so apparently i drew this without knowing it was a contest

Yuri!!! On Stage Event Report!

So today (4/29/2017) I went to the Yuri on Ice Yuri on Stage event. To clarify though, I was not at the actual Tokyo event, rather a live viewing at a local movie theater. Which of course does alter the experience but it’s the next best thing. At first I thought the theater was only doing the afternoon session, but very last minute I ended up being able to attend both!

Keep reading

HannibalCon RDC3 - day 1. Personal recap

So yesterday was the day that so many of us feverishly anticipated and dreaded :), the actual possibility of meeting Bryan Fuller, Hugh Dancy, Aaron Abrams, Scott Thompson, Demore Barnes and Ellen Muth! I mean. What -are- the chances?

I flew over Friday morning (having dreaded flying in that storm but it did die down that night, fortunately) with Alex and we made our way over to arrive at 10 am, to photos of other Fannibals on Twitter already, though the hotel was still very much empty. Good to take photographs :)

I got upgraded to the next room level (which is why I can now drink coffee while writing this at 5:30 am (thank goodness)). By afternoon the lobby was filling slowly, flowercrowns everywhere. A truly elevating atmosphere, because even though I’m not really a flowers and frilly stuff kind of gal, it just is incredible to watch. Btw the bloody flowercrown @idontfindyouthatinteresting made for me drew many compliments (thank you, again!)

Registration openend a bit early and people went queuing until the main ceremony started. Incredible, there were soooo many people there, so many beautiful cosplays already. @lovecrimecat came by and we distributed the flyers for @radiance-anthology flyers to those standing in line, managed to meet so many of those who signed up (yay), got little gifts in exchange from so many people (and everybody just gave me a second one when I asked so I could give them to Katrina who couldn’t come - so awesome of you guys, thank you again!). I met so many people ‘from’ Twitter and it’ so nice to recognize some from last time, to put name and face to the @s. *hugs at all*

Opening ceremony.
I have a gold ticket this year so I went up front and sat next to SpiceyScorpion, only to realize that -that- was way to much in front for my nerves …. *rolls eyes at self*. I went a few rows back and to the side, which was a good decision for later^^.
“They” came in a few minutes to late, we saw Aaron and Scott do shadow theatre behind the scenes and Sean called them out one after the other.

Demore seemed honestly happy to be there, addressing us with such kind words, upping the applause and calling backstage that that could not possibly be topped*fg*. Aaron came out and asked us to clap for Hugh because he was supposedly afraid he wouldn’t get any ^^^^^, Scott said something along these lines as well, I think. Both very funny. Ellen was there^^ and addressed us with a few kind ords and then Sean announced Bryan next and the room (not in any way quiet before) went -wild-. And Bryan…. Bryan went “crowdsurfing”. Meaning he ran through the aisles and high-fived us. You know that sitting to the side decision? Yeah….
What a moment, there’s lots of pictures in the Tag #HannibalCon, go and look, it was…. incredible. God bless. Anyway Hugh came out last, announced by Sean as one of the best british actors, and boy, that was applause^^. He seemed a bit overwhelmed with the energy there^^ and honestly, I can’t quite remember what he actually said but it was something along the lines that he was looking forward to a wonderful weekend.

They came out together after that and we held up the signs that @the-winnowing-wind distributed - “Fannibals Forever”…. They took videos and photos of us. Bryan posted some of it later. Incredible moment to have been part of. I’m even in Bryans video (yay^^ (and if you know where to look^^)).

The gold ticket holders went across the hall next, to a slightly smaller room with tables set up and we were seated by group/friends. And then we waited, because they got something to eat first…. (darn^^^). Colleen got out some booze and we talked a lot and proverbially bit our nails a lot *g*. When they finally got in they were sent to the various tables for 4-minute-meet-ups. Only the meet-ups didn’t stay at 4 minutes :P.

Demore was first and I was soooooo nervous. (The seat next to me was free btw, and so the -all- ended up sitting right next to me (*still screaming about that*. …. ) I shook my hands in the air in an effort to get rid of some of the energy and he put his hand on my shoulder asking me why I was nervous and I brabbled something unintelligible and shook my head. Very sweet. We talked a bit about his fight scene with Mads and that we would have liked to see more of him^^ and I told him I can’t wait to see him in American Gods and he rubbed my back when he left. *float*

Next was Scott, who brought his pizza and drank some mooneshine with us^^, played Tarot with us and was generally just this very kind and interesting person. I wasn’t -quite- that nervous anymore by then (thanks Demore (and Colleen for the prosecco)), meaning I actually talked a bit, though I can’t quite remember what^^.

Ellen was next and she was also very nice, we talked about the fact that her scenes are imho some of the most scary in Hannibal. She also wore some of the coolest jeans I’d ever seen^^.

Ok. Next? BRYAN. He saw the Will!Faun scarf of @flying-rotten we had put on the table cloth and chuckled that he knew who -we- are waiting for and that he couldn’t blame us^^. He asked us, if push came to shove, if we would prefer Will & Hannibal S4 or SotL. Our table was Hannigram, though there was apparently one that was 'done’ with it…. He told us about it a bit, much the same that Hugh has said before as well, that it would be an inversion of S1 etc. I…. hope that push does not come to shove, because he told us a bit about how much he loves the lyric of Thomas Harris books and I would really love for him to be able to fully lay out his vision. I hope he gets to do this (we have to continue to fight, guys!!!). He also told us, that Thomas Harris apparently writes a new book and he…. poked Martha to get the rights to it already, without quite knowing what it was about yet *g*.

I…. took all my courage then and showed him one of the Radiance-Flyers and explained a bit and we asked if he wanted to do a little something like a foreword for it. And guys - HE DOES! He asked when it would need to be done and I said May 1st and he looked at the flyer and indicated the twitter @ there and asked if he should send it there and I was like (you know this situation, where, once you start, your mouth kind of runs away with you?! At least mine did^^^) “Oh well, yes, or you know you follow me on twitter, you can just send it there if you want” and he looked at me (directly) and said “yes, I know.” Well, RIP me. I answered with a very intelligent “ah” if I recall correctly and ducked my head and then Romina and I emphasized that it would be awesome if he actually wants to do that and finds the time.

He asked us after what drew us to Hannibal, as he got feedback from a lot of the other young women (I thanked him for 'young’, you know, once you’re in it doesn’t matter anyhow *another eye roll at self*) and we said that its not only beauty and connection, but also intelligence. You have to think with Hannibal. He recommended 'Legion’ to us and asked if we’d seen it before and I said that some stuff hasn’t made it across the big pond yet. And then Bryan went and …. not ranted directly…. but expressed his lack of understanding of the fact that things take so long to be legal and why series were not streamed worldwide because people would just go and pirate it anyway -because- it was not available legally. He went and made a (imho) very fitting anology with the conservative stance on abortions in contrast to piracy, meaning just because it’s forbidden it doesn’t stop people from doing so, it just gets unsafer and illegal.
Oh and he took photos of our table and @dr3piecesuit s and another girls tattoo, because he loves them. :) And he told us that he brought something for Hugh to wear for the Cosplay contest. Can’t wait *g*
He was called away then, way past the 4 minutes^^ and …. he is such a precious human being?! Exuding so much warmth and honesty and exuberance. I feel honored that I got to sit there.

A propos honored… Hugh was next and there I was again - nervous. Awesome. *third eyeroll* He complimented Camilles Will!Faun, saying it was very beautiful and then laughing that that was maybe a bit weird^^, and then telling us about all the gifts he gets and that he keeps the little plush Wills, giving them to his son to play with, even the bloody ones….. *fg*.
The girl next to me (@OnTheVerger) talked to him about how much Adam means to her because she has Aspergers and then broke into tears and Hugh comforted and hugged her and it was sooo sweet. We showed him the Radiance flyers as well and he said “blood fueled embraces, indeed” *g*.
Bryan ran by then and left a bitten off Babybel for Hugh. IDK if Hugh bit off that piece or if Bryan did but it was hilarious^^.

Hugh had to leave then and Aaron came to our table last, I told him I backed him and he told us about the film he and Scott are in (Scott came by and set down next to him^^) and we talked about how much we would all want to see more of Hannibal. Oh and Scott said (before) that he was supposed to teach Clarice Starling - how awesome would team Sassy Science be doing that in SotL? Seriously?
Anyway, I remember I touched Aarons shoulder in the spur of the moment talking about -something- but I can’t remember what exactly and the panicking about that. ;))

I went to my room at 1:15am, got into bed by 2am and was wide awake again at 5:15 am.

What. a. rush.

PS: This is no photos because my cameras not that good - check the Hashtag on Twitter, there’s TONS of them ;). Already ;)

Neil wasn’t a fan of inebriants. He had a rocky relationship with alcohol at the best of times, and would characterise his acquaintance with any other form of drug to be downright hostile. Some of it was to do with what Andrew had done to him, before such things as trust and hate and an ever-increasing percentage. Most of it was from fear.

His mother had always told him that a man who couldn’t run was as good as dead. A man too drunk to stand or too high off his face to see the danger around him wouldn’t even feel the knife between his shoulder blades or the gun between his eyes before he was bleeding on the ground. The beating that followed a high school party stint when he was sixteen was harsh enough to ensure he would never forget that.

But things were different now. There was no danger here. At least, not enough that he had to be afraid all the time. Caution was in his nature, but he wasn’t alone anymore. He had Andrew, all the foxes, and the walls of fox tower itself between him and anyone who would wish to do him harm.

Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, that was enough for him to let go.

Drinking wasn’t entirely foreign to him. He was no stranger to the buzz from a bottle of whiskey. Memories of a gas station bathroom, the pain of hastily done stitches, and his mother’s hoarse voice telling him to keep drinking while she pulled needle through skin, made sure of that. But drinking to excess, for the purpose of it, that was still strange.

He had to remind himself that he didn’t have to stop once he felt the heat in his cheeks, once his thoughts started to feel a little heavier, a little funnier. He had to remind himself that he had decided to do this, just tonight, because he wanted to.

Andrew slid the tumbler across the increasingly sticky table, elbowing Nicky in the stomach before the already drunk backliner could make a grab for it. Neil caught it and cradled it in his hand, watching the way the amber liquid sloshed around the glass. He smiled at it, at everything it represented.

“Drink your fucking whiskey, Neil,” Andrew said.

With a smirk and a wink, eyes locked with Andrew’s, Neil did.

Keep reading

Please // c.h

Originally posted by jessmairano

credit to the original owner on this gif

Requested: yes

Pairing: Calum x Reader

TW: Eating disorder.

Description: When Y/N is having a ahrd time, Calum will always be there for her.

You stared at the TV with an empty look as you sat in couch beside Ashton, who was munching away on a big slice of pizza. Calum was sitting between your legs, eating as much pizza as possible before it was all gone. It must have been the fourth time the boys had gotten pizza this week. Being on tour was apparently not the healthiest thing. Calum leaned against your knee, as you gently let your hands fumble with the curls on his head.

“You’re not gonna eat, Y/N?” Michael questioned and held the box towards you. You smirked while shaking your head no, your stomach twisting at the despicable question.

“I’m not hungry,” you mumbled and kept caressing Calum as the X Factor-judges taunted another contestant out of the room.

“You haven’t eaten for six hours?” Luke said with raised eyebrows, chewing on his pizza. Calum turned around to see your face, making your hand release itself from his hair.

“One slice,” you murmured and took the slice of pizza out of the box with a fake smile. Everyone turned to the TV again, as the next contestant sang magical. You took a bite of the greasy food and immediately regretted it as soon as your stomach turned around. The grease dripped down your finger, making you frown. You hadn’t eaten pizza in forever and it just seemed wrong to be doing it now. As soon as the whole slice was down your throat, you felt wrong. It seemed like you had gained ten pounds as you sat in the couch, watching the guys pressing in six slices of pizza each. You bit your nail, as Calum leaned back between your legs, before you flew up from the couch, making your boyfriend dunk his head.

“I have to go on the toilet,” you excused yourself, as you hurried to find the bathroom. You knew what you had to do, and you were actually just waiting for it to be over, so the guilt would stop. So you would finally feel better.

Keep reading

Knot this Again

Pairing: Roy Mustang/Edward Elric

Rating: T (yes, seriously)

Comments: I wanted to write comedy Omegaverse.  Look what’s become of me.


The first time Ed presented, he was in Xing.

As far as first places and times went, he supposed there were worse ones.  Worse than around a new emperor—who had been crowned the moment he had shown his proclivities as an alpha.  Who had begun his reform immediately and abolished the practice of like a million wives.  Who often invited Ed, as a guest of honor, to his private quarters.

Even though there were worse times and places, he really couldn’t bring himself to think of what those might be—certainly not on his back in Emperor Ling Yao’s bed, caught in the blissful throes of a heat, whining and begging and pleading for more as teeth sank into his neck.

Keep reading

A Requiem for Sorrow - a Stiles Stillinski One-Shot (Writing Contest #6)

Submitted by; goryfruit (thank you for submitting, I really loved this one! xxx)

Fandom: Teen Wolf

Character: Stiles Stilinski x reader

Prompt: “You grabbed his hand and gave it a small squeeze, reminding him that he wasn’t alone.”

RECOMMENDED SONG: Dream, by Imagine Dragons!

SEASON 3B SPOILERS WARNING!!

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Here is a prompt: Captain Swan Au where Killian is a pop singer and coach on The Voice and Emma is a country singer who joins the competition. Bonus point if in the blind auditions all four chairs turns for her, and she picks Graham, who also sings country.

A/N: What kind of mastermind are you, Anon? For your information, I don’t really watch The Voice so… if you’re looking for any heavy performance action in this, sorry. It’s more of bonding and tension in between performances you’re gonna be reading. tbh this just turned into a monster of 11 pages on google docs that doesn’t even make real sense anymore


When you live the country, you sing the country.

(Well, everything else too, but it’s just mainly a focus on country.)

Emma Nolan born to David Nolan and Mary Margaret Nolan… well, they own a farm. Whenever she helps out with the horses, sets up tents, deals with the actual picking of fruits and vegetables, she does nothing else but sing to make time pass by, and most of all, it’s both entertaining and fun, a passion that grows.

Plus, conveniently she plays guitar on her spare time.

But truthfully, she’s not aware of her own abilities, not when she’s busy out there on the farm or galloping a horse around. That isn’t her job - to sing, that is - her job is to help her parents out and to take care of Henry who’s only 11.

In spite of all her protests, her parents think she has a wonderful voice that could be put to good use, and it’s not that she doesn’t want to, it’s just that she doesn’t know where to start. When Elsa tells her there’s a good deal of her getting into The Voice, that’s when it hits her. If she wins this competition (although she highly doubts that herself), she can use the prize money on the farm. For her family because that’s exactly what she needs.

And Henry? God, Henry.

Her son is the brightest kid all around town, always optimistic and hopeful and she swears her mother is rubbing off on him that it’s beginning to be a force to be reckoned with. And he loves animals so horseback riding has become his new past-time whenever he’s done his homework and has nothing better to do but hang around.

So when it happens, when they take her up for auditions and she’s nervous but also excited for every reason in the world like she should be, she knows that she’s up against heavy competition. She’s aware of the coaches this year around. Graham Humbert, country singer, Killian Jones for pop, Gold who goes with rock and then Ariel who also is a pop singer. Each of them are great, except Gold - he’s just weird and odd in all ways but popular in the music industry.

The only unfortunate thing is that she’s alone in this battle, that Henry and her parents are all the way back at the farm while she’s in California after being accepted into the show.

Keep reading

Before and After

For Contestshipping Week (Day 4), and for the theme: Blossoming Romance.

There was something about the mountain air.

Tucked away in the mountains, the hidden gem of Johto, Blackthorn City, was a place of many wonders. It was a town rich in history, and for most, the final step in the Johto Pokemon League.

But now it held a new wonder, the Johto Grand Festival. It was the foremost thing on May’s mind that evening. She was nervous. More nervous than she had ever been, even as a rookie. Perhaps because she knew exactly what to expect. Harley and Solidad were there. But most importantly, Drew was there. And she wasn’t sure if she was ready for him.

Keep reading

The Queen

So, this story is about a weeb, however it isn’t exclusively about just her weeabo-ness. It’s also pretty long because it spans across 5 years. I’ll try and condense as much as I can before I get the grand finale.

Me: Anon

Best friend of mine: Mint

Weeb: We’ll refer to her as Key

Weeb’s boyfriend/eventual husband: Lee

Friend of Mint and Anon: Dev

So, I met Mint and Key waaay back in my freshmen year of high school (I’m a second year senior because of several personal and uncontrollable events, this plays a part much later however). Mint and Key had been best friends since like 5th grade, so they’ve known each other for much longer, and Mint had to deal with this bullshit for 10+ years. When I first met the two, Mint and I became extremely close pretty quickly, we just clicked a lot better than I did with Key, however, I still became friends with her and the three of us were pretty close and tried to spend as much time together as possible.

Mint was always a really chill person. She never really started drama or got involved with anything. However, she was (and still is) pretty attractive. She drew lots of attention from boys who wanted to date her because she kinda seemed like the perfect girl (quiet, short, Asian, loved anime and video games). Key on the other hand, while also attractive, was the exact opposite. She was loud, very sexual (she claimed to be a self-admitted slut and would have sex with almost anyone who showed any interest in her) opinionated and very rude and bossy. She was kinda known for being a bitch.

Keep reading

So Outlander Offerings is over

And I thought we’d go over why this was just such a massive, epic, horrific disaster. 

Originally posted by itcuddles

First, let me reiterate why I have been so concerned with Outlander Offerings being, I dunno, halfway decent. When Starz first started promotion of the show, they were basically EPIC. You had great pictures, you had FANTASTIC interaction with the fans, you had the Speak Outlander series (everyone go watch Sam teaching Gaelic), you had Pocket Jamie…the list goes on and on. I actually came into the show because of that promotion. My best friend had been telling me for years to read the books (tried, Frank bored me to fucking tears), and when I saw the first promo of Jamie, I was like, “Um…that’s not the boring douchecanoe in the first chapter of the book. Sign my shit up.” The promotion drew me in.

Originally posted by ofpiratesandsaviors

Ostensibly, that is the main job of marketing, of a PR campaign. You want to draw people in, but it’s more than that. After you’ve aired a reasonably successful first season (a million viewers for a couple of episodes), you then have to move on to a twofold operation: 1) Keep the fans who have already fallen in love interested and 2) Get new fans in. Outlander has an interesting third job as well: 3) Keep the vocal book lovers happy.

Game of Thrones didn’t have to do this as much. It’s a popular show, it’s thriving without its book reader base. But Outlander, so far, hasn’t been able to do that, and my god, the book fans are a wee bit…um…I’ll go with passionate. They think the show is THEIR show, and can’t understand that Starz has the job of delivering it to a wider audience. 

Now, when a new show goes into a looooooooooong hiatus, the marketing pros have GOT to keep this show on everyone’s minds. They need to make sure people are still talking about it. They need to make sure people don’t cancel their Starz subscriptions en masse until the show comes back a year after it last aired (I have cancelled mine but I’m broke so whatever). So how do they do this? Well, the power of social media is such now that you can have campaigns to keep the interest up. Peek at Paris! Cast interviews! Introductions to new cast! Pictures! A Christmas based campaign. The options are endless!

Originally posted by literatim-me

Instead, Starz does…um…well…the bare minimum? Our hands are smacked for looking at bts pictures taken by fans (COSTUMES ARE NOT SPOILERS). Like starving little critters, the book fans try to eat up anything they can. New fans wonder what’s going on, because they don’t have the information. A hint of something called Peek at Paris is suggested but then apparently forgotten about until the end of November (buildings, plants, a vase…no). Outlander Offerings would have been the chance they needed to bring new people in, rekindle excitement, and make book fans happy. Here, they had the chance to maybe play on the season 1 promotion, but instead, they could have done, “Learn to speak French with Stanley Weber, who will be very important in season 2.” People watch and go, “Who is THIS guy going to play and how does Outlander keep finding the hottest effing guys on the planet?” It peaks the interest in newer fans and satisfies the book fans, the dedicated fans.

Originally posted by yourreactiongifs

They could have showed short clips (30 seconds or less) of completely non spoilery scenes from France. They could have had cast interviews. They could have had something called “Meet the season 2 actors” where new cast members are introduced in short non spoilery interviews. All of these would have rekindled interest in fans who are forgetting the show (hell, I’m considered a dedicated fan and I’m losing interest), gotten new people to check out the show on Amazon or iTunes, and satisfied book fans. The trick is to maintain and then grow the fanbase.

Instead…what? We got the season 2 promo, which was awesome. Way to start with a bang, truly. Then…it was like my grandmother constantly giving me handmade sweaters and teddy bear pajamas growing up. Do I value the gifts? Sure. But are they worthy of fanfare? No. We had silly contests, recipes, and pictures of plants, flowers in vases, and some really nice pictures of Claire and Claire and Jamie.

Originally posted by notmydate

Out of context.

Out of context means they don’t actually peak my interest. You can post a picture of flowers in a vase all you want but WHY is that important? How does that play into season 2? Why should people tune into season 2 when it comes back…sometime in the spring?

We got the Roger announcement (wooohoooooooo Richard Rankin) but that doesn’t mean much to people. What they should have done is IMMEDIATELY after they were announced, post a quick minute long video of him. Tease him. Put him into context so that people know this casting is important of a character who will be a big deal from here on out.

We got a short Caitriona Q&A, but where was the Sam one? Where was the joint one? How can you possibly be this unprepared?

This should have been leading up to a big announcement. To a premiere date. Which could have been announced in a video of Sam and Cait. That tells people to start binge watching now. This should have been leading up to an even bigger promo. To the cast announcement of Bree. These huge marketing campaigns should LEAD to something. Not die out on a “Happy Holidays” video from Sam Heughan.

(Which was nice but seriously…not enough)


We got so little from Outlander Offerings, and they’ve done so little since the show went on hiatus nearly seven months ago that they’re going to lose people. They should be reminding people who follow them that they can catch up on iTunes or Amazon. To catch their friends up. They should be keeping us up to date with filming in some way. They should stock pile little gifties to give us throughout the year.

But they don’t. They play to the rabid fans among us, but fail to, in any way, engage those of us who are losing interest, and to those who have thought about checking the show out but haven’t.

All in all, I can’t think of a way Outlander Offerings could have gone worse. And this, honestly people, is marketing 101. It’s not a social media intern failing, it’s the entire marketing department at Starz. If you’re going to wait a YEAR between seasons, then you have to build the fanbase enough that it can survive that. Not consistently drop the ball.

Originally posted by ba1n3s

Red Strings

I decided to write this for duchessmimrose’s fanfic contest, even though contests make me crazy nervous, because it sounded like such a sweet prompt. Please enjoy!

In a cheap little pub on an island called Oblivis, the pirates of the Sirius were gathered around a table, studying a crudely drawn map. “The forest is just here, and the mushrooms grow in the northern half,” Nathan said, explaining his route to the Captain. We had come to this town to resupply the ship, and our master chef had planned to purchase some rare mushrooms that only grew in the forest at the heart of the island, but for some reason none were for sale in the marketplace even though it should have been the right season. Never one to give up when he had the perfect dish in mind, Nathan made plans to gather the mushrooms for himself. It was a bit of a tricky maneuver since they could only be collected at night, but Nathan was strong and capable and had grown up navigating forests as a bandit. No one doubted that he would be fine.

“Are you really planning to go mushroom hunting?” A customer at the next table had overheard our conversation. “Haven’t you heard about the curse?”

“A curse?” I asked, a feeling of dread gathering in my stomach. All of the Sirius crew turned to hear what the man had to say.

The man turned his chair to face us, a serious look on his face. “At the beginning of the harvest season this year, one of the gathering groups killed a giant dog that they thought was set to attack them. As it turns out, it was the pet of an old witch who lives in the woods. Used to be that she and her dog guided mushroom hunters into the woods and made sure they didn’t over-harvest anything, but the last few years more and more people went into the woods alone to harvest as many mushrooms as they wanted. She said killing her dog was the final sign that this town had lost all respect for the forest, and she put a curse on the place. Ever since then, anyone who goes in at night falls under a spell. They lose all their memories and come back to town a shade of their former self- when they come back at all, that is. That’s why there has been no harvest this year.”

“Oh no, that’s terrible!” I exclaimed, reaching out to find Nathan’s hand. “Nate, you can’t go in there, it’s way too dangerous. It’s just mushrooms.”

“Oh, that story is a load o’ bull,” Russell snorted. “Witches and cursed forests are just kids’ stories!” There were some tentative nods from the other crew members; they all wanted to look tough, but there had been enough conviction in the local’s story to shake their confidence a bit.

“Then you go in!” I snapped, my fear making my tongue sharper than usual. Nathan squeezed my hand, and I looked back at him. His expression was confident and unconcerned.

“Don’t you worry none, Aiko,” he told me with a smile. “I’ve seen things like this before. Locals make up stories to keep outsiders from their secrets and treasures all the time. I’m sure it’s fine.”

“But Nate…” I didn’t know what to say to him, but I tried to plead with my eyes. He just patted me on the head. Apparently I was not going to talk him out of this.

~~~

As evening drew near, Nathan had packed his supplies and was preparing to go mushroom hunting. I had tried twice more to talk him out of going into the cursed forest, but he was nothing if not stubborn, so it looked like I could only wish him my best. We stood on the docks near the ship together, and I held up the gift I had brought him. “What’s that?” he asked, peering closely at the pair of scarlet threads I had salvaged from one of my old skirts.

“In Yamato we say that two people destined to be together are linked by a red string,” I explained as I took his left hand and carefully tied the string around his pinky finger, loosely enough to be comfortable but tight enough to stay put. “So you wear this one, and I will wear one, and fate will make sure we stay together, okay?”

“If you say so.” Nathan’s manner was gruff as usual, but without my asking he took the second string and tied it around my finger too. His big calloused fingers struggled with the tiny thread a bit, but he was gentle and soon finished.

I lingered for a moment, holding his hand tightly in mine, staring wistfully at the pair of red threads we had tied on one another. “Please don’t go,” I asked one last time.

“Hey now. I’ll be back.” Nate gave me his warmest smile. “Nothin’ is going to keep me away from you, okay? I’ll always come back. Promise.” I could only nod quietly, and Nathan planted one last sweet kiss on the top of my head before we both released our grip and he headed off into the night.

~~~

I slept fitfully that night, and when the first rays of dawn shone on my face, I gave up any pretense of trying to rest and jumped out of bed. Nathan was supposed to be back by now, but I had seen no sign of him. I dressed myself in a hurry, hoping that perhaps he had gone straight to the kitchen to make breakfast. My hopes were dashed when I opened the door to see Thomas waiting for me. “What happened?” I asked, my voice coming out as a hoarse whisper.

“Miss Aiko, we found him, but-” Thomas’ expression filled me with fear. They lose all their memories and come back to town a shade of their former self- that’s what the local man had said when he was trying to warn us away.

“Where is he,” I demanded. “Take me to him now.” Thomas nodded silently and led me to the infirmary where Nathan had been taken after his night in the cursed forest.

“Nate!” I burst into the room, but Christopher leapt to his feet and took me back outside before I could get more than a glimpse of my love. He was sitting upright and appeared whole and well, but in the moment that he turned to look at me, no recognition dawned on his stoic face. All it took was that split second to make me a blubbering mess as I stood in the hall with the doctor.

“He’s not hurt,” Christopher tried to tell me, but I was barely listening as tears streamed down my face. “Aiko, I know you want to see him, but I don’t think that’s a good idea right now. He doesn’t recognize any of us at all, and I think that trying to force it out of him will just hurt you, and confuse Nathan. I have seen memory loss before and I might be able to treat him, but it will take time. Just give him some space, okay?”

I sniffled a bit, my tears slowly drying up as the initial shock wore off. “Please let me see him,” I begged, wiping my cheeks with my palms as I tried to compose myself. “I promise it will only be for a minute, and I’ll leave him alone after that. But I need to see him with my own eyes right now.”

Christopher sighed, and took a moment to think it over, but at long last he nodded. “Go on then. Just don’t take too long, okay?” He opened the door to the infirmary for me, then politely closed it behind me, giving us a moment alone.

I gulped as Nate looked at me blankly, then took a deep breath. “Nathan…?”

“That’s what they keep calling me.” That gruff sentence was both terrifying and wonderful. He had indeed lost his memories, but it looked like his core personality was still there. He sounded like himself. It was such a tiny grain of hope, but I clung to it desperately.

“H-how are you feeling?” I asked, not sure what else to say.

Nathan eyed me with curiosity, wearing a slight frown. “Why? You the nurse or something, gonna examine me next?”

I fought to keep my lip to keep from quivering. “No, I-” I hesitated. What should I say? “I’m just a worried friend,” I lied with a heavy heart, “hoping I can help out. So please don’t hesitate to come to me if you need anything.” I awkwardly clasped my hands in front of me. I had promised Christopher I would keep it short, but I desperately wanted to stay by Nathan’s side.

“What’s that thing on yer hand?” Nathan suddenly asked, pointing to the red string I still wore tied around my finger. My breath hitched as my gaze flickered to his left hand. His thread was gone.

“It’s nothing,” I whispered, clutching my hands to my aching chest. “Please excuse me.” Barely holding back tears, I fled to my room where I curled up with the pillow that still held his scent and cried until my tears ran out.

~~~

Most of the day passed before I felt strong enough to emerge again. No one had come looking for me; they must have respected my need to be alone. It was about the time of day that Nathan and I would normally be preparing dinner, so my feet and my empty stomach almost automatically carried me to the kitchen. I was not prepared for the sight of Nathan standing in his usual place. For a second my hope bubbled up, but I noticed that he was not cooking. He kept picking up tools and looking them over, then setting them down again. I watched silently as he handled his precious kitchen timer, then put it down with a loud thunk. “C-careful with that!” I shouted, running over to check on the device. It seemed to be fine, but Nathan gave me an odd look. “It’s delicate, and precious,” I explained sheepishly, setting it carefully in its proper place. “What are you doing in here?”

“The doc said I was the chef here, and bein’ in the kitchen might stir up memories,” he said, then shrugged. I figured that meant it wasn’t working. “You?”

“I thought I ought to cook something,” I replied, starting to sort out the tools that he had laid haphazardly on the counter while he explored. If my Nate could see what his amnesiac self was doing to the carefully organized kitchen, he would be furious. “If I leave it to anyone else it will be inedible. Do you think you’d be able to help?” Honestly, part of me wanted to ban him from the kitchen, because seeing him look so unfamiliar with the space he knew like the back of his own hand was painful. The more logical part of me reasoned that if the doctor wanted him in the kitchen, he should stay. When Nathan gave a hesitant nod to my request, I pointed him to the potatoes that needed peeling and handed him a knife.

I left him alone for a bit as I gathered my other ingredients, but the next time I looked over I noticed that he was struggling. He had not even finished the first potato, and his pile of peelings were thick and choppy like an amateur. I had hoped he would at least have some muscle memory for kitchen tasks, but even that was gone. “Here, more like this,” I said, gently taking the knife from his hand and demonstrating the technique that he had first taught to me so many months ago when I ended up aboard the Sirius. “You have to be careful not to let the knife slip and cut you, but it goes much faster.”

He just nodded, and when I handed him the half-skinned potato and the knife, he started peeling in the manner I had taught him. “So you work in the kitchen too?” he asked, his eyes focused on his task.

“Sort of,” I answered carefully, grabbing a pile of carrots to chop. “I do a lot of different chores, but cooking for the whole crew is a lot of work, so I almost always end up in here.”

“We worked together a lot, then?”

“Yeah.” I hoped he couldn’t hear the small catch in my voice. He still was not looking in my direction, so I knew he could not see the wounded expression on my face.

“I can’t even remember your name.” He sounded so apologetic that I had to set down my knife in surprise and look over at him for a while. His expression was one of concentration, but otherwise emotionless and unreadable. It was in that moment that I realized that he was also confused and afraid, even if he was not the type to show it. I renewed my silent vow to help him through this, no matter what it took.

“My name is Aiko,” I said, forcing a smile.

“Aiko. Got it. Thanks.” After that our conversation dwindled to a halt, and we continued our tasks in awkward silence.

~~~

Over dinner Captain announced that we were going to remain at Oblivis for a few more days while Christopher tried to treat Nathan’s condition. It was better to be in a port in case the infirmary lacked anything he needed for medicine, and consulting with the town doctor who had seen some of the other victims might help him come up with better treatments. “If nothing else, I can try to go into the forest itself and see what the cause is,” Christopher added. “It is supposed to be safe during the day after all.”

“We already know the cause,” I mumbled. “It’s a crazy old witch.” That was when it clicked in my head. If this was a curse, medicines and doctors were not going to be of any help. Only one person might know how to break the spell, and she lived on the island. I had to go see the witch.

Something in my expression must have been telling, because Eduardo looked at me sidelong. “Don’t do anything crazy,” he warned me in a low voice. No one else seemed to hear, and I just stared silently back at him. He was asking for something I could not promise. “Suit yourself, then,” he said with a shrug.

I hurried through the rest of my meal, then went back to my room and tossed a few things into a bag, including the spending money I had from the wages Captain gave me. I would bribe or threaten the old hag if I had to, but one way or another I would learn how to cure the man I loved. I could not stand another day of watching him walk through my life a hollow shell of his former self. I knew the crew would only try to stop me if they knew where I was headed, so I snuck off the ship and into the town to find out where the witch lived.

It was summer and the days were long on the island, but the sun was sinking faster than I liked as I followed the directions I got from a villager towards a cottage at the outskirts of the forest. I found a winding path between the trees just where I was told it should be, and taking a deep breath, I started down it. Suddenly someone called out from behind me, making me jump. “Aiko, where the hell are you going?”

I whirled around to see that Eduardo and Christopher had followed me, and much to my surprise, Nathan had tagged along, though he stood back a ways and looked out of place. Eduardo was the one who called out to me, and he stood with his arms crossed, looking angry. “I told you not to do anything stupid, and here you are going into the forest when it’s nearly sundown.”

“I’m going to find the witch,” I insisted, trying to turn and walk in hopes of reaching the cottage before sun down. “If I hurry I can make it in time.”

“If you don’t make it, you could end up just like me.” It was Nathan this time, and for him, I stopped and looked back one last time.

“If I can’t fix this, I would rather forget anyway.” That was all I had to say on the matter before I jogged down the path.

Christopher sighed. “Well, we can’t let her go alone.” He and Eduardo were ready to head into the forest, but Nathan put a hand on each of their shoulders to stop them.

“I’ll go,” he said, his face determined. “Worst that could happen to me is to lose another day. You two wait here. I can keep her safe.” Christopher and Eduardo exchanged glances; they both had reservations about letting Nathan go in his condition, but it really was the best solution. The second they nodded their consent Nathan took off into the woods full speed.

I could see the silhouette of the cottage through the trees when he caught up to me. I was shocked to see him there, and said as much. “You came here to help me out, so I had to come along,” he said, taking a moment to catch his breath. I smiled at his consideration; memories or not, Nathan was a brave man. I thanked him, but he just grunted, and we hurried to the cottage.

I took a deep breath before lifting the old fashioned iron knocker and banging it three times. The door came creaking open to reveal a woman standing in the door frame. She was not the old hag I expected; she was older, but tall and stately, her white hair pinned up in a braided bun. Her clothes were simple but well made, and she looked more like a school mistress than a witch. I found school mistresses much more intimidating, to be honest. “Yes?” she inquired after I had been staring a bit too long, and I found myself fumbling for words.

“I need to know how to break the forest’s curse,” I begged, bowing my head. “Please. We’re not locals, we had nothing to do with your dog dying, and I have money if you want to be paid. Just please, tell me how to fix him.”

“Hmm.” As she pondered my request, the witch looked not at me, but at Nathan, who stood behind me at the door. “It’s this one, isn’t it? I can see the traces of magic on him still. What an interesting couple…” I looked up in surprise that she had guessed we were together, but if Nathan thought anything, he did not show it. She invited us inside and showed us to a bench where we could sit, then settled herself in a well worn arm chair across from us.

“Since you obviously come from far away, I suppose I can tell you how to break the curse, as long as you promise not to share it with the townspeople,” she offered, and though I felt a little guilty about keeping the townsfolk in the dark, I agreed. The witch nodded happily. “Very well, then. I shall tell you the secret, but I doubt it will do you any good. Almost any curse can be broken by the power of true love’s kiss, but a smart enchantress can always find a loophole.” She smirked, and it left a foul taste in my mouth. “You only have until sunset, and it only works if the victim is the one giving true love’s kiss. As you can imagine, the chances of that happening when someone has lost all of their memories is so minuscule I almost want to share it with those greedy morons just to watch them fail.” She laughed, and I could feel my hackles raising. I was never getting my Nathan back, and she was treating it like some joke! I was about to give her a piece of my mind when I felt a strong hand on my arm.

“Has the sun set yet?” Nathan asked me urgently.

“I-I don’t know.” I could not see anything but trees out the small cottage window. “Why?”

A bit of color came into the pirate’s cheeks. “Can I kiss you?”

“What? I mean, yes, but- what?!” There was no time to waste, so my question went unanswered as Nathan pressed his lips to mine. I had a million questions, but all of them were drowned out by the joy that Nathan was kissing me again.

He pulled away suddenly, pressing a hand to his forehead as if he were in pain. I was focused on him, but out of the corner of my eye I could see the witch leaning forward in her chair, watching the scene with fascination. After a moment, Nathan was able to look up again, and a smile crossed his face. He did not have to say a word before I threw myself into his arms, my tears of joy soaking into his shirt as he held me tightly.

“Yes, an interesting couple indeed,” the witch murmured, and my head snapped up to look at her. She was still wearing a smirk even though we had broken her awful curse.

“Don’t say another word about us,” I said in a low voice. I was shaking from the mixture of joy, relief, and anger surging inside of me, and only Nathan’s strong hands on my shoulders kept me still. “I don’t want to hear what someone like you has to say. My heart is breaking for the people you cursed who are not as lucky as we are right now.”

“In my experience, luck has very little to do with these matters,” the witch answered cryptically. She stood and opened the door, gesturing for us to take our leave. We were eager to do so. As we stood, Nathan took my left hand in his right, leading me towards the door. “You will be safe as long as you do not leave the path,” she said as we passed. “I still have business with the town, so you and your pirate friends should leave this place. Stay together, you two.” As she closed the door behind her, I had a feeling that her last warning meant more than keeping each other safe in these woods. I squeezed Nathan’s hand tightly as we started down the path.

The sun had set- we must have just made the deadline- but the path was well lit by moonlight, and marked by stones along the way. I felt able to relax for the first time since we had heard about the curse, and the warmth and strength of Nate’s hand holding mine felt more wonderful than ever. “Say, Nate…” I ventured, looking up at the handsome chef’s profile in the dim light. “If that kiss cured you, does that mean you fell in love with me all over again today?”

I could not see the color of his cheeks, but I knew his shy expression well. “S'pose it does,” he admitted, if only because there was no denying it.

“How on earth…?” I trailed off, not really knowing how to phrase the question. “We hardly even spent any time together! Did you fall for the first pretty face that came along?” I couldn’t help teasing him a little because I was so happy, even though it made him a bit grumpy.

“Shaddup,” he grumbled. “That ain’t it. You were sweet to me, right? And you went runnin’ off to cure me without any thought for your own self, which was stupid, by the way. But I think mostly it was this thing.” He held up my left hand, which still had the bit of red thread tied around the pinky, then reached into his pocket with his other hand and pulled out another piece of string. “This was still on me when I woke up wanderin’ the meadow. I took it off while Doc was examining me, because I didn’t know what it was, but I didn’t want to throw it out. And then you had one too, and wouldn’t talk about it. If you hadn’t come runnin’ out here, I planned to follow you around until you told me about it.”

“Follow me around… Like some school kid with a crush,” I mused quietly, but Nate still heard and shot a glare at me.

“Don’t tell nobody what the cure was,” he warned me, “or we’ll not hear the end of it.” He was serious, but I giggled at him anyway.

“I don’t know, I kind of feel like bragging about myself,” I teased, but he just smiled and squeezed my hand.

“Don’t take all the credit, now. Didn’t I promise I would always come back? I meant it so much that I forgot all about you and still managed it.” His grin made my heart flutter. I could see the end of the path ahead, and I stopped walking. Christopher and Eduardo would still be waiting for us, and before we reached them I wanted one more moment alone.

Nathan looked puzzled for a moment until I wrapped my arms around his waist. “I’m so glad you’re back,” I murmured into his chest. “Please don’t ever forget me again. It was the worst day of my whole life.”

“I’m not plannin’ on it,” he replied gently, stroking my hair. “But don’t worry. I’ll choose you every time.” It was a promise I knew he could keep, and we sealed it with a kiss in the moonlight.