i cannot believe i love them

The Scarf - Newt x Reader - Part 2

Holy shit. here it is, yall. part two. finally. the original was posted almost a FULL YEAR AGO and oh man i cannot believe that. i cant believe my account is over a year old. what in the Heck. I love you guys all so much and consider this fic an apology for the unannounced hiatus I took.

Without further ado!!!!! Here is the much-awaited part two!! A lot of people asked me to tag them, so I made a separate post where I tagged them and linked here. I hope you enjoy!!

Warnings: adult themes but nothing explicit. angst, followed by so much fluff you might suffocate! Part one can be found here.

You had never laid eyes on an article of clothing so beautiful before in your life. It wasn’t glitzy or overly extravagant, but it was beautiful in its purity and simplicity. The fabric fell like waves, a soft eggshell color. The plain base part of the dress was made of satin that gleamed in the thin light filtering in through the curtains that obscured the window, and the delicate overlay of Georgette fabric complimented it perfectly. It was simply incredible and incredibly simple at the same time.

You were dreading having to don the gorgeous thing, and your throat tightened at the very thought of it. Your hair was done, your makeup had been painted, your neck perfumed and your hands manicured all in preparation for the dreaded marriage, but finally slipping the dress on was the last thing you had left to do. It felt as though it the one thing that stood between you and the sealing of your fate, so final, your last admittance to yourself that yes, you were going through with this after all; it would make the whole situation seem real to you, once you physically felt that fabric in your hands and secured the suffocating corset to your body. It would solidify it all, shifting everything into place (your poor, unsuspecting organs included, if you knew anything about the nature of corsets), and you were planning to delay the finality of that as long as you possibly could. You had done so many things in preparation, but that all might as well have been a long, bizarre nightmare that you had been floating through with no real attachment. Seeing yourself in the dress would make it real, and you were in no way prepared for that.

You had been gifted with rose petals the night before by your aunt, who was now your step-mother-in-law-to-be (what a mouthful), so you smelled very faintly of rose water from your bath the night before. The wedding was to be indoors, in the ballroom of Duncan’s expansive family home, and you could hear the muffled sounds of violinists rehearsing from where you sat on the bed of the guest bedroom. Your favorite flowers were everywhere, and the air smelled vaguely of your favorite desert, which had been mass-prepared for the afterparty. Everything about the setting was lovely and perfect in the most traditional of ways, and that was precisely what twisted the whole thing into your own personal hell. Each lovely thing seemed to mock you, and you could almost hear irony’s delighted and sinister whispering of isn’t this what you wanted? Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it perfect?

It was. It was beautiful. It should have been a dream, like what you had oft imagined as a small girl, but it now served as the setting for a hellish nightmare. It was like one big, cruel plot to ruin every last bit of your comfort and happiness. You felt sure that after this day, you would never be able to eat your favorite dessert again without getting physically sick. It would all be ruined for you. Even the nature of the situation was dreamlike, and you floated through it as if in a stupor, a serene sense of denial enveloping you and keeping you calm. The way time was seeming to slow down, to creep on, the smiling faces you couldn’t really bring into focus or recognize, the garbled way all the voices fell on your ears, the way each movement you made seemed to require conscious effort. Your heart was thundering in your ears and every part of your speech seemed automatic and unconscious. It was like you were asleep.

You got slowly to your feet and made your way over to your suitcases. They held all of the things you would need for your honeymoon in France, but there was only one thing in there that really mattered to you, and you kneeled to open your suitcase and find it.

There it lay, among a pile of your socks, pajamas, and underwear, folded and placed with such care. Your shaky hands gripped it, pulling it to your face. It was slightly scratchy and pilled, but it still brought you comfort and soft happiness. It grounded you, and made the events seem somehow both more real and less overwhelming. It still smelled like him. Like leather and earth and pine trees, like sawdust and dew, and like that one specific scent you couldn’t quite identify that was unique to him. It made you sad, but at the same time it gave you comfort by association. You got to your feet, still grasping the scarf in your hands, and went back to the bed. You laid it carefully on the soft and pricey sheets, smoothing over it with your fingers and taking a deep breath. The contrast of the cheap, slightly scratchy material of the scarf and the expensive and smooth liquid silk of the sheets against your fingers was amusing to you in some strange way; the former was your final haven and the latter, though it logically should have been more pleasant, made you feel almost physically ill. “I need you with me for this, Newt,” you murmured. “and this is the closest thing to you I’m going to have,”

You turned slowly to the dress, dread almost rooting you to the spot, but in a suddenly forceful and swift movement you pulled it off the hanger and let it pool at your feet. You stepped carefully into it and pulled it up over your slip, tugging the fabric over your hips. You felt the soft brush of the silk against the bare skin of your legs, and the Georgette fabric was almost ticklish on your shoulders. You tied the corset loosely at your back with a slight struggle, resolving to have someone else fix it later, and drew a shaky breath before turning to look in the full length mirror, but before you got a chance to look, there was a small rapping at the door. “Come in,” you called, the sickly sweet tone of your voice foreign to you. Your father swung the door open, a gentle smile on his face. He held a small box in his hands and his expression imitated happiness, but his eyes betrayed the fact that he was sad.

“You look lovely,” he said.

You smiled faintly, walking over to him. “Thank you, papa,”

You stood in silence for a moment, both unsure what to say next, shuffling uncomfortably. At last, he looked up at you and held the box out with trembling hands. His eyes were glassy, filled with affection and melancholy. “Your mother… this is one of the only things I have left from her. She purchased it for your sister’s first birthday, saying that it was for her to wear to her wedding someday, but that day hasn’t come for her yet,” he said.

You took the box, lifting the lid off carefully, and your eyes grew wide. It was pure silver, and absolutely breathtaking. The design was ornate, vinelike with leaf patterns and twists and turns, and diamonds were sprinkled strategically across it. It had a high choker collar, and the front expanded down to your chest and collarbones when you slipped it on and snapped it closed in the back. It made it somewhat hard to move your neck, but it was nothing short of stunning. You turned to look in the mirror at last, tears of both intense sadness and awe in your eyes as you regarded yourself properly for the first time.

“She would have been proud of you,” he said softly, placing his hand on your arm lightly. “For being so brave through all of this. This necklace was for your sister, but she would have wanted you to have it,”

“It’s beautiful,” you managed to croak out at last, emotion heavy in your voice. “Are these… are they real?” you murmured, brushing your fingers against the diamonds that now dotted your throat and chest.

He chuckled slightly. “Of course they are,” he said, looking somewhat nostalgic for a moment. “Your mother had…expensive tastes. She always wanted the best and most beautiful, no matter how much money she spent to get that,” he said fondly, shaking his head fondly at your mother’s habits as though spending ludicrous amounts of money had been just another endearing quirk of hers.

You tapped your fingernail against the silver, heart racing with sudden anticipation. Your mind whirled to keep up with the information he was presenting to you, and for the first time in four months you felt the genuine warmth of hope blooming in your chest. “Expensive…expensive tastes?” you spluttered out, eyes wide in something like disbelief. As though you had to see as much of this as you could to properly believe what was unfolding before you. “How expensive?”

He clearly wasn’t catching on to your implications, as he looked thoughtful for a moment. “She purchased it at an auction, I believe, for around, nine, ten thousand? It seems like so much now, but back then, it wasn’t quite so-”

You whirled around to grip his shoulders, digging your fingers in unintentionally in your excitement. “Papa. How much would this necklace sell for?” you asked wildly, startling him. He blinked at you quizzically.

“Probably about the same,”

You dropped your hands to your side, eyes glowing. “Thank you, Papa! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” you cried, throwing your arms around his shoulders for a moment. Tears prickled in your eyes and your lip trembled, relief coursing through you in waves. You pulled away to look at his bewildered face for a moment. “This is just… the best gift I’ve ever received,”

He smiled a little bit, overwhelmed and confused. “Your mother did have wonderful taste,” he replied. “you apparently take after her more than I had thought,” he said with a thoughtful quirk of his mouth, clearly under the impression that your excitement was due to the fine quality of the necklace. It was due to the fine quality of the necklace, but not for the reason that he seemed to think.

You ushered him out the door swiftly. “Listen, Papa, I really need to finish getting ready, so please come get me again when it’s time for you to escort me down the aisle!” you chirped, moving to swing the door closed behind him, but pausing to look at him for a moment. “I love you, Papa. Thank you for everything you have done to support me through this,” you murmured, fondness and guilt filling you at the idea of leaving your father behind to face the wrath of his ex-future-inlaws-who-are-still-technically-his-inlaws-just-not-through-his-daughter (another mouthful, my goodness).

You whirled around. The wedding was soon, and you had no time to change into proper clothes, so you slid across the floor and grabbed one of your suitcases, flinging it open and pulling everything out with little care for tidiness. You followed suit with each of your other suitcases, sorting through the pile of your belongings to grab only the essentials and shove them into one case. You snapped that closed and threw the curtains open, undoing the latch to your window and letting the warm summer breeze in. Freedom. The wind smelled of grass, flowers and freedom.

You didn’t need to marry Duncan to get all that money. You could just sell your mother’s necklace.

You were on the first floor, and you dropped your suitcase out the window and made a move to follow it, but hesitated for a moment. You turned back quickly, snatching your wand from the dresser and waving it hastily to summon a bit of parchment and a quill. You scrawled a half-hearted explanation note with haste, the ink blotchy and smudged, and laid it on the bed before turning back to the window. You hesitated again, wand in your teeth, before slipping back to your bed to grab the scarf and toss the gawdy and awful engagement ring beside the note for good measure. You could have sold it as well, but you were much more keen on the idea of owing Duncan absolutely nothing. Without so much as a glance over your shoulder, you hastily tied the scarf around your waist and leapt back toward the window.

You swung your leg over the windowsill, not caring whether you ripped the dress, and the instant your feet were planted in the grass, you took off running as fast as you possibly could. Your feet protested due to your fancy wedding shoes that had most certainly not been designed for such exercise, but you paid it no mind. The pain was nothing bothersome, simply a complimenting factor to the exhilaration of your sudden liberation and the heartbeat thundering in your ears. The necklace was safe in its box your suitcase, and you wasted no time high-tailing it toward the woods. You couldn’t take the main road for fear of running into a bewildered guest who was still arriving (what a story they would have had to tell) and you couldn’t leave the property through the front gate, so you figured that taking a long hike through the forest was your best bet to get out of there as fast as you possibly could. Running through the forest in your fancy clothing and painful shoes was evoking some serious nostalgia, and you felt your heart tugging painfully at the thought of your best friend.

You would not go to Newt for assistance, no matter how much you longed to. Some deep romantic part of you wanted desperately to run right out of the arms of one man and into the arms of another, which your logical side told you was absolutely ridiculous. This was not for him. This was for you and for your sister. Part of you was afraid to ask anything of Newt ever again, fearing that you had caused him an irreparable amount of pain, and you figured with a pang of sadness that you would have to learn to live with that. You had never expected him to do anything about your situation because he owed you absolutely nothing in exchange for loving him. What a ridiculous notion that was. You had known him and loved him and hurt him and thoughts of him were only a very small part of your motivation for running as far from Duncan as you possibly could.

Once you were past the tree line and the house was out of sight, you slowed down some. The most dangerous part was over. You were so close to freedom. You knew for a fact that walking about two miles in these woods would lead you to a road, and you could either hitchhike with some muggle or follow the road to the town where the train station lay. You had to go. You had to get out of there, and it didn’t matter where you went to, but you had to get out and there were too many muggles around to apparate safely. Besides, you would not risk splinching or accidentally leaving your suitcase behind near that house. You didn’t want to have to set foot in Duncan’s wretched mansion ever again.

An idea sprang into your head, and you grinned as you gripped the dress in your fists and lifted it up a little so you wouldn’t trip on it as you stepped over a log. Your sister was hospitalized, which meant that her home was empty. She had been sick for a while, but only very recently had she been admitted to full-time care at a magical medical facility, so her teeny house was still just as she’d left it. The key was under the doormat! You could go there to get yourself together and change into proper clothes before finding a jeweler or someone to sell the necklace to, and you were suddenly ecstatic. Your hair caught briefly in a branch, and you untangled yourself impatiently, your carefully pinned hairdo falling out bit by bit. It was lopsided now, and you cast a bobby pin distastefully aside. You would sell the necklace, have your father collect your things from Duncan’s home, and be freed of the responsibility of marrying him. Your sister would get the treatment she needed, and you would have a shot at being happy again.

A shot at being free.

You emerged from the woods about an hour and a half later, your feet aching and your beautiful wedding dress torn and smudged with mud from dragging along the earth behind you. Twigs were caught in your hair and your makeup was smeared in a clownlike fashion as a result of your hands wiping away at the sheen of sweat that covered your face. You had never been happier in your whole life, and you found yourself giggling reflexively as you started along the road.

It wasn’t a long walk to town, and you beamed the whole way there, taking no notice to the bewildered looks you were getting from passerby. You must have been quite the spectacle, especially to muggles, with your wand clenched in one carefully manicured hand and a suitcase in the other. You were a grinning mess, dirt and sweat and makeup smudged on your cheeks and once-pristine dress, your bare arms crisscrossed with scrapes from trees and brambles and twigs and a well-loved Hufflepuff scarf tied securely around your waist. You walked into town with a slight limp, your feet still aching terribly even with your shoes off and dangling from your hand, and smiled politely at anyone you walked past. You disregarded at all looks because frankly, you didn’t give a shit what they thought of you right now. You were where you needed to be and you had done what you needed to do to get there.

The train station was nearer than you had been expecting, and you marched up to the small stand where a man was selling tickets. “Where to…” he looked up from whatever he was writing, and looked bewildered for a moment. “…Miss? Mrs?”

You replied with the name of your sister’s town, and he looked surprised. “That’s a few hours away, ma’am,” he said as he got you a ticket. “Why are you headed there, and in such a hurry?” he inquired, gaze lingering pointedly on your wedding dress.

“Cold feet,” you said with a cheeky grin, and he raised his eyebrows but didn’t question you any further. He opened his mouth to give you the price, but you were suddenly completely disinterested in anything he had to say. You gripped your wand tight and turned away, wide eyed, to look at the thin stream of people trickling out of the train station doors with disbelief written all over your features.

“Miss…us? Missus?” he called after you, but you had swept up your suitcase and were off, pain disregarded as your bare feet flew against the rough pavement. A familiar figure had caught your eye, and you broke immediately into a sprint. He was walking rapidly, anxiously, with purpose, his signature case in hand.

“Newt!” you cried, surprised and delighted as you realized that the artificial honey that had been dripping from your words for the last few months had dissolved into raw and real joy; you found yourself wondering for a fleeting moment if you were having some bizarre dream and you were about to wake up and put on your incredibly simple dress and marry Duncan for the money, but all notions of that dissolved as he turned and his eyes met yours and his face lit up in a way that you had never seen before. You were crashing into his arms in an instant, and he was real, this was real and not a dream and he didn’t smell anything like that horrid house, of rosewater or your favorite dessert or like sickly sweet and perfect flowers, he smelled like train smoke and pine and sawdust and earth and sweat and you were crying, voice raw, all of a sudden, tears coursing down your cheeks and dripping onto his coat as he gripped you, lifting you into his arms for a moment as though he, too, needed reassurance that you were real.

You said nothing for a moment, just holding each other as tight as you could, until you pulled away and gripped his face in your hands. His familiar stubble scratched against your fingers and you grinned. “Merlin’s Beard, Newt, what on Earth are you doing here?” you cried, and he grinned back at you.

“Nice scarf,” he commented, eyes flicking to your waist, where the Hufflepuff scarf he had given you only weeks before was tied securely. “and I could ask you the same question,” he teased. “Don’t you have somewhere you’re supposed to be? A wedding, perhaps?” he chuckled a little, his eyes bright and his lips fixed in an instinctive grin.

You smoothed your thumb over his cheek, laughing breathlessly. “I don’t have to marry him. I have an old necklace of my mother’s that I can sell and I’ll still have money to spare but I didn’t know until today so I had to sneak out the window of the guest bedroom in my wedding dress and hike here through the woods,” you spoke rapidly, barely pausing to breathe, let alone articulate properly.

He started laughing even harder, eyes aglow as he gripped your hips and pulled you in to steal a swift kiss. “The Occamies hatched. They finally hatched a few days ago and I sold the shells,” he said in between little fits of laughter. “I sold the silver so that maybe I could… ah,” he paused for a moment, looking exhausted and infatuated and ecstatic all at once as he studied your face.

You looked at him with unrestrained adoration in your tearful eyes. “Why?” you found yourself murmuring in awestruck disbelief.

“Perhaps so that I could take Duncan’s place as the rich suitor who would fund your sister’s treatment,” he said, chuckling some more with both relief and amusement. “Or perhaps just as an old friend who would sacrifice anything necessary to see that you are happy,” He smiled in the way that he always did, a sort of sober honesty in his eyes as he finished his statements. “Either way…I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I could have done something but chose not to,”

At this, you pulled him in hastily for another kiss. This time, it was sloppy and desperate and your teeth clacked clumsily and you smiled into it as he leaned forward. It was, without a doubt, the best kiss you had ever had. His lips were chapped and his face was unshaven. It scratched against your skin and you grinned, tugging at his hair with a giggle as he pulled away to look at you.

You gripped Newt’s hands in yours, looking at him with happiness written plainly all over your features, and tugged him up and toward the ticket man. You hadn’t noticed, but he had been watching this emotional exchange incredulously and he eyed the pair of you with a judgmental but amused expression as you approached him.

“So I assume that will be two tickets, then,”

——-

omg it’s done??? im so ????? it’s been almost a year since I posted the first one and here we are!! the scarf: part 2!!! holy heck i hope u guys like it i had so much fun with it

u know i’ve expressed my love for fake married/fake dating many, many times but like. is anything better. is anything better on this earth. does any trope or genre truly care for us quite like this one. let us reflect on a few of the gifts that fake married/dating consistently gives us:

  • character a asks “hey, will you pretend to be my date for a week for [convoluted excuse that could easily be solved without a fake relationship]?” character b, fully convinced of the futility of their DEEP AND UNREQUITED LOVE, figures this’ll be a chance to spend time with them and possibly put their feelings to rest. character b is always wrong & it is always amazing.
  • having to SHARE A LIVING SPACE FOR ARBITRARY FIC REASONS. having to see eachother in their pajamas first thing in the morning, messy haired, drowsy eyed and soft faced. going from “you can have the bathroom first” to brushing their teeth beside eachother and feeling like this closeness has always existed (at the same time, painfully aware that it won’t always). 
  • related to the last one – “"practicing”“ their casual touching so that it’s easier when they’re in public. feeling SWOOPS OF ARDOR AND AGONY when they feel the brush of a hand on their neck, or an arm loop around their waist. don’t you love how fake marrieds/dates are always method actors who must FULLY INHABIT their roles. i love it. i live for it. 
  • bed sharing. :^) we all pretend we’re bigger than this but we are not. 
  • "kiss me while everyone’s looking.”
  • the character who wasn’t aware they were in love (maybe always had been) until the fake relationship is in full swing, realizing they have to sort their feelings out before their time together is up. sometimes they succeed and angst is minimal. most of the time they don’t, really.
  • telling eachother “i love you” in public and meaning it, heart aching over it, but bELIEVING THE OTHER 2 BE ACTING. my soul is still 15, this garbage still gets me. u don’t get pining better than this.
  • the days leading up to the end of the arrangement where one of them, still confused and muddy about their Feelings and unsure how to break things off, stiffens to the casual, reflexive touching and puts their walls back up. the other one accepts and respects this as the end of their agreement and squashes back down all the hope they ever had, stuffs it next to the heartbreak they’re ignoring deep in their chest. 
  • when they realize they’re actually fully and enthusiastically mutual about the way they feel and it’s, like, two parts euphoria and one part agony because they just cannOT BELIEVE, the happiness tears them in two. maybe there are weepy or laughing kisses. i don’t know but i’m usually invested like 2000%. i love fake dating/marrieds. 
  • I LOVE EM.

I love being horribly straightforward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitized communication be?) and telling people I love them and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, Kiss me harder, and You’re a good person, and, You brighten my day. I live my life as straight-forward as possible.
Because one day, I might get hit by a bus.

Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be—to just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you will die if you do not see them, hold them, touch them in some way whether its your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands.

But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.

And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.

We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know who needs us back. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans.

We never know when the bus is coming.

—  Rachel C. LewisTell The People You Love That You Love Them.

Be confident with who you are and if you find you are in the company of those who cannot see how great you are, don’t be afraid to cut them off, okay?

I love being horribly straightforward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitized communication be?) and telling people I love them and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, Kiss me harder, and You’re a good person, and, You brighten my day. I live my life as straight-forward as possible.
Because one day, I might get hit by a bus.

Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be—to just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you will die if you do not see them, hold them, touch them in some way whether its your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands.

But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.
And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.
We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know who needs us back. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans.
We never know when the bus is coming.

—  Rachel C. Lewis, Tell The People You Love That You Love Them.
2

A little gift from me!

Here they are! My 100, 200, and 300 followers gifts! I decided to clump them all together into one post like a little bundle. I cannot believe that all of you decided to follow my trash blog, and I am so grateful. Anyways I really hope you guys enjoy this!

- Base Game Compatible

- Custom Thumbnail

- 25 Swatches for All and the cropped sweater has a few stripey patterns :)

Tag me if you use this I would love to see what you do with it!

TOU- Please don’t claim this as your own. Feel free to recolor but don’t include the mesh and give proper credit <3

downloads (no adfly) // Turtleneck / PJs to Work / Sweater

Credits, EA

Pictures of them in game under the cut.

I love being horribly straightforward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitized communication be?) and telling people I love them and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, Kiss me harder, and You’re a good person, and, You brighten my day. I live my life as straight-forward as possible.

Because one day, I might get hit by a bus.

Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be—to just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you will die if you do not see them, hold them, touch them in some way whether its your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands.

But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.

And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.

We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know who needs us back. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans.

We never know when the bus is coming.

—  Rachel C. Lewis
8
7

Matsuhana screamshots™ gifset requested by @anon

My precious boys  (ノ>ω<)ノ :。・:*:・゚’★,。・:*:・゚’☆


Bonus:

Third years shenanigans: Mattsun scolds Iwa-chan (hitting him with Oikawa’s bottle) while Makki makes fun of his captain. 

9

books have to be heavy because the whole world’s inside them. (moodboards for my favorite classics)

FRANKENSTEIN (Mary Shelley)

I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.

when i was seven the sea-witch cursed me.

she cursed my great-grandfather, actually, who had spat on the hands of the ocean and disrespected the beating heart of the earth - for what else are waves but a pulse - who was silly and violent and who tried to rip from the water what was hers by rights. we were wealthy, before that, a family of merchants. my mother says in her youth she recalls white horses, the gleam of candles, early mornings with bread baked fresh by a horde of servants.

he didn’t ask permission to cross her. that’s what my mother tells me while she spoons porridge with no flavor into the wood of my bowl. he had no faith in superstition, rode with boats that were more decoration than strength, the folly of a man who was cruel and vain and proud of his own gold teeth. the sky had been blue, so regardless of what the village witch said, he would sail that day. and when his boat sank; their lives turned blue like the sky that day.

my mother says she thinks the curse on the men of our family, even if they come in when they marry, is that they will forever be violent, too foolish to see the storm on the horizon. she whispers this to me on the eve of my seventh birthday, while father is his own storm, thundering around the house, looking for her. later, when i am cleaning the cut by her cheek, she tells me the curse is on the women to forever be unhappy, to wane until they are shadows, to walk into the deep like a sinking ship. 

we don’t burn candles often, they are too expensive. she tells me this in the silk of a dark room. the moon kisses her hair. 

in three days, my mother will walk into the ocean, and my father will be my own problem. the curse will pass onto me. 

my father does not believe in superstition, no curse to conquer him. when he is gone, and i am heartbroken, i go to the village witch. i ask her to teach me about magic, and other things, and about how the ocean can be coaxed, and how to save my father’s soul. 

and my hands rot too, keeping a house by myself with things i barely knew. i learn the art of a good scrubbing, keep my mind full of white horses while i endlessly clean, dream of candles in dark while i make the bread that he will not allow me to eat. he keeps me from the ocean, from visiting the place that took my mom, from following in her footsteps where the water makes women undone.

i am sixteen when i see her in the water of a bowl. she scares me so completely that i drop it, and my father comes in with his hands, and the curse, and i almost forget all about it. it isn’t until after that i realize she is beautiful, and young, which surprises me. 

i think about it every evening. her face becomes distorted to me. i can no longer remember the exact shape of it, only the impression of beauty. 

i turn seventeen and wait for the high moon. i pin safety to my vest in little witch herbs and runes. i put naked toes on the sand and slip closer, closer, to the avenue of my family’s doom. i find a little private beach, small and surrounded by rocks, hidden from my father in the event he ever thought to come looking. at high tide, it is barely the span of my body. at low, it feels empty.

the witch of the land has given me what i need to call in the witch of the sea, but i do not use it. it feels wrong, somehow, standing here in the wind and the quiet pulse of the world. i put down the incense and sage and i sit just close enough it feels wild, dangerous - but not close enough to get caught up in thrill. 

when nothing happens, i go home and i make bread that i will not eat.

for months i do this. i climb down to my beach. i learn to do it when the moon is half, and then when the moon is empty. i learn to do it so well that sometimes i go to sleep in my own bed and wake up by the water. i take to sleeping with warding runes to keep me from being pulled in the rip out to the waiting hands of a hungry sea-witch.

i don’t know when i start talking. more often i sing, because singing in my house is not allowed, and something about the way the rocks echo my voice feels comforting. the older i get, the more i can pretend i hear my mother’s voice, answering me, harmonizing gently. i sing songs about sadness and lullabies about curses. when i have exhausted every song i know, i write new ones about fathers who have never learned how to be kind, about the house i work in but do not love, about mothers who left, and about a sea witch.

i see her sometimes. in a puddle, in the drop of rain, in the strangest places. i never expect it, although i always hope. i am never able to see her for more than the length of a wave, breaking, and each time, it does something new to my heart.

at eighteen i am too much of my father’s burden. he tries to unload me onto other men. the land witch helps me with this. i rub hemlock, burn wolfsbane. we arrange so these men have other women to marry. the news of my curse is bad enough to scare most away. my father is not happy.

after a particularly savage night, i wonder how bad it could be. i could marry some boy from the village who didn’t quite bother me. i suppose they’re not ugly. timothy had always been gentle to me. i think about a life, and how i am cursed to be unhappy. my father would finally be proud of me.

i walk to the beach and i tell the waves about him and how i could convince myself it was love if i just never wanted from him. how i could be okay, if not content, how i could be free, how i already had learned life down on knees.

but i go home and i write a rune of warding. and the years pass and i find reasons each suitor is wanting. and the sea witch i see, sometimes, peeking out at me, staying long each time in the water, looking, watching. i see her in mirrors when my father storms against me. it is bad because he mistakes the cause of my smiling. it is better when she is there the next morning.

and i go to the ocean. when i am too sad to speak, it seems like the ocean is whispering for me. i picture my mother’s voice and tell myself i am happy. i am seven again and we are sewing. i am seven again and the curse has not been given to me. i am seven and she came home after she walked to the sea.

i grow silly, brave, unthinking. i leave behind the herbs and i wade deep. i teach myself the art of swimming. i am bad at it, at first, but something about it feels good to me. like the ocean wants to buoy me. in the day i think of it, guilty. what if there was a rip tide, and the water took me? who would care for my father if i stepped off the beach into a long drop? wasn’t i clever enough to know that the ocean is uncaring?

it is not this that does it. i go out after a rain and i slip on the rocks and suddenly i am in water above my head but without the moon i cannot see the up of it. i kick and i thrash and the water surrounds me. the tide pulls on my body and in the cold i feel my body grow weary. water spills into me. it punches through my body, up my nose and into my lungs and some part of me knows this is what mother felt before she was gone.

i kick ground by accident, reorient, drag myself heaving and spitting into the air. i lie there for a long time, half in and half out of death, enjoying the sensation of breathing and of life.

when i look up, i think i see her, watching me, her brows knit with something like worry. but we make eye contact and my heart leaps and then she is gone and i am left alone with nothing but the dawn breaking.

my father is furious when there is no bread. he finds my hair wet, and the salt of the ocean still smelling on me. and that is it. that day he goes out and pays someone to agree to marry me.

this feels right to me, i think. i’m twenty-one, three times seven, a perfect number for a curse to fully come down on me. i will be wed in three weeks.

the land witch comes to visit me. she looks like she’s sorry for me. she gives me a spell and tells me to put it under my pillow; i’ll dream of love and it will soothe me. instead i dream of the seawitch, and how wonderful she is, and the sight of her, out on the water, worried.

even though it is risky, i go down to the beach. i do not bother with protective spells, i have already seen that the water can kill me. fear alone keeps me from wandering. i sit on the beach and in the sand i draw runes for understanding and i make the small magicks i’ve spent years learning and i close my eyes and i ask the ocean “why do you do this to me.”

i fall asleep. i dream that the sea witch talks to me. i dream she is my age, that she is the great-granddaughter of the first to curse my family. i dream she has spent years watching, learning, finding the truth of me. that she just needs to get the courage to come and speak, that she has fallen in love with my singing, that she knows no curse but the one in her heart that brings her back to a human, to a creature of air and not water, to a mistake in the making.

in the dawn i know it is a dream and no more. i make bread. i pour water out before it can make mirrors. i do not look. i do not like the ache that has filled me, as if i’ve been looking for an answer and the answer only leads to longing.

the man i meet - my husband-to-be - is delighted by the house i keep. he believes a woman should keep in her place, and her place should be clean. he hears from neighbors that sometimes i sneak out to the land witch’s house. laughter barks out of him. not going to allow that behavior, not me. he does not believe in curses. he will pack me up and move me from the ocean to somewhere in the mountains, where i know nobody. and i will, he promises, learn to keep my place, and that place clean.

i tell myself i could love him. he is not ugly. he says i’m pretty enough after whiskey. my father mentions i used to sing. i refuse to perform for these men so instead i make them cookies. they laugh and talk about me, even when i am in the room, as if they cannot even see. they shake hands and talk about how useless a woman is for much else than breeding. it’s very funny. the man meets my eyes and promises he’ll put a baby in me. i look down and pretend the thrill i feel is excitement, not fear brewing in me.

the land witch comes by a week before my wedding. she is smaller these days, aging. her apprentice and i get along wonderfully. the two women stand before me, holding something. 

a small box, so tiny and lovely. “break the curse,” the witch whispers, “learn to be happy.”

i smuggle the box, take it everywhere with me. it is days before i have a moment to slip away, to open it by the sea. i take a candle with me, even though my father will notice and be angry.

by the light of fire i read the spell they have left me inside, and then i am so full of gratitude i cannot stop crying.

it must be a full moon, so i must wait. in the meantime, i walk home, and i bake. 

i do not see the seawitch, even though i look for her. maybe i have wounded her, getting married. my father asks why i keep smiling. i tell him it is because i am finally with a man. he grunts and says to stop looking so silly. 

the man kisses me. i let him. we are married on a night with a full moon, and i poison him and my father in the bread i did not eat. i think of how these men were cursed so they could not see a storm coming. i watch them as they lie there, dying, and then i put all of the things i own into a basket for the land witch. i leave it there with a song i wrote for her, a spell i know will make her happy, will stop the aging of her joints, will give her the kind of relief she gave me. 

i go down to the water. i find myself running, even though i am in no hurry. i know the way so well it is like i wake up there, panting. i ask permission first. i lay out the contents of the box, i organize and practice and when the needle and pain comes, i am ready for it. i am used to pain at night. i breathe into it and walk naked into waters that swallowed my mother.

i chew bitter herbs. i swallow fire. i feel myself drown as i change from land witch to sea witch. 

when it is done, i open my eyes in the deep of a moonlit ocean. and i see her. 

this time she does not flicker. this time when i reach for her, she is there, and she is pushing my hair out of my eyes, and we are kissing with the ocean rejoicing around us, and i am laughing, and i hear her voice as clear as bell inside me.

and we live like this, a whole world between us where white horses are the size of pinky fingers and swim with their thin snouts, where i need no candles because i was raised lightless, where we have no servants but the water takes care of us. i show her the magic of land and she unfolds the magic of water. together we are unstoppable. when i come up to the air to sing little girls a promise that they can survive the madness, she sings with me, and we make a beautiful harmony.