Hollow Point

Date: March 28, 2017
Art: Juujishou (@vosteium)
Story: @gunnerpalace
Beta: @synoshian, @sequencefairy, @duckiesteasmiles
Chapters: 3 (unfinished)
Word Count: ≈17,800
Rating: M (likely future E)
Genres: romance, thriller, action, crime, drama
Warnings: blood, violence, angst, trauma

Summary: United States Air Force A1C Ichigo Kurosaki wanted to get away. Against all odds he’s assigned to Security Forces at Yokota Air Base, under an hour from home. Seirei-gumi Yakuza family “Older Sister” Rukia Kuchiki wanted to fit in. Dispatched to Karakura, she discovers a plot to overturn Japan’s criminal underworld. Their chance meeting is anything but, and they’ll only survive the web of lies cast over Tokyo’s concrete jungle by sticking together.

Notes: This is the start of a (long) retelling of the series within a realistic (non-fantasy/supernatural) setting. You can read the notes if you’d like (1, 2, 3) although you’re warned that there are spoilers of upcoming events and some of the information is out of date. Big shout out to my artist and beta readers, you’ve all been lovely and I couldn’t have done it without you guys! And thank you to IRBB chat for the positive encouragement!

Mood Music:

Chapter 1: Neon Rain

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Neon rain fell in sporadic sheets, always hot. Asphalt steamed, glowing with rippling prismatic bands. Every color of the rainbow coruscated, glinting off umbrellas—mostly clear plastic—that hurried to and fro.

A white and lilac wagasa parasol advanced steadily through the bustle. It bore an unseasonable lunar crescent of snowflakes and was lit from below by carefully concealed soft white LEDs.

Rukia strode beneath it with poise and grace, immune to the heat and humidity. Civilians flowed by her on instinct, like schools of fish about a predator. She wore a Western-style two-piece suit—a black jacket and slacks—and the collar of her white blouse rested open above the former’s lapels.

To all appearances she made for a plausible—if rather short—office lady, yet her bearing alone suggested something was off. If one looked carefully, her dress shoes hinted at the story. However, the wagasa, and especially the oversized pink pair of almost-oval shades she had on, really advertised what she was—the street was lit up, but the sun had set almost two hours before.

It wasn’t long before she passed yet another nondescript alleyway leading off the thoroughfare. Her shoes splashed in a puddle that echoed in optical riot as she halted. She turned and trekked into the gloom, taking off her sunglasses and letting her parasol light the way. It was soon the only source of illumination, silhouetting her as she disappeared around a corner and vanished from the night.

Continue reading Chapters 1–3 on AO3 or FFN!

Terrible Rom-Com Posters: The Accidental Husband

For my inaugural Terrible Rom-Com Posters post (that isn’t reblogged from my main blog), I’ll tackle The Accidental Husband, a forgettable love triangle movie (I assume) that gifted us with not one, not two, but THREE terrible Frankenposters.

Let’s take a look at version #1:

This ticks a lot of the “rom-com frankenposter” boxes, including:

Totally inconsistent lighting: Uma is being lit head on, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is being lit from the right (except for his arm, which is being lit from below?), and Colin Firth appears to be on a beach, staring into a sunset.

Nonsensical eyelines: Uma Thurman is staring at the camera with a confused expression, which is pretty standard. JDM’s got the “rakish love interest” side-eye going on, though to the poster’s credit, he does appear to be looking at Uma. Colin Firth is staring through Uma, as though her head were transparent.

Mannequin arms/hand fuckery: There’s no way either of those men’s arms is connected to his torso. And what the hell is going on with Colin Firth’s hand? It looks like one of those Barbie hands with the flexible wrists got stepped on.

Okay, let’s take a look at poster version #2…

Putting aside the question of why the men are presenting her with bridal bouquets (is that a thing now?), 

Totally inconsistent lighting: Once again, Uma is lit head-on with diffuse light. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is cast in shadow. Colin Firth is lit by a flashlight being held a foot away from his face.

Nonsensical eyelines: Here’s where the rakish side-eye becomes a problem, because Jeffrey Dean Morgan is supposedly standing behind Uma Thurman, so he’s just staring really intently at the back of her head. Colin Firth continues to find the horizon really fascinating.

Mannequin arms/bizarre proportions: Why is Colin’s hand/arm so tiny? If he straightened that out his hand would only come down to his belt.

But that’s nothing compared to…

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. There’s no way either of them is going to catch her. They’ll just watch as she hits the… roof? between them, and then shrug at each other. Sorry, Uma, the only way you’re getting out of this situation is being scraped off the asphalt with a putty knife. (Also, if they’re on the roof of a tall building, where the hell is she falling from? Did she get tossed from a helicopter?)

Totally inconsistent lighting: both JDM and Colin Firth appear to be lit by Uma Thurman, who, in addition to being a terrible helicopter passenger, apparently also glows.

Nonsensical eyelines: Colin, what are you looking at? Also, side note, his face here is the exact same one they used in poster #1, and it doesn’t work in either of them, so why on earth did they have that photo in the first place? (Oh shit, you guys, is Colin’s character in this movie blind? That would explain a lot.)

Bizarre proportions: This time, Colin’s hands are too big. He could palm a bowling ball with those things.

Laws of physics? What are those? Assuming Uma has reached terminal velocity, there’s no way her skirt and hair would be billowing toward the ground. Her left shoe would have been a goner a long time ago. I’m impressed that she has the presence of mind to hold on to her bouquet and veil and look at the camera while falling to her death, although I might suggest a slight rearrangement of priorities.

Irresponsible use of landmarks: In reality, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are only half a mile apart, whereas on this poster, one appears to be on the Upper West Side and the other appears to be in SoHo.

All right, that’s all for now. Stay tuned for more terribly-photoshopped rom-com posters!

birdsimulator  asked:

This is only tangentially relevant but I had a dream where I was on a European road trip, and when I was going through a nondescript Slavic country there was a massive statue. Talking 50 feet tall at least. It was lit up from below, very dramatic in the darkness and all that. Who could it be of? A typical muscly man's body striking some pose, but in place of a head: Beet Poot. That's what I get for browsing before bed.

anonymous asked:

Chuuya proposing to Dazai (because it has always been Dazai doing it)

Chuuya didn’t get a ring. Rings didn’t suit them. Nor did he have a formal plan. He didn’t take Dazai out to dinner and he didn’t open his best bottle of wine. 

Chuuya didn’t want a wedding. He just wanted to know where he stood. He liked certainty with his relationships. After years of not knowing a thing, he needed some form of security. Maybe marriage wasn’t the right term for them. Maybe it was irrelevant. Maybe husband didn’t quite describe either one of them. 

He was probably overthinking it, but he felt like he hadn’t thought about it enough. 

“You’re awfully quiet tonight, Chuuya,” Dazai said as they stood inside the elevator that would take them to the top floor of the Landmark Tower. It was after dark, but Chuuya knew a few people and he thought this would make for as good a place as any for a confession. Dazai loved heights, mostly for morbid reasons, but Chuuya liked to think that Dazai had learned to see the beauty in looking over a city from up high rather focusing on hitting the ground. 

The elevator rose swiftly. Chuuya leaned against Dazai, who leaned back.  Years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. Now Dazai’s presence was expected. 

The doors open and they stepped out. The lights had been turned off, but that made it easier to see the city lights spread out below, endlessly stretching towards the horizon. Yokohama, and Tokyo beyond. 

Dazai started forward, catching Chuuya’s hand in his and pulling. Chuuya followed, and they came to a stop at the window. The light from below lit up their faces, and Chuuya glanced at Dazai to see the reflection of the city in his eyes. 

“You want to say something, don’t you,” Dazai said. His gaze flickered from the view to Chuuya’s face. 

“Yeah.” Chuuya felt suddenly out of breath. “Dazai…I-” 

Dazai dipped his head, pressing his lips over Chuuya’s. Chuuya melted into the kiss before he could remind himself what he wanted to do, and then he pulled away. 

“Dazai, I’m trying to say something.” 

“Sorry, you just looked like you needed to be kissed.” Dazai gave him a sheepish smile. Chuuya wanted to kiss it off. 

Instead he blurted out, “I want to be with you.” 

“Huh? You are with me.” 

“No.” Chuuya cleared his throat. He wasn’t sappy. At least, not out loud. He could write a love poem in his sleep but the words stuck in his throat and came out mangled. “I want to be with you…like…” He made a sweeping gesture with his hand. “For life.” 

“Forever?” Dazai asked. 

Chuuya nodded. 

Dazai’s express was serene, like the surface of a placid lake. “Chuuya…” 

Chuuya waited. He waited for the rejection that would probably come. He prepared himself to look as placid as Dazai, something that he never could quite accomplish. 

“I can do that,” Dazai said. 

Chuuya almost missed the words. He blinked. “What?” 

“I can do that, with you,” Dazai repeated. “What, did you think I would say no?” He ran his fingers through Chuuya’s hair, his hand moving through the strands and letting them fall. “But Chuuya…where’s the ring?” 

Chuuya swatted his hand away. “You’d probably lose it.” 

“My dreams of a wonderful engagement, ruined,” Dazai smirked. “Well, I guess we’ve never needed it anyway. Still, you didn’t even get down on one knee. I’m disappointed, Chuuya.” 

“Shut up.” Chuuya grabbed Dazai’s tie and pulled him close, kissing him deeply. Dazai brought his hand up to rest on Chuuya’s cheek, and they held each other. 

Chuuya pulled away and pressed their foreheads together. He saw Dazai’s lips curve into a smile, genuine, and he couldn’t help but smile back. His eyes burned. He had never cried because he was happy. 

But seeing the shine in Dazai’s eyes reflecting his own, seeing emotion in Dazai that reflected his own, he could weep in joy. 

anonymous asked:

i just. have no words for how much i love dean's expression in the brief second before he turns his head and throws the lighter to the pyre. i have never seen something so powerful and deep. and the light of the flame makes him look like he's holding a vigil candle, like he's the grieving spouse leading the funeral. help

Anything where they are lit from below by a flame is the actual worst uses of their faces. Check any scene like it, you will Suffer. 

Make sure you read that last speech bubble in your sweetest, cheeriest Disney princess voice. Anyway, if you ever use the sick sorcery shown above, you’ll sound cheerier than you’ve ever been in your life, and you’ll get glowing reviews from customers, but don’t do it regularly, because it’s bad for your skin.



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Can’t Stand For This

Member: Yuta

Genre: fluff(ish), Stripper AU (not smutty)

Words: 1.6k

Warnings: Slightly mature themes, drinking, strippers, that lot

a/n: not requested

Originally posted by yutaf

A lonely night drinking away remnants of a past love at a dimly lit, suspiciously smelling club went as well as any night of that kind would.
You felt the slick burn of alcohol down your throat, grimacing slightly at the bitter taste of the cheap shot, but welcoming the feeling of your inhibitions slowly fading away as you drank again.
Sufficiently woozy, you stumbled slightly from your bar stool, making your way to the crowded dance floor to find some companionship for the next thirty minutes.
Swaying to the music, it didn’t take long for a pair of hands to brush against your hips, turning you to face a man with an enticing smile. You responded by lacing your hands behind his neck as you studied his features, too drunk and lonely to care he was a complete stranger. The dim light and drunken haze wasn’t doing you any favours in solidifying his face in your memory, but it was undeniable that he was gorgeous.
His smile was an invite to study in the perfect shape of his plush lips, a defined cupids bow that shot drunk love right into your heart, and you knew that despite the amount of alcohol you’d had - you would never forget that smile.
You let yourself fall into the moment, enjoying how the heat of the club and sweaty mass around you seemed to accelerate the effect of the alcohol in numbing your mind to the feelings of heartbreak and loneliness you so desperately wanted to forget. Closing your eyes, the thump of the music in your ears and breath next to your neck was all you needed to think about right now.
“So, you want to get somewhere a bit less crowded?” The man you’d been dancing with suggested.
“I’m good here.” You smiled back, opening your eyes to meet with the orbs focus on you intently.
“If you’re sure.” He shrugged, removing a hand from your hips. Your hands reached for his, taking them and slightly tugging him back to you.
“Stay a bit longer?” You asked, slightly slow from the drinks, but still smiling.
He smiled back, a full toothed grin showing how straight and well aligned his teeth were. The expression was contagious and you let out a drunken laugh, thinking how pretty he was.
“I have work anyway, maybe I’ll so you round.” He gave a small raise of his eyebrows as if laughing at your drunken pettiness, smirking again as you finally let go of his hands.
And that was where the first encounter ended.

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Edvard Munch - Self-Portrait with Cigarette [1895] by Gandalf
Via Flickr:
In this self-portrait, Edvard Munch has depicted himself with his face turned to the viewer. The artist’s face and hands seem almost luminous against a dark, shapeless background. This highlighting of Munch’s hands and head is striking, and for an artist these parts of the body are especially significant. At the centre of the composition, Munch’s right hand is raised to his chest, covering his heart. His intense gaze is directed straight at the viewer, but he is looking just as much into himself and his own universe. The artist is lit from below but seems also to emit his own internal light. Together with the diffuse background and the cigarette smoke, this gives the picture a touch of mystery.

[National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo - Oil on canvas, 110.5 x 85.5 cm]

perfectlyrose  asked:

7 + a ship of your choice :)

7:  if I could do this all over again, I would

(kelsey, you have no idea – i’ve been trying to finish this draft for what seems like a million years and your prompt finally pushed me to do it! i hope you enjoy it <3)

running scared | AO3

(Just running scared each place we go
So afraid that he might show) 

“God, I’m tired,” she mutters and laughs—breezily—rubbing her eyes. “I don’t even know what’s my name anymore. Did we really have to chase that Flox up to here?”

He grins helplessly and shrugs his shoulders, as though to ask, ‘what can I say?’

She chuckles again. “Yeah, forget I asked that.”

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anonymous asked:

18/6 please

She shoved him in the shoulder and he giggled. He had been teasing her since she had invited him up here so she didn’t bother to explain as she pushed the box towards him. They were perched on a ledge high above the lights of the street below and his face was lit in sharp relief from below. He was grinning at her as he picked it up. She waited as he opened it. 

“Is it your birthday?” he asked. 

“It’s our birthday or close enough for you,” she said. 

“Our birthday.”

“It has been two years since I received the miracle stone. It’s not my birthday birthday but it’s Ladybug’s birthday. I thought we should celebrate.” 

“Should I light the candles? Do we sing? Should I have gotten you a gift? I could have chosen something pawsitively brilliant,” he asked. 

“Ugh. That one was bad. I just wanted to mark the occasion. I love you and I’m glad to have had you with me for these last two years. It’s been hard and I’m grateful. Also those cakes are really good.” 

“You love me?” he asked 

His tone was a fraction different and when she turned to look at him his head was tilted and he was studying her carefully. She lifted her chin and glared. He was going to make a horrible pun and she really was going to push him off the roof. The boy flirted like it was going out of style but he didn’t take it seriously. She meant this. It mattered. She didn’t love him like that but he was the person she trusted most and she couldn’t find another word that was strong enough to explain that. 

“Do I love you? Yes. Do I like you? That’s still up for debate,” she said.

“So you do love me.”

“I will push you off of this roof, Chat Noir, I swear I will.”

“But you love me.”

“Give me a piece of cake and stop talking,” she said. 

He did as he was told. He opened up the box and passed her a piece without looking away from her. She laughed at him to break the mood and it didn’t work. He moved the box so that he could slide in closer to her and drop an arm around her shoulder. Casual. Friendly. Maybe he did understand what she meant. 

“I love you too,” he said. 

She smiled at Paris spread out below them and leaned against him, secure in the knowledge that yes, he did understand her. 

Facts learned at 30,000 feet sitting next to a student of anatomy

Blood does not flow backwards in the heart.
Be like the exquisite piece of work
that pumps in your chest cavity.
Be warm, never stop,
catch yourself when you falter.
Do not flow backwards.
Do not let yourself.

You can remove a heart from a chest
and, left in a saline solution,
it will keep beating.
It has nodes within itself
to whisper ‘keep going’
when the brain fails.

Your heart is more left than centered
because it is larger on the left side.
Your left lung is smaller than your right,
to make room. We are born that way,
unbalanced, uneven, still beating.
You can live with only one lung,
but only if it is your right one.

Be your heart. The muscles there
are like nothing else in your body.
We took off at sunset, you and I,
chasing a red glow that outran us.
The clouds were lit from below.

Look forward and orange still clings
to the long line of the horizon. Look back
and night has come. Be your heart.
Take tired things and fill them with new life.

—  ejl.
smoke point //

clouds collude with the
roofline at dusk, denying me the
embers of last light. my face hot and
lit from below while i watch as
scraps of what was once verse flicker
briefly over the incinerator,
a ritual cleansing of sorts - paper choreography shoots
skyward, buoyed by heat.

the balm of
burning everything down doesn’t
work so well this time; you’ve made me
say things i might stand by, and besides
there are scraps of my soul in there
i’d just as soon have kept. but my
mood this morning called
for the catharsis of flames, and
who am i anyway to argue with
tradition? i watch sparks dance
in the late evening breeze.

my heart
dances too, a bit
remembering that my uneasy fear
was no more than that; i have spent my afternoon
in the kingdom of the saved. i walk
tall again with the redeemable, and
though i pressed harder than
i meant to at your soft spots, asking
for the surety of something
explicated - you have left
a light on, and made plain
enough that i might live with
an ambiguous rest. redemption
comes in many forms.

there are still a few sheets
in my sooty grasp. absolved, i smile,
turning away. something of today was
savable; and something ​of me too perhaps
deserves to survive the fire.


Lit from below, seen from above.

North East Africa, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Mediterranean coast.
(Elements of this image furnished by NASA)

Egypt, The River Nile, The Red Sea, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, The Black Sea, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, & a slice of southern Italy.

anonymous asked:

Dude i love your headcanons!! Do you, perhaps have any about Near? I'd love to hear about that :D

Let me say 90% of my personal interpretation of Near stems from two words: gummy vitamins. Namely, the SPK having to persuade, trick, and or physically coerce Near into taking them. And then they’re like, I’m a goddamn CIA agent, why has this become my life.

He’s left handed and naturally bad at sports. Mello teased him relentlessly for his throwing skills, or lack thereof.

Insane tolerance for pain, even before Mello began kicking his ass on a regular basis. He thoroughly believes in the concept of mind over matter, and often reminds Mello that he too, could become immune to crippling sensations, if only he would allow his brain to rule his physical being.

Once a rats’ nest has become a nuisance to his ritual curl-twirling, he just yanks it out, usually taking a big chunk of hair with it. Does this absentmindedly, and out of frustration.

Makes the SPK agents deconstruct all of his lego structures. Again, they ask God ‘why?’

Bones are brittle as hell (hence the necessity for supplements), which is why he doesn’t stand. Moving is painful and chronic ache usually keeps him awake throughout the night.

Had a huge infatuation with Mello, but it eventually faded into more of an ‘oh, what we could have been if only you weren’t such a big stupid pretty idiot’ deal, as he thought the other successor was a total dummy for his allowing of his idolization of L the man rather than respect for L the title to influence his emotions. He thought Halle was kind of cute and then she started showing Mello her butt so that eye-crush ended quickly and saltily. Gevanni likes to puppy dog around the detective but Near finds it most enjoyable to give him the brush off and watch him fluster in response.

Sometimes it’ll be late at night and one of the SPK members will hear something from his room so they’ll go to investigate… only to find him sitting in the pitch dark watching Toy Story 2 on a portable DVD player in the middle of the floor; he slowly turns around, face lit from below and those terrifying soulless eyes piercing into their very hardened agent soul… and then he asks for a snack or different robot to fiddle with. It disturbed them all deeply for a while but now they’re kind of used to it.

The Signs as Architecture
  • Aries: Romanesque architecture. Sprawling manors, dusty curved windows, hallways that have no end
  • Taurus: Elizabethan architecture. Geometric windows, palaces with an abundance of mysterious wings, elaborately carved staircases
  • Gemini: Plateresque architecture. Massive hand carved columns, ornate decorative facades, floral carvings that span the entire building
  • Cancer: French Renaissance architecture. Sand coloured chateaus on a hilltop, elaborate roofscape designs, lavish internal furnishing
  • Leo: Portuguese Renaissance architecture. Massive rounded ceilings so far up you get dizzy looking, intricate decorative designs that flow down the wall, the imposing Cathedral
  • Virgo: French Colonial architecture. Storybook cottages on the river, canary yellow walls and off white crown moulding, paper lanterns hanging off the veranda
  • Libra: Sicilian Baroque architecture. Marble curves and flourishes, imposing gateways guarded by hand carved statues, elegant wrought iron balconies overlooking the city
  • Scorpio: Gothic architecture. Perfectly pointed arches, large stained glass windows, omniscient towers, the run down Cathedral covered in ivy.
  • Sagittarius: Beaux-Arts architecture. Sculptures of Roman gods and goddesses watch the gates, massive arched windows, richly detailed murals and mosaics
  • Capricorn: Greek Revival architecture. Colossal columns lit up with light from below, extremely lavish internal designs and furnishings, the rich widows palace beyond the gates
  • Aquarius: Russian Neoclassical Revival architecture. Brightly coloured facades, luxury mansions, geometric shapes and clean surfaces
  • Pisces: Mediterranean Revival architecture. Tropical palaces and villas, stuccoed walls and red tiled roofs, lush gardens around the corner

[ford x reader ficlet - cider]

You are not a morning person. Waking up before dawn is unusual for you. However, from time to time you naturally get roused from your sleep at around 5 AM, and although you want to fall back into your snooze until midday it’s impossible to shut your eyes and as a result you lay there until the sun’s bright rays penetrate the blinds. Today was one of those days.

You didn’t plan on getting up until your stomach gave an impatient gurgle for you to saunter out of bed and go eat something. You didn’t have the biggest dinner last night, so it wasn’t a big surprise you were now up and scouring the kitchen.

A familiar, cozy cinnamon smell filled the entire Shack with its aroma and softly settled upon your senses. Was someone baking earlier? You suddenly got a craving for cinnamon apple pie.
The scent led you to the back deck, dimly lit by only a worn-down, outdoor porch light.

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Wake Me Up When It’s Over: A Carry On fanfic

Four times Simon Woke Baz up, and one time he didn’t; Chapter One

A/N: My sister asked for Simon and Baz fics way back when ‘Fangirl’ came out, but I never got to it. Now that there’s a novel, these two have moved into my head, and they won’t leave until write about them. Five chapters, all based off a tumblr prompt meme I liked. All rights belong to Rainbow Rowell and publishers.


Simon Snow searched his desk drawers and found a silver torch, but no batteries. He looked under his bed and found a half-eaten packet of crisps (which he ate), and a biscuit tin full of interesting rocks he’d collected during his third year, but no batteries. He briefly considered searching Baz’s desk, but Baz was so good at fire magic, he’d probably never even used a torch in his life. Besides, Simon was fairly certain Baz had set up lock protections, and he didn’t fancy being found in the morning with his hand magickally glued to his roommate’s desk.

There was no help for it. He’d have to wake Baz.

He scooted across the floor to Baz’s bed and poked the mattress with the end of the torch. There was no reply from the heap of blankets above him.

“Baz?” he whispered loudly. The blankets groaned and rolled farther away. “Baz, are you awake?”

“How could I possibly be asleep when you keep rattling tins of rocks and crashing about?” Baz emerged from his blanket cocoon and glared down at Simon. “Crowley, Snow, this better be good.”

“I need your, um… your help. You can see in the dark. Right? I mean, can’t you?”

“Can’t find the loo again?”

“No! I mean, yes, yes I can; no, that’s not why I need you.” Simon rucked his hands through his hair in frustration and accidentally smacked himself in the face with the empty torch. Baz snarled and disappeared back into the bed.

Simon stood up and shook his shoulder through the blankets. “No, no no no, come back. I need your help. Truly, The school depends on it.”

“I have yet to hear a compelling reason why I should get out of bed, Snow.”

Simon glanced out the window onto the lawn. Still dark and empty, but for how long? “I’ll… um. I’ll owe you?” His voice squeaked at the end and he cleared his throat to try and cover it up, but Baz still rolled over and stared at him.



Baz considered for a moment, then stood up in one graceful movement and swung his dressing gown over his shoulders. “Put on a shirt and then tell me what’s so important that you’ll risk owing your sworn enemy.”

“You’re not my—and, no. I’m hot.”

Baz tripped over the slipper he was trying to put on and sat down on the edge of his bed with a thump. “Some of us,” he said, enunciating carefully, “ aren’t perpetually two shakes away from lighting ourselves on fire. It’s 7 bloody Celsius in here when you leave the window open. Put on a fucking shirt; you’re making me cold.”

He threw a sweatshirt at Simon, who obediently put it on. He sat down across from Baz on his own bed, twisting the torch in his hands.

“I need to go to the Wood.”

Baz dropped his head in his hands. “Stars and garters, Snow, can’t you leave the poor Wood alone?”

“Listen! There’s a—a creature, there. It got in. And it hunts magicians by their magic use, but as long as no one’s using magic, it can’t see them. So I—we–have to go now, before the rest of the school wakes up. And that’s why I—need you? Unless you have batteries?” He waved the torch. “Because I—we, um, can’t use magic light.”

“And how did you find out about this special new friend of yours, exactly?” Baz asked, his face still hidden in his hands.

“The Mage told me.”

“Why can’t your precious Mage take care of it, instead of sending his protege?”

“He is, I mean, he’s trying. He’s out there with it. He sent a bird to tell me.”

“Is that what that sound was? I thought that was you.” Baz stood up. “Won’t the magic use have alerted this ‘creature’ to the Mage?”

Yes. That’s why we need to get going, he might need help.”

“Oh, you all need help. Serious, serious help.” Baz opened their room door and headed down the stairs. “Well, come on then, Snow. Can’t have you wandering around killing yourself in the dark willy-nilly. That’s my job.”


Simon fought a ridiculous urge to hold Baz’s hand as they crossed the lawn in the dark, heading for the Wood. But just so that he didn’t get too far ahead. The Mage, alone and practically defenseless in the Wood, would probably be too much of a temptation for Baz; who knew what he would try and do if he was left alone.

But he didn’t. Hold Baz’s hand. Because that would be weird. So he settled for walking very close beside him, so close their sleeves kept brushing, Baz walking with confidence in the almost complete darkness, Simon stumbling along beside him. Occasionally Baz would glance over at him. Probably in irritation. It was too dark to tell.

As they entered the wood, Simon began to be able to pick out details more clearly. He was excited, thinking his eyes were finally adjusting, before he realized there was a dull glow coming from up ahead, and that’s why he could see. A dull glow. Like flames. Simon ran forward.

Baz yanked him back, right before he could crash into a tree. “You really do have a death wish, don’t you?” he hissed. “We approach burning things carefully, Snow. Not like we’re happy to see them. Although in your case…”

“Can’t you stop snarking for one bloody minute?” Simon snapped, wrestling out of Baz’s surprisingly strong grasp. “The Mage is in danger.

“I can snark and sneak at the same time.” Baz let go of his shirt, only to grab his upper arm and drag him forward with him at a more cautious pace.

There was a clearing ahead. Simon recognized it as a place he’d followed Baz to during fifth year. There was a natural log bench off to the side. Baz had liked to sit there. Across the clearing there was a tangle of berry bushes where Simon had hidden and watched him. (The berries didn’t taste very good.)

Now, the Mage sat on the log bench, and Simon’s view of the berry bushes was obscured by a glowing, flaming ball of purplish-blue fluff that hovered at knee height in the center of the clearing. It pulsed softly, and the air suddenly smelled like burning hair.

Simon shrugged off Baz and dropped to his knees in front of the Mage, shaking him, waving and snapping his fingers in front of his face, but to no avail. The Mage simply stared straight ahead, in some sort of thrall before the fluffy ball. He turned around in time to see Baz leaning into the ball’s light. Simon jumped up.

Flammable!” he shouted, and rushed at Baz, who neatly sidestepped him and smirked as he had to flail remain upright.

“Why, Snow, I didn’t know you cared. Besides, I’m not as stupid as you look; I know better than to touch strange things I find on the ground.” He gestured at the fluff ball. “We are obviously dealing with a MagiCat.”

“How is it obvious?” Simon asked, fed up with Baz always knowing things.

“You’ve obviously never had a cat.”  He shrugged out of his dressing gown, seemed to calculate for a moment, then tossed the garment over the fluff ball.

“Wait!” said Simon, too late. “Is it magic?”

“Is my dressing gown magic? No, Snow, not last I checked.” The ball bounced gently, but otherwise did not move. Baz’s face, as he smiled triumphantly at Simon, was lit from below in a maroon glow as the ball’s light shown through the fabric. “This is a Seeker; the Cat coughs it up, and it goes forth to find mages. When it does, it holds them until the Cat can arrive.” Baz shook his head. “I’m surprised Bunce has stuck with you so long if she has to explain everything to you. No doubt it makes her feel important. Do you have a bin bag? I’m not walking back clutching cat yak.”

Simon gaped, then gestured at himself. “Pockets?”

“Useless as usual, Snow.”

I could carry it. But what are we going to do with–”

“You’re leaking enough magic all over the place, it’s a wonder it hasn’t trapped you yet. Suppose I’ll have to fix everything again.” And he snapped his fingers and said firmly, “Don’t get mad, get Glad!

Simon had time to make an inarticulate noise, and Baz had the grace to look chagrined, before the ball pulsed and incinerated the dressing gown, freezing Baz into position. A single black bin bag fluttered to the ground out of his grasp.

The underbrush at the side of the clearing rustled, then rustled again, and Simon saw, over the pulsing hairball, that the berry bushes were swaying. There was no time to lose. He glanced between Baz and the Mage. His magic was useless, and he was worse than useless without even that. You can’t intimidate a hairball, let alone a cat. Baz was so much better at this kind of thing, at any kind of thing, really–

The bushes rustled again, and in the fluff ball’s light, he saw the glint of eyes through the leaves. Without thinking, Simon snatched up the bin bag, rustled it open, slammed it over the glowing ball, and ran from the clearing.

He stumbled through the dark wood, only barely able to see by a dull grayish light emanating from the bag. The fluff ball was hot, so very hot; he could feel it radiating outwards, singing his arm, pants leg, hands, whenever it bounced against him as he ran. He hoped it wouldn’t melt the bag altogether, or he didn’t know what he’d do. He didn’t know what he was doing as it was. He could hear Penny berating him in his head for rushing off once again with no plan at all.

He crashed out of the Wood and fell to his knees on the lawn, scrambling up again heavily. He was leaking magic; Baz was right. (Again. Always.) He was always leaking magic. The fluff ball was pulling on him, weighing him down, he could feel his legs starting to cramp with the effort of resisting it’s attempts to freeze him. Simon looked back, almost falling as he did (“Don’t run backwards, you great numpty!” Penny-in-his-head shouted), to make sure the Cat was following.

It was. It certainly was. A glowing cat form slinked out of the Wood, orange and bright in the night. It was large. Very, very large. Like a house cat, but the size of a small horse.

Simon turned back around and ran the rest of the way to the moat. He swung the bag out and tossed it with all his might into the water.

It floated for a moment, glowing and lighting up the side of the wall. The bin bag floated away from around it, and the fluff ball bobbed, suspended in the water for a moment before it utterly disintegrated and its light flamed out.

Simon rested his hands on his knees, bending over to catch his breath. There was silence from behind him. He slowly turned around.

The MagiCat sat placidly, a yard away, watching him with intent, glowing eyes, its tail flicking back and forth in front of its paws, back and forth, back and forth. He backed up, remembering just in time that the moat was directly behind him. He edged to the side. The cat unfolded itself and followed.

There was a figure on duty at the main gate. One of the Mage’s Men, it looked like. Simon ran closer. Premal! Penny’s brother. He called out to him.

Premal turned and raised his lantern to see what—who–was running at him.

“Don’t use any magic!” Simon shouted in warning, unsure what would happen now that the Seeker ball was gone.

Premal frowned and looked past him. “Great Merlin, Simon, where did you get a MagiCat?”

Does everyone know what these things are except me?? “In the Wood!” Simon called aloud. “I need to trap it! Do you—do you have a box, or something?”

Premal gave him a Look, very similar to one of Penny’s. Then he handed the lantern to Simon and made a 'stay here’ gesture. He sidled past the MagiCat and ran off in the direction of the drawbridge.

Simon clutched the lantern and leaned back against the main gates, panting, staring at the cat. It sat down again, tail twitching as before. It was almost hypnotic to watch. Back and forth, back and forth, back…and…forth…back…

Other sounds…there were other sounds, out beyond the circle of light cast by the lantern and the cat…but they didn’t mean anything…simply noise…shouty noises…beyond…beyond what was important..which was…nothing was important…nothing at all…not even breathing…

He felt the lantern slip from his grasp, but it didn’t even register. He felt himself, slipping down the bars of the gate to the ground, the cold, damp ground. Shoutiness. Cardboard-y noises. A loud “mrrrp!’ and hissing, and then a sharp slap across his face that he did feel, most certainly.


“Get up, Snow, you’re making the ground steam.” Baz stood in front of him, wearing his pajamas and a smirk, one eyebrow raised. Beyond him, Simon saw Premal, poking holes in a large cardboard box lid while the Mage stood over the box and cast a binding spell.

Simon hung onto the gate and hauled himself upright. He reached down and conscientiously set the lantern up, then raked back his disordered hair and looked again at Baz. He was still standing in front of him, and the look on his face was unreadable in the flickering light.

“Thank you,” said Simon, meaning it.

“Don’t mention it. Please. Let’s not make this awkward, Snow.”

“I—I owe you.”

“I think I’d rather you didn’t, all things considered. A debt paid from you might very well kill me. But you can do me a favor.”

“Oh? Yes?”

“Next time you need help with something, don’t wake me up.” And with that, he turned on his heel and stalked back to the dorm, not even stopping when the Mage called his name.