it's a good thing i have no desire to ever be in power

The 10 Elements of a MAIN CHARACTER

To all the writers who have ever been told “Your characters have to be three dimensional!” or “They should be well-rounded!” and just felt like saying: “What does that even MEAN?! What goes into a 3-dimensional character? Specifically? And how do you go about creating one?!”

Good news. There’s a way. 

Great main characters – heroes, protagonists, deuteragonist, whatever you want to call them – have ten things in common. Ten things that are easily developed, once you know what to create within your character. So no one will ever be able to tell you “needs to be more three dimensional!” ever again. Ha. 

1) Weaknesses: Main characters should be flawed, but I’m not saying this because it will make them more realistic (though it will) – I’m saying they need to be flawed because if they’re not, they shouldn’t be a main character. Story is another word for change, or more accurately, character growth. Not character as in “fictional person”, character meaning “heart and soul”. Story is someone’s character changing, for better or worse. Main characters at the beginning of the story are lacking something vital, some knowledge of themselves, some knowledge of how to live a better life, and this void is ruining their lives. They must overcome these weaknesses, if they’re going to become complete, and reach a happy ending. There are two types of weaknesses: Psychological and Moral. Psychological ones only hurt the main character. Moral ones cause the main character to hurt other people. Easy.  

2) Goal: Characters exist because they want something. Desiring something, and the fight against opposition for that desire, is the lifeblood of story; and because character is story, it’s also desire that can breathe life into words on a page, and begin the process of creating a real person in a reader’s mind. It’s this ‘desire for something’ that sparks that first connection between reader and character. It makes us think “Well, now I have to find out if this person gets what they want.” This is a powerful link. (How many mediocre movies do we suffer through, when we could easily stop watching, because we’re still trapped by that question of “what happens?”) So if this is powerful enough to keep people watching an annoying movie, imagine how powerful it can be in an excellent story. 

Like in Up, the goal is to get the house to Paradise Falls.

3) Want: If the main character wants something, they want it for a darn good reason. Usually, they think that attaining the goal will fill the void they can sense in their lives, the deficiency they can feel, but don’t know how to fix. And they’re almost always wrong. Getting the goal doesn’t help anything; which is why, while pursuing that goal, they discover a deeper need that will heal them. Which brings us to …

4) Need/Elixir: Main characters are missing something, a weakness in their innermost selves is causing them to live a less-than-wonderful life. Through story, these main characters can be healed. Once they discover what’s missing, and accept it, and change the way they live to include this truth they’ve uncovered … they’re healed. Learning this truth, whatever it is, forms the purpose of the story for the main character. The reader, and the character, think the story is about achieving that big tangible goal the premise talks about; really, underneath it all, the story is about someone achieving a big intangible truth, that will ultimately save their life and future. Often, this need is exactly what the character fears or professes to hate. 

Like Finding Nemo, where Dory states exactly what Marlin needs to learn. 

5) Ghosts: 

Not this kind of ghosts.

Ghosts are events in your character’s past which mark the source of their weaknesses and strengths. Because these happened, the character became who they are. All we need to know about backstory are these moments, because who the character became is all we care about. There’s really only one ghost you absolutely need: the source of their moral and psychological weakness. Something happened that knocked the character’s world off kilter, and everything from that moment onward has been tainted by what happened. This moment haunts them (hence the name), and holds them back from uncovering that need that will heal their weaknesses. Pixar are masters of this: the source of Carl being stuck in the past, curmudgeonly, unable of loving anyone new? Ellie dying; his ghost. In Finding Nemo, the source of Marlin being suffocating, protective to the point of being harmful, possessive, and fearful? His wife and 99% of his children being eaten in front of him; his ghost. 

6) True Character: These are the strengths, values, convictions, fears, faults, beliefs, worldview, and outlook on life that make the main character who they truly are. 

7) Characterization: This is everything on the surface of a main character. The way they look, talk, act, etc. All of this originates from those deeper elements of their being, the strengths, values, ghosts, weaknesses, needs, that make them who they truly are. So often, you can think of this as a facade they’re projecting, a way to shield the the truth about themselves, how they wish to be perceived. The story, and the other characters, are slowly going to see deeper than this characterization, revealing more and more of the reasons it is the way it is. 

8) Arc: If the character is going to change from “Incomplete Person” to “Complete Person” there’s going to be a journey they go on to make that possible. The external story, the pursuit of that big tangible goal the premise is about, is causing an inner journey to take place. What they have to do in pursuit of that external goal will apply pressure to those weaknesses, and pressure causes change. This process has seven steps, but if I write it all here this post is going to be obscenely long. So I might wait and give this its own post.

9) Changed Person: Who is the character going to be at the end of this story? They better be different, or else the story didn’t work. How do they show how different they’ve become? What is the moral choice they make, that spins their trajectory from “the future doesn’t look so great” to “happily ever after”? This should be known right away, maybe even before anything else is settled about the character. This gives a distinct end goal, a way to work backwards, a destination in mind that you can navigate towards.  

10) Fascination and Illumination: The surface characterization, and the brief glimpses of the true character underneath create curiosity in the reader/audience. What the character says, and the implied subtext beneath the dialogue, creates a puzzle the audience wants to solve. Actions they take work the same way; if the writer indicates there’s deeper motivation behind why a character behaves in the way they do, we buy into solving that mystery right away. We can’t help it. “Who are you really? Why are you the way you are? And how is that going to effect the story?” These are all the unspoken, almost not consciously acknowledged, questions that fascinating characters provoke. Searching out meaning, connecting the dots to find the truth – we can’t resist this. We’re not fascinated by tons of backstory and exposition about a character; we’re fascinated by story, by mystery, by the technique of withholding information and having to interpret and hunt out the truth on our own.  So gradually, the story and the characters will force that character to reveal a little more, and a little more, until we have a complete picture of who this person is. Crucial that this information isn’t told up front. Gradually illuminate it. It’s just like getting to know a real person. 

So how does this work in a real character? Let’s take a look at Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert, because almost everybody has seen that movie. 

Moral Weaknesses: He’s selfish. He’s a little greedy. He’s a little rude. He uses his charisma and bravado to keep people at a distance from the real him. 

Psychological Weaknesses: Insecurity, fear of vulnerability, feels like the real him (Eugene) would be unwanted, unlovable, and have nothing – just like when he was an orphaned kid. Also, he doesn’t know who he wants to be, what he wants to live for. 

Goal: Flynn wants to get that crown. So he has to get Blondie to see the floating lights, so she’ll give it back to him, and then they can part ways as unlikely friends.  

Want: Why does he want the crown? What does it mean for him? He actually states it (reluctantly) in song: “I have dreams like you, no really. Just much less touchy feely. They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny. On an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone. Surrounded by enormous piles of money.” He senses there’s something off in his life, something is missing. But he mistakenly believes this missing piece is money, which will allow him to buy a lonely island, where he can live out his days as Flynn and no one will ever know Eugene. 

Need: “All those days chasing down a daydream. All those years living in a blur. All that time never truly seeing, things the way they were. Now she’s here, shining in the starlight. Now she’s here, suddenly I know. If she’s here, it’s crystal clear, I’m where I’m meant to go.” He wants a crown … he needs to fall in love with Rapunzel. He needs to love something more than himself, and find out that love isn’t something to fear and push away. He needs to abandon the 'Tales of Flynnagin Rider’ ambition, and get a more worthwhile, new dream. 

Ghost: The source of all of his weaknesses can be linked to his “little bit of a downer” childhood as an orphan. Interestingly, he isn’t aware of another facet of that ghost, and Rapunzel points it out to him. “Was he a thief too?” she asks. He looks taken aback, before answering “Uh, no.” Something’s gone wrong. The choices he’s making are not living up to that original role model.  

Characterization: Flynn’s charming, funny, smart, charismatic, and arrogant (in a somehow charming sort of way). He’s also rude, contemptuous, and sarcastic. All traits that help him keep up that 'swashbuckling rogue’ facade, and push people away from the real him. 

True Character: Underneath all that, he’s a Disney prince. That pretty much sums it up.  

Changed Person: “Started going by Eugene again, stopped thieving, and basically turned it all around.” He started the story as the guarded and evasive Flynn, he ends as the selfless and thoroughly-in-love Eugene. 

Fascination and Illumination: Imagine if everything about Flynn had been told, right up front. We know he’s an orphan, we know he’s upheld a fake reputation, we know he’s a kind and loving guy underneath it all, we even know about his “tales of Flynnagin” childhood dream. You know what happens? We like him … but we’re not interested in him. There’s nothing we need to find out. There’s no curiosity. And if there’s no curiosity, and nothing being illuminated, your story’s not going anywhere. So instead, we find out – alongside Rapunzel – more about Flynn as the story progresses. And that is how it should be. 

So!

Developing characters in this way, I’ve found, really reduces worries about how “well-rounded” and three dimensional I’ve made them. They feel real to me. And besides helping me create characters, this ten element technique has also let me analyze characters I like, which is strangely fun. It’s a great way to figure out why a character works, what causes them to be so effective, and how you can go about creating them yourself. 

Yeah, I’m a bit of a nerd. 

But if you want, try it out. Develop a character. Analyze a character. You might find it as useful/fun as I do.

the signs as people i’ve known

aries: passionate verging on obsessive.  defensive of both themselves and the people they love.  few layers; what you see is more or less what you get.  good-hearted, intelligent.  always up for a challenge, but becomes stressed out very easily and handles stress very poorly.  even when they’re tired, they somehow seem so alert and two steps ahead of you.  responsible.  they prefer to lead and lead very well.  interesting, competitive, loyal.  although they like to be correct and love to prove people wrong, more than anything they just want someone to listen and expand on their point, not disagree with it. romantic but they like to pretend that they aren’t.  they seek instant gratification and hate doing things that they’re not naturally great at (but they’re naturally great at a lot).  can be very self-absorbed, but it’s not conscious.  so loving and so lovely.  the yang to my yin, the storm to my calm.  a friend who completes me.

taurus: extremely nice, and they never want to hurt anybody’s feelings, so they tend to skirt around the truth or omit their opinion.  truly, genuinely kind, the sort of person you hope will always stay in your life, the sort of person you feel like you really need.  dependable, hardworking, stable.  they have been through a lot, but looking at them, you wouldn’t know it.  will ultimately put themselves before you (which is a good thing), but is always there for you when they can be. very realistic; they know what they can achieve and expect themselves to do so.  private to a fault, and doesn’t usually express their feelings. there is something about their soul that makes me smile whenever i think of them. one of the people i love most in this world.  my equal, the friend who i hope knows how much i love them.

gemini: endlessly charming, supportive, and brave.  always wants to make everyone happy, often at the expense of their own desires, so they’ll do things they don’t want to do but be kind of grouchy about it, leading others to believe that they are picky and that they change their mind too much.  frequently changes the details of a story to either make it more interesting or get out of trouble.  wants more than anything to see and experience the good in the world but is very often a victim of the bad.  overly-trusting.  they can make any experience memorable, and they are the most fun you’ll ever have. quite self-critical but they also know that they have a certain power over people. forgetful, tolerant, warm.  often feels quite overwhelmed and may not handle this feeling wisely.  crazy but kind.  the one whom words fail to describe.  the biggest piece of my heart, my mother.

cancer: both friendly and intimidating.  difficult to read.  patient and cooperative but more often than not, they think their idea/opinion is better than yours.  very, very smart.  super dependable, so sensitive, hold grudges like it’s their life’s calling. courageous.  behave very differently around authority figures, likes being seen as innocent and cute. they will keep your secrets but they will kind of hold them over you, and they tend to taunt others by saying, “i know [x] about [y] and you don’t.”  very funny, dark, and sarcastic once you get to know them, but initially sweet and sugary.  survivalists; they protect themselves first and their loved ones second and don’t really care about everyone else. friendly. once they’re in a relationship, they become rather absorbed by it and neglect the other parts of their life.  dramatic, obsessive. rather strong-willed.  when they’re having an off day, get out of their way.  they will never forget anything you tell them.  they see life as an inside joke.  my figurative fraternal twin.  the friend who is just like me but whom i’ll never understand.

leo: impressively loving, astonishingly generous, the whole universe in one person.  soft and loud, wild and cautious.  they are full of power, grace, and energy, and they awaken within you the sense that you are good and that you can do whatever you want to do. even when they’re quiet, their presence is felt. very self-critical, constantly questioning their worth. always in need of validation, which is why they like to be the center of attention; in order to know that they’re a star, they require a standing ovation. they want to love themselves, they need to love themselves. such a romantic, wants to be wooed and adored, and they’ll gladly return the favor.  soothing.  they are so easy to trust, but they are more careful with their own secrets than they seem. they love with every bone in their body.  they want, more than anything, a best friend. loyal, inventive, go-getters. great listeners.  can somehow empathize with every situation, but are mildly obsessed with themselves. love winning. my idol, the part of myself i hope i grow into, my aunt.

virgo: hilarious, dependable, treats you like their kid.  trustworthy, sympathetic. they are fascinating and unique, but they are too attached to their own magic. more obsessive than they like to think they are.  they take criticism very well, perhaps because they dish it out even better. level-headed but aspirational. they prefer to be the less loving one in all of their relationships.  feels guilty for feeling sad or emotional. curious and interested.  can talk for hours if you let them.  kind and smart, wants to be special and different from everyone else. treats the people closest to them the worst. believes in tough love.  loves to joke and be sarcastic but usually takes it a few steps too far.  perfectionistic, which leads them to put little effort into things that they feel they can’t do flawlessly.  the one i protect who thinks they’re protecting me.  the friend whom i loved right away.

libra: angelic, enchanting, sweet.  picky. they are so afraid of offending someone that they have to know someone really likes them before they’ll be honest with them.  so many layers.  funny and diligent. treats everyone like their best friend, but when you are their best friend, there is just something so slightly different about how they treat you, something that makes you feel amazing. good at everything.  completely unable to make decisions. gossipers. they want to like everyone, but they just don’t.  absolutely hates saying no, but will do it if it’s 100% necessary.  sleepy and goofy around people they love. works hard to look good, trendy.  smart, fair.  nervous around authority figures. fearful of loss and of growing up.  secret control freaks.  they are at once youthful and wise.  crazy patient on the outside, just crazy on the inside. always somewhere on my mind, the one who i was always meant to know. my very best friend, my soul’s sister.

scorpio: the best listener. truly wants to know everything about you. extremely devoted, passionate.  knows you very, very well.  so funny, so kind.  will stick with you through thick and thin, always on your side.  gives great advice. the person across the room who you can’t stop staring at.  secretive, fearful, romantic.  both observant and judgmental. will hate you for judging them while they judge you.  their heart is bigger than anyone else’s, and all they really want is to fill it to its brim with love. very often the sidekick, but they stand out to me. they are quite obsessive and they rarely wait for explanations. they want to own the people they love.  intuitive.  loves you soooo much.  impossible to know fully. deep, powerful. the ocean flows inside them, yet all too often that ocean is stormy.  the person many people think i am, the person i sometimes i wish i was.  my confidante, my partner in crime, my heart, my friend.

sagittarius: the most supportive and dependable person on the planet.  an amazing friend, the best person to have in your corner.  honest and disorganized, friendly and capable.  very quick to anger and has a hard time admitting they’re wrong.  devotes themselves wholly and completely to their partner and puts them on a pedestal, but once they’ve moved on, they’ve really moved on.  tends to succeed, lucky.  has a hard time seeing the truth of a situation and often must be told what’s really going on.  charismatic and caring, overly generous.  can spread themselves thin.  guided chiefly by morals which they never abandon.  has a strong sense of right and wrong (specifically, they’re right, you’re wrong).  my backbone, my other mother.

capricorn: pensive and stoic.  has a brain that never stops going.  they wake up every morning in the climax of a novel they’ve written in their sleep.  loyal, just, intimidating.  cold and private.  mean to people who are mean to them.  shuts down entirely for seemingly no reason.  the wisest of all.  mature.  silently romantic. victim of their thoughts.  intense, original.  they want someone to fall really deeply in love with them, but they close themselves off to everyone. admires the beauty of the world, moved by small details that many people miss. always thinking of the future, no matter how good the present is.  judgmental. wants to be better than everyone else. exceptionally smart. often falling apart on the inside.  can think themselves into sickness, into joy, into anything. loves to be alone, hates more than anything to be lonely.  soft on the inside. the best leaders but they don’t like to lead.  kind-hearted and always doubting it. immensely fatalistic.  the dreamy head behind my eyes.  myself.

aquarius: very patient.  analytical, detached.  they have favorite people and things and they will be honest about who and what these favorites are.  they love you, they just can’t tell you.  wants to be cared for without caring in return. easy to talk to, somehow always makes you feel safe.  impressive intellect. generous with the people they love.  genuinely good, inspiring.  easily overwhelmed.  resorts to humor when offended.  doesn’t try very hard to act like they like someone they hate.  wants to be special.  artificially nice to authority figures.  can be surprisingly mean without intending to.  very good liars.  super funny.  compliments mean a lot coming from them.  the person i forget i am, the friend i should talk to more.

pisces: kind-hearted, funny.  to really know them, you kind of have to know them forever.  so easy to love.  hates to think about the difficulties of the world and prefers to just have fun.  very much in the present and tries not to think about the future.  as such, they sometimes behave without thinking and wind up messing things up for themselves.  they tend to be kind of lazy in regards to some things and extremely passionate in regards to others; there isn’t a lot of balance.  can be very mean and very angry.  won’t apologize first when you’ve made them mad. must express themselves in some way.  no matter how much they say that they love you, they always love you more than that.  quite sensitive, hates few things more than being called annoying. super generous, always wants to be there for you but hates not being able to make you happier. truly the sweetest. my favorite person, my brother.

ARIES: I heard that somebody with icicles in their chest once told you that spring was only for people that know how to be wanted but they were lying. Hardly anybody takes care of honesty the way that you do and somehow that’s still a surprise. Take the weight of your insecurities and lay them to rest underneath a gravestone. When wildflowers grow from what you buried don’t bother to pick them. They’ll always be there. Don’t you know what it’s like to come back to things? 

TAURUS: The peach pit on your dresser has been sitting there for years and it’s okay that you can’t throw it out yet. Okay that you can’t put it back into the fruit and unbite all of the soft and the sweet and the “maybe this time it’ll be different” that leaked out onto your fingers on the nights that your teeth feel too used to be desired. Wash your sheets and dry them outside. Lay underneath the clothes line and listen. Unclench your fists. Rewrite the grocery list.

GEMINI: It isn’t your fault that not everyone can swallow the parts of you that have sharp edges. You’ve been spending too much time forcing yourself down the linen aisle when you should be finding the nearest comic book store. There’s a reason superman is nicknamed “man of steel” and you deserve all of the iron-throated hearts that you can find. Invest in a metal detector. Don’t be ashamed of what you find.

CANCER: The way you bare your chest to the world is terribly brave and I don’t want you to continue feeling responsible for the people you’ve kissed that have taken advantage of that. Skin-deep damage does not make you unlovable, it gives you new perspectives. Don’t apologize for the ways you have tried to survive this. You’re better than the fires you’ve walked through and the storms you’ve caused. Suck on a peppermint until it loses its flavor. Name the taste after your last heartbreak. Now spit it out.

LEO: Your chest caves in whenever you think about the past and nobody’s ever told you that everything is temporary. Well, honey, I have some news for you. Start checking the mailbox again before the neighbors start to worry. People still want to stain paper with your name and martyring yourself over words is something you’ve become too talented at. Take a break, now and again. Burn the television set if that’s what it takes. Air out the smoke and look into a mirror, admire how powerful you seem as you step out of the haze of what’s gone.

VIRGO: Oh, baby, you’ve made mistakes and you’ve drained the bottles but you’re not the only one who’s felt like this. I know that it’s hard to let yourself feel these things but you have to try, you have to let the light in. It’s so dark in the room you’ve been using to store your regrets and your pallor has become a reflection of the ghosts you’ve been taking orders from. You were made for the sun. Let it kiss you without repercussion. Allow yourself to kiss it back.

LIBRA: So maybe you dropped too many pennies down the wishing well and now your wallet is nothing more than negative space. So maybe you forgot who gave you that good advice that one time and you’re still beating yourself up over it. Go ahead, admit to your faults. Set a place for them at the table and scold them for being late. Eat their portion and kick them out. Being familiar with every side to your geometric personality is not something to be ashamed of. Remember the angles, and keep moving. People like you are not meant to stand still.

SCORPIO: I think that your ears were made for listening to things that break. The shattering of a vase. The cracking of a heart. Does it ever get exhausting to be so awfully aware of how things sound when they forget to function? Nobody expects you to take every smashed hope and piece it together on your own. You are not a bottle of glue no matter how much you feel disaster sticks to you. I promise. You don’t have to carry that toolbox around, anymore. It looks heavy. Set it down.

SAGITTARIUS: You have your father’s mouth and consequently have dreams where you’re ripping it from your face. Somebody told you once that you were inadequate and now there’s a bruise on your ego and you can’t seem to stop touching it. Why are you so obsessed with how long it takes to heal? Why are you so afraid of letting people see you cry? Take off your armor and let your skin breathe. There’s still time to be okay with the idea of loss. You’re not too late. You’re not too late.

CAPRICORN: Stop using the word pathetic whenever anybody asks you to describe yourself. The people that hold you accountable for the abuse you’ve endured are the ones that turn away whenever they see it. You don’t need them, you never did. Can you feel that prickling sensation running up your arms? It’s tomorrow knocking and it wants to show you something beautiful. Let it. You’ve handled tragedy, surely you can handle tenderness.

AQUARIUS: You’ve been fucked over so many times it’s hard not to see yourself as a hotel room on the outskirts of town. Dark red bedsheets and rusty doorknobs and a lampshade that hasn’t been touched in a decade or two, this is where you lie and try to erase the memories from your naked body. You don’t want to belong to anybody almost as much as you don’t want people to believe they’ve changed you. They haven’t, you know that right? No matter how many people hike up mount everest it’s still a mountain. It’s still bigger than what’s stepping on it. It still keeps its name.

PISCES: You’ve become so good at sacrificing yourself for the possibility of something worthwhile that your body looks more like an altar than an assortment of bones. If this is your church I hope that your god looks like your nine year old face whenever somebody asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. I hope your prayer sounds like an exhale and that your choir sings in harmony and that every donation tastes like honey. Don’t forget to bow your head every once in a while. Remind yourself of your feet. Of how fast you’re able to run.

—  APRIL HOROSCOPES, 2/30, Caitlin Conlon
46 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In YA Literature

1. “You could rattle the stars. You could do anything, if you only dared. And deep down, you know it too, and that’s what scares you the most.”
—Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass

2. “Because sometimes chance and circumstance can seem like the most appalling injustice, but we just have to adapt. That’s all we can do.”
—Gavin Extence, The Universe Versus Alex Woods

3. “I can’t seem to be a pessimist long enough to overlook the possibility of things being overwhelmingly good.”
—John Corey Whaley, Where Things Come Back

4. “Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.”
―Christopher Paolini, Eragon

5. “Because Margo knows the secret of leaving, the secret I have only just now learned; leaving feels good and pure only when you leave something important, something that mattered to you. Pulling life out by the roots. But you can’t do that until your life has grown roots.”
—John Green, Paper Towns

6. “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”
―J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

7. “I’m done with those; regrets are an excuse for people who have failed.”
—Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story

8. “Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”
—Veronica Roth, Divergent

9. “The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”
—Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

10. “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
—Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park

11. “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”
—Natalie Babbit, Tuck Everlasting

12. “Just because we’ve been … dealt a certain hand … it doesn’t mean that we can’t choose to rise above — to conquer the boundaries of a destiny that none of us wanted.”
—Stephenie Meyer, Twilight

13. “Some walks you have to take alone.”
—Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

14. “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”
—John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

15. “We believe in the wrong things. That’s what frustrates me the most. Not the lack of belief, but the belief in the wrong things. You want meaning? Well, the meanings are out there. We’re just so damn good at reading them wrong.”
—Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

16. “Why would you be given wings if you weren’t meant to fly?”
—Leslye Walton, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

17. “Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

18. “It’s just that…I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It’s the universe’s way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It’s how life is.”
—Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

19. “The universe is bigger than anything that can fit into your mind.”
—Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead

20. “I try to think about how it all works. At school dances, I sit in the background, and I tap my toe, and I wonder how many couples will dance to ‘their song.’ In the hallways, I see the girls wearing the guys’ jackets, and I think about the idea of property. And I wonder if anyone is really happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are.”
—Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

21. “Things were rough all over but it was better that way. That way, you could tell the other guy was human too.”
—S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders

22. “What if evil doesn’t really exist? What if evil is something dreamed up by man, and there is nothing to struggle against except our own limitations? The constant battle between our will, our desires, and our choices?”
—Libba Bray, Rebel Angels

23. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

24. “It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.”
—Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

25. “I can tell you that the end of a life is the sum of the love that was lived in it, that whatever you think you have sworn, being here at the end of Jem’s life is not what is important. It was being here for every other moment.”
—Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess

26. “Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”
—Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time

27. “Maybe who we are isn’t so much about what we do, but rather what we’re capable of when we least expect it”
—Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

28. “People never really died. They only went on to a better place, to wait a while for their loved ones to join them. And then once more they went back to the world, in the same way they had arrived the first time around.”
―V.C. Andrews, Flowers in the Attic

29. “Goodbye, I say, goodbye, as I disappear little by little into the middle of the middle of my own spectacular now.”
—Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now

30. “But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way…Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”
—Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave

31. “The words were on their way, and when they arrived, she would hold them in her hands like clouds, and she would ring them out like the rain.”
—Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

32. “Child, no one is ever ready for anything. I would never doom you to that. What sort of adventureless life would that be?”
—Alethea Kontis, Enchanted

33. “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden

34. “Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”
―Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You the Sun

35. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: We all want everything to be okay. We don’t even wish so much for fantastic or marvelous or outstanding. We will happily settle for okay, because most of the time, okay is enough.”
—David Levithan, Every Day

36. “Doubt everything at least once. What you decide to keep, you’ll be able to be confident of. And what you decide to ditch, you will replace with what your instincts tell you is true.”
―Amy Plum, After the End

37. “Just as a river by night shines with the reflected light of the moon, so too do you shine with the light of your family, your people, and your God. So you are never far from home, never alone, wherever you go.”
—Karen Cushman, Catherine Called Birdy

38. “You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
—John Green, Looking for Alaska

39. “There’s no shame in fear, my father told me, what matters is how we face it.”
—George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

40. “I know that the whole point—the only point—is to find the things that matter, and hold on to them, and fight for them, and refuse to let them go.”
—Lauren Oliver, Delirium

41. “We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that.”
—Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

42. “It’s a lot easier to be lost than found. It’s the reason we’re always searching and rarely discovered—so many locks not enough keys.”
―Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key

43. “On that cold night in January it all slipped into place for me and she became my everything and my everyone. My music, my sun, my words, my logic, my confusion, my flaw.”
—Julie Murphy, Side Effects May Vary

44. “Hope? Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
—Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

45. “[She] had always suffered from a vague restlessness, a longing for adventure that she told herself severely was the result of reading too many novels when she was a small child.”
—Robin McKinley, The Blue Sword

46. “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 

It’s a bit more complicated than invisibility...

This occurred to me and I feel it’s worth posting since I’ve never seen any talk on this?

The One Ring doesn’t make you invisible. 

Why would it? Seriously, what purpose on Eru’s green earth does that serve? Sauron forging his ring of power in the heart of a volcano, thinking to himself, ah yes, invisibility would be a good trick to build into this thing! No. Cause you know what? Sauron’s ring does not make him invisible. And he certainly did not intend for anyone else to ever have it. So what’s it really doing?

Two words: Dimensional shift

I believe that when mortals put on the ring, they experience a dimensional shift in which they are pulled (stretched, transported) into a higher dimension, the plane on which the true spirit forms of the Ainur (and wraiths) exist. This would effectively render them invisible to those on lower dimensions, but the wearer would be able to view them with altered enhanced perception. Such as the effects we witness as described by those who have worn the ring. Especially well portrayed in the films is the ability to see the souls of others, particularly the ringwraiths (the battle on Weathertop is a good example, as well as even in Battle of the Five Armies when Bilbo is in Dale), black and white shadowy souls clear as day but invisible to the naked eye, as they exist on a different dimensional plane. It’s quite possible to me that the ëalar of the Ainur are in a higher dimension than that of mortal fëar, but that’s beside the point. They’re at least a couple dimensions removed from our reality, and thus invisible until one puts on the ring. 

Now, why would the ring have this power? I think, if I recall correctly, that Tolkien at one point did state that it was not intentional, that it was a byproduct of its making. Again, it does not turn Sauron invisible - it wouldn’t, he already exists on that plane. Mortals are bound to their bodies and so would not be able to perceive that higher dimension, but Ainur are not. I think most plausibly, this effect exists because Sauron infused a piece of his own soul into the one ring. The consequences of this are not well understood (it’s not like it’s a common practice) and we know in other ways, it is so strong in its desire to hearken back to its master, it can even influence the wills - a product of the souls - of those around it. I would not be surprised in the slightest if having a piece of Ainur ëala in an all-powerful object would result in the ability to bend reality to attempt to match the wearer to the properties of the owner. It would bring the wearer closer to Sauron, and allow him to perceive them, thus furthering its purpose to return to the whole from which it is a part. 

Just a theory, obviously, but I find it odd that I’ve never seen anyone question the rather absurd notion of ‘magic evil ring makes you invisible!’ Tolkien set up so many intriguing questions, concepts, and possibilities with underlying scientific principles - or at least, consistent rules - that I am sure this fits into his framework. 

guys, we need to talk about eowyn

So I get really narky when people pull the whole ‘oh Eowyn’s storyline came to such a sucky ending; she was really cool going around killing orcs and Witch-Kings and then she got shoved into a traditional girly role by marrying Faramir and becoming a healer’ thing, because no. No-no-no-no-no. Not only does that stray dangerously into the territory of ‘women only have worth if they’re doing traditionally blokey things’, but that misses almost the entire point of Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien was in the trenches in the first world war, right? He got all that ‘for death and glory’ shit shoved down his throat, that was the whole point about the war, it was when so many people came to see how awful and misleading all the propaganda about winning glory through violence and death was. And Tolkien’s work completely shows that: it’s why the hobbits, who’ve never craved power or battle the way men do, are the heroes of the book; it’s why strong men like Aragorn and Faramir are shown to be lovers of peace rather than war. It’s why the quote - but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory; I love only that which they defend – is so poignant and beautiful, when seen in the context of all Tolkien had gone through. He’d seen all but one of his closest friends die in an utterly pointless war; the prevalent message in his books is ‘if you’re going to have that many people die, let it be for something worth dying for.’ (Like defending your home from the lord of all darkness, for example.)

And Eowyn might be a fantastic female character, but she’s also got so much development to go through, and she’s by no means perfect. I find it really interesting that when Eowyn talks to Aragorn about wanting to go off and fight she never really actually mentions protecting her people, but speaks about wanting to ‘face peril and battle’, and to do ‘great deeds’. And it’s not that Eowyn doesn’t want to protect her people, because of course she does, but she’s also got such a driving motivation within her to do glorious and fell deeds simply for the sake of valour and renown. It’s one of her defining features, having an attitude that got so many young men killed in the war and which, obviously, Tolkien would have been very wary of.

(Also, I think, there’s so much in Eowyn that wants to prove herself to be more than ‘a mere woman’; because twice in that conversation she asserts that she’s no mere ‘dry-nurse’ or ‘serving-woman’, but a member of the house of Eorl and therefore capable of greater things. There’s almost this slight sense of Eowyn considering herself more than ‘just’ a domesticated woman that I sometimes get from her in the books? Which is very sad - the idea of Eowyn having less regard for others of her sex who do mind the house or raise the children - and why I so love that ‘I am no man’ moment in RotK. Eowyn’s no longer hiding herself, or dismissing fellow women as the weaker sex, but acknowledging and embracing the fact that women in all their forms can fuck you up.)

And then we reach the Houses of Healing, and Eowyn yearning for death in battle just like her Uncle Theoden, and basically buying into that whole world war one ethos that Tolkien would have considered so poisonous. Which is why her friendship and courtship with Faramir is so fricking beautiful. Remember that quote I wrote earlier? That’s from Faramir. He’s not backing down from conflict, he’s in no way less of a ‘real man’ than anyone else; he’s just saying there needs to be more to the fight than simply having a fight. There needs to be a reason; something worth fighting for. Eowyn recognises that Faramir is a good man in every sense of the word: he’s strong and valiant, but he doesn’t fight simply to prove himself or for the sake of winning glory, he fights for other people. And Faramir gently challenges Eowyn on her idolisation of battle-glory and encourages her not to scorn gentleness or peace, and he’s so freaking good for her.

(Seriously. Can we just stop for a moment and think about how wonderful Eowyn and Faramir are for each other: Faramir encouraging Eowyn to turn towards life and healing and openness while never denying her strength or courage, and Eowyn giving Faramir the validation and security he never got after so many years of an awful relationship with his father? I honestly don’t know why I don’t get all giddy about these two more often, because they make the very best otp.)

And the result of the departure of the Shadow and her friendship with Faramir is Eowyn’s decision that ‘I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.’

I think that last bit is so important because I’m certain that Tolkien doesn’t mean for Eowyn to immediately pack up her sword and shield and become a good girl sitting at home with her knitting and waiting for the men to return home after the fight – after all, she’s going to be the wife of the Steward of Gondor and there’s a lot of mess to clean up after the War of the Ring. Eowyn’s probably still going to find herself defending hearth and home from time to time. But the important thing is that she’s no longer defining herself simply by the doing of valiant deeds; she’ll no longer compare herself to the great warriors of her house and feel lacking simply because she hasn’t killed as many men. Most importantly, she’s not going to take joy only in the songs of the slaying, in destruction and death. Tolkien was all about healers symbolising life and rebirth, and Eowyn’s decision to become one – to aid in the preservation of life rather than the taking of it – is so beautiful. I don’t think Tolkien ever wrote Eowyn’s ending to make her reclaim her ‘lost femininity’; I think it’s a lovely way of adding to the ever-present theme in Lord of the Rings of hope and frailty and healing and friendship over glory and battle and strife.

... Somehow, Still Talking About This Captain America Shit (Now With Bonus Spider-Man and Agents of SHIELD)

So now Secret Empire has revealed its Shyamalan Twist and given the readers a Good Guy Steve Rogers as well as Hydra Cap, and the kinds of dickbags who, when this whole bullshit began were dismissing people’s complaints with “oh come on, don’t you know how comics works, it’s all going to be put back at the end, blah blah blah…” are crowing I-Told-You-So’s.

But here’s the thing:

Yeah, fucknuts.  We always knew this.

Keep reading

Some quick thoughts about how the Grand Relics reflect everyone on the crew’s personality. A lot of these points have been touched on before, but I wanted to wrap everything up nice. 

  • Davenport gets the Oculus, which is focused on Vision. If you can imagine it, you can make it real. Pretty great for a leader, and definitely good for the pragmatic captain we’ve gotten to know. You need to know exactly what you want, and if you can’t visualize it and understand it and execute it right, it will go horribly wrong. It’s the most laser precise of the relics, because you really need to have control of your own mind to use it. Of course Davenport loses his mind, loses his iron control of the situation, and the Oculus summons black holes.  It’s leadership gone wrong and self control without the control. 
  • Lup gets the Phoenix Fire Gauntlet, which is super dangerous short term but also fairly limited. It lights things of fire, and that’s it. It’s the least finessed of the Relics, and because of that it’s the most dangerous. It’s destroyed eight towns. It’s all power, none of the wherewithal and heart we see Lup demonstrate. She’s an evocation specialist, she’s the powerhouse of the group and because of that she has to know when to stop. The Gauntlet never stops, and hurts lots of people in the short term, but once it’s fired out it’s not quite as insidious as some of the other relics. It’s straightforward, and like Lup that’s both a strength and weakness. 
  • If Lup is the flamethrower that can mess you up in the short term, Taako is more subtle but overall more destructive. The Philosopher’s Stone is willing to play nice, be used, and generally not act up, right up until it throws you a curve ball and nearly crystallizes the entire world. Taako is the master of the random, game changing play, and Stone mirrors that ability to mess up everything and amplifies it ten fold. It’s not the charmer, it’s sales pitch is the most blatant thing ever and it sounds like your weird uncle, but it will bide its time until it decides the time is right to just upend everything. 
  • Nice, quiet Barry got the Animus Bell, which is nice and quiet and diligent and straight up murders people. It doesn’t make waves or look for trouble, the people who have owned it have kept it quiet and used it sensibly and thoroughly to awful, awful ends. Even Lucretia didn’t know what it did, which suggests that it’s the shyest of the relics. Barry is solid sort of guy. He does his best, death after death, body after body. He’s also a lich who invades people’s minds to get information. The Animus Bell is equally willing to drudge forward nicely and quietly, getting into dark magic and possessing people’s bodies. 
  • Merle, of course, is their godly man. He likes nature and Pan and has more insecurities than you could shake a stick at. The Gaia Sash takes that need for faith in a higher power and desire for control and blows it up. Sloane was calling herself a god by the end of her time with it, but she was also desperate for anything to ease her mind, something to put her faith in. It’s the nature relic, technically, but you could just as easily call it the God Relic. It’s all about power and how you use it and what you need to stay sane, namely the belief in something more powerful than you. 
  • It’s been discussed before how it’s weird that Magnus got time magic while Lucretia presumably got wards and protection, but it does make sense in a certain way. The best way to protect something is to make sure the bad thing never happened. I’m more interested in how the Chalice presents itself, namely that it really believes it’s a good person (relic) even while it does awful, awful things. Magnus is also someone who tries to be good, but often, thoughtlessly acts cruel. The Temporal Chalice plays the sweet tempered host, then in a fit of spite makes them watch all of Phandolin get destroyed and got Isaak to murder his best friend. Magnus will play the moral highground, and also bully people without meaning to. But while Magnus really tries to be good, the Chalice is all surface gentility with nothing underneath. It’s Rustic Hospitality, without the actual underlying Rustic Morality. 
#pining #sketches #quidditch

Prompts: @antique-moonglade
Author: @queenofthyme

Draco calmly set about mixing his paints. He’d perfected a particular shade of green only the day prior, and he wanted to get it exact. He had plenty of time to get it right before he needed to begin sketching. Quidditch practice didn’t start for another twenty minutes or so.

He’d set up his canvas quite a distance from the pitch so that the players wouldn’t see him.  Of course, that also meant he couldn’t see them that well either so, as always, he’d brought his binoculars to get the best view of his intended subject - it was a bit of a hassle using them and painting at the same time but it was better than the alternative - being caught.

Not even Pansy knew he was out here. Not for lack of trying of course. She’d even taken to following him in the mornings but Draco was careful. This morning he’d led her on a goose chase around the castle before finally giving her the slip and heading outside.

It was surprisingly warm for so early in the morning, the harsh glares of the sun already in full force. Draco had created a shade for himself - magically stretching out the branches of a nearby tree to shield his pale skin from the sun. But the players wouldn’t be so lucky. He could just imagine the sweat rolling down a particular player’s skin. It would make for a great painting if he could capture it correctly.

The green paint turned out exactly as he wanted it, a perfect replica of its inspiration, Draco thought. He set it aside, eager for the chance to use it later. Since he had time to kill, he figured he may as well get a start on the background, so he began lightly sketching in the lines of the Quidditch pitch and the surrounding stadiums with a thin pencil. He’d just started drawing the hoops at the far side of the pitch when a voice pulled him out of focus.

“Malfoy?”

The second hoop became oblong. He knew that voice.

“Potter,” he greeted automatically, his voice cold - a reflex.  He turned around quickly, his pencil falling into the grass.

Potter was squinting at Draco’s sketch, using his broomstick, firmly planted in the ground, to keep balance as he leaned forward. Despite only heading for a practice he was dressed in his full scarlet Gryffindor Quidditch uniform, complete with a protective chest plate handing loosely from his shoulders, waiting to be strapped on properly. Draco resisted the urge to fix it himself.

“You draw?”

A snarky What’s it you? on Draco’s lips was swallowed when Potter continued without waiting for an answer.

“Just the pitch? Or the players too?”

Panic filled Draco’s body settling itself as a niggling discomfort in his gut. “Just the pitch,” he said quickly, his eagerness to lie making him forget his desire to be contrary. Instead, his voice just came out rushed and squeaky. Lucky there were no witnesses otherwise his tough reputation would have been well and truly demolished, all by a couple of unextraordinary words from Harry Potter.

“Shame,” Potter said, standing up straight and lifting his broom. “Would you consider it? I’ve always wanted to be painted.”

Draco nodded against his will - what? Potter’s confidence was rather disconcerting. It clearly had the power to turn him into a squirming mess as well as a pathetic follower eager to please all at once.

Potter’s face lit up with a surprised smile - he obviously hadn’t expected Draco to be so agreeable - neither had Draco. “In that case, make sure you capture me from the left. It’s my good side.”

“Every side is your bloody good side,” Draco muttered to himself without thinking. Crap. There’s no way Potter hadn’t heard THAT embarrassing revelation. 

But Potter didn’t say anything further. He simply winked at Draco with those devilishly charming eyes (that made Draco’s knees go weak) before mounting his broom and flying off towards the pitch, his shape growing smaller and smaller until he was just a speck in the distance.

As soon as he could wrench his eyes away from Potter, Draco turned his focus to the shade of green paint he had created. He’d have to start again from scratch. It was nowhere close to the real thing.

Now that he had Potter’s blessing, more or less, he had to make everything perfect. After all, Potter would want to see the finished product. And Draco already knew that once he did, Potter would know exactly how Draco felt about him. How could he not when Draco channelled all of his emotions into his paintings? When every stroke of his brush that coloured Potter’s face was a gentle caress? It would be obvious to anyone.

Draco resigned himself to that fact and focused all his energy into the painting. If Potter liked it, Draco might just show him all the other finished canvases locked away in his dormitory too. It was about time someone else saw Draco’s work. And who better than Draco Malfoy’s muse, Harry Potter?


Draco was right of course. Potter returned immediately after practice, flushed and sweaty, expecting results. Draco didn’t have much to show yet - he’d spent most of his time working on mixing the right shades of green. But at the same time, he was almost certainly showing too much. Potter stared at the canvas for far too long.

Draco had started with Potter’s eyes and hadn’t got much further. Sketching over them again and again to get the precise shape, the precise look of concentration as Potter scanned the pitch for the snitch. And then came the colouring. What he had gotten wrong originally was trying to find the one right shade of green for Potter’s eyes, because there wasn’t one. There were a number of shades all swimming amongst each other. Vibrant. Ever changing. Alive. 

Draco thought he’d captured those eyes rather well in the end, but when Potter turned and his real eyes fixed themselves on Draco, all liveliness and wonder, Draco realised he’d never be able to do them justice. Potter’s eyes didn’t belong on paper. But Draco was starting to think, from the way Potter was blushing as he stared, that maybe, just maybe, Potter’s eyes belonged on Draco.

more like this l @queenofthyme

Gold Digger

Reader x Elijah Mikaelson

(NOT MY GIF)

*requested

Imagine: You are in a long-term relationship with Elijah Mikaelson and is very happy with it. One day, when he requests you to go over to his house to meet oficially his siblings, Hayley accuses you to being with him only for his money and power, which leaves you heartbroken.

tagging: @chocolatemonkeyrainbows :)

Word Count: 3172


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✧ — Phantom of the Opera Prompts.

❛ My power over you grows stronger yet. ❜
❛ Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your mind. ❜
❛ Your part is silent, little toad! ❜
❛ Perhaps it is you who are the toad… ❜
❛ Flattering child, you shall know me, see why in shadow I hide! ❜
❛ Seal my fate tonight. ❜
❛ I hate to have to cut the fun short, but the joke’s wearing thin. ❜
❛ Let the audience in. ❜
❛ God, give me courage to show you you are not alone! ❜
❛ Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known? ❜
❛ I heard as I’d never heard before. ❜
❛ What you heard was a dream and nothing more. ❜
❛ Those pleading eyes, that both threaten and adore… ❜
❛ That voice which calls to me and speaks my name. ❜  
❛ And do I dream again? ❜
❛ You have come here, in pursuit of your deepest urge. ❜
❛ I have brought you, that our passions may fuse and merge. ❜
❛ In your mind you’ve already sucummed to me. ❜  
❛ Now you are here with me. No second thoughts. ❜
❛ Past the point of no return. ❜
❛ What raging fire shall flood the soul? ❜
❛ What rich desires unlock its door? ❜  
❛ What sweet seductions lie before us? ❜
❛ Those who have seen your face draw back in fear. ❜
❛ Did you think that I had left you for good? ❜
❛ Down once more to the dungeon of my black despair! ❜
❛ You’ve past the point of no return. ❜
❛ You try my patience make your choice. ❜
❛ I gave you my mind blindly. ❜
❛ Wandering child, so lost, so helpless, yearning for my guidance. ❜
❛ Have you forgotten your Angel? ❜
❛ Wildly my mind beats against you… ❜
❛ Think of me, think of me waking, silent and resigne. ❜
❛ Imagine me, trying too hard to put you from my mind. ❜
❛ Can I ever forget that sight? ❜
❛ Can I ever escape from that face? ❜
❛ Past the point of no return - no going back now. ❜
❛ When will the flames, at last, consume us? ❜
❛ When will the blood begin to race? ❜
❛ I remember… there was mist. ❜
❛ Who was that shape in the shadows? ❜
❛ Whose is that face in the mask? ❜
❛ Damn you! You little prying Pandora! You little demon! ❜
❛ Is this what you wanted to see? Curse you! ❜
❛ Now you cannot ever be free! ❜
❛ Come. We must return. ❜
❛ Those two fools who run my theater will be missing you. ❜
❛ No kind word from anyone! No compassion anywhere! ❜
❛ Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime. ❜
❛ Lead me, save me from my solitude. ❜
❛ Say you’ll want me with you here beside you. ❜
❛ Anywhere you go, let me go too. ❜
❛ Can you even dare to look or bear to think of me? ❜
❛ Have you no pity? ❜
❛ Your lover makes a passionate plea. ❜
❛ Let your mind start a journey to a strange new world! ❜
❛ Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before! ❜
❛ Only then can you belong to me… ❜  
❛ You alone can make my song take flight. ❜
❛ It’s over now, the music of the night. ❜
❛ Twisted every way, what answer can I give? ❜
❛ Say you love him/her, and my life is over! ❜
❛ Now, let it be war upon you both! ❜
❛ See you later, because I’m going now. ❜
❛ This haunted face holds no horror for me now. ❜
❛ It’s in your soul that the true distortion lies. ❜
❛ For the past three years, these things do happen! ❜
❛ And did you stop them from happening? No! ❜
❛ Why have you brought me here? ❜
❛ We can’t go back there. ❜
❛ I can’t escape from him/her/them… ❜
❛ Raise up your hand to the level of your eyes! ❜
❛ Refuse me, and you send your lover to his death! ❜
❛ Go now, don’t let them find you. ❜
❛ I fought so hard to free you! ❜  
❛ Say you love me. ❜
❛ Your chains are still mine! You belong to me! ❜
❛ Wait! I think my dear, we have a guest. ❜
❛ I had rather hoped that you would come. ❜
❛ Free him/her! Do what you like only free him/her! ❜
❛ Does that mean nothing I love him/her! Show some compassion! ❜
❛ The world showed no compassion to me! ❜
❛ Did you think that I would harm him/her? ❜
❛ Too late for prayers and useless pity! ❜
❛ You little demon - is this what you wanted to see? ❜
❛ Farewell, my fallen idol and false friend. ❜
❛ Look around, there’s another mask behind you! ❜
❛ Please promise me that sometimes, you will think… of me! ❜
❛ Where in the world have you been hiding? ❜
❛ I only wish I knew your secret. ❜
❛ Who is your great tutor? ❜
❛ Why you spray on my chin all the time, huh? ❜
❛ The final threshold! ❜
❛ They say that this youth has set my lady’s heart aflame! ❜
❛ Go away, for the trap is set and waits for its prey! ❜
❛ There is no phantom of the opera. ❜
❛ Look, your future bride! Just think of it! ❜
❛ Please don’t, they’ll see. ❜
❛ But why is it secret? What have we to hide? ❜
❛ It’s an engagement, not a crime! ❜

anonymous asked:

sorry if you've already answered this question somewhere, but do you have any thoughts maybe on why black accepted kuron at the beginning of s4? I'm a diehard clone theory supporter, but that one bit still leaves me... stumped.

A few reasons. I know you probably mean the in-universe reason though, so to go over that first: it happens for mostly the same reason the lion swap happens. The new pilots aren’t the lions’ first choice, but you have to form Voltron somehow, so they’ll still try to make it work as best they can. Would Black prefer Shiro? Undoubtably. But in Shiro’s absence, she must have known the person Shiro was closest to, the person he trusted most and wanted to lead in his absence, the person he believed in–was Keith

She didn’t choose Keith because it was Keith. Not really. She chose him because of his love for Shiro. Keith’s desire to protect Shiro is what convinced her to let him pilot in the first place. Keith coming to her again in season 3 and trying to “talk to Shiro” through her is what prompted her to turn on again. When asked why the Lion chose him, Joaquim said, “[Keith] and Shiro have the closest relationship, so there is that kinship there.” And Lauren added, “And I think the Black Lion probably got from Shiro what Shiro saw in Keith.”  (source)

Keith’s motivation for piloting Black has always been for Shiro’s sake. He found some measure of comfort in Black Lion’s seat because it let him feel closer to Shiro. He speaks to himself in the Black Lion as if Shiro is right there beside him. The closest thing we ever see to something like this is Allura saying, “What would Lance do?” But even then, she makes a distinction between Lance and her Lion. She doesn’t directly talk to Lance as if he is Blue. “This one’s for you, Shiro.” For Keith, this is a coping mechanism. Another way his grief manifests. He’s still mourning. So as soon as “Shiro” comes back? He pulls away. Immediately gives up the Lion without a second though. “Keith, are you sure?” “I’m sure.” It was never about leading. It was about carrying on for Shiro and the team. 

So I don’t think Black wanted Kuron per say. She would have preferred Keith, which would have been honoring Shiro’s wishes. And at least, through Shiro’s memories and feelings, she knew without a doubt she could trust Keith. Because Shiro always did. Implicitly. But Keith was gone. She has very limited options here, and no, this isn’t Shiro. But he’s someone who still cares, who is genuinely a good person and wants to fight the good fight. Who’s learning to open up and trust Black even when he believes she sent him back to the galra’s hands in the first place. 

That’s incredibly brave and noble and trusting on his part. He’s not here saying, “I’m the rightful paladin! I have to lead!” or “Why did you betray me?” He says, “Please, people’s lives are at stake. You trusted me once. Trust me again.” And isn’t that what Shiro said about his bond with Black before? That it’s all about trust? And doing what’s right? When Shiro says “It’s about earning each other’s trust,” in the astral plane, Black’s eyes light up. When Kuron says, “Trust me again,” she powers on. That’s not a coincidence. 

Kuron might not be Shiro. But in that moment, she saw that same spark in him. Those same qualities of a black paladin. Of someone who was ready to open up and trust her wholeheartedly and wanted nothing more than to save lives and defend others. Yes, it does take more time. It’s something she has to consider. It’s something that feels off, and we can see that when she has trouble powering on. But Kuron’s heart and pleas are genuine, and right now, he’s the best she’s got. 

And you know what else? Visually speaking, the way those monitors flicker for a bit and go out and on again. It looks like a glitch. And given that the Lions tend to mirror the quintessence and mindset of their pilot, I can’t help but feel that’s their way of showing there’s also something wrong with Kuron. We’ve already seen his weird headaches, and this definitely brings that to mind. The galra have done something to him, that much is obvious. Whether you believe he’s a clone or they’ve tampered with his brain and this is some form of mind control, it’s clear this isn’t the same Shiro. The fact that Operation Kuron even exists proves it.

From a writing standpoint, if you’re going to explore Keith’s role as a leader without Shiro there as his support, it makes sense to show “Shiro” takeover without his right hand man. Makes for an interesting contrast. I think it’s also the first time Voltron’s ever played around with this idea of Allura and “Shiro”/Sven both piloting at the same time, which is kinda neat. Could also be about Shiro being a popular character and toy companies especially wanting to capitalize on that by putting “Shiro” back in the action quickly. 

Of course, I strongly believe that Kuron is still Baby Clone as well, and that Shiro is the true Black paladin. This is something that Keith has been saying all along, and it’s a part of why he eventually leaves–thinking the Black Lion will be restored to the hands of its rightful paladin. “Shiro’s the head.” “Stop talking like that. You’re gonna make it.”Didn’t you see how he sole the Black Lion right out from under Shiro? Or how he could do all that cool stuff with his bayard? Shiro’s bayard?” “Why are we even talking about this? Nothing is gonna happen to you.” “You mean your bayard.” “Shiro’s the Black Lion.” “I know this is what you wanted for me, Shiro. But I’m not you. I can’t lead them like you.” “You had a connection with the Black Lion and I know it’s still there.” “It was always meant to be yours.”

If there’s one person who never doubted Shiro’s ability to lead and his bond with his lion, it’s Keith. And even though things between him and Kuron have been getting tense, Keith ultimately believes leaving Voltron in his hands is for the best. Because that’s Shiro, right? And as soon as Keith finds out about Operation Kuron, I’m pretty sure we’ll see him try to take back the Black Lion and use her to find the real Shiro. But Baby Clone certainly doesn’t have any malicious intentions here (that he’s consciously aware of), and he’s trying to keep the team together and do what’s right. Right now, that will just have to be enough. But it’s very much temporary–and it’s clear Black herself is very aware something’s off. It’s why she tried to shut him out in the first place. 

Creating Artifacts...

Artifacts, with their detailed histories and powerful effects, are personal things, so it makes sense that the DM should create artifacts unique to an individual campaign. 

In fact, that’s just what the DM should do. 

Every campaign should have artifacts that are truly unique to it, thereby ensuring that the DM’s world is different from every other campaign out there. 

Great idea, the DM may say, but how do I do it? 

Don’t worry. It’s really not that hard. 

By following a few simple guidelines, DMs discover that artifacts practically create themselves. 

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Could you possibly, if it's no trouble, do dialogue between Solas and Zevran? I've always wondered how that would go. Thank you

Zevran: You are a rather quiet fellow, aren’t you?
Solas: I do not feel the need to speak simply to fill silence, if that is what you mean.
Zevran: I see. Should I take this to mean you are shy? In need of someone to lavish you with attention? Bring you out of your shell? I can be very encouraging in that regard.
Solas: Hmm.
Zevran: You do not speak much.
Solas: You speak more than enough for the both of us.
Zevran: A-ha! Yes, true. But what fun is talking if you don’t have a partner to do it with?
Solas: I’m sure you will let me know eventually. 


Zevran: How long have you traveled alone, Solas?
Solas: For quite some time. I have kept more familiar company in the Fade for many years. Why?
Zevran: Then it must have been some time for you.
Solas: Some time since what?
Zevran: Since you last had a lover.
Solas: What?
Zevran: Assuming you’ve had lovers, of course.
Solas: That’s… That is not important right now. We have far greater concerns at hand.
Zevran: Very true. Only it helps in times of trouble to seek… release, does it not?
Solas: I prefer to focus on our current goals. Such distractions would… complicate matters.
Zevran: Suit yourself.


Zevran: You do not approve of my line of work?
Solas: Death may sometimes be necessary, but the decision to end a life should never be taken lightly. Never for reasons as shallow as greed.
Zevran: No need to sound so angry, my friend. I understand the nature of my craft. Am I to be shamed for not properly mourning the lives that I take? I would rather not waste my time feeling guilty for something I cannot change. At least now I have the power to choose who I kill - and more often than not, it’s Crow’s blood I’m spilling.
Solas: For revenge? Or in order to eliminate the competition?
Zevran: Can’t it be both?


Solas: You were enslaved by the Crows?
Zevran: A slave? I would not exactly call myself as such…but yes, I suppose that is accurate.
Solas: They owned you, held complete control over your life. And then you escaped. You sought your freedom.
Zevran: You make it sound so noble. I am flattered. Though perhaps the story is less impressive if you consider my survival depended on sweet talking the person I had just attempted to kill while trying not to spill my guts into the dirt. It was less of an escape and more… knowing how to see an opportunity when it presented itself. I’ve had to end a number of lives since in order to maintain my independence from my former employers. But it makes it so much more satisfying, doesn’t it? Killing for your own purpose, instead of someone else’s.
Solas: I am not certain… but I understand your meaning.


Solas: Assassinations are common in Antiva, I take it? If they were not, the Crows would not be such a formidable organization.
Zevran: It makes the process so much easier when you simply eliminate the competition, no?
Solas: It may be efficient, but it is a shortsighted approach. A leader is nothing without his people and fear can only be an effective tool for so long without breeding chaos. One may require death as a means to an end, but to do so simply in the pursuit of more power…
Zevran: The fallout was never my concern or my specialty. I was always long gone with coin in hand by that point.
Solas: Have you ever wanted something more than that? To have your work strive towards a greater purpose?
Zevran: (laughs) Why do you ask? Is it possible our humble apostate is in the market for an assassin?


[Romanced Solas]

Zevran: She is quite beautiful, isn’t she?
Solas: Who?
Zevran: Come now, Solas. We both know who I am speaking of. Just as we both know precisely where your eyes were lingering a moment ago…
Solas: I’m certain you are mistaken.
Zevran: I cannot blame you. Admittedly, I’ve been enjoying the view myself. Quite an ample handful, no?
Solas: Please, for once, resist the urge to keep speaking.


[Romanced Solas]

Zevran: You know the Inquisitor well, don’t you?
Solas: I would like to think so.
Zevran: Tell me… What does Lavellan look for in a lover?
Solas: Excuse me?
Zevran: How would I woo her, if I were so inclined? Does she favor dashing good looks? Passionate embraces? Someone to sweep her off of her feet? 
Solas: (annoyed) No. I would not say she cares for such things.
Zevran: Oh, Solas. I don’t think you give yourself enough credit.
Solas: What?
Zevran: Do you not think yourself handsome? A desirable lover? I could teach you some things that may bolster your confidence in that regard.
Solas: This is not a conversation I wish to have. Least of all with you.
Zevran: (laughs) Do not worry, my friend. I only tease the people I like. Most of the time, anyway.

[banter for Solas + Merrill]
[banter for Fenris + Solas]
[banter for Fenris + Romanced Solas]

plummetationzigzags  asked:

I can't remember if you've posted about this already, but your comments on Magical Girl Raising Project remind me of some criticisms I've heard of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Was just wondering what you thought of PMMM?

I like PMMM despite itself. 

The music is great, the story is heartbreaking, the visuals are fantastic

Plus, while PMMM is in no fucking way the first grimdark magical girl series (and holy shit do I find assertions that it is so fucking uninteresting), and while 90% of what it seeks to deconstruct or subvert makes me want to tear my hair out, it does do an interesting thing with Kyubey. Like the Portal games, which take the trope of the tutorial/guide character (the exposition fairy) who gives you hints and tells you how to progress during the game and asked “What if this character wasn’t really trying to help?”, PMMM took the mascot character in magical girl shows (a la Luna and Kero) and asked the same question. And that is genuinely an interesting exploration of one of the staples of the genre. 

For the most part, though, I like, sometimes, (sometimes I hate) PMMM despite itself. And I hate what it has wrought. 

The biggest problem with PMMM is that magical girl shows are, at their heart, power fantasies for girls. They are Girl Power at their finest. In fact, Sailor Moon was an major and oft-overlooked part in kicking off the Girl Power boom in the 90s. 

And what’s infuriating about PMMM is that it tries to tear that down. It’s not like Watchmen, another series which seeks to deconstruct the possibly unhealthy nature of the power fantasies of its genre. Because Watchmen is about vigilantism and male power fantasies, and 1. white men (who make up the majority of comic book heroes) already have disproportionate power so their power fantasies are inherently more sinister and 2. comic books are often centered around revenge, vigilantism, corrupt systems that “can’t be broken”, and ignoring the law. 

Meanwhile, magical girl series are at their center about hope and love. The heroes usually literally fight with hearts and rainbows and songs. They aren’t gritty “I wish I could kick everyone’s ass” power fantasies. They are “if you believe in yourself and are your friends you can help people and achieve your dreams” fantasies. And they are for girls, who are too often told they can’t be everything they want. Not men, who are too often told they can. 

So PMMM has this message, and if some of the interviews I’ve heard from the creator are true, a completely intentional one, that girls dreams are futile and destructive and that it’s harmful and useless for girls to want things. That girls having power fantasies or seeking to save the world will ultimately destroy them, or (before Madoka’s ending) turn them into something evil and dark. That ambition is bad for girls. That girls should learn their place before they become dark witches that destroy everything, or (after Madoka’s ending) fade from existence. That girls having power fantasies is ultimately harmful, and they need to stop. That girls have been wrong this whole time to want things. That girls’ desires, no matter what they are, are always ultimately selfish and corrupt. 

And I fucking hate that. That’s not subversive. That’s our whole fucking lives. That’s what we get everywhere else. Nothing a girl does can be right. We’re bad to have ambitions and to want things. Even the “nice” things we do are dismissed with ulterior motives as soon as someone decides they’re done with us.

And I fucking hate people calling it “so profound” and whatever, when it’s ultimately torture porn and the message isn’t even deep. 

And more than that, I hate that it’s success has spawned a series of knockoffs, so that now moe torture porn grimdark magical girls has become the most common iteration of the genre. So we had the incredibly ableist (OMFG WORST SHOW EVER MADE) Yuki Yuuna is a Hero, and we’re getting the “Magical Girls have to CULL EACH OTHER in a grim CHILDREN-LED FIGHT TO THE DEATH” of Magical Girl Raising Project and like I’m so fucking done with these grown ass men making shows for other grown ass men shitting all over girls’ power fantasies and thinking that shitting all over girls’ power fantasies is something new and subversive and not a reassertion of the status quo. 

Look, I genuinely enjoyed watching PMMM. It’s a well made show, with good characters (Rebellion and everything that’s come since is AWFUL though). But I hate its message, I hate huge swaths of its fanbase, I hate its creator, and I hate that its become the new standard for magical girls. 

Magical girls were already subversive. They were already something unique and powerful. They didn’t need to be brought down. And there would be good ways to explore and subvert the genre if you wanted to*. But just going for straight “everyone’s miserable and it wouldn’t work” isn’t actually a clever. Even without the inherent sexism, it has all the depth of those creepypastas that say “What if Rugrats WAS A DYSTOPIA” or whatever, like edgy for the sake of edgy isn’t actually deep. 

*(While it’s refreshing to Western audiences that magical girls are deeply feminine, for instance, because we tend to associate being strong with being masculine or a tomboy, in Japan magical girls often serve as a reinforcement that no matter what you do you still have to adhere to gender roles. A great subversion of the genre would be one where some of the girls, and especially the main character, have more traditionally masculine powers/appearances and this is treated as just as valid a way for girls to be. Also interesting would be a magical girl series where older women become the magical girls - women struggling to hold jobs and pay rent, mothers, college kids, grandmas - because magical girls [like Disney princesses and much of media] tend to focus on pre- and newly- pubescent girl characters as the most powerful and tend to ignore older women)

Basically, enjoying magical girls has always involved some level of watching it for what you want and ignoring the less than pleasant intentions of the creator. Sailor Moon was heavily based on a series called Cutie Honey, which was made 100% to be fap material for adult male audiences, and originally the idea of this girl hero was something of a ~sexy~ joke. And then people like Naoko Takeuchi LOVED her and took empowerment from her, despite that clearly not being the intention, and created series like Sailor Moon. And I think that’s still a fine way to appreciate shows. I can watch PMMM and take power and interest from it despite its goals, like I did with the grossly fanservicey depiction of underage Magical Lyrical Nanoha when I was a kid. And I can do the same with what is likely to be the ultimately disappointing Magical Girl Raising Project. 

But I’m not happy that I have to reinterpret and reclaim these shows to get meaning out of them. I’m not happy that a genre that was supposed to be about empowering girls has been largely stolen and dismissed as unrealistic and too idealistic. I’m not happy with an entire genre’s inability to see how positivity and idealism are subversive and groundbreaking. 

And I’m not happy with PMMM for making that the status quo, or with all the fans who think things are better this way.  

anonymous asked:

Not su critical, but I wish there was less human episodes and plot's loose ends weren't left forgotten for literal ages. I just, idk, feel like crewniverse wants us like lars or ronaldo too much

i mean, by definition it’s not forgotten if it’s brought up again. the show is just very long-term and demands you have a lot of patience sometimes (which makes it satisfying when it happens, but it can also be frustrating before that).

on the subject of humans: i’m not always super invested, but there’s always a rewarding or clever element. i like connie, kiki and sadie a lot. greg’s alright. the cool kids too. while onion’s not my favorite, his episodes tend to be solid and gives us interesting steven-characterization (onion gang was quite nice, they finally made me emotional about both onion and steven’s loneliness).

i have a buddy who loves lars with all his heart - i know he’s not the most popular character, but i like him alright, too. he’s the kind of teenager who can be a jerk without being a one-note bully. there’s a good post going around about you kinda need to see the humans to feel the payoff of them (spoilers) seemingly getting kidnapped in this next bomb, which will be another interesting mix of the human and magical elements of the show.  

Originally posted by cartoonfan98

the “slice of life” elements also has another important function, which i think is vitally important - in fantasy / sci-fi stories, there’s a lot of Othering. by which i mean, strictly good vs evil escapism where a lot of the time, the enemy is so inhuman they might as well be a natural disaster, not a person. good and evil is often decided by which magical species or alien race you belong to, not who you are as a person. 

slice of life is the complete opposite - you have your jerks, but they’re still human. those stories rarely end with anyone being murdered for their crimes and this being portrayed as a “victory”. it’s pretty common that while the main character’s perspective expands, we get to know even those characters who we assumed were just cruel or bullies. everyone has some struggle going on, and the punishments for their crimes are not that they’re irredeemable or die. rather, they’re allowed to actually develop and/or have nuances to them.

Originally posted by relatablelarsquotes

both sci-fi and fantasy also have an expectation of war in recent years - there’s the expectation of constant high stakes and people getting killed. the plot is expected to constantly be the focus - we need to find the Thing to fight the Dark Side. we need to get to Place before Evil gets there first. the Chosen One needs to collect all five Orbs, four of which symbolize the four friends, and the fifth one will awaken her own power. the Enemy needs to be Stopped, their reasons are (usually) irrelevant.

on the other side, slice of life is very personal: everything is character-driven, and their motivations is the main reason to watch it. i saw a lot of surprise that “yuri on ice” didn’t have a traditional villain - my response was basically “…well, yeah, it’s slice of life”. that’s kinda how it usually works. especially in anime - you may not get to know every character equally well, and some will be deeply flawed, but no one is sorted into a box labelled “inhuman” or “evil”. 

so what’s my point? well, steven universe continuously trains its audience to see slice-of-life elements in the ~magical space conflict. it tells you to see the characters through a ‘human’ lens, even the characters who aren’t human. part of how it does this is by adding surprising amounts of empathy and human solutions - not just to the beach city problems, but to the gem problems as well. 

the first time we see two diamonds together - the Intergalactic Tyrants™ who most fanart depict as the final boss overlords all the “less-awful” characters will unite against in a Final Battle? oh, they’re grieving the loss of their fellow diamond. blue diamond is crying. their pearls are there, standing as a reminder of the hierarchy they champion, but neither element ruins the other - they can be sympathetic and deeply flawed at the same time. when it’s towards the people they care about, they even seem well-intentioned. yellow diamond chastises blue for not being a good leader to her people.

Originally posted by gemsingifs

part of the reason this seems natural is because the show has portrayed its human characters as flawed, not as a faceless mass of “good people” who must be saved from the evil alien race. so it makes sense it would work the other way around too - everyone’s got their own stuff to deal with, and everyone makes (sometimes massive) mistakes. 

we’re expected to see both gems and humans as people. part of this is because of the human side of steven’s upbringing - the old crystal gems are used to meeting allies and enemies, steven is mostly used to meeting people, even if he (like everyone) has his own biases between them, or thinks some of them are “mean”.

despite some people’s consistent insistence that any jerk we’re introduced to is just a villain, that’s it, end of story, steven universe continues to challenge those assumptions. time and time again. that’s part of why it’s so vital (to me) that no one are just killed off or bubbled forever, because the show has laid the groundwork that every life is unique, and suffering is never a good thing. 

it can be a trade-off, like how we’re exploring rose’s shattering of pink diamond, and yknow, there WAS a war in the style of sci-fi/fantasy, but the show is critical of that solution. pink’s shattering did not, in fact, end the conflict - her death left countless gems leaderless, mourning and FAR from ‘liberated’ (in fact, many of them hate the crystal gems), and earth was still under the slow threat of the cluster… and how was that cluster solved again? not by force, but by talking to a hostile and vicious little green alien. then getting her help to reach the huge, suffering eldritch abomination in the center of the earth… which was also stopped by communication, not by force.

Originally posted by kathon

the human side of the show helps steven cope with gem life, make connections that are important to him, develop his character and fuel his desire to help.

i know some will insist these are unrelated, but i think without steven’s human side, he would really “just” be another crystal gem. an empathetic one, who is curious about people, but not on this level. not one who opposes the idea of not just shattering, but wants to find a way to connect with everyone (as he is like no one and everyone), and has the kind of boundless optimism where he refuses to accept that this is just “the way things are”, or that suffering is ever necessary. everything is always changing on earth, and because of that, steven wants to believe everything can always change. 

Desire

Bucky Barnes x Reader

A/N: Shoutout to Pia @abovethesmokestacks for beta’ing this <3

Also, I feel like I haven’t written a full-length fic in 57 years??? So, I present to you the worst bj ever written

This is my first “songfic”, feedback would be greatly appreciated. Lyrics are bolded and in italics.

Words: approx 3.3k

Prompt: Based off 50 Cent’s Candy Shop.

Warnings: smut - oral (both receiving), spanking, “Sarge” kink, use of metal appendages, unprotected sex (It wouldn’t be a shock if you wrapped your cock)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Keep reading

Dear High School Lauren,

I have so many things I want to tell you, but I’m going to start with the most urgent. Because of all the ways I’ve seen athletic stories unfold over the years, this is the No. 1 destroyer of dreams.

You’re a young woman, but the sound of the word “woman” makes you cringe. Well-meaning coaches and parents and aunties and grannies and inappropriate uncles comment on the changing bodies of girls–not yours yet but those around you. It’s coming. You know it’s coming.

You notice what happens sometimes to female athletes. She hits puberty; her times get slower or plateau. She is confused; she is working harder than ever. Clueless adults who are overly invested in her “performance” will grieve, as if her worth is based solely on PRs. This makes you scared of growing up.

Seeing girls go through this is confusing because there is a story once told to you about running: “You get out what you put in.” You’ve heard there is a direct line between effort and improvement, between wanting it more and winning. This is a “truth” written by men, based on the experience of boys and men. Your male teammates are bathing in testosterone, a dramatic performance enhancer. You will not. You are about to bathe in different hormones, hormones that, more often than not, temporarily interrupt that promised straight line of improvement. What you need are knowledgeable coaches and parents who know how to support you during this time, to let you know it is normal, to celebrate you through development, who can zoom out on the big picture, because it is at this time that many girls give up.

You’ll see girls react to a changing body in three ways: give up, ride it out, or fight against it. With 100 percent confidence, I can tell you the best choice is to ride it out. The best is yet to come.


You will go on to race at a NCAA Division I university and watch several girls do whatever it takes to fight their changing bodies. But before you choose a school, you will go on visits. You will have meals with the teams and notice they do things differently. There is the school that has “salad with dressing on the side,” the school where everyone orders “no gluten and no dairy,” the school where the girls bring their own food from home to the restaurant… Go to the school where people order a variety of things: the burger, the chicken sandwich, the salad. Go to the school where you can order french fries and do it without shame.

Go to the school where the majority of girls look athletic and healthy, with hydrated muscles, and get their periods. Listen to how they talk about themselves–and one another. Listen to what they value.

Do they value effort or performance? What do they worry about openly? Fixations on their appearance? Or do they lift one another up to be good teammates and performers? Do they value themselves and one another by time and place and weight? Or by the whole package of who they are as people?

How do they treat the teammates who are struggling physically or mentally or psychologically? Do they isolate them? Talk behind their backs? Do they have empathy and compassion? Do they call one another up?

Like it or not Lauren, you are a woman. A strong one. Your body is at some point going to become what it is meant to be, based on a long line of strong women who have survived generations in a tough world. For most of the time, and in most cultures, what is happening to your body would be celebrated with ceremony. Women are powerful beyond your imagination. You cannot reach your power by making yourself small. And yet in competitive running, you will find yourself in a world in which you feel pressure to do just that.

Let me speak to the competitive dream chaser in you now.

You can be fast and a developed woman. In fact, you can only reach your ultimate potential if you let your body go through its changes. If you get to the dips and valleys and fight your body, starve your body, attempt to outsmart it, you will suffer. You will lose your period. You will get faster at first. And then you will get injured. And injured. And injured.
Depending on the methods you used to fight your body, you may end up destroying your relationship with food and sport for years to come. You won’t go this far, but you’ll see so many of your friends and teammates do this. In your age group, the mortality rate from anorexia is 12 times higher than any other cause of death. You will see some come close.

You will see this so much, fed by reckless coaches, fed by unhealthy team culture, fed by the desire for short-term success, that it will break your heart. It will break your heart so much that it will be difficult for you to watch many of the top high school and college races after you graduate. So many young athletes will reach out to you for help. You will learn how destructive and reckless so many coaches are, and you will want to find a way to change things.


I need you to know, I PROMISE you, that the ultimate star you are chasing is further ahead than any shiny thing you see now. The way you get there is to protect your health and protect your love of the sport above all, even as you reach for the shiny goals right in front of you. You simply do not know and cannot predict your personal path, but you’ll get there. It will look different and brighter and richer and more multi-faceted the closer you get.

I need you to know, you have always been more than a runner, more than your times, more than your state championships, more than your school records. But you will get confused. You will forget. Luckily you will have teammates and family and friends who remind you. You will go on to do almost every single thing you could have dreamed of, not in the way you imagined, not on the timeline you imagined.

And when you retire from being a pro runner after 12 years, you will be surprised at what ends up being most valuable to you. Your medals will be in a box somewhere, and you’ll never look at them. Your proudest accomplishment will be a race in which you finished last because in that race you were tested more than ever and you were brave.

Finishing seventh in the entire world in the 5K and having a bronze medal in cross country brings you a smile, the same smile as winning league with your team as a freshman in high school, the same smile as breaking 5:00 in the mile for the first time. The real life-changers, the memories that make the peach fuzz on your cheeks and the hairs on your forearms stand up, those will be braiding your teammates hair in the 15-passenger van on the way to a race; a random tempo run along a sidewalk past a gas station where you felt like you were flying while home on Christmas break; descending a forest trail at camp behind your best friend with your arms outstretched in flight; running at night with someone you are falling in love with; pushing your baby in a running stroller for the first time; passing under a canopy of trees temporarily blocking the rain on a cross country course you can’t remember the name of, the sound of your feet squelching in the mud while chasing your rival.

Protect the opportunity to make memories like those for a lifetime. You’re going to be OK being all of yourself. Make sure your teammates know it too.

Love,

Lauren

—  Lauren Fleshman
DTR

DTR= Determining the Relationship. (It’s an inside joke and I’m the only one who’ll understand it lol). 

Requested by @mikimiska113 and @flyinposts and a bunch of anons. 

The boat rocked on the waves, the soft ebb and flow washing against the exterior. It was choppier than normal and she knew that some of the crew members would be up on the top deck being sick over the side of the boat, but Dany never was. She was just at home on the water as she was on land. She liked to think it was because something in her remembered her flight to Dragonstone when she was nothing more than a spark of possibility; remembered her family being torn apart. 

It reminded her of all the time she spent on ships as a child, fleeing from one place to another but never settling down long enough anywhere to truly call it her home. It reminded her of nights when she’d played quietly in the corner with her dolls, or read by candlelight, or sat and stared out at the waves praying that Viserys wouldn’t look at her in that way he so often had. 

But she’d never expected this. Not even in her wildest daydreams, the ones she’d laughingly confessed to Missandei during her nightly baths. 

Their lovemaking had lost its feverished pace a long time ago; now the sex was soft and exploratory, the passion quiet and restrained as the events of the day caught up with them and they lost the initial frenzied desire to make each other theirs. 

He had a beautiful body. She didn’t know why she’d never noticed it before; she’d noticed, certainly, how the hard lines of his muscles stood out on his chest and how soft and silky his hair was-but now that she could see it in its entirety, the hard lines and smooth planes, the scars on his chest that did nothing to mar his beauty but added to his intrigue…all she could do was kiss him again and again, feeling her mouth meld into his…

She let out a little moan in the back of her throat and Jon’s lips traced along her collarbone. She couldn’t remember ever being loved like this, ever even imagining a love like this was even possible…

Just then the door opened. “Your grace, I was hoping that we could discuss-”

They quickly disentangled themselves. Dany looked around somewhat desperately, casting about for her clothes-which had somehow ended up on the other side of the room. Jon looked just as abashed, and eventually she compromised by pulling the blanket over both of them. “Yes Lord Tyrion?”

Tyrion didn’t look fazed-or at least, if he was surprised to see them both naked in her chambers he didn’t say anything about it. “I can see the two of you are busy. I’ll come back in the morning.” He turned and left abruptly, making sure he closed the door behind him on his way out. 

There was a long silence between them. It was one thing to make love when you were sure you weren’t being watched and no one knew, where you could forget about it in the morning if something went wrong. It was quite another to know that you’d been discovered and found out. It added another level of realism to the entire encounter, like a dream they could wake up from. 

And she didn’t want Jon to leave. Not now. Not like this. 

He laughed softly and she couldn’t help laughing either-though her heart beat nervously, wondering if this was the moment when they would both come to their senses and realize that they shouldn’t be doing this. “I suppose we could have been quieter…”

“I don’t want to be quiet,” she replied. “He should have knocked.” 

He lay on his back and for a moment they were silent, listening to the water lap against the boat’s hull. She was tempted to say something, to break the silence that had somehow sprung up between them…but she stayed quiet, sensing Jon was just gathering his thoughts as he so often did. He was never one to speak his mind, without thinking it through first. 

Finally he sat up abruptly, the sheet falling down and making the candlelight dance across his chest. “If I was too forward-”

She had to kiss him to keep him quiet, to convey all of her love for him and all of the happiness he gave her, simply be being who he was. “You were wonderful.” 

“We shouldn’t be doing this…”

“I know.” But neither of them made any move to get out of bed; it might have been the wrong time, the wrong place, but there was something that pulled them together-some kind of thread that kept them from straying too far from each other. “Do you always wear your hair that way?”

He touched the top of his bun, looking hurt (Tyrion sometimes said that his hair was almost as pretty as hers). “What’s wrong with it?” 

“It just doesn’t seem comfortable to sleep in.” She raised a hand to touch it and he didn’t tell her to stop, even as she took out a handful of pins. His hair cascaded down around his shoulders, smooth and silky, and it fell through her fingers like water when she touched it. It nearly made her wet again. “You should wear your hair down more often, Lord Snow.”

His smile was abashed but his touch was firm as he touched her own hair, the intricate braids that criscrossed the back of her head. “And how long does it take you to do your hair in the mornings?”

Without taking her eyes off of him (she loved his eyes; she could get lost in his eyes) she started to undo the braids that Missandei had done up so carefully that morning. She felt strangely exposed when she let her hair down, feeling its weight touch the back of her neck. It felt as if she was showing him part of herself, something that she hadn’t shown anyone in a very long time-especially not a man. 

Braids were strong and powerful; another part of a mask she almost never dropped.

She turned on her side to face him; he ran a hand down her shoulder and along her arm, eventually taking her hand. They were so close; she could have reached out and touched the scar over his heart, the scar she had kissed earlier in the night. When she spoke again her voice was low; there was something about the moment that felt sacred and she didn’t want to disturb it. 

“What do we tell him?”

“What can we tell him? It’s a bit hard to explain away…all of this.” Or mistake it for anything other than what it was.

“He’s too smart,” she replied. “Whatever we say he’d see through.”

“Is he going to lecture us?”

She sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t know what he can tell us that we don’t already know.” She knew this wasn’t a good idea-they both did. In another lifetime, maybe-maybe the King in the North and the Queen in the South could have married for political strength and personal happiness. But they were fighting wars on multiple fronts and it seemed wrong, sacrilege almost, to think about love in a time like this. 

And now that she’d met Jon, she didn’t want to think about her life when they inevitably parted. 

He sighed, moving a bit closer as if he wanted to embrace her again. “It’s always been dangerous before. We know that.” 

“And this can’t change our goals. It doesn’t change who we fight for.” 

“We’re fighting for the same thing. We’re fighting to survive. Anything besides that…it’s a distraction. We can’t afford distractions right now. When the war’s over we’ll figure out the rest of it.” Gods, he looked like an angel-and he looked at her like she was the most precious thing in the world. 

She didn’t know that anyone had looked at her like that before. “We might not survive the wars to come.” 

“I know. But we’ll fight, to the very last.” 

“We can’t afford to be divided, not now. We’re stronger together.” She fingered the scar on his chest, feeling his heart beating underneath it. His pulse was a bit erratic, probably from their lovemaking, but still strong and steady. Alive. 

Unlike Viserion’s heart, that would never beat again. We’ll fight and survive. We have to. Otherwise he died for nothing. “ I said we would destroy the Night King and his army together, and we will. We have to make something good come out of all of this suffering.” 

Their feet touched beneath the sheets. She wondered if this had always been meant to happen, the two of them on this boat, from the moment they’d first met. Had there been some inevitability to it? Had she known, the first time she’d seen him walk into her throne room, that there was something about him that was different from any man she’d ever met?

“I’m afraid.”

He didn’t look phased. He didn’t even look surprised. “I’m afraid too. I would be surprised if you weren’t.” 

The dragons flew over the boat; their roars shook it to its foundation. Only two…Viserion’s was strangely absent. She hadn’t realized that she could pick them apart individually, until his was gone. For the first time she felt unsteady, unsure. Maybe even afraid. 

It felt like they stood on the edge of a precipice; if they stepped too far in any one direction, they would fall. 

But then again, perhaps they’d made that decision as soon as her bedroom door had closed behind them. 

“Will you stay here? I don’t want to sleep alone tonight.” 

“Neither do I.” 

They shared a few last kisses, slow and deep and probing, as if trying to make up for the fact that they didn’t have all the time in the world left to them. Jon dropped off first; she could hear his breath even out, see his eyelids slip closed and stay that way. 

She fell asleep a bit later, twining her hand in his. 

This is going to be a two-shot of sorts because I’ll be writing the morning after oneshot tomorrow.