i don't understand was i meant to draw an existing one or make one up

Can I Create Emotionally Complex Characters if I Don't "Get" People?

Hey there, community.  Recently we received an anon message asking an extremely important question: could they, a person who is terrible at understanding people, still create emotional depth in characters?  The more I thought about it, the more I realized this anon couldn’t be the only person worrying the same thing: is the development of my story dependent on my interpersonal skills?  If I don’t understand people, am I bound to create shallow characters?  With that on my mind, I decided to answer by speaking to you all in article form, since this is a widely-applicable concern.  Anon, I hope this is helpful to you.

I’ll be speaking from the perspective of my own autism and the struggles I sometimes have with empathy.  Bear in mind, followers, that there are many, many reasons people might struggle with interpersonal empathy and that everyone’s experience is vastly different, so take what you will from this and run with it.  I mean to speak to as broad an audience as possible.

Character Development as a Codependent Process

So:  Is it possible to improve your own understanding of people to improve your character development, and does the development of characters depend on this?  Or is characterization a separate process entirely?  The answer to both of those questions is yes.  It is possible to improve interpersonal skills and learn how to understand people; there are a variety of ways to go about it.  Often, you can use your character development as an exercise in teaching yourself how to understand people in real life.  For me, a highly analytical person, that process has involved lots of reading, lots of thinking about why I love the characters I love, lots of character meta from other people talking about the characters they love (thanks, Tumblr), and a lot of long dinner conversations with my writing partner about how our characters respond to the environments we put them in.  You’ll notice that most of those things have highly constructive elements.  For me, the key to deepening my understanding of my characters - and therefore to creating emotional landscapes inside and between them - lies in treating them as complex, 3-D puzzles where every piece affects several other pieces and chain reactions are part of the norm. 

It may seem contradictory, but the more I treat them objectively in terms of cause and effect - in other words, the more I think of them as intricate machines - the more organic my understanding becomes of how they think and feel, and why it matters.

So on one hand: yes, you can improve those skills, and you can even use your craft to help yourself do that.  On the other hand, the mindset of using character development as a tool in that way necessitates a pre-existing mindset that character development, like our anon suggested, is its own process entirely. 

Character Development as an Independent Phenomenon

Here’s what I mean:  I spend a lot of time thinking about character development, psychology and interaction.  I spend a lot of time talking about it.  I’ve learned a lot about how to piece those things together to a) understand what makes my favorite characters tick and b) create realistic human impressions when I write about my own.  In theory, I have emotional connections to those characters and an intimate understanding of how they work.  Yet at the same time, I do not understand people in real life.  I struggle to find empathy for people around me unless they’re already very, very close to me.  My first reaction to other people is usually a negative one - I see only the very shallow, the very obvious, and the very stereotypical assumptions that are often made during flash judgements, and for me that’s usually as far as I get.  That says nothing about my desire to get to know people or to show compassion for them; it just means that in day-to-day life, I don’t really understand them.

Does that affect my ability to create sympathetic, relatable, fascinating characters?  Not really.  The reason is because there is a fundamental difference between the spontaneity of our own human interactions and the scenarios we create for ourselves as we work.  The first environment is real life: unplanned and uncontrolled, with lots of different wills bumping up against one another and no time for analysis.  The second environment is where we hold all the strings.  When we write, we enter a laboratory where every variable can be analyzed, understood, duplicated, altered and controlled by us and only us.  Nothing happens that we don’t authorize.  No character acts outside the bounds of our own understanding.  In short, it’s a safe environment to explore in, and there’s no opposing consciousness to take control from us.  That means replicating human empathy is a far easier, more foolproof, less time-sensitive endeavor.

And Here’s a Reminder:

You will gain points of emotional reference as you go about your life.  Just as you develop an understanding of what types of things affect your characters emotionally, things will come along to affect you.  To illustrate my point, here’s a personal example: six months ago, I learned what it meant to loathe someone so much it made you want to rip out fistfuls of their hair, claw their faces with your fingernails, and throw them out into the snow.  From the same incident, I learned that I am far more easily angered when my friends are hurt than when I myself am hurt, and that my aggressive streak is the most dangerous when it comes to protecting people I love.  Previously, I just thought I was an aggressive, vengeful prick who obsessed over people I didn’t like for far too long.  The more you know, huh?

Most importantly, that incident gave me firsthand knowledge about how those emotions feel.  The next time I sit down to write about an angry character, I know I’ll have new material to draw from.  I’ll have better words to use and a more realistic end goal in mind.  I’ll have an emotional experience I can manipulate to fit the needs and circumstances of whichever character is angry.  And that’s the heart of what character development is, when you get down to it: it’s taking what you know of the human condition and pulling it apart to see what works (or what doesn’t).  And just like we writers are always looking for new ideas, we should be keeping our eyes out for our emotional experiences, as well. 

To summarize:

Yes, improving your empathy towards other people is possible.  It takes practice and exercise, like any muscle, but for most people it is possible.  And yes, it is also possible to experience the emotional development of your characters in a completely independent context.  You can even have both happening at the exact same time, as I tried to illustrate above.  How these processes manifest depends entirely on your experiences as a person and the methods you’ve developed so far as a writer.

Don’t forget, you’re still living.  Experiences will come to you that will shape and deepen your understanding of people.  You still have a lot to live and learn from - we all do.

So good luck to all of you writers out there, especially those of you who, like me, struggle with empathy.  I have every confidence that with time and practice, you’ll come to your own understandings and find ways to think about these ideas that work for you.  Now go out there and get developing!

–Senga

mayawhiterose  asked:

Hello. :) I haven't watched the show yet. I'm interested what is it about, because I don't want to be dissapointed when watching. I do see that it's a harem thing with vampires and one girl. But i'm more for the romance where one particular loves her the most and she loves him. Is it like that?

Sup! @mayawhiterose Nice to meet ya!

Dialovers seems like a reverse harem anime, but it’s really more than that. The anime is actually inspired by the PS Vita games, which is inspired by the audio and drama CDs which use dummy head mics. Since the story changes with each game, it’s hard for me to explain what Dialovers is all about, but the basic theme is that a 17 year old Japanese Christian girl is left with no choice but to live with six sadistic vampires after her father left. She tries her best to survive and live with them while she clings to her identity and faith, which is the source of her inner strength. 

The one thing all the games have in common is that you must pick one boy (not all of them are vampires) and they will be the one that you spend time with the most. Some of the others may or may not try to sway you to their side, or take a bite out of you when the chance presents itself. Depending on your personality and where you draw your limits, some of the boys may seem more appealing to you than others. But make no mistake, none of them are like the princes or bishounen that exist in shoujo romance. These guys are sadists, and when I say sadists, they are not apologetic nor the tsundere/‘bully-with-a-crush’ type, nor the Sadist from the subculture of Bdsm (whom obtain consent from their partners). They can be very violent and territorial. If they want to try something, they will not stop if you feel scared or tell them to stop. They also do not like to share, even though some of them joke about it. 

The boys see the heroine as a plain girl with nothing special. A prey. As such, they do not ‘fall’ for her and they only open up to her at a glacial pace. And in the anime, with only 24 episodes (season 1 & 2) at 15 minutes apiece, there’s barely time for any relationships to develop. There’s also a ton of backstory that never gets told. The anime is therefore meant to be a teaser to draw new fans in, but those who watch it with the expectation that everything will be explained are going to be dissatisfied. To fully understand the story, you ought to read the game routes and the manga.

But, there are material in Diabolik Lovers and in each boy’s backstory that can trigger some people and make them feel very uncomfortable (child abuse, sexual abuse, brainwashing, just to name a few). So if any of what I’ve described so far rings alarms in your head or churns your stomach, then it’s best to move on to something else. That doesn’t mean you’re weak; that just means this isn’t your cup of tea. 

However, if you are intrigued and would like to learn more about DL, here are some links to get you started

i accidentally cinderella au

I tried many times but I did not succeed so INSTEAD OF WRITING THIS FANFIC I’LL THROW THIS AT THE TAG AND SOMEONE ELSE CAN DO IT SAVE ME FROM WRITING FANFIC oh my god this was supposed to be a brief plot outline but it’s 2000 words long save me this wasn’t supposed to be long enough to need proofreading THANK YOU NONNIE FROM MY INBOX FOR YOUR HELP!!!!

Okay so: Cinderella Reaper76 AU. Gabe is a spy in an enemy nation where Jack is the youngest prince. People in Jack’s kingdom just kinda casually waltz over to Gabe’s every once in a while and take shit and are generally assholes but it isn’t enough of a problem for the royal family to notice lol it’s mostly just a local thing. Jack may be the youngest prince with the fewest responsibilities but he’s still just a dude who wants to live his life without his bodyguards tailing him all the time (he loves Ana, Reinhardt and Genji to pieces but oh my god let him live you guys)

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anonymous asked:

hi! i was wondering if you could talk about why comparing kabby to bellarke does a disservice to both pairings. there's a little bit of discord both on here and on twitter about 'kabby having to die in order for bellarke to be a thing' and what i personally don't understand is why that is even an argument?

Yeah, I’ve heard some rumblings from panicked Kabby shippers about this but haven’t dived too deeply into it.  I mean the short answer to your question is that, I mean, sure, Kane and Abby – who it’s important to talk about here as separate, distinct individuals that exist outside of a ship – certainly could end up dying by the end of the show.  I don’t think they’re in any danger in S4 if the show seems likely to get an S5 pickup, and while I could plausibly see a series finale arc involving one or both of them dying to save their people, the question with character deaths is always: does it open up more story ground than it closes off?  Right now it clearly doesn’t, in my opinion.  There’s too much potential drama to mine between them and multiple other characters; they exist as more than just a ship.  There’s parental relationships on both sides now, there’s Kane being the de facto Chancellor, there’s Abby being the only person Raven has left, etc.  So the threads extend in many directions.  Obviously none of us can read Jason’s mind, but the deaths in previous seasons have tended to be earned based on the story ground they open up (Wells, Maya), telegraphed pretty far in advance based on the direction their plot is headed (Finn, Lexa) or the result of some kind of behind-the-scenes shakeup that we all heard rumors about in advance (Lincoln, the might-as-well-be-dead-at-this-point Wick).  

 We all have access to the exact same amount of information at this point – which is close to zero, in terms of S4 projections – and we’re all just speculating the best we can based on that.  So right now I’m just taking everyone’s death rumors and predictions as being their own personal opinions and I’m not going to give it any thought until we actually know more.  Two different people can look at the same handful of facts and draw totally different conclusions, and since it’s all just opinion, I’m not going to like get into it with someone who has a different opinion than mine.  Because frankly, we’re all incapable of being fully neutral; we all see everything through the bias of our own shipper goggles.   So I can tell you all the reasons why it’s very unlikely that Kane and Abby will get killed off this season – which I’ve written about a zillion times because this keeps coming up (remember how many people were 100000% CONVINCED Kane was going to die in S3?) – like the fact that Paige and Ian both bought property in Vancouver, the fact that Ian is directing an episode which is something he’s always wanted to do and is a clear sign that Jason wants to keep him happy, the fact that they are both adults with families for whom job stability (and thus an ironclad contract) is a huge priority, and the fact that Ian and Isaiah are still the two actors with the biggest name recognition outside this show’s particular fandom because of Grey’s Anatomy and Lost, which means that as long as they are still trying to get the CW to pick them up for another season, they’re supremely unlikely to kill off the adults.  (This is why there’s a qualitative difference in my death predictions for S4 and S5 if they do get that pickup.  But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.)

 So in terms of everyone yelling that Kabby is going to die, that’s my two cents about it. I’m just completely unwilling to start panicking about this yet with no real information to support it and a huge amount of information that leads me to believe that this show is continuing to invest in retaining that adult audience who like the adult characters.

 As far as the second half of your question – “what’s wrong with making Kabby/Bellarke parallels?” – the answer, of course, is that there’s nothing wrong with it.  I love it.  I do it all the time.  Erin and I spend HUGE chunks of Meta Station yelling about all the fascinating ways that Kane and Abby and Clarke and Bellamy intersect and overlap and mirror each other as characters.  As Erin is always saying, meta is not a zero-sum game – that is, there’s no one right answer, there’s just infinite different ways of looking at the text – so all of us bring our own perspectives to it.  What I meant in that podcast when I talked about it being a disservice to compare them is about the idea that one only exists to serve the other.

I definitely think that there are ways to compare both Kabby and Bellarke that help illuminate them both while recognizing that they’re separate and distinct relationships with their own unique characteristics - which I’m all for - and then there’s sort of the mentality that Kabby is just “old person Bellarke” or “future Bellarke” or, as you mentioned, the idea that narratively Kabby has to die in order to figuratively pass the torch to Bellarke.  And my issue with that is that it simply frames Kabby as something that only exists in the narrative to enhance Bellarke, which turns Kane and Abby into metaphors instead of people.  If you listen to Meta Station, you’ll know that @reblogginhood and I LOVE talking about ways in which those four characters echo and relate to each other, and the ways in which you can draw really interesting parallels about their leadership styles, decision-making, and character arcs over three seasons.  I could have those conversations for hooooooours.  But that’s a completely different conversation than the idea that Kabby only exists as a framework for Bellarke, which both of us - the Kabby shipper and the Bellarke shipper - feel oversimplifies them both.  Abby and Clarke have gone on similar character journeys of moving from a more rigid, black-and-white mentality where they’re convinced they’re right all the time in Season 1, towards a more flexible and situational way of looking at the world, where they remain stubborn but their sense of whether there really is a definitive objective “right” and “wrong” in any situation is more fluid.  We can talk about that like it’s a shared family trait that both the Griffins have - and which Jake had in his own way too - and the ways in which mother and daughter are similar to each other, where they come into conflict, how their journeys mirror each other, and how those journeys have impacted their relationship.  And Kane and Bellamy have gone on similar character arcs (although Bellamy’s got shortchanged quite a bit in S3 of course) in the transformation from oppositional forces against the Griffin women to co-leaders with them, in ways that have taken them on a fascinating parallel journey that’s also built a relationship between them that I’m really interested in.  And then of course the other facet to this is the gender-reverse parallel, where it’s Kane and Clarke who make decisions in a more cerebral, intellectual way based on a more abstract sense of the greater good, while Abby and Bellamy are always primarily motivated by protecting the people they love. But saying “ship A only exists to make a point about ship B” feels a little reductive.

 But part of my issue with looking at Kabby through only the lens of “what does this relationship tell us about Bellarke and how it will unfold?” is that it minimizes another really interesting area of character parallels to mine, which is that you can make an equally credible case for parallels between Kabby and Clexa.  Kane and Lexa are paralleled by the narrative as co-leaders in some incredibly distinct ways, with Pike and Ontari set up as parallel foils. You have the leader who represents sort of the worst of the rigid, unyielding old ways of their people – Pike being the epitome of the Exodus Charter and its’ “survival at all costs, no matter who has to die” mentality, and Ontari as completely emblematic of “blood must have blood” – and then you have two leaders who came from that world and are steeped in that world, who once represented those ideals just as clearly, who are slowly beginning to move out of that to find a new way.  And Clarke’s influence over Lexa, shaping her as a leader, has a lot of clear parallels to the way we see Abby’s influence over Kane transform him too.  So you have the stubborn-ass Griffin women fighting to help these two political leaders let go of the outdated beliefs that no longer serve this radically transformed world they all live in, and laying the groundwork for peace.  I’m just as intrigued by Kane/Lexa parallels as I am by Kane/Bellamy and Kane/Clarke, so again, if you approach Kabby as a relationship that only exists to sort of metaphorically highlight the Bellarke relationship, then you miss out on all the other fascinating character parallels that Kane and Abby bring that have zero to do with Bellarke whatsoever.  The Abby and Raven relationship is another one that I think is really beautifully structured – brilliant, badass stubborn women of science with matching back and leg scars who wear symbols of their dead loves around their necks.  I would argue that that’s the character parallel the narrative has sketched out for us the most clearly between Abby and anyone besides her daughter.

 ANYWAY.  I guess my point is that I love those four characters and I love every intersection and parallel of their relationships and I am always here for a wide and diverse range of perspectives about how they all connect to each other.  I’m just inherently skeptical of any approach that minimizes Kane and Abby as individual and distinct human beings. 

anonymous asked:

In 3a, watching Clarke speak and act on behalf of Arkadia, when she had zero clue as to what her people felt and what was going on really rubbed me the wrong way. Because I don't think her behaving that way was ever really addressed, as in, she STOPPED doing it. Bellamy certainly called her out on it (quite viciously) & she obviously had an "oh" moment about it but she still went back and acted like an ambassador when she had no right to be. Why did the writers do it this way, do you think?

Great question. I think the writers wanted to show that Clarke was still running away from her home, her people, and herself (the source of her pain), that’s why. 

I think one of the reasons Clarke seemed to have forgotten her confrontation with Bellamy in 3x05 was because their fight devastated her, and after this confrontation, she decided to run away even harder from her problems: thus she allowed herself to 100% fall in love with L.exa and we see her drawing again while the world was fallling into chaos outside of her pretty, fantasy tower. Bellamy (in confronting her) forced her to acknowledge all her mistakes, and up till that point, Clarke had been in self-denial about her mistakes. She needed to be confronted with her poor choices (TonDC, L.exa, Mt. Weather, etc) in order to realize that she hadn’t truly confronted the source of her pain yet: hating herself and the choices she made in season 2. Bellamy was the perfect person for this job. She didn’t trust L.exa because L.exa was one of her mistakes, so when L.exa “tried” to also call Clarke out on her self-hatred, Clarke blew her off (Le.xa had no right to call her out on that either since L.exa refused to really acknowledge her own part in that fiasco). L.exa wasn’t a reliable person in that situation, however, Bellamy, the person Clarke trusts the most, WAS someone that could call out Clarke and make her realize her mistakes. She trusted the truth he rained down on her head, and thus, for the first time since she ran away in 2x16, she began to realize what she was really running away from: herself (“Seeing their faces every day is just going to remind me what I did to get them here”). As much as L.exa sucked and was a huge factor in Clarke’s pain, the real problem was the Clarke hadn’t acknowledged that SHE (Clarke) had made the mistakes. She trusted L.exa when she shouldn’t have. She allowed TonDC to happen when she shouldn’t have. She shot Dante and pulled that lever. etc… 

Did you read the screen-to-script for that scene in 3x05 between Bellarke, by the way? Here’s a shot of it that I want to talk about:

“A moment she’ll never forget …off her utter despair” - Wow, that’s strong. Honestly, I think this fight with Bellamy seriously broke her heart a bit, so she pushed Bellamy and home even further away to avoid the pain because who knows Clarke and her weaknesses better than Bellamy Blake, right? That’s why I think Clarke doesn’t mention Bellamy in episodes 3x06-3x09 and why she stays in Polis even though there isn’t really a reason for her to do that (p.s. yes, she stays for L.exa too because she feels like L.exa is the only that understands her and won’t judge her at that point and time–L.exa was a temporary home). 

That’s also why the writers had Octavia (little Blake ;-) ) confront her again in 3x07. Octavia reminded Clarke that she was running away, that Polis wasn’t really her home ( “Wow, no wonder you wanted to stay”), and that L.exa wasn’t her real home or a real balm to her problems/pain (“That’s the second time L.exa has left us to die… Why am I not surprised that you’re still defending her”). Octavia reminded Clarke that she needed to come home, that staying in Polis wasn’t helping, and that Clarke needed to stop thinking that it was. Clarke had 100% lost herself, and Octavia was calling her out for running away:

Octavia was the voice of reason in 3A. She WAS the writers. She was the writers “addressing” Clarke’s mistakes in 3A. Whatever Octavia says to Bellamy and Clarke in 3A is the “truth” we’re suppose to take away from how we should really feel about each of Bellamy’s and Clarke’s choices in 3A: 1. Bellamy was an idiot and made a huge mistake in trusting Pike. 2. Clarke was a fool to believe L.exa could solve her problems and that Clarke needed to finally come home in order to truly fix things. 

Octavia calling her out: 

In summary, the writers had Clarke go back to Polis and act like an ambassador in order to show that Clarke 1. was running away (again) from her problems and her pain, thus pretending that her fight with Bellamy never existed. 2. I also think they wanted to show that Clarke believed (incorrectly) that L.exa was the best way to protect her people (b/c she still didn’t trust L.exa to fulfill her promise and thought her presence meant that L.exa wouldn’t go back on her vow), while also showing that Clarke was falling for L.exa. 

Excuse the roughness of this post. These posts are a lot of work, anons. 

Thanks for the ask, anon. I really enjoyed this one. 

Sam/Bucky Week: Day Two - Swap

(Inspired by this drawing, i.e the cutest fanart I have ever seen.)

“What the – heck,” Bucky said, catching himself at the last second, because while a lot had changed in the last seventy years, he was pretty sure that cursing in front of a child was still a no go, and, yeah, the source of that loud wailing noise was definitely a baby, half-buried in a pile of Wilson’s Falcon gear. 

Bucky scanned the room, a small lab tucked away on one of the base’s lower levels. There’d been the sounds of a scuffle over the comms and then a loud ‘bang’, and Wilson had yelled and then gone terrifying silent, not responding to Bucky’s increasingly  frantic concerned requests for his status.

And now Bucky was here, and Wilson was nowhere to be seen, and there was a baby.

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how can a set of books do this kind of thing? (Hollstein fanfic)

“I’m enjoying myself, I will read the…” She searched for the seventh book on the almost empty box set. “…Deathly Hallows, even though you spoiled me…” Laura shot her a look. “…or that I effectively figured out everything.”

“You’re an insufferable—” Her breath hitched as Carmilla laced her fingers with hers.

“—know-it-all? Proud of it.” Carmilla said with a smug, big grin.

—-

(Read on AO3)

Pairing: Hollstein

Word count: 4192

Warning: mentions of depression, abuse, grief, heavy feelings…angst at its finest

Summary: A very eager Laura makes Carmilla read her favorite books-all seven of them-while she studies for finals and both find an unexpected bond on the roller coaster and journey of it all. Carmilla is not so great at the feelings thing, but she finds herself doing this a lot here unexpectedly. Laura won’t kiss Carmilla until she finishes all of them, so that’s a motivator.

[A/N: It was supposed to be all fluff, and whatnot but…going through everything triggered some things and there’s angst with heavy mentions of Carmilla’s and Laura’s past. Well, fluff and angst, what a better combination?]

—-

Laura made Carmilla read the Harry Potter series against her will. Well, not to that extreme, but close. She had read the first book before, but didn’t continue because the idea of something as ridiculous as wizards baffled her. Laura’s father got her the series in one of her care packages for college: “I know finals and overarching stress are approaching, but drifting off to the magical world could help, right?”

“It sounds more like he’s setting off the opposite kind of distraction for you here.” Carmilla chuckles as she puts her philosophy book down and sits up her bed. Laura turned her head guessing the look on Carmilla’s face…yes, eyebrow up and a smirk on her face.

“It’s sweet. Besides, they do help me relieve my stress.”

“Care to tell me how?” She saw her girlfriend’s face light up, just as it does whenever she’s about to passionately explain something.

“Well, it’s this entirely different magical universe with characters developed deeply enough to drag you around like one of their own.” Carmila tried to remember when she started reading the first book. Yes, it was an amusing, different world, but maybe she needed to see more to get invested. “Each book is a roller coaster ride. And even though I read all of them at least five times, I enjoy them just the same.” There was that glimmer in her eyes that told Carmilla these books clearly mean a lot to her. Also, the fact that she’s read them five times is another strong hint. “Was it the same for you?”

“I can’t really tell cupcake. I became uninterested by the first one.” The glimmer in Laura’s eyes instantly disappeared and was replaced with a furrowed look.

“What? You never finished th—” She cut herself, grabbed the package and threw herself next to Carmilla on her bed. “You need to read these. Starting now.” Laura’s voice was now demanding as she put the pile of books on Carmilla’s lap.

“And that’s an order?”

The vampire scoffs, only to be surprisingly met by a pair of lips against hers. Hands also frantically cupped her face and it was all too sweet and endearing to Carmilla to question it, so she went along. A hand was now grasping Laura’s hair effectively deepening the kiss and the other one, after putting the books away, dropped to her hips. Lips parted in a gasp surprisingly coming from her and Laura took the opportunity to reposition herself, fully turning to sit on the bed and pushing Carmilla down to straddle her. They were both humming as they were slowly basking in the blissful sensations.

Laura intended on stopping a few moments ago—trying to be a little considerate—but it all washed away on a haze…until one of Carmilla’s hand started to make its way down her arm. She regained control of her thoughts and slowly separated. When she opened her eyes, she was met with an uncharacteristic dumbfounded Carmilla. She was still on the daze Laura was before, which made the tiny girl let out a smirk and looked at her intently. Once Carmilla touched ground, she silently stared at her girlfriend, looking for an explanation, running ideas through her mind. Panic then flashed across her face but Laura calmed her speculations by lacing their fingers together.

Carmilla, not daring to look away, sat up to level herself. “What the frilly hell just happened?” Laura, once again, snorts at her sight. But then she moved to the edge of the bed.

“As of now, I won’t let you, or the books, be a distraction…” Her tone was playful yet challenging. And the realization came like a bucket of ice. “…at least until you read them.”

Carmilla opened her mouth trying to argue, but she was at loss for a moment. “I find this unfair and nonsensical.”

“Well, I stand by it. You need to read them.” She couldn’t quite understand why Laura was insisting so much, but even less, how she decided to agree to the challenge.

“Fine.” She was met with a broad smile and wanted to tease back. “But how, may I ask, will you keep your hands off me?” Carmilla tried to approach to Laura and put a hand on her lap, but before she even got halfway there, her girlfriend jumped up.

“I won’t talk to you. Only when you finish each book.”

“What?” The lack of response was all she needed to get what Laura meant. “Sometimes you’re insufferable, cupcake." Insufferable know-it-all, Laura thought to herself and started laughing. Carmilla frantically looked for book one of the series and started to re-read it.

—-

"How is Voldemort a threat? The dimwit doesn’t even have a proper body?” Carmilla uttered as she closed the book. Without looking, Laura knew she was finished. 

“Dark magic, Carmilla. And it’s You-Know-Who.”

"Whatever. If he’s supposed to last six more books I better see some progress.” Laura laughed to herself and then continued on writing her lit paper.

—-

“I’ve got two observations. Firstly, the fact that they introduce a new way of racial issues is very amusing—especially because it is detached from the human world. It’s something entirely theirs, which draws me to find out more.” Laura was taken by surprise by the sudden analysis, and turned her chair to face her girlfriend. 

“I can’t believe what’s drawing you into the story is the racial subject.”

“Oh, no. It’s not only that.” Carmilla paused. “It’s just making the fictional world I’m reading worthy of going away to. It’s different.”

“Are you just saying this because you want a kiss?”

“Is it working?” She lowered her tone seductively, hoping it would indeed work.

Laura quirked her face in frustration, but didn’t want to let the vampire win this one. “No.”

Bollocks!” Carmilla spat playfully with her best Enlgish accent. She noticed the non-convincing tone on the other end and wasn’t about to let it go just yet.

Carmilla! It really isn’t. You had a second point?” But Laura wasn’t about to let it continue.

“Right. Polyjuice potion can suck it, I shapeshift into a giant cat, who can beat that?”

—-

This time Laura was resting on Carmilla’s lap while the vampire held the book with one hand and ran the other one through the blonde’s hair. It was a slight violation to their agreement; but it was a long day of studying and if she read another piece by Hemingway she was sure she’d burst. It was all beautifully written, really, but there was so much reading she could take. She didn’t have to say anything to Carmilla. When she saw the exhausted look on tiny girl’s face she gladly welcomed her into her arms and there they were. Laura woke up from her daze as she heard a loud thump of a closing book.

"Sirius Black is my new favorite.”

“That doesn’t surprise me.” Her voice was low and with a huff she sat up on the bed to face Carmilla.

“He really is misunderstood.”

“I know.” Laura was thrilled at how her girlfriend was becoming invested to the different characters and elements of the book. It was always fun to interact with first time, passionate readers of the series, but Carmilla was utterly endearing. She felt connected to her in a unique way, and she made it her mission to make sure she kept on reading if this meant having conversations like this one.

“Laura?” Carmilla’s tone turned dark all of the sudden, and Laura stiffened, taken aback by it.

“Yes?”

“The Dementors represent depression.” It wasn’t a question, and Laura knew that, but she nodded anyway. “I—I lost hope not only once, but multiple times in my long life. It was just obscure and lonely, you know?” Her eyes were now heavy on Laura’s. She wasn’t used to it, but this was Carmilla talking—really talking—and she was happy this side of her was starting to show. “Not to be soppy or anything like that, but I want you to know that you’re a bright light amongst all that.”

Laura’s heart clenched and ached right then. Of course she knew Carmilla was dealing with demons, and shadows and surely other dark entities she doesn’t even know exist, and always will…but it has never looked so raw.

“You’re making it very hard not being able to kiss you.” She knew this moment wouldn’t last too long, or Carmilla wouldn’t let it last long, so she decided to relieve the mood with her unconscious thought on a sigh.

“Oh, you are able, sweetheart. You just don’t want to.” A playful hand ran through Laura’s cheek, and smitten look flashed on Carmilla’s eyes.

“You’re such a soppy mess.”

—-

It was a quick motion, but Laura was sure she saw a book fly across the room from the corner of her eye and hit a wall. “You know those are mine, right?” But Carmilla ignored her. 

“A bunch of sophomoric imbeciles.”

“Who?” Ignored with a huff. “Who are you talking about?” The vampire finally caught the voice coming from the desk and answered.

“All of them. It’s infuriating how they don’t stop and think about what they do half of the time.”

“Well, I find it very human, very real, very me.”

“Exactly. Yet I find myself consumed, utterly drawn by it…” Carmilla starts to make her way to Laura. “…just like I am to you.” She places both hands on her girlfriend’s shoulders and she lets them linger for a while before speaking.

“Three books left, Carmilla.” Her face furrows in frustration and she sits on the bed to open the next book.

—-

It’s 3am and she hasn’t been able to put down the book—she didn’t want to. Carmilla almost immediately noticed the shift in the characters’ tone. This was a darker book compared to the others. There were stupid decisions, but there was also anger, a lot of anger. One of the reasons Carmilla couldn’t put the book down was because she wanted to know if it got better. She thought it was ridiculous, but it reminded her of the lonely centuries she had to spend by herself before finding Ell…and ultimately Laura. Harry felt misunderstood, alone, baffled as to why that was, and Carmilla understood it all too well.

“You felt it too?” A small voice came from across the room and Carmilla almost jumped out of her bed. Her eyes focused on the girl in front of her sitting and curled up on her blanket.

“How long have you been up, sweetheart?”

“I never really went to sleep.” At the revelation, she moved towards Carmilla’s bed. “After I decided to give up on my lit paper I just shuffled for hours. You were obviously too into your reading, so I didn’t want to bother you.” As she finally sat beside Carmilla, the vampire could look at her eyes properly. They were pink and glassy, a hint of tears about to fall—again?

“Whoa, Laura, have you been crying?” Carmilla immediately dropped the book wrapped her arms around her girlfriend. There wasn’t a reason to lie as she sniffled and Laura repositions to fit Carmilla’s embrace.

“Yes.” Her voice was raspy. She’s probably been silently crying for hours and Carmilla didn’t notice. The thought hurt her deeply.

“May I know why?”

“Well, did you feel it?”

“I don’t—” Laura cut her off.

“The sense of incomprehensible loneliness. You’re in the darker chapters, correct?”

“Yes, but wh—" But she was cut again.

"I used to read these books with my mom. She bought the first one when it came out. Same with the next ones until…” She took a deep breath before continuing, and it was all it took Carmilla to understand everything. The connection with the books, and how insistent she was about it all. She wanted her to be part of it, which Carmilla found very sweet. “…until she couldn’t.”

“This is why they mean so much to you.” Laura nods with a heavy, trembling sigh. She’s never talked about her mother to Carmilla until now, but she was willing to. She needed it.

“I re-read them all after she died. It was my coping mechanism. But the fifth book struck me the most. I became distant, but wasn’t really aware of it, so it was frustrating to carry that energy around like a shadow…only that instead of walking with me it was dragging me down…” She paused to look at Carmilla. She looked calm but attentive. The vampire took one of Laura’s hands and intertwined their fingers together, followed by a kiss on the back of them. She was patiently waiting for her girlfriend to continue, but she didn’t. Then she thought about how the purpose of all was also to connect with Laura.

“His feelings resonate with mine before meeting you. After I woke up in this century I also had a shadow. And maybe I always did, but it was only then I noticed. It was a terrible, terrible eternity of constantly confir—confirming Ell’s statement.” At the mention of Ell, Laura stiffened, at which Carmilla responded giving her a kiss on the cheek. "It’s not that I didn’t care back then, because I did—I really did…” Carmilla’s tone turned heavy and dark. “But in order to survive I needed to disconnect myself. So after I woke up it was all so present.” The realization of the anger and regret Carmilla felt was excruciating, and to think she had to still live an eternity of abuse was unbearable…until she met Laura. It was the first time since being tied up that Carmilla talked about her past in detail. Laura could only imagine a slight part of how terrible it feels.

“Isn’t it weird? How we’re not aware of our shadows until something terrible happens?”

“I believe it’s realistic. We’re all naïve until we’re not.”

They stayed silent for a second. Only the ghost of their hands caressing. Laura has thought about it many times—Carmilla’s shadows. She was hard to read most of the time, but every time Laura gets a glimpse of her sorrow she ought to take note. 334 years of miserable eternity, as Carmilla puts it, yet she was capable of opening her doors to Laura—or at least she’s been trying to.

“This book made me realize what I was doing to myself and to everyone else. So I stopped closing the open doors around me.” She drawls so softly it wasn’t almost enough to wake up the vampire from the trance they were in.

“I’m glad, cupcake.”

Silence made its presence again, but Laura still felt bad. “Carm?”

“Yes?” This time her gaze was soft on her.

“I’m sorry.” The vampire didn’t say anything, but squeezed Laura’s hand intrigued nonetheless. “I’m sorry for triggering your memories. I mean—I want to tell you things and connect with you but…” She lost her train of thought for a second but quickly recovered it. “I have my shadow, but you’ve got many more. You’ve been here for so long and I feel stupid talking about myself someti—”

“No, Laura. Don’t even think about belittling yourself, that’s not my intention. The number of years, or shadows, or whatever…they don’t determine the importance of someone’s pain.”

“I know that. It’s just…” She paused again and sighed. “I’m sorry.” The last sentence was delivered with a yawn and Laura knew she needed some rest, but she wasn’t about to move away. Not now.

“And I’m sorry about your mom, sweetheart. You need to tell me more about her because she sounds incredible.”

She was, thought Laura as she closed her eyes.

—-

Laura woke up on Carmilla’s lap. She was still reading book five with a somber look that made Laura’s heart sink, since she knew it only got worse.

She decided not to ask, but reached for Carmilla’s free hand. The latter jolted, but relaxed immediately. Laura then started to study the vampire’s movements in silence. How her eyebrows quirked with probably the mention of something ridiculous. Her heavy sighs when she reached the end of a chapter. And then the sudden still face she had as she reached the last page.

“Harry’s only family is gone.” Laura also hears the stillness in Carmilla’s voice and sits up, searching for her gaze preoccupied. “This is so appalling.” It was hard to read, or maybe it was just expressionless, she couldn’t tell.

“Carm?”

“Harry’s only family is gone.” The last word was emphasized with a choke, and as Carmilla pulled her knees to her chest and face to her hands, Laura put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. The sobs came in waves and they took both Carmilla and Laura by surprise.

Laura knew where Carmilla was going with this and she was ready to listen. It was indeed a roller coaster ride, and this was the ninety degrees drop of it all. Had she known these brought a different side of Carmilla, Laura would have thought twice before lending them. It wasn’t her intention to hit her this way. She was meticulously trying to peek through Carmilla’s walls her own way, but the unplanned connection she figured wasn’t a bad option either.

“I lost them.” Then she buried her face on Laura’s shirt. “Twice.” She was grasping so hard at her shirt Laura thought it would rip…but she didn’t care. Nothing was more important than this moment right now. “I’ve lost so many people.” Grief, sadness, those are strange entities that come and go in waves—unexpected waves—and she was going to let Carmilla feel them fully.

“I know…” It’s all Laura managed to say with a hand now stroking Carmilla’s soft hair. She kissed her temple so delicately as if trying to wipe everything away. Of course, she couldn’t.

“I had family, and then I was alone.” She lifted her head from her girlfriend’s chest. “Laura, do you know what the worst feeling really is?” Her eyes were red, puffy and lost…very lost. And then it stroke Laura that Carmilla may have never had a pillar to mourn before—a safe haven.

“What is it?”

“Loneliness.” She pauses to take a deep breath, even though she doesn’t need one. “It doesn’t matter if they made you suffer, or laugh, or cry. When they’re gone, there’s something inside of you that goes with them too, and you feel so lonely.” Laura understood. She understood the feeling, not like Carmilla did, but she understood. It hit her and she was now crying with her…crying the wave away until they fell asleep.

—-

It was quiet in their dorm room. After Carmilla broke down on Laura’s arms the other night, she continued on reading the next book without pausing. They agreed that it was impossible to be too apart from each other, so every now and then Laura would approach towards Carmilla for comfort—or out of plain habit. Enough to not be a distraction.

“Ok, so tell me your theories at this point.” Carmilla was reading resting on Laura’s lap while the latter re-read one of her required books to find more important points to talk about on her lit paper. She eyed occasionally as her girlfriend was approaching the end of book six, and once she did, she peeked her curiosity.

“Well, for starters, Harry has to be a horrocrux, otherwise, why make it such a big deal? It would be a shame if he isn’t.” Laura didn’t think Harry was a horrocrux before. “Hence, he will die.” But she did think he was going to die. “Also, Snape is such a double agent. I mean, it’s clear.”

“That he betrayed Dumbledure’s trust?”

“Oh, no. That he’s doing everything for the dimwit Potter that is—wait, scratch that—the woman he loves.”

“How corny.” Laura mocks.

“Very. Oh, and that adventure they plan on going…full of angst and drama.” Laura quirked an eyebrow because everything up to this point was true. “I also foresee a big battle…” Right. “…at Hogwarts.” Right. “And important deaths.” And right again. “Am I close?”

A repressed huff was all Carmilla needed to confirm her theories. And a satisfied grin was all Laura needed to get the strength to kick her girlfriend out from her lap. With no lap and no comfort, Carmilla scowls, but before she can verbally protest Laura cuts her thoughts. “You just know everything, don’t you?”

“Did you just let me spoil myself? You’re supposed to tell me ‘you need to read it, Carmilla’, or ‘I won’t spoil the fun for you, Carmilla.’” Laura just laughed at the very terrible impersonation of her. There was something in Carmilla’s high-pitched voice that caused Laura to always lose it. Carmilla’s glad she has that effect. And even though she didn’t intend to cause it, the sight of Laura laughing was one Carmilla’s favorite facet of hers.

“It’s just—everything you said is on point.”

“To be fair, it’s a little predictable.”

“Possibly for a 334 year old vampire who has read a life’s worth of literature, and theories, and—”

“I’m enjoying myself, I will read the…” She searched for the seventh book on the almost empty box set. “…Deathly Hallows, even though you spoiled me…” Laura shot her a look. “…or that I effectively figured out everything.”

“You’re an insufferable—” Her breath hitched as Carmilla laced her fingers with hers.

“—know-it-all? Proud of it.” Carmilla said with a smug, big grin.

—-

All was well? That’s it?”

“You get a happy ending.”

“True.” Carmilla’s head was once again on Laura’s lap—this was her favorite position—and her eyes were now heavy on Laura’s. The latter was stroking Carmilla’s hair looking blankly at it, but she felt the burn and turned to look at her girlfriend.

They maintained that position for a while until Laura flicked away to Carmilla’s lips and went down to kiss her softly—so softly. But they were gone too soon and Carmilla found herself once again in a daze.

“I read all seven books for you, Hollis.” Her eyes were closed, but Laura could tell she was teasing. “I deserve my prize. If you’re finished with your studies, of course.”

She is finished with studying for the day. “And what would that be?” She is startled by how quick Carmilla sat up.

“Dance with me.” And how she was out of bed.

“You know I don’t know how to dance, specially waltz.” She was suddenly feeling shy and dumb about the whole thing.

“I know, but I liked book four when they had that ball, and then on this book with the wedding. I…” She hesitated. “I don’t know… I want to dance with you.”

“Would you teach me for posterity?”

“For posterity.” Carmilla extended a hand to Laura, which she gladly took.

They positioned themselves traditionally and Carmilla started swaying as she could to an imaginary tune in her head, pulling Laura with her. She then hummed that imaginary tune out loud to help Laura and she started to get it. Carmilla slowly came to a stop to check in.

“Did you get it?”

“I think so. One, two, three, four. One, two…” She moved at the count with Carmilla and she reached closer to Laura’s ear and softly started to hum her tune again. “Thank you.”

“For?” She extended her arm spinning her girlfriend, looking intensely at her.

“Reading those. They mean a lot to me.” It was a graceful spin. Laura was a fast learner. And even though it was a tiny space, it was enough for them to move happily. 

“I know…they now mean a great deal to me as well.” She meant it. She didn’t think for a second a book series—initially intended for kids—would get to mean so much to her. But it was a big part of Laura’s past, present and future. It explained unspeakable aspects of her and it got Carmilla to show herself to Laura—her own unspeakable aspects. Anything that could do that had to mean a great deal to her.

They were silent for a while but it didn’t last long. Probably not even a minute.

“So which house would you be in?” Carmilla genuinely laughed. Of course Laura would decide to have a conversation in the middle of a graceful dance.

“Definitely Slytherin.” Carmilla drew her girlfriend closer.

“Is it because of your snarky intellect?” Laura scuffed while she moved her free hand from Carmilla’s shoulder to the back of her neck.

“More like my passionate individualistic loyalty.”

“To…?” Laura sounded hopeful, so Carmilla spun her around one more time.

“You, my one safe place.” She placed a kiss on Laura’s temple, and then traveled down her cheek, jawline, up her nose—all between whispered ‘I love you’s—until finding her soft lips to bask in the peacefulness of it all—the peacefulness of her safe haven.

The books provided them something necessary for their bond to strengthen in such a way it promised a forever.

When I was in school, every now and then a teacher or a classmate would receive a card or a gift, perhaps on a holiday or at the end of the year or after recovering from an illness/injury, and whoever was in charge of presenting this item would say, “It’s from all of us.”

I was not consulted on any of these; usually this was the first I found out about it. They usually didn’t even ask me to sign the card hastily a few minutes before. Certainly this would tend to happen independently of whether I liked the recipient.

And everything about the situation was exquisitely engineered to make it socially impossible for me to disavow participation. Maybe you didn’t bother to chip in, said whoever uttered the words “it’s from all of us”, but we’re going to overlook that deficiency. You can hide behind this lie. If you choose to draw attention to the fact that it’s not true, you will actually look worse than you would if we’d given the person an accurate list of participants in the first place, and you will be wrecking somebody’s happy occasion if you do it now of all times.

I’m not in school anymore, so now the people who feel entitled to wad me up with a group of nearby others aren’t giving a card to a teacher or to the kid just out of the hospital; they want to load me into their rhetorical shotguns to take aim at ideologies they don’t like, and they didn’t even sit three seats down from me all year in Geography first.

“The bisexual community” prefers not to define bisexuality as attraction to both men and women, or attraction to two genders, apparently. I neglected to sign up for the newsletter or attend any of the meetings, and even if I’d gotten a vote, perhaps Proposition: “Bi” Continues To Mean “Two” would have been shot down. I’ve been defined out of my word; sources vary on when this happened, but I only found out fairly recently, because I am not registered as a member of the Bisexual Party or part of the phone tree.

I am some unworded thing. I am this thing instead of just “bisexual” - which has been serviceably explanatory for all my real-life applications - because somebody who did not even sit three seats down from me in Geography all year, let alone ask me, decided that the word meant something else. They think being attracted to men and women and not to people who aren’t those things is somehow dismissive or fearful or discriminatory w.r.t. people who are not those things. (Not a word on whether being attracted to only one of those categories is likewise. “~98%: Is it more or less inclusive than ~48%? We’ll address the controversy after these messages.”)

They have chosen to address this by making me indescribable. So that someone with poor comprehension skills, who thinks “not attracted to” means “dismissive/fearful/discriminatory”, but who still pays enough attention to the International Bisexuals Coalition Semiannual Consensus Updates to notice the redefinition and understand it, will misunderstand my attempt to self-describe when I reach for the only word I have, instead of leaping to conclusions about whether I secretly loathe my best friend / my former roommate / my metamour because they belong to gender categories I have tended to find myself disinterested in kissing.

What a nice tradeoff. Aren’t I grateful? It’s from all of us. And if I call attention to the lie -

The Global Conspiracy of Ladies has been getting up to similar shenanigans. Presumed facts about me, which, if present, have certainly not been released into the public domain, are being added to the payload of the onslaught against… something… by said Global Conspiracy. They were kind enough to include me even though they didn’t ask me to sign the card. Yes, all women. Maybe I like the metaphorical person the present is for, but I didn’t give the organizer a quarter to cover the cost of wrapping paper. They’re willing to overlook that because my existence makes the rock in the catapult that little bit heavier to squish I know not who. I can hide behind this lie; I am strongly encouraged to hide behind this lie. It’s from all of us. I neither signed the card nor surveyed the target but it’s from all of us, promise.

The Autism Union of Earth has its claim on me, too. So far they haven’t done much I actually disapprove of - made some sketchy friends, maybe, but otherwise I’m fine with its murmurings as I’ve seen from my position of only irregularly spotting one of the informative leaflets. But sooner or later it will be a special occasion and the teacher will get a card and I don’t think anyone’s going to bother to ask me to sign it, or if they do, it won’t matter if I refuse. The power of fictitious unanimity is too much to pass up. Most sounds wimpy, many even worse, some a complete waste of breath, any reference to what your actual evidence for agreement might be is almost counterproductive in its conservatism. These sorts of communities want the clout of perfect, unbroken solidarity untroubled by actually asking.

It’s from all of us.

anonymous asked:

I hate to admit it but I'm a little tired of random angst to prolong drama. The curse on hook I get! But hook taking Henry and trying to send him off without telling Emma, Emma not trusting him, the charmings all ganging up... And then what it's like it never happened next episode? I'm just confused and dislike negative character development. I don't mind the curse but I did not love how it was (not) handled just so hook could be more sad? More angsty? I don't know if I make sense

You absolutely do, and I have seen a lot of people with similar comments (myself included). I feel like (as i—still—do said) that Hook trying to take Henry out of SB for his protection was meant to parallel Emma taking him from Regina and trying to leave, but because Hook isn’t his father or related to him in any way it came off as Hook screwing up big time rather than a parallel. It does, however, as many people have said, show how similarly both Hook and Emma respond to situations like that.

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