toy?” The young man scoffed, now forgetting about the diminutive nurse he tried to win over just mere seconds prior to the Falcons conniption, “Pleas—I had never even touched that child’s play.” He ushered the air from one side to the other as if showing he had better things to do in his life then play with the ‘child’s’ toy Red Wing.
“And why would that be?” Sam wolfed, throwing his arms around like a silent ninja. “I distinctly recall that I found you quite interested in my Red Wing about a week ago when you asked how he worked-” He deadpanned, now coming in between the girl- Who he pushed quite aggressively to the side- only to get closer to the brunet of a man.
“That depends greatly on what you consider asking question about your little toy-” The assassin barked, his pointer finger accusingly jabbing Sam’s chest- to the point where Sam had to take a few unexpected steps back, pulverizing the nurse behind him- who in return stepped to the side to avert harms way.
“Then explain to me exactly what you meant.” His reply was just as nearly- if not even more force.
“I precisely remember asking you- and I quote, What is that thing?” Bucky retorted, shoving his foe to the side. Face rumpled in ache.
“That’s lingo for, 'I’m actually quite interested in knowing how this beautiful pice of machinery works-.’” Sam stated, raising his hand as if to call for a memory, while his other hand laid perfectly atop his heat.
“If you want to believe that, go for it; I won’t hurt your little boy ego. 'Cause apparently your damaged.” Bucky crossed his hands, tightening his black tank top around his sweaty body. His metal
Arm crunching from the force he was ejecting.
“I believe it’s the other way around, hotshot, your the damaged one. Hens why we’re even here.” Sam fought in an attempt to save what little respect the assassin had for him.
Bucky didn’t even budge, even if the statement was considered quite low for such a human, but at the heat of the moment Sam just wanted to see the man standing before him to show a bit of hurt in his baby blues, or flinch back in pain. Just to get something out of the argument from his side. After reviving nothing, not even a wasted gasp, Sam continued, “I am warning you that I will personally see to it that whatever little life you got left in you becomes miserable for you if you don’t give me back what you stole from me- Where is Red Wing?” Sam exploded, sucking in a deep breather with his winded response.
When the pair of men had took residence in Wakanda, it was quite evident that they were to not cross much paths. Or hell would break lose. Or so stated by Steve Rogers himself.
A scornful laugh emitted the stone faced soldier. “It already is miserable doubt you can make it an ounce bit more, and you’re not making things any better at your end, considering I can see a few white hairs peeking through. Although looking at you, sorta, makes me feel slightly better inside, just because.” Bucky pushed Sam aside and grabbed the girl’s upper arm, he wanted to end the fight before it got out of hand. Because if Sam continuities to assume that Bucky had broken and hidden Red Wing, he couldn’t promise his first won’t say hello to the Falcons face.
“Enough with the jokes. Give me back Red Wing- God your so annoying. I don’t even know how Steve putts up with you.”
With that said Bucky was already a few steps ahead of Sam, the inconsiderable girl being dragged by the taller boy, not even having much of a choice.
“…Now I’m definitely ignoring you.” Bucky whispered, while walking to the treadmills, “Although now I’m going to pretend you don’t exist, because unnecessary fights makes me angry. And I’m not suppose to be angry or I could- and would rip you to shreds.”
An irritated growl then filled the room, “Give me Red Wing!” At that loud outburst Steve had then entered the building. Watching as his best friend of childhood jogged down on the treadmill with his nurse beside him taking notes of his heart rate.
Captain America looked around the training room and heaved a long, embroidered gripe. Slumping his shoulders before waving a quite 'hi’ to his friends claimed nurse. Once acknowledged, he exited the room before being dragged down to their silly petty arguments.
Seeing as Bucky wasn’t making an attempt to answer his cry, Sam dragged his teeth together in hopes of letting out the pent up anger building up in his system or else he would be knocking the deadly assassin some common sense.
“Ooh, you’re gritting your teeth now?” Bucky faked a scared accent, clinching in horror all the while running. “Little Samantha angry? Did she not get her cherry on the ice cream?” Bucky cooed tying his hair in a bun all the while running down the treadmill.
“You’re not funny, you know.” Sam corrected, watching as the nurse held the bridge or her nose In between her thumb and index finger. Obviously irked from their pointless argument.
“Not trying to be.” Bucky counterfixed. Pressing done on the machine. He came to a slow stop, and once he came down from the machine, he looked down to his elfin nurse. “What’s next, Doll Face?” He grumbled, watching as the tiny girl hurriedly scribbled notes and pointed to weigh lifting.
“Already did that-”
“Not on the bench, just normal weight lifting.” She scurried off behind his long strides. Leaving Sam beside the treadmill section.
“I really don’t have time for this, just tell me where you hid it-”
“Why do you even need that, Red Wing thing?”
“Because Red wing helps me, plus he’s mine and I need him.”
“Sam go bug someone else who has time to play with a flying airplane toy.”
An annoyed silence filled the atmosphere, with the nurse shaking her head in nihilism of the two grown men fighting over something so trivial. The silence lasted for several minutes before it was broken yet again by Bucky himself. “Why haven’t you left yet?” His annoyed growl erupted from his shaking chest.
“You have something that belongs to me, that’s why!” Sam shouted standing beside the nurse, hip to hip.
“I’ve already told you I don’t know where it is- Go bother someone else.” Bucky repeated, having about enough weights for one day. The useless blithering the men were so engaged in had become a very bad distraction for Bucky, he couldn’t even finish his laps because little Sam wants his toy back, plus this new arm Extension just wasn’t cutting the job, if anything he feels bleary of having to constantly pick up the copious metal around.
“At this hour?” Sam asked, “No way anyone is even awake- and I won’t leave you until you return what you stole!”
“You finally grasped what time it is?” Bucky convulsed, holding onto the girls shoulder for support. Even if he didn’t want to admit it he felt pretty dizzy with the metal almost draining him down. “Good for little Samantha, did you know she knows how to read a clock.” Bucky Looked down at his personal nurse and fazed astonishment. “I already told you that I didn’t play with your toy- please now leave me alone to train.” Bucky growled, after gaining enough strength to push past Sam.
“Your so ugly.” Sam thundered, again, heat of the moment and just the fact he wants to see a reaction from Bucky had clouded his better judgment.
“Right back at you, sweetheart.” Bucky chuckled, turning to his nurse who was shaking her head. “What’s wrong with you, Doll?” He asked, ignoring Sam.
“That’s exactly why I will never-” The brunet had begun, but stopped mid way, “Never mind. Just get to push-ups.” She shook her head, brown locks waved down in a chain reaction. Bucky huffed before a light bulb had appeared atop his head. “Mind slitherin’ below me, so every time I do a good push up you could reward me with a nice lil’ ol’ kiss?” Her cheeks flared scarlet. Watching as he didn’t move an inch waiting for her to respond. But it had appeared to be just mild flirting in her eyes, never taking note of it more. Obtrusive at his fit posture and cheeky remark she pointed to the ground and then tapped her clip bored waiting for him to get a move on.
“Alright, alright,” He assured, cutting her sentence half way through. Tucking a lose lock of hair he went about his mission. Before a foot to his back came dragging him down to the ground. He shot up with rage. Pushing Sam to the ground and tackling his body.
“You son of a bitch-”
“No need to bring my mom into this Samantha!” Bucky hollered, punching his friends cheek as if to grab what little honer he had for his mother.
“Then give me back my Red Wing!” Sam argued, shuffling around the matted ground earning a low blow to the assassins stomach. Which in return earned a deep growl, and a sudden shove to Sam’s family Jewels.
“Stop, stop both of you!” The girl tried to pry Bucky’s metal arm away from smacking some scenes into Sam’s head, only to have doubled the pain from her first too.
“James Buchanan Barnes!” And it all ended. She had just about enough of it. Their constant fights grabbing at her last bit of patins as if playing a game of tug of war. She growled in sleepy irritation, it is just dawn for goodness sake. She had to get up to get Bucky’s system data when he was fresh and stable, which proved to be futile to Sam’s sudden rage of Red Wings lose- and false accusation.
There was another long silence, both men stared her up, Sam’s fingers jammed in Bucky’s mouth, and Bucky’s hands grabbed at Sam’s ears. With Sam on top and Bucky straddled on the ground. The long silence was then broken only by the sound of a door opening.
“Give him back.” Sam argued instantly once the nurses gaze was faltered to the unexpected guest at the door.
“Oh come on, already. I’ve already told you that I didn’t do anything to your little airplane!” Bucky shouted, pushing Sam’s fingers out from his mouth and slamming a fist to his cheekbone.
“I don’t care what it takes, but before I go to out today, I’m getting Red Wing!” Sam argued the more, pushing Bucky to the ground.
“How many times do I have to tell you?” Bucky cried, “I don’t have it!” He flipped Sam to the loam and choked him.
“Yes you do!”
“You do realize you’re fighting feather and brick here with me right?” Bucky questioned, watching as Sam tried to pry his metal arm away from his neck. “I’m Not breaking!”
“Says you. You’re arguing just as much as I am if not even more, where is Red Wing!”
“One, you started this little argument.” Bucky held his index finger and counted, still his metal arm wrapped around the Falcons neck “Two, I’m not going to give back something that I honestly didn’t even steal.” Bucky, held out another finger, “Three, just ask Steve if he’s seen it around.” Bucky unanticipatedly let go of his neck and stood up. Whatever ounce of dignity he had left, he decided on gathering, in hopes of whatever little show the nurse saw wasn’t going to ruin his chances with her.
“Dude, if you just give me my Red Wing, everything would be fine- But you and your man whore hands just had to fuck up something else.” Sam spoke, standing up and dusting his chest, watching as Bucky menace glare was sent Sam’s way. If looks could kill, Sam would have been nothing but relics.
“Really? You don’t say,” came the sarcastic reply. “Except your dumber then you actually look. I don’t have your cheap pice of plastic!” Bucky shouted, his chest raising and falling from the argument. Obviously the morning work out T'chella scheduled for him was long overdue. He was suppose be taken vitals of his system from fresh, without any distractions, in hopes of seeing how his body would react to the new construction of metal.
The door of the building had opened once again. “Honestly? Your both such kids!” The platinum man nearly roared in frustration. “Now drop the petty argument and get over yourself’s both of you! Bucky go back to your room and Sam, Red Wing isn’t in Bucky’s care.” Steve gazed around the room, falling on the nurse and T'chella watching as if a movie of drama was presented just before their eyes.
Slapdash footsteps carried the two arguing people out of the audiences earshot and eyesight, taking them down to the doors.
Steve stalked irritably out the door, the King of Wakanda also following suite, leaving the little girl to take off her jacket. “Your such kids,” She started. “Especially you, James Barnes.” Shaking her head in brickbat, she briskly walked back out the doors only to be calamitous enough to hear the argument had resumed just down the hall the two men had absolutely hated each others guts. The bickering continued on for the remainder of the early hours of dawn. Bucky barns and Sam, if only they can see past their differences, they would make quite the great friends.
Summary: Avengers High School AU. Gender neutral reader-insert. You, the new kid, just want to be left alone. But instead, you get the Avengers gang – and maybe, a new home too.
Warnings: Cursing. Drinking / alcohol. Campfire. Tons of feels and angst. Slight ScarletVision. Mention or implications of bullying, thievery, drugs, domestic abuse, bystander effect, parental death and porn. Lots of references from the movies and a few from the comics.
Author’s Note: THIS TOOK SO LONG OMG, and it’s SO LONG. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. So, keep in mind that the backstories they mentioned here are just the backstories I come up in parallel to what they’ve experienced in the MCU, mixed only a tiny bit with their origins in the comics. I only hoped I balanced all of them well, they’re so many. Have fun with your Avengers gathering! 💖️
Holy shit. Arms around yourself, you stopped pacing as a limousine – a limo, of all things – slid down the road with the ease of T’Challa and the swagger of Tony Stark, glistening beneath the orange glow of a nearby streetlight. It stopped right in front of you.
A large man in a suit stepped out from the driver’s seat, and approaching the passenger door, gave you a nod. “G’evening,” he said, then clarified your name. You bobbed your head in return, and he beamed. “Name’s Happy. Tony sent me.”
Your wide eyes swept across the length of the vehicle. “This is really unnecessary,” you said, just as he opened the back passenger door.
“Tony wanted to show off,” he said, shrugging a shoulder. You stepped inside, and sitting on the plush, black seats, you scanned its stylish and elegant interior, all black and grays and silver, and –
Yuri Plisetsky Week: Day 7 (Free Day) || Yurabek Soulmate AU
a/n: a little less that 1k, yuri/otabek soulmate AU where you experience flashes of your soulmate’s life a couple times a year. this ficlet is yuri-centric. written for day 7 of @yuriplisetskyweek. it’s still March 22nd somewhere, right?
Soulmates are a distraction. As Russia’s most promising
young figure skater, Yuri Plisetsky has no time for distractions.
Luckily, distractions are hard to come by. A strict training
regimen since the age of six has kept him occupied, has kept him from
letting his mind wander to more trivial things. Even then, it’s still impossible
to ignore the Visitings. Everyone gets them, figure skater or not, and he can’t
avoid the sudden and vivid out-of-body experiences, the flashes of another
life. It doesn’t happen often—once, maybe twice a
year—but it’s always unpredictable.
A Visiting is the last thing he expects that summer when he’s
prepping for the Grand Prix, his senior debut. He’s just coming out of a triple
axel, the one he keeps fucking up on the landing, and then suddenly he isn’t at
the Saint Petersburg Ice Arena anymore. Suddenly, it’s raining hard and he’s
drenched, his jacket clinging to his skin and water squelching in his tennis
shoes. The taste of ozone is thick in the humid air. It’s hot—hotter than it ever
gets in Saint Petersburg or Moscow, and Yuri feels like he’s drowning.
Prompt: Obi and Shirayuki stumble across a village where the people speak in riddles and shed their clothing from dark until dawn in a trance-like state. Shirayuki has to figure out what is going on because now Obi is running around naked with them
“Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks But bears it out even to the edge of doom”
Shakespeare – Sonnet 116
Joanna had always liked the sky.
When she was a girl, her father often carried her on his shoulders so she might pretend to touch the clouds above. They were heavy and white, made of the finest silk and richest cream and painted by giants – or dragons, she had not made up her mind about their origin yet. The sky, she learned later, was full of superstition and myth; it was a vault under which humans and other creatures had wandered in fearful admiration since the dawn of time. As a girl, when she knew nothing of this, she merely liked its shapes and the way it seemed to last forever and still fit in the palm of her hand.
“Who lives in the clouds?” Joanna asked with her fingers curled around a shadow that took a form in her imagination, turned into a lion or a stag or a bunny depending on her mood.
Her father didn’t know but her mother did.
“Our dreams live there,” she answered every time Joanna had asked. “Our dreams and our hopes, waiting for us to be ready for them.”
Her clouds were never thick with rain, not that she could remember. The sun never sets on the lions, her mother said many times during the long summer of Joanna’s childhood.
She was a disobedient child. A summer child, steeped in that summer-beauty from the fairy-tales and songs. From the moment she could walk and speak, Joanna was a climbing, lying, sneaking, wilful girl who was scooped up in comforting arms and sternly admonished by turns, drawing out deep frowns and exasperated laughs all at once. It was not fair, her brother Stafford protested when she got away with her adventures. He was a coward, afraid of wild animals and heights and water. Joanna was not afraid of anything.
“When I am a woman grown, I am going to be a conqueror,” she told him when they were flat on their stomachs on the floor of the library, painstakingly making their way through the thick tomes of history. “Like Aaegon.”
“Don’t be silly.” Stafford was two years older; he always thought he knew best. “When you’re a woman grown you will be somebody’s lady wife.”
“Will not.” She turned a page in the book, eyebrows arched at the painting. A pack of mountain lions feasting on a direwolf and her stomach lurched with excitement, a jolt of happiness under her skin. When she was going to be older, her father has promised to take her hunting in the forests. The real forests. She decided that Stafford couldn’t come.
He sighed. “Yes, you will. Ask father.”
It was not fair, she thought to herself as the let the pad of her thumb trace the outlines of the largest lion in the group who had his paws around the wolf’s neck. If she leaned closer to the painting, so close her face almost touched it, she imagined she could taste the blood in the lion’s mouth.
The year when she was fourteen and bled for the first time, she often dined with her lord uncle Tytos and his children. Her cousins. Wedged in between Genna who never stopped talking and Kevan who teased her incessantly, Joanna directed her attention towards Tywin across the table. Their eyes met briefly. He seemed misplaced among them, she thought - too stern for a youth and not old enough to pass for a grown man despite all the tales of his prowess as a strategist and a swordsman. The heir to Casterly Rock was a strange child, they said. Nothing like her meek, ever-smiling uncle, he bore more resemblance to ancestors long gone, as though he himself was an echo from a different time. A joyless bastard, Stafford called him once, but not to his face.
Joanna thought him handsome, with strong, clean features and pale green eyes that could take the shape of the coolest ice. There was something hard in him, something austere and unflinching that you could rely on. It was a soothing thought.
She knew even before her parents suggest it, that she was meant to marry him.
During the year that followed, Joanna’s father brought her with him to Casterly Rock for a fortnight and she spent the better part of the journey there wondering what she will talk to her cousin about. Her education has been vast and unconventional in parts - due to her father’s love for both the family library and the old maps of wars won and lost – and full of suitable topics but Joanna was fairly certain a lady wasn’t meant to discuss the art of war with a suitor. She was equally certain that she will, at some point, but she had learned enough manners to at least pretend otherwise.
“You can see right into the sky up here,” was what escaped her as they arrive and it was not what she was expecting herself to say at all, but Genna giggled benevolently and took her arm in a firm grip, dragging her off to the Hall of Heroes.
Later that evening, she bested Tywin at chess – twice – and thought momentarily perhaps this was not going so well before she met his gaze and noticed something appreciative behind the layers of irritation at having lost.
“You are a clever girl,” he said with a curt nod. It made him sound old and pompous and she felt a burst of laughter tickle the back of her throat but she knew better than to let it out. He has been laughed at enough for a lifetime.
“Yes, I am,” Joanna said instead, mirroring his nod.
Tywin observed her for a moment, without saying anything else. Then - so very quickly and briefly that it might not even had happened - he smiled. He smiled and Joanna laughed, relieved.
There was no haste to marry young in times of peace, her lord uncle declared – if any of his vague statements could be interpreted as declarations - by the end of that year and Joanna realised she was disappointed.
War came between them, another year when the autumn stretched as endless as the sea, its clouds grey and low, soaring right above their heads. Joanna grew restless in the lingering heat and the thundering storms; she wanted out, longed for open roads and the crowded marketplaces of Lannisport. And her prayers this year – pleas to gods and clouds alike – rose like winding roads to the sky. She was a woman now, had outgrown her father’s house and as the moon rotated her mother began to question the promised betrothal, began to speak of Sebaston Farman because at least that match would take place in a near future. Joanna refused to speak of the matter entirely, nursing her pride and hope like a mother nurses her children.
Tywin Lannister waged an uneven, unequal war for most of that year. No one in her family expected him to lose.
“A risk all the same,” her father told her over his goblet of wine that she brought every night to his study. He sat there, pored over maps and old books. If she asked, he showed her the world in them. “But Tywin is determined, I give him that.”
“A lord must be able to trust his vassals.” Joanna walked up to the window, folding her arms across her chest as she stared at the landscape out there, dissolved by rain and darkness. “My uncle should to have seen to that a long time ago. The blood is entirely on his hands.”
Her father looked up at her and for the first time she noticed how old he was, how the wrinkles around his eyes and mouth marked his face. Everybody said her father was a mirror image of his older brother and in this room she found, much to her disappointment, that it was truly so.
“You speak like a general, child,” he said and she could almost taste the wistfulness in his voice.
“I speak like a Lannister,” she retorted, turning her back on him. You ought to do the same.
With the falling leaves that year, reports of the young lion’s success at mercilessly crushing the uproar travelled between the towns and taverns. Those he did not defeat on the battlefield he hung, spelling out their family motto in blood for everyone to see. Joanna listened to the stories with a lurching feeling of hope in her chest. We are rising, she told the stars that were crisp and clear in the night skies. Finally rising after our long slumber.
With the first snow, Tywin himself – taking the place of his lord father in this matter, too - came to ask for Joanna’s hand in marriage.
It rained on their wedding, poured from black clouds above their heads all day, covering the guests and the feast in a veil of grey wetness. And rain meant good luck, someone told her as though she would need it. It rained even as they were carried away to their bedchamber. Water darkened the stones around her, Joanna thought, catching glimpses of it through the windows.
The darkness consumed Casterly Rock but in their room, candles were lit and fires were burning and she was released and placed in the middle of it, at its very core. Outside, she could hear the dancing and the singing continue with renewed force. A proper Lannister wedding much rarer these days than it used to be. They had good cause for celebration.
“Would you care for more wine?” Tywin asked suddenly and with strange politeness, looking over her shoulder at the generous feast that has been brought up from downstairs and put on a table near the fireplace. It had been the first thing she noticed when the cheering crowd put her down - the large plates full of sugared oranges and baked apples, of salted meat and roasted onions.
She shook her head. “Not unless you wish to carry me to bed.”
He observed her, the flecks of gold in his eyes glittering. “I was under the impression that was my duty.”
She laughed softly. Somehow the air seemed to grow warmer between them.
“I’m not a woman to be carried anywhere,” she said, sounding a little more prudish than intended and he gave an amused grunt that resounded in her, thudding against the sturdy walls of her heart. She blinked, startled at the realisation: everything past this, past the two of them, was out of focus, an unimportant blur of colours and lights.
“That remains to be seen.” He took a step towards her and the space between their bodies was narrowed further when she did the same. It felt like one long movement – without doubts, without interruption, merely two bodies recognising each other.
After all these years, she would never have thought Tywin Lannister capable of gentleness, but he was. He was careful and solemn in a way that made her chest tighten as he stood before her and she squared her shoulders, smiling to hide her fluttering nerves, wondering what he saw when he looked at her. Men looked at her, she was aware of that. For years, men had turned to her with a special glint in their eyes, their gazes travelling up and down her body when they thought it will pass unnoticed and she has found uses for it, the way a Lannister did.
And yet, Tywin’s gaze was the only one she truly valued, she could feel it now like a low hum in her bones. She has been his long before tonight; he has been hers in thoughts and plans, as well. And it was his open appreciation she would remember; it was his silent way of taking her and that would resound at the back of her memory all those long nights when he was not with her; it was the way his hand cradled the nape of her neck; it was the touch of his lips on hers; it was the way his body felt when pressed against her own.
Before, when he had draped his crimson-red cloak over her shoulders and sworn to protect her, he had given her one of his rare smiles and somehow it had made the whole feast easier to bear, made her resist a fourth cup of wine when offered, made her resist it again just now. This was long overdue; she did not want to misremember it in the morning.
“I am truly glad to be rid of all those people,” she said breathlessly when he began to remove her dress in all its intricate glory and shortly thereafter, she found, the art of forming words somewhat escaped her.
Much later, as the rain and thunder have subsided and they rested side by side in their bed, Joanna traced a small pattern of light across Tywin’s chest when the moonlight pierced through the curtains, thinking ‘I will be good to you, I swear it.’
Everyone advised her to endure the first year of marriage. After that, they said, it would become easier.
Joanna found her first year of marriage joyous - eventful and tiring, but joyous all the same.
Their first summer as husband and wife Tywin took her hunting in the forests surrounding Crakehall; they rode with a small entourage and the long roads ahead felt like they belong to the two of them. And this summer that was theirs, the land was quick to burn, like it was eager to soak up the light and the heat, to churn it out in long, warm evenings where the sun’s presence lingered in the air long after it has set.
They walked together on those evenings, keeping the others at a safe distance. She enjoyed walking by her husband’s side, enjoyed being near him and sharing her days with him; he seemed to take pleasure in having her there, in being listened to or even questioned. They were fortunate, she concluded on a particularly warm evening when they found solitude in a glade full of blackberry bushes, very fortunate indeed.
“My father has all but ruined the family,” Tywin told her one night. It came as no surprise so she merely nodded, listening to his thoughts on the matter.
“We ought to be relentless in our efforts to raise funds in the future.” She turned slightly so that they were facing each other. It was not until Tywin nodded his agreement that she realised she said 'we’ without even thinking about it.
Around them, things changed both subtly and abruptly.
Lord Tytos Lannister was craven, they said - if they spoke of him at all. Lecherous and craven, a stain on the Lannister banners, more pitied than loved. With his children’s futures secured and the burdens of his duties released from his shoulders, he took to unabashed drinking and whoring and did it so thoroughly that he was rarely showing his face unless forcibly dragged down to slumber through a formal occasion.
When Joanna’s father died unexpectedly from a persistent fever, his brother held a much too costly feast to accompany the ceremony and had to be carried back to his bedchamber right in the middle of it. There was a tremble of subdued laughter behind his back as he stumbled through the halls and Tywin stiffened in his seat, his eyes hard as flint. Joanna placed her hand on his arm under the table; he relaxed under her touch, but only for a second.
“You will have to excuse my lord father, I’m afraid,” Tywin said to her later, in their room. He sounded both tired and furious behind his composure, fragments of his true feelings slipping through small cracks of that steely armour. Sometimes she was amazed that she was the only one who could see it for what it is - a shield. “He is not much of a host these days. Or much of a man, for that matter.”
“Whatever his faults, he has raised a remarkable son.” Joanna said, suddenly more grateful towards him than she could say. “Nobody laughs at you, my love. I, least of all.”
A shadow crossed Tywin’s face at her words, as something in his features shifted slightly.
He was constantly changing this year, as well, growing darker and harsher in his role as Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West in all but name. He worked untiringly, Joanna knew, demanding near-impossible things from the men around him – and from himself. There was no man in the Seven Kingdoms he expected more from, no man he compelled as mercilessly. At times, when she grazed her fingertips over the taut lines of his body, she imagined she could feel the whole extent of his ambition, pulsating under his skin, threatening to overthrow them all.
This was why she loved him: for being the cure for all the empty promises of their gilded halls and fabled ancestry, for being someone to be proud of and someone who was strong enough to endure it. For his pride. For his faults. For being bold and brave and burning.
When she told him this, his hands came around her waist, his gaze clouded with ferocious need and she kissed him so fiercely she drew blood from his lips.
The moon turned in the sky and the world switched colours around them. The summer burned out into a long autumn and everybody spoke of the winter while the roads turned yellow and red.
Whenever it was convenient and she wasn’t required elsewhere, she accompanied her husband as he worked and quickly learned that he held her opinion in the greatest esteem. On the rare occasion that she did not volunteer her thoughts on something, he asked her. Within months of their marriage, he had made her his advisor in most things and she was startled the afternoon she discovered that he has picked up her suggestion how to improve the trading routes to Lannisport and put his most trusted men on the task.
“You need not look so surprised,” he muttered over his trade maps and calculations when she mentioned it. “I would not have married you if I thought you a feeble-minded fool.”
“I was under the impression that it was my stunning beauty,” Joanna retorted, in good humour, because even if no living soul would believe her if she told them, her husband happened to smile on occasion.
“It worked in your favour, I must admit,” he said if he was in particular high spirits. If he was not, her japes and remarks were met with cool silence.
And when they didn’t see eye to eye, they fought. Like lions, if allowed.
Her husband was cold and cruel, she was furious and scornful. He managed to stay silent for days, nursing his grudges for all eternity; she made rash decisions and stormed off like a petulant child, raging violently but briefly. When she returned to the room, her anger washed away and forgotten, Tywin would still wallow in his own irritation and so they started over again.
“Ice and wildfire,” Genna said, rolling her eyes. “Seven save us all, dear cousin.”
“You have a way with him, though,” she added, eyes twinkling like they share something secret, just the two of them. They sat by the large windows facing Lannisport, taking their afternoon meal together. Genna Lannister was an infrequent guest but Joanna has come to look forward to her visits, however sporadic; she has a brazen edge to her that matched Joanna’s own and knew how to converse about something beyond domestic matters.
“You make him sound like an untamed horse,” Joanna half-smiled.
“Oh, aren’t they all?” Genna reached for another plum and swallowed it in a large bite.
Joanna miscarried three times the year after her husband was named Hand of the King.
Twice, she stood in the Hall of Heroes and listened to the waves, feeling the seed of life inside her amount to nothing, slipping away with every step she took, every heartbeat.
The third time, they were in King’s Landing and she wasn’t strong enough to hold back her tears as Tywin returned to their bedchamber. It seemed the air in the room was tinted with blood and her own failures; her hands shook uselessly as she turned away from his gaze. He was not a man who tolerated tears and she was not a woman who wept but this, she thought with her hands curled into fists, this was not right. There were some sorrows for which there was no compensation; there were some hollow hungers that could not be sated.
“It seems I will not give you any sons.”
“You will,” Tywin replied, a little too quickly.
“And if I don’t?” Her breath caught around the question. If I can’t?
“You will.” He sat down by edge of their bed, loosening the buckles of his formal wear and starting to undress. Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King and mightier than the seven, she thought with a stitch of anger colouring her thoughts dark as night. She wondered if he truly believed he could issue a command for this, too.
Joanna took a deep breath, bracing herself for the words with sharp edges that ripped her thoughts to shreds. There were no childless Lannisters, a voice said in her head. There were no childless Lannisters and there were always ways.
But Tywin would not hear of it.
“You are my wife and you will be the mother of my children.” He said it with such force, such uncompromising determination, that Joanna never brought up the matter again, even as the days passed by and her monthly bleeding returned, over and over.
The sky was pale blue and framed by the lightest of clouds the day she felt, for the first time, the beat of another heart within her body. A soft thud, a flicker, and she closed her eyes, commanding the child inside her to stay where it was, to grow strong.
You are every bit a Lannister, she told it, pressing her fingers to the bulging stomach. There is lion blood in your veins and the sun, my beautiful child, does not set on the lions.
She was not surprised when Maester Pycelle told them he could feel the movement of more than one child.
Everything had a price and they had paid for this thrice already.
She gave birth at Casterly Rock in the middle of winter. Afterwards, she could not remember it; she knew it must have happened and she heard the stories of how it happened, but her own memories – or what would have been memories – were nothing but a long string of moments of darkness.
In the dark, she could see the clouds of her childhood again, dissolving like melting snow when she reached out. She aimed for them, her motions made slow and lethargic by the strange haze that filled her body, and they slipped away.
She was brought back to life and light by hands tugging at her, voices whispering over her head, liquids slipping between her lips and trickling down her throat until she had to cough and then her eyes opened, by their own making. The room seemed strangely bright, as though Casterly Rock was on fire. Joanna frowned at the sight of Maester Pycelle. Have I been so gravely ill?
As if he could read her mind, the old man nodded. “We feared we were going to lose you, my Lady.”
And then, softer: “You must not bear any more children, my Lady. It would be too great a risk. I shall personally brew you the finest moon tea henceforth.”
I have never cared for this man, she thought irritably, smoothing out a wrinkle on the blanket she was partly covered by. But Tywin claimed he was a stalwart.
“How are they?” Her words were weak, but she felt her body awaken with every breath; she was returning. “How are my children?”
“Both children are healthy and strong,” Tywin answered and the sound of his voice nearly brought tears to her eyes. I returned to you. “One boy and one girl.”
When she turned her head to look at him and saw him struggle for momentum, she knew the darkness has been real, knew that it did swallow her, that it was not merely her pained delirium. She was gone. For a little while, she had disappeared. There’s a streak of exhaustion in Tywin’s eyes, as though he has been through ten and forty days of war. She wanted to reach out and brush over his cheek with her hand, knowing how little he slept before battle. You always win, husband.
“Leave,” he commanded those who were surrounding her bed and within the blink of an eye they had hurried out of her bedchamber.
"It takes more than childbirth to slay a lioness,” she said to him when they were alone and she has seen the twins sleep, as intertwined as babies as they must have been before they entered this world. Hand against chest, foot pressed into the bend of a knee; they were the most beautiful things Joanna had ever laid eyes upon and she loved them already, feeling faint at the mere thought of their little bodies pressed together.
She gave her husband a grin, a sense of triumph engraved into her very body tonight. She was victorious, invincible.
Tywin didn’t smile back; he walked to the window to pull the curtains close, before sitting down by her bedside. Then he leaned down to kiss her forehead and she closed her eyes as her hands find his broad shoulders and strong arms, stroking them through his tunic, thinking yes, this is where I belong and I will always return to you.
One year later, Tywin formally assumed the lordship of Casterly Rock.
He wasn’t present when his father died ignobly and Joanna and the twins were visiting her mother when the news reached them. At the funeral they held for him, Tywin betrayed nothing of his contempt and scorn for his late lord father and Joanna stood beside him, their children in her arms and felt nothing but pride.
It belonged to them now. The future was theirs.
Tags: @fandomiteen (More, more, I’m so sorry! But this is the last one for tonight, I think! Love you, darling. <3)