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Arkham rehabilitation (nerd) squad. I spy with my little eye: many sneaky details that you should probably squint at.

The Adventures of Todd and Granny

(Alternatively: “I Saw Granny Ethel with the Devil”)

Part I | Part II | Part III



Unexpected Guest



Today is a good day for Todd—though they mostly are, as of late.

He’s heard people, mostly the damned, mention the “good ol’ days”; these must be his in the making.

By the end of the afternoon, he’s improved greatly on his stitch counting and his triple crochets and, especially, in mastering how to properly turn his piece so his rows are no longer frustratingly mismatched. It’s still a work in progress, but Granny Ethel’s lessons are wonderful as always. Next up is learning how to incorporate another yarn color for bright, fun designs—or in his case, dark and atmospheric—after their midday break of coffee and desserts, of course. Because as fond as she is of his preferred black yarn, she insists he has to branch out from solids eventually. There’s no growth if one always remains in their comfort zone.  

Instead of coffee, however, Granny Ethel is in the mood for tea—and just as with everything else he’s inherited from her lifestyle, the art of brewing tea presents a difficult learning curve.

She doesn’t take her tea from grocery store boxes and tiny sachets—she doesn’t buy those in bulk because they only go to waste and sit stale in the cupboards. When she drinks tea at all (that is, when she isn’t in the mood for espresso), it must be fresh, and from organic, homegrown ingredients. For this reason, tea isn’t an impulsive choice of drink. It must be planned. It’s another lesson she’s instilled in him during his stay, and, the week before, they’d spent an entire morning identifying each of the specific herbs thriving in the back garden, and which parts were best used in which blends. Of course, he is well acquainted with the rosemary and sage, the lavender and thyme, the basil and juniper, and the chamomile and anise. But lemongrass is new, and it grows in abundance in the planters set on the windowsills.

Because it’s such a novelty, he chooses it as the main note and adds in chamomile blossoms to offset the citrus tang. It’s a challenge to balance it just right so neither is too overwhelming, nor too bland, and he doesn’t expect this to be a great attempt, but Granny Ethel is honest with her evaluations and generous with encouragement. There’s also the matter of heating the water to a proper boil, and not overheating the mix, then steeping it for the right amount of time…

Well, there’s a reason he never apprenticed to a potion brewer and enlisted in the debt collecting department for souls instead.

But for Granny Ethel, he tries his best.

The kitchen counter, small as it is, is a difficult surface to work with. The kitchenware is tiny in his hands, and if he isn’t careful when he moves, his horns scrape the ceiling above, sending a fine powder of popcorned drywall down like snow out of season.

Water sloshes out of the kettle and spills across the granite, some trickling down onto the tiles, and the small, fragile jar he mixes the herbs in cracks beneath his claws, but doesn’t shatter. He scoops out the blend with care and packs it loosely into a metal tea strainer, but even so, most of it ends up scattered across the counter. Grass and petals bounce and dive out of the tea ball as he fumbles to secure the latch, and by the end of the struggle, only a small portion of what he’d placed remains within.

He tries once more—and again. And once more, just until there’s an appropriate measurement of herbs trapped inside. Then, ever-so-carefully, he sets the tea ball into Granny Ethel’s favorite tea cup (the special one, decorated with playful kittens and ribbons and an elaborate, golden cursive “C”) and pours boiling water over it to steep.

A freshly-baked apple pie waits on the small, round dining table, taken fresh from the oven only an hour before. A sliver of the circle has been removed for tasting—and it is delicious. Slicing two pieces of the pie is a far simpler task than brewing tea, and Todd makes sure that Granny Ethel’s piece dwarfs the plate it sits upon, because she deserves the best. And bigger is better.  

The two dessert-filled plates sit across from each other, equidistant, on the table, on finely crocheted doilies that serve as placemats. The pastel yellow tablecloth covering the table is riddled in fragile, embroidered daisies and winding leaves and it screams spring despite the heat of summer weighing heavy in the air. He’ll have to find another to replace it with, soon. Maybe one with sunflowers.

As he considers this, the doorbell rings.

It isn’t something he thinks twice about anymore. Not since their new friend from the supermarket made it habit to participate in their weekly Yahtzee or domino nights, and their bi-weekly trips to the bingo hall.

Neither does Granny Ethel—he can hear her call to the door from the living room, remaining in her seat, “Come in, dear! The door is unlocked.”

But it isn’t a game night, or a bingo day.

It’s midafternoon on a Tuesday and the only thing scheduled for the remainder of the day is a rerun of one of their favorite TV dramas about two women in law enforcement.

The door creaks open—it’s something Todd’s been meaning to fix, though the home is sorely lacking in tools and hardware necessary for the job. If there was hinge lubricant around, it would fix it right up, but he may have to resort to cooking oil as a quick fix.

Curiosity gets the better of him. Carefully balancing the teapot and teacup in both clawed hands, he approaches the carpeted hall between the kitchen and living room to take a peek at the mystery guest. But multitasking, pouring the tea and looking at the same time, proves to be a mistake and in hindsight something he should have avoided.

The tea, so carefully prepared and brewed, overflows from the fine china cup, spills onto the matching, chipped saucer and steadily splatters the floor. Todd doesn’t even move, doesn’t blink, as it saturates the floral rug beneath his claws. The drips are the only thing moving in this scene removed from time, and all else stands still, even the dust in the air.

Neither of them expected a guest today—neither of them ever expected this particular guest. Mostly because one believes he is already present, and one believes he is too selfish to ever even have the passing thought to visit, much less call or write.

“Oh no, Todd, the carpet! Hurry now, dear, hurry, go and—no, I’ll go and grab a towel, I know where the cleaning ones are!”

Granny Ethel is the first to break free from the frozen atmosphere—though she refuses to acknowledge anything aside from the growing stain on the living room floor. Todd quickly rights the white china teapot hanging from his claws and holds his other hand steady to prevent the flooded teacup from dripping more hot tea to the puddle below. It doesn’t work—seems to make it worse, actually. It’s a vain task, so he gives up and cradles it all in his large hands, doing his best to keep the remaining tea contained in his palms. 

“‘Todd?’” says the clean-cut young man standing in the open doorway, a jarring juxtaposition to the black clothes and heavily-blackened eyes and metal accessories from familiar photographs—but even in the full Sunday suit, those downturned, bright eyes are unmistakable, and they are fixed unblinkingly on Todd’s decidedly un-Todd-like form. “Who are you?

I’m you, but better, doesn’t seem like an appropriate response, no matter how true it is. Todd the demon holds his silence and doesn’t break the gaze, because it feels like a challenge.

This man is the human Todd, and he’s come to visit.




Today is a….strange day, for Demon Todd.

Tea time is no longer a pleasant, cozy time. Not with their extra guest, seated between them at the small round table with a (small) slice of pie of his own and an untouched glass of water—no tea, no coffee, for him. He’s tall—a bit too large for the small table, though Demon Todd is one to talk. But being who he is, it’s only natural he dwarfs everything around him. This Human Todd, though… just what is his excuse?

Granny Ethel hasn’t spoken a single word to the young man the entire time and her silence is strange. She’s usually such a chatty, friendly woman.

So they eat in silence—but not Human Todd. He sits still, staring with narrowed, mean eyes, on edge. But not entirely frightened, like the general public tended to be in his presence. It’s odd. Perhaps it runs in the family.

As he sits in the silence, he wrings his hands together—clean hands, like one unaccustomed to frequent physical labor. No dirt in sight underneath his nail beds. Not even flecks of old nail polish hinting at remnants of a secret grunge lifestyle never quite grown out of. Whatever he has grown into certainly isn’t that of someone who toils in the underworld or its culture, like his counterpart.

No, rather, it reeks of money. Given—not earned. And possibly taken, too.

Demon Todd has an inkling of why Human Todd is here. After all, he didn’t come alone. Accompanying his arrival were three large, expensive suitcases, stuffed full. Still sitting in the living room, out of place.

At long last, as the last crumb falls, Granny Ethel speaks.

“Well, dear, speak up, speak up. What brings you here?” she asks the young man as she pats at the corners of her wrinkled mouth with a cloth napkin, and she avoids speaking his name despite the fact that she must know who he is.

The words, though, aren’t entirely conversational. With the three of them sitting at the small table, it more resembles a conference—no, a hearing. Especially when she pulls up the thick, round spectacles hanging from crocheted strings around her neck and sets them atop the bridge of her nose to better see the new visitor.

Human Todd’s eyes drift warily from the long, sharp claws tapping silently on the tabletop, and he clears his throat before looking to his grandmother, wearing a sickly sweet and fake smile as he does. “Well, it’s been so long. So, so many years, Gran. I’ve missed you, see. Dad was in the wrong, and he treated you terribly. I understand that now.”

“Ah, Arthur…” she replies faintly, setting the napkin down on the table and folding her hands across her lap. Yes—she knows exactly who Human Todd is. But the behavior is still so unlike her. No joy, no sweet smiles. All gone, drained, as empty as the teacup set in front of her, but not even leaving the dregs of what she once was behind.

Demon Todd briefly considers kicking Human Todd to the curb.

“He said awful things about you, and I listened. I came here by way of apology, to take care of you, but,” briefly, and not without a flinch, his eyes wander to Demon Todd, and linger on the dark, hand-crafted shawl perched on his spiny shoulders, “it seems like you’ve already gotten that under control.” His gaze lingers, fixed in a poorly-concealed grimace. “Who are you, by the way?”

Granny Ethel speaks for him, and for a moment her cheer returns. “This is my wonderful grandson, Todd! He’s such a polite young man. And it’s true, life has certainly become easier, and better, since he arrived and helped out so, so much.”

Demon Todd can only nod, but if he could smile without it looking like several rows of craggy, sharp teeth gnashed together in malicious threat, he would.  

Human Todd wrenches his gaze away, and pulls at the collar of his pristine white shirt. His hairline shines with sweat, and it isn’t due to the cozy temperature Granny Ethel prefers to keep in the house.

“Then…who am I?” he ventures quietly, eyebrows furrowed in an odd mixture of confusion and shame. Ah, the bafflement of mortals.

“Why, dear, I couldn’t say. In fact, I’d say that depends entirely on you! Actions speak louder than words, don’t you know.”

The sweat creeps down his temples, shining in the faint light. “Right, I…I see.”

“But if you’d like a name…I would insist on Theodore. What do you think, Todd, dear?”

Demon Todd nods once more, pleased by the way the conversation unsettles the man. In fact, the situation is much like naming a pet. Although something fluffy and small, or covered in feathers, would be preferable to this sweaty human.

“Theodore it is, then!”

Human Todd—now, Theodore—switches his gaze between them, fingers tugging at his shirt collar once again. “Alright. Theodore it is,” he agrees, as if, perhaps, it has been his name all along, and using a shortened form of it had been a way to rebel, once upon a time. A memory lost to time. A privilege denied. “I guess I deserve that.”

“Well, now that we’ve got that out of the way, Theodore, dear, how long are you planning on staying? I must warn you, showing up unannounced means Todd and I haven’t been able to prepare for guests. I’m afraid that means you and Todd will have to share a room until we’re able to make other arrangements.”

Theodore gulps audibly, Adam’s apple bobbing. He refuses to meet Demon Todd’s—just Todd, again, something of a victory—eyes. “Y-yes Gran.”

“And you must be aware of the house rules. Everyone contributes in any way they’re able.”

“Actions speak louder than words, right?” Theodore asks, shaky fingers reaching for the glass of water set in front of him. Not quite making it and falling still on the table, instead.

“That’s right, dear.” Granny Ethel smiles, at last. Full of her old joy again, as she should be. Renewed. Her eyes, large and owlish behind the clouded lenses, turn to Todd. “Now, Todd, won’t you be a dear and show our new house guest to his room?”

Todd looks to the dirty dishes on the table, caught between wanting to tend to them before taking care of any other, less important, duties.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of the dishes.”

Well, Granny Ethel’s word is law.

He rises to his feet—careful, always careful. Barely resisting the urge to let the ends of his horns graze the ceiling above Theodore so he gets a nice, healthy dose of powdered scrapings on his painstakingly slicked-back hair.

The man follows, cautiously, and keeps three steps behind as Todd leads him out of the kitchen and into the living room to scramble for his luggage, then down the hallway to the guest room, not making a peep, and not even stepping hard on the floors just to startle his counterpart a little, because one, it would flatten the carpets into ugly tracks, and two, Granny Ethel would want him to be a good host.

Theodore knows who—what—he is. Yet even when Granny Ethel is out of sight and out of earshot, he doesn’t question it. He simply goes about his business and does his best to ignore the hulking beast standing in the doorway, watching.

Though, between the two of them, Todd isn’t sure which one is the real monster.

It’s a conversation for another day.

buckle in folks, IM POSITIVELY SHOOK BY HOW GOOD THIS UPDATE WAS AND IM GONNA TELL YOU W H Y. this is also kinda weepy bc im Emotional. major spoilers for shokugeki no soma chap240 so please be aware !!

Quick TL;DR: Megumi has exponentially grown in this series, and her character development is showcased brilliantly through this one chapter via: her skill set improvement and her emotional+mental growth. Despite her loss, her character development was much better handled as compared to Takumi’s match and ultimate win. In fact, the key point of her development is seen through recognition by 1) a world class gourmet/food critic 2) Akanegakubo Momo.

ONTO THE ACTUAL POST. which is under the cut bc this got Long.

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notmuchadoing replied to your photoset “No matter how many times I do it, taking off nail polish at the end of…”

Could you get away with a translucent/slightly pink shade of nail polish at work?

A while back Navyy got me a Zoya naked manicure set and I’ve definitely worn that to work a few times. Haven’t really ventured beyond that in the workplace (which is basically just a clear coat).

I can probably wear nail polish with a hint of color/shine and go completely undetected. And, because I’m out to everyone in our immediate team (with the exception of my boss who just started a month ago), I might even be able to pull off a subtle color that was noticeable without feeling like it was causing issues; as long as I didn’t have any external meetings.

Either way, at some point I am bumping up against limitations within the gendered expectations of dress/presentation/professionalism - whether real or perceived (and there’s plenty to untangle there). Longer term I hope I can move past some of that, but for now those are the choices I’m sitting with even if they aren’t always perfect.

annabel lee

Hi Cassie! After yesterday’s post on Last Hours and Great Expectations, I was wondering if you’d be willing to talk a little bit about Dark Artifices and how it’s partly based on Poe’s Annabel Lee? I don’t really know what questions to ask, since there are so many things you won’t be prepared to tell us yet, but could you perhaps talk a little bit about what you feel are the “bones” of the poem, and which bits you wanted to explore through a retelling? I know that, like with Jem, death in the original doesn’t have to mean death in the retelling, but death and love that outlives one of the lovers are pretty central points in Annabel Lee. Most of the other themes, like the characters being childhood friends in a kingdom by the see, having a love on which the angels did not look fondly and refusing to be separated by angels or demons, are all themes which seem to match up well with Jules and Emma. But aren’t these the “clothes”, rather than the bones? I would love to hear your interpretation. Or will you approach this entirely differently than with TID and TLH, since it’s “partly based”, rather than a “retelling”? On an entirely unrelated note, does Julian have any other self-destructive tendencies in place of the scrapped smoking habit, or is it just the nail-biting (and a hinted-at recklessness when it comes to his own well-being)? I’m not asking to know what those tendencies are, only if there are any ;) — tlgrande

I’ve always loved Annabel Lee — it has a high romanticism to it. It’s beautiful and haunting in ways that I hope to invoke in Lady Midnight and the other books of TDA. The ocean, forbidden love, devastating loss, the refusal to accept death, and lovers being forcibly separated are some of the “bones” of the poem that it shares with The Dark Artifices.

I can’t go into great detail about the connections, because I don’t want to get spoilery, but I can say a little bit about the relationship between the two works:

1. The themes, settings, and overall atmosphere of TDA are influenced and inspired by the poem. There are aspects of the plot that relate to the poem, and there are aspects of the plot that are unrelated as well. The sounding sea, the kingdom by the sea, the tomb by the sea, all those are important to TDA — the proximity of the ocean is of huge significance to the characters and the story. There’s also the issues of forbidden love and devastating loss which … I probably can’t go into yet. :)

2. Like A Tale of Two Cities in TID, there is a direct textual relationship between the two. The characters of TDA will encounter the poem. The poem will be important to the plot. The poem is a real thing in the book, as in it is a work the characters reference and discuss.

3. Julian does not hurt himself physically. I’m not even sure he’s physically reckless, as he’s too conscious of his need to stay around for his brothers and sisters. But he’s reckless with himself emotionally and mentally, and tears himself up in ways that are not immediately visible.

anonymous asked:

Jily Prompt: James being extremely embarrassed when he realizes he's in love with lily in sixth year

Shout-out to the anon who sent me this prompt! This was fun. Someone should send me another because I’m at this airport for another four hours. 

At the start of sixth year, they had to smell that bloody love potion. Everyone was very secretive of what they smelled and some would provide unhelpful clues of what they had smelled. James knew what he smelled, and kept it to himself. Making up stupid scents such as ‘snitches and quaffles’. He may have thrown in some food items to throw off the pack.

In reality, James smelled the lavender that reminded him of summer days. The smell of a fresh roasted coffee, as if someone had the grounds still embedded under their nails. There was a hint of ink and something sweet, like candy mingled together. There were other scents but those were the ones that stood out.

He always thought love potions were bullocks.

-&-

Lily Evans, while a talented witch, always seemed to be cold. She was constantly shivering in the dungeons and covered in goose bumps in charms. She claimed it had to do with the shoddy castle and something about airflow. It all came out gibberish to James.

He became accustomed to lending his robe to Lily. It came to the point that she never asked, and he never offered. Instead, she would just grab the robe from his bag and wrap it around herself.

It was only after one stint in which Lily had kept it for a week, that he got it back. It was between classes and in the bustle of the crowd, James just threw the robe over his bag and rushed off to his next lesson.

It was only later when he pulled out the robe in the library that he realized something was different. To start with, Peter was literally sniffing the robe that James had put on. James recoiled from his friend who was frozen in his odd stance, giving James a guilty look.

“What-“ James started, dropping his quill as Peter straightened up.

“Your robe. It smells differently.” Peter said smugly, and James rolled his eyes. Figures that Peter’s nose would sniff out something.

“Yeah, well, as long as it keeps me warm - couldn’t care less.” James said in a brisk manner, returning his attention to the notes in front of him.

“Fine. But it does smell good. Reminds me of your mum’s garden.” Peter said, his quill quickly making scratches on his parchment.

James paused, eyed Peter, before discreetly sniffing his own robe, praying to Merlin that no one would notice his behavior.

Lavender. He was frozen for a second, thinking how it could be - then he remembered that Lily was a witch and most likely wore some perfume. Or maybe it was her soap?

James shrugged, and went back to work. Deciding that he wouldn’t mind if Lily wore his robe more.

-&-

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I did a thing and I'm sorry

A beep. A noise. A smell.
Where am I?
Can’t move. A room. Which room? My room? No, unfamiliar smell. Another room. Another beep. Yes, of course. Stupid. A hospital. Obviously.
But why? Why here, why now? What happened.
Oh. A feeling. A hand. Whom’s hand?
Long fingers, short nails, a hint of dry skin. Warm. A man, yes a man.
Obviously a man Sherlock. And you know exactly who it is, don’t you. Don’t be stupid, brother mine.
Mycroft?
Another hand. One on top, one below.
Warm, safe, home. Obviously, John’s hands. Stupid.
“Sherlock?”
John.
Can’t move.
“I’m here”
Don’t go.

Light. Bright. Very bright light. Blinding.
A thumb. A caress. A feeling. Home.
John.
One eye, other eye. Blinking, twice.
Another beep.
“Sherlock? You’re awake?”
Yes, yes!
Or am I? I’m not sure. What happened.
Oh, yes of course. A needle, a pinch, a relief, a blood stain.
“Why again, Sherlock.” Sad voice. Sad John.
Sorry.
Can I say something? Trying, only muffled sounds. Guess the answer is no, how annoying.
“I’m sorry Sherlock. I should have been there.”
You are here.
Eyes still open, blinking.
New feeling. Hand, in hair. My hair.
John’s hand in my hair. Gentle, reasuring.
Please more. Something, anything.
I see his face for the first time, though my eyes have been open for long.
Hair, eyes, nose, lips. Sad lips. A shy smile? His lips, I long for. Please.
Eyes: Blue, red? Vains visible. Crying.
Don’t cry.
“John.” It only comes out as a whisper.
“Sherlock? I’m here now. It’s okay, you’re gonna be okay.”
Lips, on mine. Please. But no.
“Is he awake?” Another voice, a female.
Blonde, blue eyes. Short hair, Conclusion: wife.
Hand dissapir from my hair - No home.
Come back.
“Maybe you should let him rest, John.”
The female, the blonde, the wife. A liar.
Suddenly lips on lips. Not my lips, her lips. That wife.
John please.
Foot steps. One, two, three. Fading.
Don’t go.
Please.
Door closing.
Come back.
Alone, afraid, awake.
“John”

A Study in Hands (Pedrazar)

At Pedro’s Halloween party, Balthazar spends the night being a wallflower as he examines his friends’ hands. (Inspired by “An Ode”) (“Would his hand fit in yours? I bet it would, better than any other guy’s ever could…”)

oOo

Lately, I’ve been curious about hands.

Not in a creepy way.  

Just in an observant way, like how your hands could say a lot about you. Mine for example are calloused, rough because I’m a musician, which is a hazard of the skill. They’re also clammy. Clammy means nervous and yeah, I guess, I’m a pretty anxious person.

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