Write an Elriel fic where they have a still born baby and Az feels like the Cauldron doesn't think he is worthy of having a child.
First of all, how dare you.
Second of all, how dare you.
Third, I’m so sorry.
He was cold. He was numb. His shadows hadn’t faded for days, for weeks. He didn’t think they would for a long while.
Younglings were so rare, so precious. When Elain’s scent had changed so soon after they became one, he was surprised. He didn’t want to let himself hope, he didn’t want to let himself hurt if he was wrong.
But then she had come to him, had told him that she’d just been with a healer, and that she had news. He cried that night, for the first time since he was a child, and made love to her, his hands and mouth always lingering on her stomach.
For months, he murmured sweet promises to her growing belly. At night, he’d talk to their unborn child while Elain ran her fingers through his hair, until he felt her hands still in his dark hair, and he knew she was asleep. His shadows were always around her, monitoring her health and the baby. They were always a calming presence to them both, until one day, they darkened.
Elain was asleep, napping in the middle of the day when a shadow whispered in his ear. He was on patrol and immediately flew back to the townhouse. Nesta saw the look on his face as he crashed down on the cobblestones outside and ran for a healer.
But there was nothing to be done.
Dead before he had even had a chance to truly be alive.
His child. His son.
So while Elain healed with the help of her sisters, of their family, Azriel faded into the shadows, faded into nothing, content to stay that way until he deserved better. Until he could be better.
And we’re back with episode 3! There’s actually a lot to be
said about Victor here even though the focus isn’t on him most of the time. We
get to see the choreo for Eros and Agape for the first time, get some more
insight in how Victor acts around people other than Yuuri, and truly get
introduced to Victor the Coach for the first time.
Again, I’d like to delve into this set and look at the
specific scenes chosen. I hope everyone enjoys!
We start off with the intro choreo to Agape. When I chose
this gif, I found myself stuck between three different options: the intro, the
close-up of him skating with his fingers steepled, and the ending. In the end,
I realized it didn’t matter because I had the same thing to talk about for all of
them. With the intro, we see Victor reaching out with open hands as if to bring
something into himself, in the middle it seems as if he is thankful and holding
something gently, and at the end he presses back out from his chest with his
hands firmly clasped. If we combine this with the concept of agape – unconditional
love – we can see a possible interpretation of bringing love into oneself,
holding it gently, then, with a firm grasp on it, giving back. I’ll talk a bit
more about the meaning of the Eros and Agape routines in respect to Victor in a
few, but I still felt the choreo was interesting in the respect that it also
tells a story – a story of the acceptance of outside love, of cherishing that
love, and of giving it back.
The second and third gifs I’d like to first talk about as a
pair. Both are from the Eros choreo, but if you look at Victor’s expressions,
are almost complete opposites on the emotional spectrum. The first looks to be confident
and suave, and the second looks so vulnerable and sad that I couldn’t help but wonder at the contrast. Then I thought
about the story of Eros, how it tells a story of a playboy who goes after “the
most beautiful woman” (I say that in quotations because there’s actually no
woman in this tale, it’s actually a man stealing the heart of another man then
disappearing from his sight). Then I started to question the choreo in this
program, whose perspective is it being told from? In the end, I came to the
conclusion that it’s both. We see the
playboy at the start (the first of these two gifs) and at the end when there’s
a pushing away gesture. As for the jilted man, we see him in that second of the
two gifs. Victor undoubtedly gets lost in his skating and his expressions
become very telling as to the emotional meaning behind the programs he’s
On that note, let’s look at these two individually. The
suave, seductive look at the beginning of the program to me always looks so empty. After you get past the initial
heart-eyed reaction of Victor looking that way in your direction, you start to
see how devoid of emotions that expression really is. What we’re actually
watching is Victor’s media face in action. I feel there are a couple of reasons
for this but the primary one is simply that Victor
is not a playboy. He tells this story with two parts within Eros’ program,
but he at heart is not and has never been a playboy. So the only
way he knows how to portray something like that is through his carefully
crafted image that relies entirely on the watchers being too smitten with him
to catch the fact that there’s nothing of him
actually in it. In most cases, it takes multiple watches of this particular Victor
smile to catch it but when you see it, it’s really difficult to unsee.
On the other hand, we get the third gif of this set, where
he looks so incredibly sad during the
Eros choreo. If you check out Yuuri skating the exact same clip, you can see
that his face is completely different (confident even), which says to me that
Victor’s expression here is intentional
on the side of the creative team. The reason for that? This is Victor emulating
the man who was seduced and then abandoned, left with his own thoughts for three
months and attempting to figure out what exactly happened the night he was (quite
literally) swept off his feet. We don’t know if this expression existed at this
point in the program before Victor came to Hasetsu, but the fact that this is
not the face of the playboy within the story is undeniable. And the sadness we
can see painted on Victor’s face is a clear indicator of how he feels in this
position at this point in time. Unlike when he tries to play the part of the playboy,
this role is much truer to him. We are looking at the true Victor Nikiforov,
unshielded and wearing his heart on his sleeve. Truly, something that one can
only see on the ice.
This fourth gif… well, I could say a lot of things, but they
would mostly be stating the obvious. He’s gunning really hard for Yuuri in this
moment, both (I think) because he wants
Yuuri as well as because he knows Yuuri wants him. Victor isn’t as oblivious to Yuuri’s
interest as Yuuri thinks (or rather, hopes) he is, even if Yuuri keeps trying
to run away from it. That said, if you compare this Victor, who is actively
trying to seduce Yuuri and show him “what Eros is to him” to the suave look at
the start of Victor’s rendition of Eros, it brings to light just how false the look in the Eros choreo is. Because if this look here is
genuine, then there’s no way that the look in the program is too.
Even though the face in this fifth gif is meant to be
comedic, I can’t help but think deeply about this scene. This is the face
Victor wears immediately after Yurio calls him out for saying that Agape isn’t
a program where one shows off their confidence, and yet still skates it so confidently.
Victor then gets asked what Agape is to him and he deflects the question back onto
Yurio with an overly bright smile and a flimsy answer – “you just feel it, how
am I supposed to tell you?”. What this says to me isn’t that Victor is some
sort of genius, as others in-show continue to say he is, but quite the opposite
(in terms of his own emotional awareness and how that comes out in his skating,
anyway). Victor skates out his feelings, the same way that Yuuri does, and that
always reflects into his programs. But, as we can see if we look at Stammi in
episode 1 and combine it with the knowledge that he was lonely but didn’t know
it, he isn’t always fully aware of the
full emotional depth to these programs in regards to himself. So, if we assume that Victor’s confusion and obvious
diversion mean that he doesn’t know
what Agape the program means to him, then can we figure it out? I think so.
There are many things that agape as a base concept could mean for Victor – it could
mean Makkachin, his skating family, or his fans, among others. What I think it
means, when you take in the entirety of the program’s meaning and how he skates
it, is that it’s a love letter to his audience. It’s always looked to me like a
complete story. Going back up to the first gif, where I described Agape as an
acceptance of love and a giving back, I feel that we can apply that here. The
program also feels like an all-encompassing gesture, almost like a goodbye of
sorts. We can look at Eros and Agape as programs that are 2 sides of the same
coin. If Eros is Victor’s struggles to move on to a new part of his life (a
beginning), then Agape is his struggles to move on from his past and present
(an end). So, even if Victor doesn’t realize it, I think that Agape was meant
to be a goodbye to his skating career. He knew his time was coming, and while
he didn’t want to let it go, he also knew it was almost time. And so, Agape was
born as a way to say to his audience, “thank you for the love and support you
have given me all this time”. Truly “Agape” indeed.
Returning to the comedy, this sixth gif is pretty much a
clip of Victor’s suffering in action. Just earlier that week he shoved his face
right up in Yuuri’s, got the guy all flustered, and asked him what Eros meant
to him. And the answer that Yuuri came to was food. FOOD. Not only does Victor know that this isn’t what Yuuri’s Eros
actually is (he knows it’s him), it doesn’t even make sense to the story of the
program. From a more outside perspective, sure, food can make sense if you only
look at the written definition for desire, but on a conceptual level, what Eros
as a program truly embodies, katsudon
couldn’t make any less sense. Unfortunately, there’s not much more Victor can
do other than scream internally about Yuuri’s obtuseness to the entire concept
of sexuality that seems to only exist when he’s sober.
Or he can go drown his frustrations in alcohol, which is
what he ends up doing. Throwing his responsibilities for the night out the
window, he decides that drinking until dawn is the best way to come to terms
with his current situation. As comedic as this scene is initially played out to
be, it actually brings up a serious underlying issue. When Victor doesn’t know
what to do with his emotions, or he feels lost, he drowns his sorrows in
alcohol. Whether he even realizes he’s doing this, we can’t know for sure because
he’s never mentioned it himself but I worry both for his kidney and his mental health
that this seems to not just be a one-off occurrence but a habit. Even if you factor
in the possible use of the Russians being heavy drinkers stereotype, the fact
that Victor is shown drinking every night since he arrives in Hasetsu and then goes off to get smashed after
getting ignored (yet again) by Yuuri before proceeding to coach with a hangover
in the middle of an intense training week doesn’t speak well to how he processes
his unpleasant emotions and situations.
The third to last choice is
a gif, even if it’s not moving. I chose this still image shot specifically because
it presents us a view of Victor with a very uniquely complicated expression and
none of the other shots of him during this scene really portray how far into
his own head he is in this moment. I feel that this is Victor when he realizes he’s
at a crossroads in his life and there’s nothing more he can do to affect the
outcome. He’s taking a moment before he needs to go out and judge both Yuris’
skating to consider what either result will mean for him. On one hand, if Yurio
outperforms Yuuri, which Victor at this point know is the most probable given
what he’s seen over the last week, then he will need to give up on the spark of
hope he felt from the banquet, the viral Stammi video, and saw in Yuuri himself
when he accepted Eros. Victor would return to Russia, to the place that he felt
was suffocating him, as a coach and not even a skater. He knows that his heart
doesn’t want this, even if his logical mind knows that if Yuuri can’t perform
to his potential then it’s what he’s promised to both of them. For Yuuri, the
only way he could outperform Yurio would be to show Victor that spark that was
shown within the viral video, to reawaken the side of himself that he showed
Victor at the banquet, and to channel the confidence he had when he was first
assigned Eros and demanded Victor stay if he won. For Victor to get the outcome
he wants, Yuuri is going to need to
pull out all the stops and show to the world (or at least those watching this
ice show) the potential that Victor has seen only in small spurts so far.
Looking forward from there, Victor knows that working with Yuuri isn’t going to
be straightforward, but it’s still what his heart desires. He knows he has a
bias, but as much as Yurio yells about Victor breaking a promise by coming to
Japan (he didn’t, he still choreographed a debut program for him), he is still
a man of his word and will go back to Russia if Yuuri can’t show Victor right here and now that that spark still
exists. In light of all that, it’s no wonder Victor foregoes the pep talks
during the warm-ups!
This second to last gif was the moment that spawned a world
of controversy when this episode first aired. There were many people who initially
found it hard to believe that Victor could take a situation involving Yuuri
this seriously, but now that we’ve learned so much more about him, we can look
at this scene a lot more critically. The thing that stands out to me the most
is Victor’s honesty. Yuuri confides
to Victor, through his actions more than his words, that he’s anxious but is
swallowing down that emotion for the sake of showing Victor that he is all that Victor has seen in him. That
he can perform up to Victor’s
standards. And Victor takes this seriously and honestly. Victor does care about Yuuri, on every level
that this question could imply. Yuuri wasn’t looking for a response when he
admitted his worries to Victor through seeking out a comfort hug but he got one
anyway. Victor reassured Yuuri on a deeper level than just “I’m looking forward
to your skating”. He was assured that Victor is there for more than that, as
well as for more than flirting, but for Yuuri
as an entire individual. And Victor wants nothing more in this moment than to
see Yuuri succeed. Victor does still want to stay in Japan, and he lets Yuuri
know this through the exact words he uses – a direct response to Yuuri’s wish for
if he wins, to continue eating katsudon with Victor. As tough as Victor has had
it since he got to Japan, he still doesn’t want to leave. And I think this is
exactly what Yuuri needed in that moment; honesty, and the reassurance that his
feelings were reciprocated.
This last gif is one of the first real glimpses we get of Victor the Coach. Even at this early
point, we can attribute his pat on the back then instant critique way of
greeting Yuuri as he came off the ice as an emulation of the coaching style
that he has had used with himself for years. Victor would have definitely seen how other coach and skater pairs
interacted, but the only real long-lasting experience he’s had with a coach has
been with Yakov. We know from watching the show that Victor’s coaching style
evolves (and quite rapidly) to suit Yuuri’s needs but it’s fascinating to see
where he begins, and how confused he is when it very obviously doesn’t work with his student.
ended up becoming a lot longer than I initially planned but it turns out I had
a lot of thoughts, especially concerning Victor’s portrayal and interpretations
of Eros and Agape. If you got this far then I hope you enjoyed and if the wall
of text was too much then I still hope you liked the gifset regardless! Thanks
for reading! :)
50. going through a divorce au (just a warning, mention of miscarriage)
Betty had been having the day from absolute hell. She was cutting it fine with the deadline this week, and all she had managed to write down were notes. Nothing substantial had managed to come from her endless hours of typing. She also had her mother breathing down her neck, sending her prospective apartments for the inevitable move. Even if she got the house in the split, how could she live somewhere that held only the happiest memories? Memories that ran fissures along her heart every day.
Her mind had been flooded with him ever since she had told him to leave. Every time she lay in their bed she reached for him, out of a 10 year habit. That one would be hard to break. When she stood in the kitchen she could feel his arms around her waist, humming in her ear while she cooked. There was even a night she couldn’t bring herself to get into that bed, so she wrapped herself up on the couch and watched all his pre-recorded shows on the DVR. Shows she hated. But she didn’t sleep that night.
And so, to top the day off, there was a brown A4 sized envelope waiting for her on the doorstep as she got home. He hadn’t even gone in the house, yet he still had a key. Betty felt her heart sink in her chest as she picked the envelope up. It was heavy, thick with pages. Ones that she presumed would now be inscribed with his signature.
“Betty, please don’t do this,” Jughead was begging, pleading with his wife not to pull back into herself again. “I’ve lost too, you can’t just push me away.”
“I can’t give you what you want anymore, Juggie. My body is useless. I am useless,” she sobbed through her tears. Jughead grabbed her face between his hands, forcing him to look at her.
“You are not useless, you are the furthest from that. Don’t ever say that.” Jughead was crying too, they had matching tear tracks down their cheeks. “We can work through this, babe, I swear it.”
“No, this is my fault,” she shook her head fiercely. “There is nothing wrong with you, this is on me.”
So although Betty couldn’t control her own body, something that would never sit well with her, she could control her choices. She knew how badly Jughead wanted children, it had been something they always spoke about. When she told him she was pregnant, his eyes had never grown so wide.
Except maybe that fateful morning, the one where she woke in pain like she had never felt. The Doctor informed them both what had happened, but Betty was hardly listening. All she could think of was what she lost. Had it been a boy, with eyes like hers? Or a little girl with a shock of black hair?
But then came news that caused her world to crash and burn around her.
“We can try, or we can adopt. We will get through this, I promise.”
“You heard the Doctor, Jug. I can’t have children. You shouldn’t have to ‘get through this’.” Betty knew she was being ridiculous, but in that moment she didn’t care. “It’s all you’ve ever wanted, I-”
“No,” he interrupted, his fingers were digging into her cheeks. “All I’ve ever wanted is you.” He watched her face, felt her shudder with uncontrollable sobs against him.
“I won’t do this to you, I won’t,” her voice wavered, so she cleared her throat and pulled away from his grasp. She wiped at the tears under eyes, looked Jughead dead in the eyes and told him, ‘I want you to leave.”
They spent the next month after the news floating around each other, and every time Jughead tried to broach the subject Betty would shut him down. It was no way to act in a marriage, and she knew it. But she was so broken inside, no matter how many times he tried to comfort her she knew she was keeping him from a life he wanted. One he could have with someone else. So she took matter into her own hands.
”Excuse me?” His head jerked back in surprise.
“I said, I want you to leave,” her voice didn’t falter this time. Not even with the way his face broke under his words.
“No, no fucking way. This is my house too, you can’t just kick me out,” he shook his head, as if he was trying to gather his thoughts, “We’re not doing this. We are stronger than this, you are stronger than this, B-”
“Don’t you dare tell me how strong I am, don’t fucking dare,” she spat at him, anger coursing throughout her. “My body doesn’t work like it is supposed too, what is strong about that, huh?” Jughead had no words, so she continued, “Exactly! This can’t work anymore, it just can’t. You will look at me in another ten years and just resent me. I know it, and don’t try and tell me otherwise.”
“Betty, please, I could never resent you,” his voice broke over the words. “We can go and see someone, get some help, for us.” Betty laughed then, it was cold. Harsh.
“Just get out, Jughead.”
“Betty, please, I love you, just let me,-” he was pleading, begging.
“GET OUT!” Betty had never once raised her voice to him, not once throughout their 3 year marriage, their 10 years together.
It had been 3 months since she told him to leave. 2 months since she sent him the divorce papers. The ones she held in her hand now. Jughead had fought against it, determined not to sign. He told her countless times that he was not going to give up on them so easy, that he understood she was broken but so was he. He was going to wait for her, no matter how long it took.
But then she told him they should put the house on the market. She had even started packing up his things, there were boxes piled in the garage containing all the life they had made together so far. Simply inscribed on the side with either a ‘J’ or a ‘B’, each lining opposite sides of the garage. A true divide.
Betty walked into the house and chucked the envelope on the coffee table. She sat on the couch and stared at it for a moment before ripping it open. There was a note on the top, Jugheads scribe across the page. Betty put it down before she read it, instead flicking through the stapled pages first. And there it was, his name signed in permanent ink. She couldn’t even bring herself to cry or feel anything, this was what she wanted after all. Wasn’t it?
She pushed the fact that she hadn’t even signed them to the back of her mind. Her eyes fell back to the note. And with a deep breath she picked it up and began to read.
Betty Cooper. All those years ago my heart chose you, and not the idea of what you could give me at any point in the future. I could live happily every day for the rest of my life, as I have done to this day, just knowing you exist. Whether it be by my side, or not. You are the most spectacular person I will ever know, you are my heart and I have no say in the matter. I would work through anything the world throws at us, battle any storm, just to be with you. Nothing and no one else, just you. That is more than enough for me. You are enough.
But I respect your wishes, all I ever wanted to do was keep you safe. Keep you happy. But just remember;
I still choose you. I will spend my forever, choosing just you. I love you, and it’s endless.
She went upstairs, leaving the papers on the coffee table but taking his note with her. She read it countless times, his words bringing an endless flow of tears. But they were different than the ones she had been crying the last 4 months, ever since that horrible morning in the doctors office. They were tears of hope, of love. She missed Jughead with her whole being, and she couldn’t believe how stupid she had been. It had taken those signed papers for Betty to realise that she could not lose him.
And yet here he was, willing to love her for eternity, no matter how reckless she had been with his heart. She didn’t deserve him. So, before she really realised what she was doing, there was a dialing tone in her ear.
“Betty?” Hearing his voice, the way it broke around her name, caused a fresh wave of tears to flow down her cheeks.
“Juggie, I know it’s not enough, b-but, I’m so sorry,” she cried, “Can you come home, please?”