romantic interlude

READER HOROSCOPES FOR AUGUST 2017

Placing bookmarks within the pages of destiny


LEO

Give us a birthday roar, Leo! Don’t be afraid of attracting a little attention – this is YOUR month, and you’re already turning heads! Your vibe, aura, energy, whatever you want to call it – it’s off the charts and you’re finding that people are increasingly attracted to your outgoing, vibrant spirit. Put that energy to good use to dive headfirst into those passion projects you’ve been toying with for the past few months! If birthdays are good for anything, they’re for reminding us of how far we’ve come, and how far we have yet to go. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished, and celebrate it! But don’t stop there. You’ve been granted another year, so isn’t it time to make the most of it? That said, the time has come to give yourself a little bit more care and attention. I know this doesn’t come easily to you; you tend to prefer to give rather than take, and feel more comfortable putting others before yourself. Admirable, to be sure, but there are times you need to listen to your intuition, make yourself a priority. You may find yourself in situations where a choice must be made: your happiness, or someone else’s? Draw your inspiration from your lucky book this month, an incredible tale of family ties, and the complications that arise when love is pitted against loyalty. When are our sacrifices worth it? Are some things more important than family, than love? When your allegiances are tested, what holds true? Ultimately, Leo, the choice is always up to you – and you have another year of wisdom and experience under your belt. Draw from that, and then do your best not to look back.

LUCKY BOOK: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie


VIRGO

It’s August, Virgo! Your birthday looms ever closer in the horizon, and you know what that means: time for some deep cleaning. What have you attracted in the past year that you know (perhaps only very deep down) it’s time to let go of? What has been dragging you down and stopping you from living your best life? Whatever those things are, this is your time to attack them with a bottle of your most high-powered cleaning spray and the coarsest washrag you own. You know better than anyone, Virgo, the freedom and joy in scrubbing at some hard-packed grit, and clearing it away to reveal the gleaming surface underneath. Half-hearted commitments, projects that have long soured, fake friendships – these are all areas you can tackle! It can be very difficult, sometimes almost unbearably so, to let go of the old way of seeing or doing things, especially if you’ve become accustomed to certain negative ideas or people to the point that they feel like home, like normal. But that’s no reason to continue clinging to them once you’ve seen the light. The 14-year-old heroine of your lucky book this month learns this lesson in some of most harrowing ways, but her journey to freedom is one you won’t soon forget. Take heart, Virgo, and remember that you are ultimately the master of your own fate. You hold the power – and the Windex!

LUCKY BOOK: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent


LIBRA

It’s August, Libra, and rather than succumb to the Sunday blues (it is the Sunday of the calendar year, after all), you’re continuing the summer fun at full throttle. Your current happy place is within a large crowd lately, and lucky for you, we’re still in the heart of music festival season. But there may be more to it than just posing for the street fashion photographers at Lollapalooza and AfroPunk: you genuinely enjoy the sheer excitement and co-mingling of ideas that bubbles from being among a group of creative individuals. Not only are your friends your lifeline this month, offering you constant emotional support and accompanying you on hilarious adventures you can only share on your private blog, but even the strangers you meet may spark some new avenues of creativity you’ve never explored. Follow this impulse to profit from the collective; keep seeking new activities and areas where you can expand. You’re drawing from the most ancient instinct of living things: the compulsion to not only grow, but to change. Each new experience and memory is helping you develop into the person you’re supposed to become, a person markedly different from who you were ten years ago, twenty minutes ago, six months ago. So is it any wonder that your lucky book this month is a fascinating study of the way we think about evolutionary biology? The most minute quirks of DNA mutation can influence an entire species for generations – pathways that emerge from seemingly nowhere that take life to the completely unexpected places. Every action, every decision you make has an undeniable reverb effect that you may or may not ever discover, so come on, Libra. Let’s see what you’ve got up your sleeve next – and don’t skimp on the silly group photos, either.

LUCKY BOOK: Improbable Destinies by Jonathan B. Losos


SCORPIO

“I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind.” Wise words from the late great Notorious B.I.G., and your mantra for this month, Scorpio! You’re all about that paper in August: you’ve been working hard, building your network, taking professional risks, and now, getting ready to reap the rewards. What form it will take remains to be seen, so don’t count any unhatched chickens. But one thing is clear: your ambition is going to take you far. Perhaps even history books far. Who knows? But while your career continues to soar to meteoric heights, don’t forget about the people who helped you get there: your friends. Female friendships in particular are going to be crucial this month. After all, you can only work but so much, and an unfortunate side effect of putting in major hours at the office is missing out on some quality time with your chosen family. So whenever you can, be sure to make time for some much-needed gossip fests or movie marathons. You need a counterbalance to the stress of the job, and reveling in the love and appreciation of your besties is a surefire way to not lose your mind during this exciting, but admittedly draining time. And who better to draw comfort from, than your fiercest supporters? Of course, if you’re looking for another source of encouragement, maybe the more literary kind, your lucky book this month is a testament to what the human mind can achieve. Not only that, but the myriad effects that innovation that have on society as a whole. From artificial intelligence, to the barcode, to IKEA’s Billy bookcase, there is a backstory to every object you take for granted, and many of them will surprise you. So, Scorpio, now we have to know…what will your backstory be? How will you make your mark on history?

LUCKY BOOK: Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy by Tim Harford


SAGITTARIUS

The road goes ever on and on, Sagittarius, and this is your month to experience it firsthand! That stirring you’ve been feeling to get out and explore? Now is when you give in. And let’s be clear: this doesn’t mean you should max out your credit card and fly to the opposite end of the globe, swathing yourself in scratchy fabrics and embarking on a life-threatening quest. It is completely up to you (and your budget) where to go, how to get there, what do to there, and how long to stay. Want to spend a weekend in Nantucket? Wonderful! Want to spend a month in your childhood home? Fantastic! Wherever you go, there you are, so use this time of separation from your usual to become even more in tune with yourself and any spiritual, mental, psychological scores you need to settle. Don’t underestimate the benefits of retreating from the typical trappings of your usual life; even if you don’t venture as far as you’d like to this time, take the time to sit still. Look around. Breathe. Say hello to a stranger. If your journey has taken you abroad, try to learn a few sentences in the local language. And most importantly, find a quiet place and comfy chair to disappear into your lucky book this month: the story of a young boy who has also left his home, but (hopefully) for very different reasons. Chased by dark forces, he is forced to travel across a hot, empty desert plain – completely alone, until he encounters an old goatherd. Their paths thus intertwined, they must learn the rules of this harsh new country together. A thrilling vacation read, cautionary tale, humbling parable – let this searing story be whatever you need it to be, while you bask in the unknown of your own brand new corner of the world.

LUCKY BOOK: Out in the Open by Jesús Carrasco


CAPRICORN

Is it warm in here, or is it just me? Oh, wait – no, it’s just YOU. Cap, there’s really no other way to put it: you’re hot this month, and if no one has begun shooting you some furtive glances, they’re coming. This is your month for smooth seduction, and there’s absolutely no shame in that! Whether it’s an old flame or a new spark, the romantic interludes will be robust and who knows, may lead to something more. Keep your options open, and do yourself a favor? Save the spicy details for your journal. Active as your group text might be, you don’t need to share every encounter with four of your closest friends, not unless you enjoy the nonstop interrogation that is sure to follow! Sometimes keeping some secrets to yourself can make the most benign affair even more exciting, and after all, don’t you deserve some excitement? That said, Cap, don’t completely lose your head in the whirlwind of these new flings – keep one eye on your finances, too! Finding a much lower bank balance than expected is a surefire way to bring an ecstatic high to a crashing low, so be proactive and maybe decline some of the more extravagant date invitations…unless the other party is treating, of course! Your lucky book this month is a mesmerizing account of a young girl’s mission to learn her mother and grandmother’s history – a winding journey through truths and half-truths, memories of love, abandonment, betrayal, and new beginnings – to, in turn, better understand herself. It’s a beautiful, moving testament to the fleeting nature of life, and the lessons we learn in youth that become invaluable to the generations to come. So go ahead, have some fun this month. Hit it while it’s hot.

LUCKY BOOK: I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This by Nadja Spiegelman


AQUARIUS

Aquarius, Aquarius, Aquarius. You’ve been living large and in charge all summer, and it looks incredibly good on you. It seems like you’ve got it all figured out: job, home, friendships, fitness – you name it, you’ve conquered it. Well, okay, there’s one area that can use some development. You’ve been so focused on getting yourself in order over the past few weeks (or perhaps months!) that you’ve allowed your independence to push away a potential special someone. Maybe someone came to mind just now, maybe not. But this is the month to open up that part of your heart once more: even if you don’t feel ready to enter into anything serious, consider putting some time and effort towards building or re-building something a person who gets you. Sometimes you just need a person to keep you in check, to support your more wacky ideas, to hold your hands before you take major risk. Knowing that someone you care about always has your back can be incredibly freeing – not necessarily limiting or confining, as you may have been led to believe. As long as the lines of communication are open, the cards are on the table, and you’re both open to each others’ needs, there is no reason that a healthy, successful life cannot include someone you can call a partner – with as many or as few stipulations or boundaries as you both desire. Your lucky book this month is a spellbinding and unforgettable collection of short stories that will shed a brand new and sometimes discomfiting light on the nature of our relationships, whether romantic, familial, or otherwise. Sometimes entering a world gone slightly topsy-turvy can help us better appreciate our own – and avoid the mistakes of the characters we come to know and love, even in the space of a few pages.

LUCKY BOOK: What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah


PISCES

Rise and shine, Pisces! This month, you’re feeling and looking fantastic – muscles tightening, blood flowing, skin glowing! No more late nights squinting at your phone; you’re tucking in early to avoid being sluggish the next morning. Midday bag of chips? Not for you – a brisk walk to get a fresh smoothie has become your new habit. Between your improved diet and consistent gym attendance, you’re right on track to achieve the sort of health goals you once found nearly impossible. And it’s a good thing too, considering how things have picked up at work! You need all your wits about you as you go through these hectic days and late nights, so keep up the good work. We do only get one body, after all, and it’s always in your best interests to keep it healthy and happy. And while we know work is pretty intense right now, you know what they saw about all work and no play, right? Even though it may seem wrong to inject some fun into such a go-go-go month, you need to let your hair down once in awhile and give yourself some time to relax and let loose. So that date you’ve been putting off? Just say yes! Enjoy the attention, show off all that exercise you’ve been doing! If you’re looking for some romantic ideas, might we suggest a homemade dinner date for two? You may be committed to new fit lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean all of your meals should be bland and oat-filled all the time. Your lucky book this month is sure to give you some delicious inspiration for some flavorful meals, as well as general tips and tricks for adding a special touch to your cooking, whether the recipe comes out of a book or not. Bon appetit!

LUCKY BOOK: The Art of Flavor by Daniel Patterson and Mandy Aftel


ARIES

Beautiful Aries! This month is YOUR TIME. Your confidence is through the roof right now – or if it isn’t it should be! You’re turning heads left and right, friends and acquaintances alike are clamoring for your attention, and the dating prospects aren’t looking too shabby either! Basically, you’re totally owning it this month, and we couldn’t be more happy for you. As summer winds to a close, take full advantage of these final few weeks: enjoy a vacation day or two, bask in the sunshine, sip some frozé with a group of friends at noon. In other words, live!!! Enjoy it; life is fleeting anyway! Of course, a word of caution: no matter how amazing you look and feel, using the world as your red carpet can have its drawbacks. Keep a tight grip on your wallet, and be careful of what you post on social media. Money is not everlasting, but that regrettable photo from 4 AM absolutely is! Leave the tabloid-worthy blunders to the celebrities, and recognize when it’s time to leave the party. Speaking of, your lucky book this month will be right up your alley: a whip-smart, hilarious deep dive into the world of celebrity culture, what feeds our obsession, and what effect internet fame has on our culture at large. Walk like the street is your red carpet – and then enjoy cozying up in bed with this book, comforted by the fact that there isn’t paparazzi just outside your door.

LUCKY BOOK: The Stars in Our Eyes by Julie Klam


TAURUS

Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for being a homebody, Taurus. This month, you’re really into the warmth and comfort (or should we say air conditioning and comfort?) that comes from being safely ensconced at home, surrounded by your books, blankets, and favorite snacks. Maybe you’re finally get around to that deep cleaning you’ve been saying you’d undertake since the beginning of May, or there’s a room that’s just dying for a fresh coat of bright new paint. Or maybe the time has come to say farewell to your current place entirely, and try to find some digs. However you slice it, your priority this month is taking care of your sacred space, and reevaluating what the significance of that space means for you. It is a place of solitude and meditation, where you can escape the endless grind of the outside world? Is it a fortress for you and your closest loved one, where you can all be your unapologetic selves? Is it simply a place of refuge, where you can rest assured that in this tiny corner of the universe, you are safe, independent, and in control? You may find that you have much in common with the protagonist of your lucky book this month, a fiercely opinionated young woman who is on a quest to find a place she can rely on as home. Trapped in that infuriating liminal space between cultures, between countries, and does her best to carve for herself, everywhere she goes, a place that rests entirely under her control, a place where she can feel, even in miniature, that she is in a safe, familiar place. It’s a stunning tale that will put into sharp perspective one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time – pick it up whenever you feel yourself getting a little bit too serious about paint swatches.

LUCKY BOOK: Refuge by Dina Nayeri


GEMINI

Gemini, what’s good? You haven’t had the best few weeks, but it’s a month, a new day, and life is going to have to come a little harder than that to keep you down. Luckily, this month you’re all about that extra support: partnerships and close friendships are where you’ll thrive, and it won’t feel too crowded, or like a betrayal of your own independence – we promise. The key is to make sure the people you choose to surround yourself with add a special something that you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. Who makes you feel like your best self? Your most capable self? Your most ambitious self? Who lights that creative fire? Understand that while self-sufficiency is important, and your reliance on your own wisdom and wits is one of your best attributes, it can never hurt to solicit input and guidance from someone who can push you to aim even higher, and vice versa! So put yourself out there, be proactive. You can’t expect everything to come to you. Your lucky book this month is a short, trippy examination of race and class that follows a most unusual character in her quest for authenticity. Like you, she wonders who she really is, who she wants to be, and how – or who – can help her become that person? While you will undoubtedly avoid some of the more absurd situation she finds herself in, there is much to learn from her internal dialogue as she fumbles for ‘realness.’ Find your person (or people!), Gemini, but don’t lose sight of yourself in the process. You’re smarter and more resourceful than you know. Remember that!

LUCKY BOOK: New People by Danzy Senna


CANCER

Up and at'em, Cancer! You’ve had a leisurely summer, laying back and enjoying the ocean breeze, marathoning your summer shows and sampling mimosas at every brunch spot in town. We don’t begrudge you living the unbothered life to the fullest, but alas, it truly isn’t a party if it happens every night. And unfortunately, it’s time for the party to end – for the time being. But you were sort of ready to kick it back into high gear anyway, weren’t you? You have a bit too much active energy to spend the rest of the summer whiling away the hours fruitlessly. This doesn’t mean you should throw all of your effort into the first opportunity that presents itself: be forward-thinking, but strategic. Know what you want, and then go after it. Get your feet wet at a few mixers and networking events so you can get some inside scoop on what’s for grabs, who to know, where to show up and show out. So go on, have at it! Dust off that resume, iron that button down. It’s time to start getting yourself back into the game. We understand that the transition back to the real world may be jarring, but you’re not a delicate flower; you can take a bit of unease and horror in your downtime literature. Your lucky book this month is a haunting short story collection that will raise the hair on your arms in the very best way. Both love story and cautionary way, it’s the absolute best selection for this month, when you need to be kept on your toes – although we highly recommend not saving this one to read right before bed.

LUCKY BOOK: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Aries
Maleficent 

  • a fairy who has lost her wings 
  • the curse she set on aurora was an act of impulse as response to horrific betrayal, her temper and conduction was very aries
  • losing their wings, physically or emotionally is the most devastating poison
  • her love for Aurora was unconditional, and built on innocent, pure appeal
  • the aries reflex to protect and adore the vulnerable and innocent, she became aurora’s guardian 
  • her true love, Sleeping Beauty, reminds me very much of the primitive and innocence that resides in aries, the innocence that is capable of pure, unconditional love, one that can be free of romantic interludes or expectation, one that reunites the abandoned child in aries with her long lost mother again

-C.

art; Lera Kiryakova

Hannigram fic recs: Angst & Post TWotL

I want to give back to this wonderful new fandom of mine but putting together a fic rec list! I should disclose that I am an angst fiend, and not a lover of major character death nor AUs, so though amazing talent can be found in those genres surely, you shall not find them here!

I also chose a majority of fics that are delightful, need more attention, and are usually under 5k words. Also always mind the tags–most of these are mature or explicit!

Without further ado, enjoy!

     The rhymes of goodbye  by @zig-zag-wanderer

Takes place post TWotL but in a desert (loved that detail!), with the kind of lyrical devastation that we came to expect from a conflicted Will and an unexpected wild, sullen Hannibal.

     Tighter and Tighter by @davantagedenuit

A synesthetic account of Will binding a desensitized Hannibal in a post TWofL scenario. The physical descriptions are luscious (you can feel them on your skin) and the power-play subtle and heartbreaking.

Also by @davantagedenuit,Il falò delle vanità

(not Post TWotL) Three times Will & Hannibal get drunk together and talk from Season1 onwards. It is lovely in a quiet, intimate, confessional way. I love dialogue between these two and this piece nails it!

     First as the Shadows of Fluttering Leaves by @OnehandedBooks

(not Post TWotL) This is part of a larger, slightly canon-divergent series where Will runs away with Hannibal after Dolce. Before being caught by Mason Verger’s men, they enjoy a tense and charged romantic/sexual interlude in Venice. It’s viscerally erotic, bitter, and yes, breathtakingly beautiful—the dialogue particularity!

     Baby, Won’t You Sing With Me Somehow?    by @damnslippyplanet

This is the epitome of Post TWotL conflicted Will, with all the indecision, anger, and longing you came to love and crave. The way he struggles in and out of depression and tries to come to terms with wanting Hannibal is sublime and so very human. 

Hell of a Ride  by @emungere

I know emungere‘s fics are very well-loved, but one of my absolutely favorite things they ever wrote is this little drabble set in a post TWotL motel room. Damn, is it hot in a relentless-kind-of-way.

   A House Divided by @weconqueratdawn

It’s all about relationship negotiation in this one, but there is a quiet intimacy and pace to the writing that makes it relatable and simultaneously lulling. The resolution feels adult, very grounded, and because of that, very earned.

  I’ll go anywhere to leave you but come with me by  @hannibalstills

We go to Cuba with this one! Dancing, measured intimacy, push and pull of trying to find out a safe middle-ground after two years of cohabitation. Lovely dialogue and such well crafted pace & descriptions. Molly also makes a brief, brave appearance!

     Every Day’s Most Quiet Need   by @hannibalsbattlebot

Pain and pinning with absolutely stunning dialogue, a good deal of vulnerability and endearing miscommunication!

     Dust   by @zacharybosch

Post TWotL Will can’t stay put: can’t give in, can’t resist Hannibal. So they are stuck in a loop of catch and release. They don’t seem to mind. 

     I Could Lose Myself in You   by @rubybakeneko

This is some exploration of Will & Hannibal’s power dynamics through sexual play. I am a sucker for writers that use sex incidentally, as a means to unpack emotional attachment and same-sex intimacy. That’s what you get here and it’s heady.

Frost (Chapter Fifteen)

This is a rough chapter guys. Buckle up.

ADDITIONAL CHAPTERS HERE
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Tony should have seen it coming, since he always saw these sort of things coming, whether anyone listened to him or not. He had always just known, right? When terrible things were coming?

But this time, he was distracted, and honestly could he couldn’t be blamed for that.

Loki had started spending every night with him, whether it was appearing in bed next to Thor and Tony after the storms had ceased rolling across the sky, or when Thor crept under the covers of Loki’s bed after the frost had started melting from the windows.

Either way, Tony never went a night without both their arms around him, and waking up between them was quickly becoming his favorite thing to do. Thor was all rumbles and deep morning voice, Loki stared at him like he couldn’t believe it wasn’t a dream, before kissing him so sweetly Tony always teared up.

Breakfast belonged to Thor, with Tony sitting on his lap being spoon fed his meal in between kisses and sips of the startlingly caffeinated version of coffee they served. Thor spent most days doing… whatever it was Kings did, which this past several weeks had included training with the soldiers and overseeing practice for the huge tournament that would be held in just a few weeks or so. He always lingered over breakfast with Tony, unwilling to leave a moment sooner than he had to.

Lunch was Loki’s, usually taking place on the floor as he and Tony shared a plate and shared a book, trading light touches and easy snuggles between bites, with Loki showing him little magic tricks to make him laugh, and Tony being appropriately awed while still snarling at the lack of “real tricks”.

Afternoons in the rose garden were a regular thing, with Thor trying to make time as often as he could to join them, listening intently to every answer about the flowers, adding in his own information as he could.

In the early evening, Loki took Tony to the training grounds, laughing as Tony whistled wildly, made obnoxious cat calls and generally shouted sexually suggestive remarks as Thor trained and sparred with the other men.

It was relatively easy to find a balance with “who got Tony when”, and other than a few teasing remarks, there had been no jealousy between the two gods over their shared hjartslattur, and Tony– well Tony had two beautiful, powerful mates who went out of their way to spoil him as best they could, as well as keep him sated and happy in bed.

Thor of course, always took Tony, taking him apart expertly over and over until Tony was a whimpering mess, exhausted but always asking for more. Their love inspired raging storms, thunder and lightning and black clouds for hours, and then Thor would hold Tony close whispering sweet things in all his languages as Tony fell asleep.

Tony and Loki, on the other hand, enjoyed switching with each other, wrestling playfully to decide who would top. Sometimes, after a long talk, or a particularly hard day, Loki would pull Tony on top of him, needing the reassurance of his love, the freedom to be still and let himself go entirely. Then it would be Tony telling him how beautiful he was, how wonderful he was. Other times Loki would grab Tony, snap his fingers and send them somewhere private before finding some way to make Tony scream for him.

Tony was as happy as he’d ever been in his entire life, in the month or since consummating his bond with Loki. So yes, of course he could be forgiven for not thinking of what could go wrong, of the worst case scenario.

Which meant, of course, he had no idea what to do when it happened.

Keep reading

Plance Day Ficlet

It’s short! For real!

Unedited because I literally tried to bang this out in 30 minutes. Thanks to @longhairpidge for constant inspiration:

“Hey, isn’t that the component-thingy you’ve been looking for?”

Pidge looks up from the data screen she’s fiddling with just in time to avoid being whacked in the face by an errant Lance-hand. She squints against the harsh, pink daylight of the tiny swap moon they’re on and tries to see where Lance is pointing. Next to her, Hunk stops and turns and follows her stare. The streets are thick with bodies all trying to get to the various stalls, kiosks, and outdoor shops that make up the bustling, whole-moon market.

“I don’t see what you’re pointing at, dude.” Hunk says, “Though this light is seriously messing with my vision.” He rubs at his eyes and peers through the dense, alien crowd.

“Maybe you two just need glasses - real glasses,” Lance adds, shooting a grin in her direction.

For half a tick, Pidge forgets that she’s supposed to play it cool, that she’s supposed to pretend that smile doesn’t make her feel like she’s seeing the world through rose-tinted lenses. Figuratively, that is, since it literally looks like she is right now. She bites back a smile and goes,

“Maybe you just need to stop pretending like you know anything about the ship’s tech.”

With a gasp, Lance clutches at his heart.

“Pidgey-Pie, you wound me!”

She rolls her eyes and starts walking away from where Lance had stopped, hoping to catch up with Keith and Allura ahead. But Lance isn’t having it. It takes him two swooping steps to duck ahead and throw his arm around her shoulder.

“Look, doubt me all you want, but I definitely saw the component you’re looking for down that row,” Lance says. “And to prove to you how confident I am that it’s there, I’ll personally escort you myself.”

Steering her back towards the street he’d pointed out, Lance looks over his shoulder towards a rather bewildered looking Hunk and calls, “You go meet up with the others, we’ll snap the part and meet back up with you!”

They’re too far away and the market too noisy to hear Hunk’s reply, but his face as it bobs over the sea of aliens looks somewhere between exasperated and resigned. Lance laughs, and Pidge rolls her eyes again, and she’s whisked away down the busy side street.

They walk in silence for a dobosh or two, Lance’s arm still slung around her shoulders. The further they get from the main thoroughfare, though, the closer in he draws her. His fingers trail small, errant circles through her shirt, and despite the relative warmth of the swap moon, a slight shiver runs from her skin to spine. Pidge glances around, then tucks her head against his chest as they walk.

“So what’s this all about?” she finally asks, glancing up at him.

Lance shrugs, a casual gesture, but she can the nerves in the way he bites at the inside of his cheek before answering. “Well, you know, Coran said we needed to get some parts for the ship and would have to stop at a swap moon, and so I figured we’d have a day to wander and get what we needed…” he trails off. His cheeks seem to darken, though in the light it all looks like pink on deeper pink. “You mentioned wanting to get that one doohickey, and I’ve been craving weird alien food and so I thought we could maybe… make up for having our first date cut short.”

Her eyes narrow, but when she speaks, it’s louder than it needs to be, as if she could cover up the sudden thud of her heart waling on her ribs. “Lance, don’t tell me you made up seeing the part I needed just to get us away from the rest of the team.”

“Pshaw, like I would do that!” he says, though she sees his eyes dart from stall to stall, searching. “I had fully pure intentions of making sure you found the component you needed… after I swept you away for a brief romantic interlude.”

“You truly are a master of romance,” she says, voice flat.

But then Lance does that thing, that thing he always seems to do just when she’s least expecting it, that thing he did the moment before she first realized she was falling, hard and fast. They lock eyes, and his grin softens. A bright ball of heat bounces around in her gut. He stops, in the middle of the packed street, tips his head down, and presses his lips to hers. It’s soft, and chaste, and Pidge wishes he’d do it over and over again. So, she raises up on her tiptoes and plants a kiss on him. How long they stand there, surrounded by shopping aliens under a magenta sky, she’s not sure - a few ticks, maybe a dobosh, maybe an eternity - but it’s long enough to make her dizzy from lack of air and far, far too short to ever want to quit.

They pull away, and breathe, and some alien bumps into Pidge and mutters something that, if her Mynoxian is up to scratch, she knows would make even Lance blush.

“This is a pretty good start to a second date,” she concedes. “What else you got?”

He shakes his head, but there’s an undeniable fondness in his features. “So demanding,” he says. With a flourish, he pulls from the inside pocket of his jacket the very part Pidge had been on the hunt for. “And you’d think finding the piece you needed would be solid boyfriending, but nooooo…”

She cuts him short with another kiss, then plucks the component from his hands. “Thank you, Lance,” she says. Pidge tucks the piece in her small bag, then slides her hand in his. “Now, I believe you said something about weird alien food?” 

Catch a Falling Star

Characters: CastielXReader

Word Count: 1954 (Part 6)

A/N: Part 6 of a Soulmate AU mini-series. Consider this a warning for sticky fluff with a smutty cherry on top. This isn’t explicit smut by any means – really more of a super suggestive romantic interlude. Non-adult readers, please note you can skip this part without losing track of the plot. Angst anticipators…enjoy your sweet seraphim sugar high [while it lasts]. P.S. True story – I fell more in love with Castiel while writing this chapter.

Summary: What if angels didn’t end up just anywhere when they are banished by sigils…what if sometimes they end up exactly where they need to be? Turns out you are Castiel’s grounding stone, and it’s more complicated than either of you realizes. In the hushed calm before the gathering storm, the spark between you and Castiel burns bright.

Catch up if you missed a chapter: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Castiel inspected the rounded granite stones arranged in a near perfect circle rimming a shallow depression in the earth lined with soot-streaked flat grey pieces of rock. You asked him earlier in the evening if he knew how to build a fire. He answered affirmatively and without a moment’s hesitation. After all, he’d been there when humankind first discovered and tamed fire – it was as simple a concept as any to grasp.

You were disappointed to learn that Neanderthals were not instantly awestruck and captivated by the usefulness of the miraculous leaping hot orange flames and ethereal smoke as you’d always imagined. Rather, Cas informed you they fled, generally en masse, screaming of mind-boggling world-ending horror. It wasn’t until much later they learned to co-exist with a smoldering blaze in what amounted to a functional state of contained terror. To this day, human descendants without a healthy fear of fire and its ability to hungrily consume everything in its path without discrimination exist few and far between – a lingering testament to the powerful influence of first impressions.

The angel pensively walked the perimeter of the pit, realizing he might have overstated his qualifications as, although he understood how to create a fire in theory, he’d never actually had necessity or occasion to build one. He’d observed Sam and Dean construct several impressive conflagrations over the years. However, something on the scale of a hunter’s funeral pyre seemed excessive considering you intended to roast mass-produced puffed pillows of sugar, not incinerate a corpse.

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A Study in Annotations: TWIS

Reading “The Man with the Twisted Lip” with annotations was quite interesting. So far in this version (The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes edited by Leslie S. Klinger) the footnotes have always been quite in depth (usually historical context, discrepancies in canon, speculations about locations, character studies, and various theories by Holmes scholars throughout the years), but the annotations on this story were a freaking journey. 

Annotations about romantic relations and Holmes’s sexuality

  • First there’s the intensely heteronormative intro which alludes to “tantalising hints of a romantic interlude between Holmes and the lovely Mrs. Neville St. Clair.” Like, can you just let the reader form their own opinions instead of trying to force the idea that of a romantic relationship between Holmes and a woman down our throats before we’ve even started the story?
  • This next one actually made me write “WTF???” on the page flag I stuck here. It’s a list of theories to explain why Holmes got involved in the case so quickly and was already staying at the St. Clair residence. 
    • Theory 1) Holmes was having an illicit liaison with Mrs. St. Clair
    • Theory 2) Neville St. Clair and Holmes were old friends
    • Theory 3) Holmes and Mrs. St. Clair were old friends (generally accepted as more likely)
    • Theory 4) Mr. and Mrs. St. Clair were not actually married; they were brother and sister, and she was really the wife of Sherlock Holmes (this was the one that really inspired my “WTF” note)
  • References to Richard Asher’s article “Holmes and the Fair Sex” which speculates that Mrs. St. Clair was coming on to Holmes as indicated by her attire, attitude and insistence that Holmes stay with her despite that fact that the house was an inconvenient 7 miles away from the scene of his investigation. However Asher has a different take on Holmes and asks, “Is it not abundantly clear that Holmes had brought Watson with him as a chaperon? Yet, even with [Watson sleeping in his room], Holmes does not seem to have felt quite secure, for he sat up all night […] probably ruminating over his narrow escape.”
    [yup, you’re right, dude. Holmes had no interest in her or any other woman]
    • C. Alan Bradley and William A.S. Sargeant in Ms. Holmes of Baker Street: The Truth about Sherlock, see this incident as the plainest indication that Holmes was a woman. Of course, the entire incident is easily explicable by those who suggest a homosexual relationship between Holmes and Watson (for example, Larry Townsend’s The Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, first published by “J. Watson” in 1971)

Speculation about the many coloured dressing gowns of Sherlock Holmes:
Purple in “The Blue Carbuncle”, mouse-coloured in “The Bruce-Partington Plans and the blue in “The Man with the Twisted Lip”.

[This annotation just made me giggle because the first one is ridiculous but people actually had in-depth discussions about it and the editor thought it was important enough to include.]

  • Christopher Morley addresses this in “Was Sherlock Holmes an American?”: “Elementary. This particular gown was blue when new. … It had gone purple by the time of ‘The Blue Carbuncle.’ During the long absence 1891-1894, when Mrs. Hudson faithfully aired and sunned it in the backyard, it faded to mouse.”
  • S.B. Blake suggests that Holmes had two gowns, one blue, one purple, that were burned in the fire set by Moriarty’s minions in April 1891 (see “The Final Problem”), and that Holmes acquired a third gown in Italy (see “The Empty House”), which he took with him during his travels in Tibet and elsewhere. 
  • Richard Lancelyn Green dismisses the controversy, observing that the dressing-gown was likely borrowed from Neville St. Clair.

A list of theories about the John/James name mix-up. Some normal, others crazy as hell.

  • James is an affectionate reference to Watson’s middle name “Hamish” which is the Scot version of “James” (Dorothy L. Sayers)
  • James was a playful reference to Watson’s role as Holmes’s Boswell - James Boswell (Ebbe Curtis Hoff)
  • The “slip” was a familial codeword employed by Watson’s wife meaning “John, leave us alone to talk privately” (Donald A. Yates)
  • “James” is merely a typographical error (H.W. Bell)
  • Mrs. Watson just couldn’t remember his name which led to their eventual separation (Christopher Morley)
  • Watson intentionally falsified the records by having his wife refer to him as “James” to avoid a possible libel action (by Isa Whitney or Neville St. Clair), but later threw in the cabby’s name, “John” as a clue to the true author. (Giles Playfair)
  • Watson’s name was really James but he used “John H. Watson” as a pen name (J.S. Coltart)
  • Indicates a second hand in the narrative
  • James was the name of Watson’s bull pup
  • James was the name of a child - an adopted son or stepson or child who died in infancy
  • There were originally two Watsons - John and James. John died prematurely and James seized the opportunity to masquerade as his elder brother (Bliss Austin)
  • There were identical twins named John and James Watson. John was wounded in the shoulder and James in the leg. It was John who met Holmes in Bart’s and originally shared rooms with him in the Baker Street flat. But as his practice developed James occupied the room. It was James who shared the adventure of The Sign of Four, married Mary Morstan, and attended to John’s practice when ‘the game was afoot’.  (Ian Neil Abrams) 
  • Mary’s “James” as a mistake. “She had been silently reliving those days of love with her most ardent suitor. During the ensuing turmoil, it was his name, ‘James,’ she spoke, not that of her new husband.” That man: James Moriarty! (Robert S. Katz and David N. Haugen)

    [Hey, look! Even pre-BBC universe theories make a connection between “Mary” and Moriarty! Also, there’s a twins theory. Just saying…]
Another (Chapter Five)

Thor gets sweet(er) and Steve is falling hard. I feel like all I say about these guys is that they are the sweetest or the cutest, but honestly I don’t know how else to describe them lol A little bit sexy times but nothing explicit.

ADDITIONAL CHAPTERS HERE

Enjoy :)

********************

Steve sipped at his coffee, eyes closed, head pounding.

It had been a rough morning already. He had barely gotten through the door from his usual six am run, and both Agent Coulson and Director Fury had been waiting for him in the conference room, ready to rip into him for the previous days mission.

What had started as simple surveillance with Sam over a suspected weapons cache in South America had rapidly deteriorated into a firefight that had ended with several people dead. A blip in intel had given the guerilla fighters a heads up that a surveillance team was going to be in the area and they had been ready and more than willing to send the small plane dropping from the sky, holes punched in it’s fuselage, Sam and Steve diving out and scrambling for cover.

The screw up hadn’t been Sams fault, and definitely not Steve’s fault, but the ruling officials were screaming for blood and recompense and SHIELD wanted to take their pound of flesh from Steve.

So he had stood in parade rest and let Fury yell until his one good eye was bulging, shouting about how ridiculous it was that Steve couldn’t manage a single mission without blowing something up. Had stood in parade rest and let Coulson sigh in disappointment, shaking his head and adding comments in with that always soft, somehow grating voice of his.

Steve had stood in parade rest with his jaw clenched and hadn’t said a damn thing until Fury had exhausted his litany of curse words, and Coulson had had his soft spoken, razor edged say.

Then he had stomped upstairs and banged on Thors door.

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Part 2 - His Flame

Introduction

Part 1

Part 3


Disclaimer: This post is the second in a trio of essays on the events of the Finale of The Royal Romance, in which I place Prince Liam’s final decision to marry Countess Madeleine in the context of his role as king, the current state of his country Cordonia and how he will move forward from the events of his Coronation. The first essay looks at Cordonia is a nation and how Liam’s role is defined by the events that have taken place there over the past few decades. Part 2 will explore the Liam x MC relationship and look at how Liam’s interactions with the MC change his beliefs over time.


Disclaimer 2: For the purposes of this essay, I have included only the Liam-centric diamond options and romance-point-responses as part of the plot.


Do read Part 1 before you proceed to this point.


MC: Our relationship is so strange. It’s not like he [Liam] can sweep me off my feet and carry me out of here…

Maxwell: When you’re royalty, the rules are different.

- TRR Chapter 8, “A Waltz to Remember”.


Liam comes to New York with one fervent wish: to see the Statue of Liberty - the ultimate symbol of freedom - right before he goes back to Cordonia to fulfill his duties and choose a bride. He refrains from asking his friends to include it in their schedule for fear of sounding ungrateful. So when an adventurous, fiesty young waitress jumps on the chance to make his dream come true, he is more than intrigued. Almost instantly, he confesses his deepest desires to her as he would an old friend.


For most of their boat trip to Liberty, Liam seems to admire the MC for being precisely what he can’t be: gutsy, adventurous, the kind of person who constantly follows her heart. He recognizes in her the freedom he lacks.

For both Liam and the MC, this romantic interlude seems special because they don’t expect to see each other again.


The MC, at the beginning of the game, is given three options that reveal to Liam what her ultimate dream is: to see the world, to fall in love or to live every moment to the fullest. Each of these goals, in some way, propel her to take that giant leap to Cordonia once Maxwell makes her the offer.


The Liam she finally meets at the Masquerade Ball is in many ways different from the tourist she had met in New York. In Cordonia, he is the Crown Prince, constantly aware of who he is and what his duties are, and the consequences of his actions. When the MC asks him what he thinks of the social season, he says, “I know it’s silly…but it is tradition. I know how important it is to Cordonia to find the right queen.” (TRR Chapter 4). He tells her that his feelings do not exactly count in the face of Cordonia’s stability, citing the example of his brother Leo’s mother. The MC will have to build her reputation in court and gain public approval if she is to be considered a fit candidate for his hand.


It’s easy to forget sometimes what a personal leap it is for the MC (especially if Liam is her LI in the playthrough) to settle into courtly life. She has to use her limited funds to impress the royal family, the press and the public, quickly learn the new things that all the other suitors seem to know already and say all the right things to the right people, all while being able to snatch only a few minutes with Liam here and there.


Liam seems aware of how difficult her transition is, and strives to make it easier on her from behind the scenes. He persuades Drake to keep an eye on her to see if she is lost (something that actually does occur at the Derby), ensures that Drake gets the room next to hers at Applewood Manor, arranges for American barbecue to be given at the beach party so she will get a taste of home. He is aware that among all the ladies vying for his hand, the MC is at a disadvantage because everything about this experience is new to her.


The MC, on the other hand, attempts to give him opportunities to let loose, relive his childhood and forget for a while that he has the responsibility of an entire nation on his shoulders. At the Masque, she convinces him to play maze-tag with her after the ball, confiding in him later that “you laughed more in this maze than you did all night at that Masquerade”. The hedge maze, from there on, becomes symbolic of their relationship - a reminder of Liam’s mother, and his past, and a promise that he can relive happier memories with a woman who is willing to see him as merely human.


Another example of the MC encouraging Liam to take risks and try out new experiences is the “cronut run” (although, to be fair, the cronut run is really for ALL her Cordonian friends). It is here that Liam reveals to her exactly how sheltered his life is: “It’s strange. I’m the potential leader of my country, and there’s still so much of it I haven’t experienced”. He realises this needs to change, but isn’t sure how to go about it yet.


Their relationship in Cordonia begins on slightly shaky footing, both aware that Liam is expected to make time for all the ladies participating in the social season, and that they cannot give in to their need for each other no matter how tempting the prospect is. While the MC is willing to go further in her relationship with him, Liam reluctantly exercises control over his desire for her, for different reasons over the course of the social season.


From the Masquerade to the hot tub scene at the Nevrakis Chateau, Liam is aware that anything can happen over the next few months and isn’t willing to take chances with her. At this point the MC has only begun to prove herself to the King, Queen and the Press, and her reputation as an American vying for the Prince’s hand makes her an unconventional choice. By the time they slip into the hot tub at Lythikos, Liam is already starting to feel the strain of repressing his feelings for the MC in favor of being fair to everyone. It’s probably at this point that he starts to question exactly how useful the social season is, given that during the Coronation he doesn’t hesitate to call it a “damned process”.

The Royal Regatta, which follows this sequence, is a turning point that raises questions both for Liam’s future and his relationship with the MC. King Constantine’s announcement about retiring and handing over the throne to Liam complicates things even further. Had Constantine’s rule continued, and the MC succeeded in winning Liam’s hand, she would have had plenty of time to fit into her role, so that by the time she was Queen she could prove she could handle the pressure. With this announcement, however, there are chances that whoever Liam will marry will be pushed headlong into the role of Queen.


By this time Liam is already sure he wants to marry the MC (he takes her to Forgotten Falls - a favourite childhood spot - and almost confesses his love to her there), but has no idea how she will fare as Queen. It is a question he asks her often over the next few days, warning her of the expectations she will be asked to fulfill, trying each time to gauge whether this is something she will be okay with.


It is during the Apple Blossom festival that the MC truly gets her moment to shine. Here (if the player clicks the correct options) she not only shows a keen enthusiasm for Cordonian traditions, and manages to charm both the Queen and the Press (again), but has also formed alliances with the suitors who were out of the running already. Where earlier the Queen’s questions tested her opinions on governing the nation, here their discussion centres around delegation and the need for allies. Her answers prove to the public that she is serious about becoming Liam’s Queen.


This also explains Liam’s own change of behaviour. In Applewood, the MC notices that he is happier and more carefree, and definitely more ready to talk about the future. We are never explicitly shown why, but over the course of the book we discover that the MC’s reputation has grown in Applewood, making the Prince’s decision to select her easier on him. At the ruins close to the village where they rode horses, Liam asks her what kind of king he will make. Her encouragement makes it clear to him that he is not alone.

In the same diamond sequence, Maxwell tells the MC that he saw “something in [MC] that Cordonia needed: hope”. It is at this moment we can pinpoint when exactly Liam started becoming confident in his choice of queen. By the time Liam sneaks her into Applewood hedge maze for private time, he has begun talking about spending an eternity with her, asked her what kind of legacy she will want to leave behind and what causes she will champion. At this point he has stopped considering anyone else for his hand in marriage.

It is during their stay is Applewood that their kisses become more frenzied and desperate, and where their need for each other is starting to reach its peak - by the Beaumont chapters Liam is literally biting her neck.


The Beaumont chapters mark an important transition in the way their relationship functions: so far, the MC has been the one who, in Liam’s words, has been “jet-setting around Cordonia, attending grand formal events…”, and Liam already feels the need to give more to the relationship than he has so far, by having his first ever date with her.

Midway through the date, he tells her that he has never dated before, answers awkward, silly first-date questions, and confesses to her his dream of having a family. This experience is the closest Liam has ever gotten, in his adult life, to being normal around someone.


His efforts to meet the MC halfway don’t just stop there. He takes the risk of wearing a suit to match the MC’s gown, aware that the symmetry between the couple will cause a stir. He offers her a massage at the Beaumont spa, hoping to help her relax a bit before the craziness of the Coronation ball begins. Having hosted a wildly successful party for the first time, her chances with Liam are now higher.


But because this is a relationship with strange beginnings, Liam and the MC are able to move forward quite quickly in some aspects of their relationship, while tiptoeing around others. For instance, they tend to be open to each other about happier times, but do not always share troubling information with each other, such as the truth behind Constantine’s retirement (though Liam does tell her that she would have been the first to hear it if he ever was ready to talk), the Tariq fiasco and the damaged lock on her door at Applewood. Part of this, of course, was because the MC convinced herself that there was nothing to worry about.


Liam and the MC finally confess their love to each other at the hedge maze in the Coronation ball - the first place Liam had ever taken her to in Cordonia. By bringing her here to confess his love, Liam comes full circle. This was the place where he pulled away for the first time, afraid to go further. This is the one place he treasured for the memories it held. In this moment he is confident now that she will become his queen, and nothing - or no one - can stop him from choosing her. In this place, he now wants to make new memories, with her.


Over the course of their relationship, the MC has never failed to turn everything Liam knew to be true, on its head. The social season was about getting him a bride and a fitting queen for Cordonia, but the MC managed to get him to think beyond it. This is never more evident than in these lines:

When Liam eventually makes love to the MC, he doesn’t just ask her consent for the sex. He also asks her how she wants it. Both options yield different scenarios, with Liam moulding himself to fit into the MC’s needs for that night. This may seem like a small thing, but the fact that he wants her to enjoy sex the way she wants it, not the way he assumes it should be, shows us that as soon as he is done with this social-season-facade, he plans to place her needs first.


There is an element of tragedy to this love scene, given that it happens just minutes before they are denied a chance to ever be a couple in public. We know what took Liam this long, what it took for him to rein himself in everytime things threatened to go a little too far. We know that he was waiting for approval from all sides, hoping against hope that he would be able to both fulfill his duty to his country and be with the woman he loves. He was confident enough in the fact that they’d be together that he stopped waiting and gave in to what they’d both wanted all along. And right after this he finds the same woman being openly humiliated in court, thrown out without being given a chance to clear her name.


When the scandal finally breaks out in court, Liam’s first reaction is to ask for her, and then yell out to her so she can hear him. When he doesn’t get a response (because her screams are too far away to hear) he turns to Regina, angrily insisting on talking to the MC before she pulls him aside and whispers instructions in his ear. By the time he announces Madeleine’s name, he is furious. He is actively resisting in the only way he knows how.


Liam, stickler for rules, demanded an audience with the suitor he loved just as the night was drawing to a close, just minutes after being crowned. He insisted on it. He called out her name in public. Not in anger, not in suspicion, but in shock. All this in front of his family, in front of the court and other suitors and the press. At that point it almost didn’t matter that his mask of self-composure was slipping in front of a crowd. He didn’t stop insisting and trying to buy time until his parents forced him to follow the Coronation rule. That might not seem like such a risk, but with the background he comes from, it is.


We must realise that his love for the MC develops over time, and so do the changes that love has brought in him. From being resigned to choosing someone he could just hope to be fond of and slightly compatible with, his experience with the MC proves to him that any bond lesser than love will be detrimental to his marriage and detrimental to Cordonia.


At the end, Liam finds himself living out the words he said, mere months ago, while visiting Lady Liberty.

First You Fall

Maisie Dalton fixed things.  And Niall Horan was definitely broken.

Chapter 5

Maisie had no idea what she was thinking when she woke up that morning, got dressed, stopped at Starbucks for two coffees and headed to Niall’s house.  After the way he’d treated her yesterday and his icy cold stare last night at the restaurant, the last thing she should have been doing was standing on his front doorstep, staring up at the solid gold door knocker and contemplating actually knocking.

It had occurred to her last night, after a short romantic interlude with Steven and a talk with Clarice, that Maisie was approaching this in all the wrong ways.  Niall was resisting her because she was forcing it.  She needed to work with him.  Together.  Make him see that she wasn’t the enemy.  Clarice’s reminder that Maisie was always the peace keeper between her mother and her father was not exactly what Maisie wanted to hear.  But she sure needed it.

Maisie had never failed a client.  She had a 100% success rate record by way of crisis managing musicians, sports figures and the Hollywood Elite.  And She refused to let Niall Horan was not going to be her first defeat.  

She needed to step back, stop taking things so personally and remind herself that she was a professional.  She was good at this.

She reached up to push on the doorbell, a deep sigh exiting her lungs before she finally pushed it.  He probably wasn’t even home.  Especially after he’d been with Melinda last night.

She checked her watch, ignored the phone call from the same unknown number that had called her twice last night and twice this morning and looked back up at the door.  She set her shoulders.

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Why do I love Severus Snape?

It’s Snape appreciation month so here’s why I love Snape:

I did not always love him, and I admit that if he were my teacher, I probably wouldn’t care much for him (though I would have loved that class). But I slowly grew to love him and here’s why:

I too dealt with parents that left me desiring to be anywhere but home. My mother had me young, and apparently by way of date rape. I feel awful for her that she had to experience that. But she had a choice to have me or not, and it’s pretty obvious what she chose. However she then spent my life making me feel like I had to prove myself, I had to make up for my existence and I quickly became stressed and resentful, especially as I saw her putting in more effort with my cousin. My mother hated my father, and as I did not know anything about their relationship until I was almost out of high school. and then my mother has since abandoned me. While i’m out of highschool and in college, she left the state and lied to me about it. My step father instead letting me stay (though he has no obligation as legally he is no longer my step father)

My father married my step mother and had 3 children. I visited him every other weekend. So it felt very apparent to me that I was an after thought. We rarely did anything as a family, I was called a step-sister whenever my brothers were mad, even if their anger wasn’t directed at me. They bad mouthed my mother constantly. I finally had had enough of being left out and not being part of the family. I basically walked out on them. I didn’t see them for over a year. Things are better now, but I will not ignore what happened.

Between these things, I ended up wishing I could be anywhere but home. My parents and I are separate entities and I feel like I missed out on a lot.

I too had my best friend turn on me. One day she’d just had enough and we started fighting. I don’t even know what about. I said a few things that I did regret immediately.

I won’t go so far as to say I was loner, but I was very much outside groups. I knew that most everyone disliked me (at least that was very much the vibe that came off). I was lonely. Even though I did have a couple romantic interludes as well. but all 3 ended badly, the guys cheating, hurting me, or refusing to work on issues and emotionally abusing me.

So what does any of this have to do with Snape? It is why I love him. I understand him. Maybe not to the same level of what he experienced, but I do understand. And All I wish is that someone would have shown him some love. Some compassion. and I wish that people would stop being hung up on the bad things he did and at least look at the environment he grew up in.

In Nature vs. Nurture, he had both going against him.

Kennedy, John Fitzgerald (1917 - 1963)

So much has been said about relations between Mr. President and Marilyn that the truth is well and truly buried beneath layers of speculation and supposition. The consensus view is that they had a weekend together in March 1962, though some people, such as Marilyn’s friend and movie stand-in Evelyn Moriarty, say they never saw any evidence of a relationship with either of the Kennedy brothers. 

According to Fred Lawrence Guiles, Marilyn’s affair with JFK continued through the last year of her life, especially when she went on trips to New York. Then again, there are those who discount anything more than a one night stand. Donald Spoto writes “no serious biographer can identify Monroe and Kennedy as partners in a love affair. All that can be known for certain is that on four occasions between October 1961 and August 1962, the president and the actress met, and that during one of those meetings they telephoned one of Marilyn’s friends from a bedroom soon after, Marilyn confided this one sexual encounter to her closest confidants, making clear that it was the extent of their involvement.”

The first of the four occasions documented by Spoto was in October 1961, when Marilyn and fellow leading ladies were invited to Peter Lawford’s beach house to attend a dinner in honor of Patricia Lawford’s brother, President Kennedy. The second was in early 1962, a dinner party for the president in New York. Encounter number three took place on March 24, 1962. This was at Bing Crosby’s home in Palm Springs. This was where they shared a bedroom and Marilyn made a call to Ralph Roberts, who later said, “Marilyn told me that this night in March was the only time of her ‘affair’ with JFK. Of course she was titillated beyond belief, because for a year he had been trying, through Lawford, to have an evening with her. A great many people thought, after that weekend, that there was more to it. But Marilyn gave me the impression that it was not a major event for either of them: it happened once, that weekend, and that was that.”

Two more of Marilyn’s close friends agree. It is Susan Strasberg’s opinion that, “Not in her worst nightmare would Marilyn have wanted to be with JFK on any permanent basis. It was OK for one night to sleep with a charismatic president - and she loved the secrecy and drama of it. But he certainly wasn’t the kind of man she wanted for life, and she was very clear to us about this.” Sidney Skolsky has said, “For Marilyn, what counted was the idea of ‘the little orphan waif indulging in free love with the leader of the free world.’”

It was during the Palm Springs weekend that Marilyn agreed to attend the Democratic Gala planned for May 1962 at Madison Square Garden, and promised to personally lead the “Happy Birthday” chorus. She did not know that fulfilling this promise would be seized on by Twentieth Century-Fox as an excuse to close down production of Something’s Got To Give, the film she was working on at the time. This was the last documented occasion Marilyn and JFK met. Marilyn gave her inimitable breathy rendition of “Happy Birthday” before 17,000 Democrats and a huge assortment of stars who had gathered to fund JFK’s successful presidential campaign. Marilyn also paid the $1,000 admission price. Hosting the evening’s entertainment - which included Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Henry Fonda, Maria Callas, and Harry Belafonte - was entertainer Jack Benny. Late as usual, and rather drunk, Marilyn was ushered on stage by Peter Lawford, who announced her as “the late Marilyn Monroe.” In a dress that veteran diplomat Adlai Stevenson described as “skin and beads - only I didn’t see the beads,” Marilyn sang the first verse of “Happy Birthday” and then waved her arms to encourage the audience to sing along for a reprise as a six-foot cake with forty-five oversized candles was carried on stage by two chefs. Marilyn then sang (to the tune of “Thanks for the Memory”):

Thanks, Mr. President
For everything you’ve done,
The battles that you’ve won - 
The way you deal with U.S. Steel
And our problems by the ton,
We thank you - so much.

At the end of the event, Kennedy thanked the evening’s performers: “I can now retire from politics after having had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.”

According to biographer Donald Wolfe, a week after the birthday event Marilyn was informed by Lawford that JFK no longer wanted to have anything to do with her. Wolfe is one of many to assert that this was the end of an affair that had been going on for eight years or more. Marilyn and JFK are said to have met as early as 1951, though 1954 is more commonly cited, at a party thrown by Charles Feldman, Marilyn’s agent at the time. Reportedly during a period of hospitalization in October 1954, Kennedy hung a poster of Marilyn wearing blue shorts, upside down opposite his bed - a story very similar to an apocryphal tale about Howard Hughes. Under this scenario Marilyn was sneaking off to motels in Malibu with Kennedy during the last couple of months of her marriage to Joe DiMaggio. Allegedly throughout the course of Marilyn’s marriage to Arthur Miller, she continued to meet the future president for rendezvous at his habitual New York hotel, the Carlyle, or at Lawford’s Santa Monica beach home.

Marilyn was reputedly flown from New York to Los Angeles by Kennedy to provide him with a celebratory romantic interlude after his triumphant 1960 Democratic Convention. After delivering his “New Frontier” acceptance speech, he met up with Marilyn, who had been brought to the celebration party by Sammy Davis Jr. Part of the evening’s entertainment for the future president, reportedly, was when he put his hand up Marilyn’s dress under the table - and found out that she did not wear anything underneath. Later that night they went skinny dipping in the ocean. There have been allegations too that Kennedy asked Lawford to accompany Marilyn to the East Coast on Air Force One, and that once Jackie Kennedy was enraged to find blonde hairs in the presidential bed.

Rumors about a romance between JFK and Marilyn began to surface in the press during 1960. Late that year, influential columnist Art Buchwalf penned a piece entitled “Let’s Be Firm on Monroe Doctrine.” The article read: “Who will be the next ambassador to Monroe? This is one of the many problems which president-elect Kennedy will have to work on in January. Obviously you can’t leave Monroe adrift. There are too many greedy people eyeing her, and now that Ambassador Miller has left she could flounder around without any direction.”

Kennedy aide Pete Summers told biographer Anthony Summers (no relation) that Marilyn was a frequent visitor to the Lawford beach house during the presidential campaign: “They were very close friends. I would say she was a very special guest - the president was really very, very fond of Marilyn….I did feel that she was so impressed by Kennedy’s charm and charisma that she was almost starry-eyed….But she was totally able to hold her own conversationally; she was very bright.”

JFK’s name has been often mentioned in connection with the last weeks of Marilyn’s life too. Although nobody has yet leveled the accusation that they met up at this time, some biographers believe that Marilyn’s trip to the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital on July 20 (or the following weekend in some accounts) was to abort JFK’s love child.

The mot stalwart accusers of JFK claim that he was the man who decided that Marilyn had to be silenced. Stories have circulated that the president’s sexual escapades with Marilyn at Lawford’s home had been bugged - either by the FBI, Mafia boss Sam Giancana, or even Teamsters’ boss Jimmy Hoffa. Conspiracy theories of this type frame Lawford as the hit-man, in league with Dr. Ralph Greenson to prescribe Marilyn an unusually large quantity of Seconal and then force her to take an overdose.

- The Marilyn Encyclopedia by Adam Victor.

Principal photography has begun on Gerald’s Game, an adaptation of Stephen King’s acclaimed 1992 novel of the same name. Production is taking place in and around Mobile, Alabama. Netflix will distribute the film.

The thriller is directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil), who co-wrote the script with frequent collaborator Jeff Howard. Intrepid Pictures’ Trevor Macy (The Strangers, Safe House) is producing.

Carla Gugino (Watchmen) and Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek) star. Henry Thomas (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), Carel Struycken (The Addams Family), Kate Siegel (Hush), and Chiara Aurelia (Big Sky) round out the cast.

Gerald’s Game follows Gerald and Jessie Burlingame, who have gone to their summer home on a warm weekday in October for a romantic interlude. After being handcuffed to her bedposts, Jessie tires of her husband’s games, until things take an unexpectedly tragic turn. Still handcuffed, she is trapped and alone. Painful memories from her childhood bedevil her. Her only company is a hungry stray dog and the voices that populate her mind. As night comes, she is unsure whether it is her imagination or if she has another companion: someone watching her from the corner of her dark bedroom.

RtS AW – Favourite Battle

I’m gonna be cliché and pick the climactic battle, between Ares and his fey and the combined forces of the pythias, the witches, Arthur and his men and the other fey. I loved it for a lot of reasons, but I think a big part of it was the sense of catharsis. I’ve been saying for the last two or three books that I thought we were building up to something, that all the delays and the setbacks were going to lead to a payoff of epic proportions and this battle was it. For me, it epitomises everything that made this book live up to its name – I mean, in the obvious sense, the battle takes place during an actual weather storm, but also metaphorically, it was just such a massive release of pent up narrative tension that I can’t liken it to anything but that sense of suddenly being able to breathe free when a summer thunderstorm hits after a week of close, humid weather.

So many great storylines reach a peak in this sequence, from relationshionships to individual character arcs to overarching plots, and I just found it immensely satisfying. In terms of relationships, you’ve got Cassie finally realising she loves Pritkin, after EIGHT DAMN BOOKS of sexual tension, missed chances and repressed feelings. Character-wise, the gradual changes we’ve seen in Rosier culminate in an incredible moment of self-awareness, followed by an act of sacrifice motivated by true paternal love, and as far as the plot is concerned, so many things finally make sense. Until now, the format of the last few books has been hard to make sense of, as it bounces back and forth between the present and ancient Wales – I kept thinking that this ‘saving Pritkin’ plotline was a diversion that needed to be cleared up before we could get back to the main focus of the war in the present, but I was wrong. The ancient Wales storyline was actually the final stage of this conflict between Cassie & co and Ares – Cassie had to be back there because otherwise Ares would have got through unhindered. Having the final battle play out in that time made it clear why KC had paid so much attention this particular subplot, why it had been ‘dragged out’ so much. Reading this was such an ‘aha!’ moment for me – I finally understood where we’d been going for so long. And also, how amazing was it that ultimately, love saved the day? That beautiful love scene between Cassie and Pritkin gave her the power to, well, not actually defeat the gods herself, but to set off the chain of events that would end them.

I also really love the collaborative aspect of the final defeat of Ares, I think it really fits with the kind of hero that Cassie is. She’s not the loner carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders – she succeeds by working with other people. I also find it really interesting that it’s not actually Cassie who delivers the final blow that ends the battle. In a sense it’s not even Arthur because while he does reflect the bolt of power that kills the gods right back at them, he wouldn’t have been able to have it if he didn’t have Ares’ sword. Ares was almost literally impaled on his own sword. I’m a big Tolkien fan and KC seems to be as well (or at the very least deeply influenced by him); she’s said a couple of times that she writes Cassie as a kind of female version of the type of hero that Frodo is. And Frodo doesn’t defeat Sauron/the ring directly either – the ring is destroyed because of its own addictive effect on Gollum. I just really love the view of good and evil that this ending suggests – it’s not a battle of wills where the greater will triumphs and one side is barely distinguishable from the other. This isn’t very hopeful to me, because that kind of will is unsustainable. It must eventually crumble, weakness must creep in. But this kind of ending, where the evil, by its own greed, grasping and war mongering, destroys itself, is hopeful; it suggests that evil can never truly triumph. A hero doesn’t have to be a kind of Nietzschean ubermensch, overpowering everyone by force of will to save the world – a hero can be a normal person, acting out of love and providing evil the opportunity to sabotage itself. And that’s exactly what Cassie she does – she uses the power she created with Pritkin to pit Apollo and Ares against each other and they crumble. It’s a great big ‘love conquers all’ moment and it’s not sappy or sentimental, it’s just cool and fun and believable (within the universe I mean) and I really really love it.

The other thing I love about this battle is that like most of KC’s fight scenes, it’s an awesome, massive-scale action piece. There are so many moving pieces to keep track of, the fey, the duel in the arena, the pythias vs Ares, Cassie vs Jo and she balances it so well. Sure it was confusing to read the first time, but as per usual with her writing, I just had to reread it, immerse myself in it and I found that I got more out of it every time. I think I prefer that to a piece of writing that reveals everything it has to say in just one sitting. Also how many other authors could integrate a tender, romantic interlude into a gigantic, cataclysmic battle? KC’s nearly flawless genre blending is what makes these books more than just a fun read for me; I think they’re clever, experimental pieces of literature.

the chroma conclave miniarcs
  • emon fallen: high-tension drama, the party tries to hold themselves together in the wake of the attack and only end up turning on each other instead.
  • return to vasselheim: lighthearted banter and rp with old friends as they discover the secret to taking down the dragons; takes a tragic and unexpected turn when a single mistake drastically changes the course of a couple characters' arcs and changes several inter-party relationships
  • [gern blanston and ashari interlude]
  • westruun: serious and high-tension with a spattering of humor. grog's role as a comic-relief character takes a backseat to his more serious character traits and we get the first bit of pike's story with wilhand. ends with vox machina getting the first bit of hope that they can actually pull this off.
  • [raven queen and rakshasa interlude]
  • feywild: a perfect balance of comedy and drama, finally puts vex at the forefront of the show and allows her to explore the depth of her character. her relationship with percy is highlighted, while the dynamic between her blood family and her found family is contrasted perfectly. has one of the most satisfying boss fights and boss hdywtdt in the show.
  • [tiberius interlude]
  • ank'harel: almost entirely humor as the group makes idiots of themselves throughout the city and make some unexpected allies, takes a dark turn when it briefly looks like the arc is going to become a murder mystery before they look closer and the much darker reality of what's happening becomes apparent. vox machina rushes in unprepared and tragedy strikes.
  • [resurrection and raishan interlude]
  • vorugal: almost completely action ft. a literal fist of god with a nice, fun wind-down episode and the culmination of a romantic arc.
  • [fort interlude]
  • fire plane: vox machina falls dick first into every possible bad decision and somehow get out of it mostly unscathed and also with two children?? what
  • homecoming: the culmination of half the show's run time is 98% drama with small bright spots of humor as vox machina gathers their remaining forces and allies to breach the city and take back their home.