Number 26 with person A as Alfred and person B as Ivan? Thank you!
26. Person A: “You still want to marry into this crazy family?” Person B: “Absolutely.”
Ivan kept his hand on the banister, staying on the top of the stairs as he looked into the landing where the door to Alfred’s childhood home was closed. Downstairs, gentle murmurs drifted, but were too soft for him to know what they were saying. He rapt his knuckles against the wood door. “Alfred?” When there was no answer Ivan added, “Baby, I’m coming in,” and opened the door slowly.
The room was dark, save several old glow in the dark star stickers tapped to the ceiling. In the corner, Ivan could see several trophies from high school littering the shelves, illuminated in the waxy hallway light. “Alfred?” Ivan asked again, words muted and gentle.
“Hey,” Alfred said with a lackluster tone. His red frames were perched on the edge of his night stand and he lay on his back, looking at the plastic stars.
Ivan closed the door behind him and fumbled his way through the dark room, nearly banging his shin against the frame of the bed, and perched on the end of the single bed. The cotton quilt under him is old and soft from years of washing and he traces the indentation of the seams. “I like the stars,” Ivan finally settles on.
Alfred snorts from the head of the bed and reaches out, spreading his fingers and staring at the dark ceiling. “They send you to flush me out?”
“No,” Ivan says and frowns when Alfred scoffs quietly. Nudging his foot he mutters, “you can do that yourself. I just wanted to check on you.”
“They’re just–“ There’s a sound of frustration that wordlessly passes from his lips, years of small troubles compacted and unspeakable in the same way it is hard to explain how a thousand different dots create a picture; how this dot is different than the next. “They’re just a lot sometimes.”
Ivan doesn’t bother with, ‘well they love you’ or ‘you know they care’. Of course Alfred knows that. That’s why he’s up here in the dark. His heart can hurt so much from caring. It burns and sets him aflame. Often in love, sometimes in rage. “I bet,” is all Ivan can say.
Without looking and without a word, Alfred reaches out blindly for Ivan’s hand, and he takes it, rubbing his thumb over Alfred’s knuckles and grasping his dry palm. Alfred sighs, pulls at Ivan, and lets him help him up. There is just enough moonlight slipping through the vines that Ivan can see his tired eyes. Swinging his leg over, Alfred curls into Ivan’s tall frame and sighs. “You still want to marry into this crazy family?” he asks.
Ivan squeezes his hand gently and then raises it, brushing his lips against his warm skin. He parts their entwined fingers and leans in close, kissing him softly against his cheek. “Absolutely,” he says like a vow.
Alfred hiccups a laugh and knocks his head accidentally into Ivans before grabbing at his shoulders and holding on long and tight. “You’re an idiot,” Alfred laughs.
“Maybe,” Ivan agrees, and stands up with his fiancé, letting him guide him to the door, and eventually down the stairs to make amends.
Summary: Ari'elle has long held a fascination for the humans, a love of the things they created. It wasn’t until she saved one that she thought she could fall in love with one of them, though. Determined to follow her heart, she made a dangerous deal with the Mage living within the forest, and then set out to join the Inquisition.
A world of Thedas retelling of The Little Mermaid!
Ari’elle giggled as she chased after the fire bugs. They always disappeared before she could reach them, but she didn’t care. It was all part of the game. They moved through the moss covered trees, flitting up and over roots that she had to climb up on to. They darted beneath the fronds of giant ferns that she crawled beneath. They flew high above her, and she would twirl beneath them, hands raised to the canopy of leaves spreading across the sky. Her tangled ringlets flew in the night air, bare feet sinking into the soft earth, as she spun, uncaring for how dirty she got her frock.
She was so happy to be allowed out in the night. She and Marron had gotten in trouble over just a silly little prank. All they had done was tie rattle sticks to First’s dreadlocks while he had been asleep. But First had been startled when he woke up, and that in turn spooked their halla. So she and Marron had had to study for the past two days, listening to hahren and Keeper speak for hours at a time. Ari’elle wrinkled her nose in the darkness. She didn’t like history. So much memorization made her fidgety.
The fire bug she was chasing doused his fire and disappeared, and she spun, looking for another to chase. To her left, moonlight streamed through the trees, and she laughed, running headlong to the brightness. She jumped from puddle of light to puddle of light, singing a song and dancing, the silvery moonlight burnishing her pale skin. A large broken tree lay on its side, creating a giant hole in the canopy of leaves. Ari spun in circles, staring up at the sky, spinning around so fast the stars all blurred together.
I envy the music lovers hear. I see them walking hand in hand, standing close to each other in a queue at a theater or subway station, heads touching while they sit on a park bench, and I ache to hear the song that plays between them: The stirring chords of romance’s first bloom, the stately airs that whisper between a couple long in love. You can see it in the way they look at each other… you can almost hear it. Almost, but not quite, because the music belongs to them and all you can have of it is a vague echo that rises up from the bittersweet murmur and shuffle of your own memories.
Moonlight and Vines, by Charles de Lint. 1. I’m a firm believer in the flexibility of the short story. 2. It’s much darker than his other collections. I think there may even be some endings that aren’t saccharine and adorable. 3. Give me goblins in a city and I’m happy. But fairies living in abandoned cars at the dump? Love it.