this is early but technically its the first in london so

anonymous asked:

tell us why perfect by ed sheeran is about phan

perfect is easily one of the most romantic ballads since thinking out loud and ed has even said that he views it an outperformance in comparison to thinking out loud, which is interesting in this context considering how relevant thinking out loud is to everyone who remembers what happened at the 2015 brit awards. it was quite an iconic moment and it’s something people still talk about, so it’s especially intriguing that the song perfect is directly connected to it and treated as somewhat of a sequel

it also happens to describe dan and phil’s history together from past to present very accurately

honestly, i don’t listen to ed sheeran’s music regularly and although the lyrics aren’t the deepest or the most unconventional, i’ve been itching to write down some thoughts

[listen to the song here to set the mood]

[Verse 1]

I found a love for me

Darling, just dive right in and follow my lead

Well, I found a girl, beautiful and sweet

Oh, I never knew you were the someone waiting for me

we’ll start right off with the first four lines in verse 1, which i believe are being sung from phil’s perspective (however, the perspectives are subjective and can change throughout the song) these lyrics mirror the start of dan and phil’s relationship. phil was generally more mature when him and dan first started talking, age wise and experience wise. phil could’ve technically been considered an adult while dan was still very young and inexperienced, hence why “Darling, just dive right in and follow my lead” is so fitting here. dan and phil were both very quick to love and didn’t think so much about the consequences of their decision to trust each other so quickly. phil quite literally invited dan to dive right in and follow his lead, professionally and personally. the last line can be used to describe just how unexpected it must’ve been for phil when dan came along. early on, dan’s main priority was waiting. waiting for phil’s responses on twitter. waiting for phil’s dm’s. waiting for phil’s texts. waiting for those 5 hour skype calls with phil. waiting to meet phil. only until later on did phil realize that dan was the someone for him

‘Cause we were just kids when we fell in love

Not knowing what it was

I will not give you up this time

But darling, just kiss me slow, your heart is all I own

And in your eyes, you’re holding mine

in the second half of verse 1, the first two lines once again touch on dan and phil’s maturity levels when they first met, referring to them as kids. they behaved as kids would, acting silly and goofy with each other and relishing in each other’s youth, savoring the honeymoon stage as much as they could. but with being a kid comes immaturity, and that side of them showed through some of their reckless behavior. they treaded on thin ice while not knowing what was beneath it as boundaries or limits really didn’t exist for them in the early days of their relationship


Baby, I’m dancing in the dark with you between my arms

Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song

When you said you looked a mess, I whispered underneath my breath

But you heard it, darling, you look perfect tonight

this is where the tenses change and the song switches its focus on what is happening in the present, unlike the two verses in the song which seem to be reminiscing on the early days of a relationship. the first two lines of the chorus describe the bond that dan and phil have now and the moments that they share together. dancing in the dark in each other’s arms and listening to their favorite song implies that it could be a song that holds a special meaning for both of them specifically or a song that they are both able to connect to and enjoy together as best friends/lovers/etc because it reminds them of each other. the plural pronoun choice in that second line is accurate considering dan and phil share pretty much everything

[Verse 2]

Well I found a woman, stronger than anyone I know

She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I’ll share her home

I found a love, to carry more than just my secrets

To carry love, to carry children of our own

the second line in this verse is probably the most important lines because the song directs its focus away from the present and jumps directly backwards into the past, treating the chorus almost like it was was a mere glimpse into the future. dan and phil quite literally shared each other’s dreams back in 2009, phil was a youtuber and dan was an aspiring one. and although they had no idea whether or not youtube would’ve become as massive of a platform as it is now, dan and phil still shared a lot of goals and also supported each other’s individual goals that the other might not have shared with them. so yes, technically they were still sharing each other’s dreams merely through mutual support regardless of whether or not both of them had those same exact dreams in mind. “I hope that someday I’ll share her home” is such a meaningful lyric because dan and phil never had any idea that they would’ve ever had the opportunity to move in with each other and change millions of people’s lives together. all they could hold onto at the time was hope. but that hope was so worth holding onto because now they’ve been sharing each other’s home for over 7 years, literally and metaphorically

the last two lines are pretty self explanatory. dan and phil know more about each other than anyone else does and some of the things that they feel comfortable sharing with each other are things that they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with anyone else. aside from secrets, they carry each other’s love, and even though they can’t literally “carry children,” they have created a family together. the meaning of family in this context is subjective, whether you want to consider it a family solely between the two of them or the family that they’ve made with their audience

We are still kids, but we’re so in love

Fighting against all odds

I know we’ll be alright this time

Darling, just hold my hand

Be my girl, I’ll be your man

I see my future in your eyes

once again there’s another tense shift. the lyrics are insinuating that the present relationship still has much room for growth but has remained very genuine, which is also true in dan and phil’s case because they are visibly growing with each day that passes. they are growing professionally and personally and the amount of that growth, even just recently, has been astronomical. they see their futures intertwined and they truly are so in love

as for that second line, read it and really let it sink in… “Fighting against all odds.” if dan and phil have done anything in their goddamn lives, it’s fighting all goddamn odds. the odds of phil’s replies to dan on twitter leading to dm’s, the odds of those dm’s leading to 5 hour skype calls, the odds of those skype calls eventually leading dan to buy a train ticket to piccadilly station and actually meet up with this man whom he had met online, the odds of them taking the biggest risk of their professional lives and moving in together in the heart of london so they could pursue a radio show that they had no idea would either pay off or go down in flames, the odds of them actually creating this life together, helping each other through their sudden rise to fame? the odds of them actually having the opportunity to create such a unique community and change people’s lives for the better? what dan and phil have is not what society would deem conventional, but they have beat every normative agenda out there and have literally defied all odds. there were so many potential setbacks… there were so many things that could’ve gone wrong… but they didn’t.

[Chorus 2]

Baby, I’m dancing in the dark, with you between my arms

Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song

When I saw you in that dress, looking so beautiful

I don’t deserve this, darling, you look perfect tonight

[Chorus 3]

Baby, I’m dancing in the dark, with you between my arms

Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song

I have faith in what I see

Now I know I have met an angel in person

And she looks perfect

I don’t deserve this

You look perfect tonight

these last two choruses are very similar to chorus 1 with a few minor lyrical changes

chorus 3 is a lot more confident and hopeful of the future, much like dan and phil seem to be at this current point in time. the view that they have of their future seems to be filled with such good things, like moving and adopting a dog and whatever other “life things” they might have in mind. but i think the most important thing to consider here is that their futures are so tightly bound to each other, and they have nothing but tremendous faith in each other. whatever their futures may hold, it holds them together

now end this analysis with a visual of dan and phil curled up together in phil’s bed, reminiscing on how all of this happened and just how lucky they are to have ended up in this current moment with each other

i’m not saying anything but… perfect is the perfect song for them

anonymous asked:

are there any other drarry fics you'd rec (btw temptation on the warfront is one of my favs)

(I’m going through my saved fics, so it might be long - I have 150+ saved lol but I’ll post a link to all the ones I can remember that are really good. Please read the tags before just in case there’s something you might not like! p.s. the ones with a star are my faves - I’ve lots)

A Piercing Comfort by talithan - ( When Harry Potter hits the lowest point of his life so far, it is not his friends who keep him honest. With Draco Malfoy’s patience and guidance, Harry learns to stand on his own. The thing is, after the fact—he’s no longer sure he wants to). ✨

A Private Reason for This by Femme (femmequixotic) - ( When the wife of a star politician in the Scottish Ministry turns up dead just outside Hogsmeade, Draco Malfoy and his murder investigation team are called in from the Edinburgh Auror force to find her killer. What DCI Malfoy doesn’t expect, however, is to have an ex from two decades past end up in his murder room, endangering not only his case, but also his heart).

A Hand Reaching Out by thethaumas - ( After the Battle of Hogwarts, the Malfoys are put on trial. Draco must adjust to a reality where the things he grew up knowing to be truths, are wrong, and learn how to live with the lasting damage the trauma he lived through left behind. He quickly learns that thinking of Potter’s hand reaching out to save him from the fire can help keep the panic at bay, but for how long? A story about coping, growing, and learning how to trust oneself).

All Life is Yours to Miss by Saras_Girl - ( Professor Malfoy’s world is contained, controlled, and as solitary as he can make it, but when an act of petty revenge goes horribly awry, he and his trusty six-legged friend are thrown into Hogwarts life at the deep end and must learn to live, love and let go). ✨✨✨

All Our Secrets Laid Bare by firethesound - (Over the six years Draco Malfoy has been an Auror, four of his partners have turned up dead. Harry Potter is assigned as his newest partner to investigate just what is going on). ✨

Annus Mirabilis by Ren - (Harry and Malfoy are trapped at Hogwarts around the time the school was founded. Stuck with a different way of doing magic, with no chocolate, and with each other, they have to find a way to work together if they want a chance to go home). 

Any Instrument by dicta_contrion - (Draco Malfoy wouldn’t go back to England for anything less than an exceptional case. Being asked to figure out why Harry Potter can’t control his magic might be exceptional enough to qualify). ✨

Azoth by zeitgeistic (faire_weather) - (This series is technically complete but I may (or may not) add more one shots to it as inspiration strikes). ✨

Bond by AnnaFugazzi ✨

I’m cutting here because there’s A LOT of fics. I’ll add all of them here so it’ll be a big list. Everything else will be under the cut 

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Oh oh I have a request! How about desperate, 'I thought I lost you' kisses when the reader returns from a mission several days late? Mccree, genji, tracer and maybe poly!reaper76 would be stellar but if that's too many, just do your favorites! <3


He’s trying to make himself a sandwich from the sparse contents of the fridge, going for a BLT but ending up with something that is mostly pickles, when Winston calls him up to the conference room. There’s been a complication and you have to lay low for a while, no radio contact at all while Talon searches for the thief that stole a truck full of supplies. He gives Jesse the tape of your last transmission, says there’s a personal message for him on there. He takes the tape and the sandwich and leaves, tries not to think about how what’s on that tape may well be the last words he’ll ever hear from you. The seagulls end up eating most of his lunch. He has lost his appetite.

A little over forty-eight hours pass and he still hasn’t listened to the tape. He’s not brave enough, can’t do this without fearing something has happened to you. He’d rather pretend nothing is wrong until the call comes that you’re safe on your way home. It comes, and the moment he has your location he is out of the door, going to meet you halfway, despite Winston’s urging that it’s still dangerous for him to be seen in public with the bounty on his head. It’s just a few hours, but Jesse can’t wait.
He smuggles himself on the hypertrain from Gibraltar to Spain and hitches a ride to the airport, using fake money to buy a plane ticket to London, where you are scheduled to switch flights just minutes after he lands.
The people around him curse and throw their hands up in rude gestures when he pushes past them, searching for your terminal and finding it with minor difficulty. You he could pick out in larger masses. He’s drawn to you, doesn’t need to search, knows when you’re close by like he’s a damn homing pigeon.

“Jesse, what are you-”
He doesn’t let you speak. All the worry, the hastily suppressed fear, bubbles to the surface and he can’t do anything but pull you into a crushing hug and kiss you like he’ll die if he doesn’t.

You recoil at the sudden onslaught but relax when you realise what this is about.

“I’m alright.” you say when you part briefly for air. He doesn’t answer, kisses you again. There are no words for the agony he went through at the thought of never seeing you again. Nothing to talk about that can’t be expressed with his lips on yours and so you hold him as tight as he holds you and kiss until your lips go numb.

Keep reading

cruciferousjex  asked:

would you be willing to make a list of your favorite lesser know period dramas so people new to the genre can watch them? You post so many pictures of shows I don't know! ty love your blog :)

I absolutely would! (sorry it took me a little while to get around to this!!!! Forgive me!!!)

I’ll start with my three favourites because I feel like they’re lesser known and they are brilliant, in my opinion.

  • Harlots (2017- present) - A drama series about brothels and sex work in 18th century London. Absolutely fabulous, historically accurate in almost every aspect, include the variety of its characters. You can watch it on Hulu and NowTV as well as streaming it online. Also, the DVD of Season 1 is released tomorrow so!
  • Magnificent Century (2011-2014) , Magnificent Century: Kosem (2015-present) - Although technically two different series, MC: Kosem is a follow-up to Magnificent Century. These are two Turkish soap operas set during a period in Ottoman history known as “the Sultanate of Women”: basically a period during the 16th and 17th century where a woman from the Ottoman harem, be she a concubine, a mother or a sister, held considerable power, sometimes even more so than the reigning sultan. The first series of MC is available with English subtitles on Netflix: after that, the rest of the episodes can be watched on YouTube alongside this translation site. Same goes for Kosem, although the first episode was released officially with English subtitles on YouTube and can be watched here. The episodes are all very long: some about 2 and a half hours. But it’s such a great franchise, I love it so much.
  • Peaky Blinders (2013-present) - Set in working class Birmingham just after the First World War, it’s essentially about British gangsters, specficially the Shelby family, though it focuses most on their young patriarch, Tommy Shelby. It’s superb. The cast are amazing (Cillian Murphy, Sam Neil, Tom Hardy…) and it’s just so energetic, political and dynamic. I think I love it for two big reasons: 1) We hardly ever get period dramas about working class Britain and when we do, they’re always miserable and depressing. Peaky Blinders can be miserable and depressing but it also shows these families for what they are: the absolute backbone of this country. And 2) The Shelby family are half-Rromani. I’m half-Rromani myself so to see a representation for me on a primetime BBC TV series has been so good. They speak the language sometimes too! And indulge in some of the traditions. I recently saw Peaky Blinders on a stupid list of “Yet more period dramas about white British people” and it was ANNOYING. It’s been great for Rromani representation. You can watch it on Netflix!

That got super long, so here are a few lesser known period dramas (both films and TV series) that I have watched in my time and would absolutely recommend:

  • Charles II: The Power and the Passion (2002) - Apart from the fact this is about my favourite historical figure ever and is absolute perfection, it also has a stellar cast (Rufus Sewell, Helen McCrory, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Shirley Henderson, Ian McDiarmid….need I go on?)… if you want BBC period drama perfection, as well as a foray into the Best Period of British History Ever (the years 1660-1685 I DO NOT MAKE THE RULES), it’s a must-see.
  • Maison Close (2010) - Similar to Harlots in that it’s about a brothel, but it’s set in France in the 1870s. It’s just as gritty and realistic in its portrayal of sex work, though. It was very popular but cut short, unfortunately. Still an absolute must-see! You can watch it with English subs on Amazon Prime, and I assume it is easily streamed.
  • Bajirao Mastani (2015) - This is a Bollywood epic so it does have musical numbers but it’s also absolutely phenomenal. It’s set in the Maratha Empire in the early 1700s and is about the famed Peshwa (Prime Minister), Baijrao, and his love for a Muslim Raput princess, Mastani (who’s also a warrior and swords-woman.) Bajirao is also married to another woman called Kashibai who loves him dearly. It’s about love, it’s about prejudice and it’s about women trying to find some common ground for the man they love.
  • Shakespeare in Love (1998) - This is not necessarily lesser-known but I feel like it’s one of those films you literally have to see, especially if you like period pieces. It’s a comedy, largely fictional and tells the tale of how a young Will Shakespeare came to write Romeo and Juliet. He falls in love with a young noblewoman called Viola de Lesseps, who also happens to be an aspiring actor in a time when women are barred from the stage. Whilst the cast really blows every other cast I’ve mentioned out of the water, the highlight is probably Judi Dench as Elizabeth I. She has about….idk…..15 minutes screen time at most? But she won an Oscar for her performance anyway.
  • Elizabeth I (2005) - There are so many things about the Virgin Queen but this is my favourite since it covers the latter years of Elizabeth’s reign and focuses on both her political and personal life. I especially love her romance with Robert Dudley (played by Jeremy Irons) because usually, we see them as young people and it’s nice to see them older and experienced. Helen Mirren plays Elizabeth and….well….it’s Helen Mirren.

There are definitely more, especially ones set during my favourite period (17th & 18th century) which I don’t mind making another post for. But these are some of my faves!


#DepecheMode ‘took a psychiatrist & a drug dealer on the road.The shrink was sacked but the dealer stayed on’ #Exciter #MarkBell Article Q Magazine by D.Lynskey 6|2001


Once, they took a psychiatrist and a drug dealer on the road.The shrink was sacked but the dealer stayed on. Then their singer eagerly sought a hat-trick of heroin addiction, divorce and suicide. But Depeche Mode have made it to their 2oth anniversary fit and happy. How the hell did that happen? ponders Dorian Lynskey. Photos by Spiros Politis.

IN summer 1994, the Dave Gahan diet went something like this. After regaining consciousness at some point in the afternoon in a hotel room in America, he would start the day with two glasses of vodka. His throat so ravaged he couldn’t speak, the singer would call Jerry, his minder, and communicate by tapping on the phone in code. Then he would get into his limo to the airport, stopping en route to grab a McDonalds, his sole meal of the day. On the plane, it was time for a couple of Valium and a blackout.

When he arrived at the venue, the tour doctors gave him steroids for his throat and painkillers for everything else. “I was a garbage can,” he ruefully recalls.

By the time he got on stage, the cocktail of chemicals, spiked with a giant jolt of adrenalin, tended to create an equilibrium so that he’d feel strangely fine, strutting and whooping as if nothing was wrong. Afterwards, though, he would retreat to his hotel room, never once talking to his bandmates, and spend the rest of the night injecting heroin alone. Repeat to fade.

By the end of Depeche Mode’s 14-month, 158-date Songs Of Faith And Devotion tour, Dave Gahan weighed just 100 pounds and looked as pale and thin as a chalkmark.

Unbelievably, the next two years were worse still, a gruesome object lesson in Why Heroin Is A Bad Thing. In between abortive spells in rehab, Gahan’s life unravelled at terrifying speed - his second wife left him, his first barred him from seeing their young son, Jack, and his house in Los Angeles was ransacked by burglars. He also wound up in hospital emergency rooms so many times that West Hollywood paramedics nicknamed him The Cat. On one occasion, he swallowed wine and valium and slashed his wrists in a suicide attempt. Notoriously, he overdosed on a cocaine and heroin speedball in his room at the Sunset Marquis, suffered a cardiac arrest and was technically dead for two minutes.

Gahan’s excesses may have been the most spectacular, but he wasn’t the only one in Depeche Mode with problems. During the same tour, fresh-faced songwriter Martin Gore was drinking at least two bottles of wine before every show, convinced that if he tried to perform sober then he would forget how to play. Keyboardist Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher didn’t even make it to those final US dates, bailing out in Hawaii after a nervous breakdown. Studio wizard Alan Wilder was hopelessly alienated from his bandmates, and within a year he had left for good.

“You mustn’t have this impression that there was one guy having all the problems and causing the whole ship to sink,” Andy Fletcher insists, with a strange kind of pride. “There were many holes in the boat.”

Behold Depeche Mode, then: the band who never knew when, or how, to stop.

Depeche Mode released their first single, Dreaming of Me, on 20 February 1981, and the fact that they’re alive and well 20 years later with their tenth studio album, Exciter, is a small miracle. A British electronic band with the hedonist appetites of American rock pigs, Depeche Mode started partying so hard in the early '80s, and carried on for so long, the wonder is it took them until 1994 to come to the brink of falling apart.

When Dave Gahan’s problems became public, they buried the long-running perception of the band as a faintly ludicrous, faux-doomy pop act with a penchant for black leather. Maybe it’s their sartorial quirks over the years, or their preference for synthesizers over guitars, but Britain has always had problems taking Depeche Mode seriously.

Happily, they couldn’t care less. They’re the most enduring and internationally successful British band of their era. Throughout death, drugs, depression and departing members, they have always had an ear for innovation and a good tune, and have never made a rotten album. In America, they are the acme of Anglophile hip - the band that made musings on death, God and S&M seem at home both in stadiums and on dancefloors. Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot, Korn, Deftones, DJ Shadow and Detroit techno producers have all doffed caps in their direction.

“I was reading Prozac Nation and I think it’s us and The Smiths that she [author Elizabeth Wurtzel] accuses of being 'miserable chic’,” guffaws Gore, one of those rare people whose laugh sounds exactly like “ha ha ha”. “But we just tried to bring some element of reality into pop music.”

Today, Depeche Mode are holding court at London’s Home House, an extravagantly plush private members’ club where the only non-antique item in each room is the telephone. Now approaching 40 but not - Gore insists with a grimace - 'grown up’, they aren’t yet showing their age. Gore, sporting a ski-hat and peculiar patchwork leather jacket, is bright and boyish, while the sensibly dressed, bespectacled Fletcher still looks like the world’s least likely rock star. The fact that they can hire out rooms in a place dripping with money and yet turn considerably fewer heads than EastEnders’ Tamzin Outhwaite, the afternoon’s other resident celebrity, says a great deal. They are perhaps the biggest cult band in the world.

Alone, in a room down the hall, is Dave Gahan. The first thing he says is, “Come here, I won’t bite you. Despite what you may have heard.” A wolfish grin spreads across his chops, which are clean-shaven and glowing with health again. Even his haircut is back to its late-'80s model and he’s clad in sleek black from head to toe, bar the pale blue socks peeping out from beneath his leather trousers. In his hand smoulders a slow-burning cigarillo, his sole remaining vice. Only the tattoos and scar tissue on his pale, bare arms map out the contours of the dark times. Sometimes, he trails off in mid sentence, but mostly he is whip-smart, open and intensely engaging as he retraces Depeche Mode’s twisted path over the past two decades.

“They defy the laws of gravity,” opines Daniel Miller, the Mute label founder who signed and mentored them. “No, they redefine the laws of gravity.”

IF THERE’S ONE thing that everybody knows about Depeche Mode, it’s where they’re from. Basildon has been tarred as a joke town, but the band’s memories are of unemployment and chucking-out time aggro. It wasn’t a cozy place for four working-class teenagers to spend the late '70s.

While Gore, Fletcher and their friend Vince Clarke were shy church-goers (though Gore denies he was ever a believer), Dave Gahan was in juvenile court at 14 for vandalism and stealing cars. When he switched his attentions to amphetamines, punk and clubbing in London, he became the ideal charismatic frontman for the other three’s new synth group, Composition of Sound. “When I first met these guys I got the feeling they had led very sheltered lives,” Gahan admits, an Essex swagger still in his voice.

Clarke’s jaunty, minimalist hits and the band’s hopelessly unformed image cast the rechristened Depeche Mode (a name Gahan plucked from the cover of a French fashion magazine) as teen-pop naifs, an image that lingered. When Clarke left (to form Yazoo and later Erasure) after the release of 1981’s debut disc, Speak And Spell, self-confessed pessimist Gore took up songwriting duties. Alan Wilder, a middle-class West Londoner, was recruited as a studio replacement. Gore insists there was friendship of sorts (“Maybe it’s false intimacy when it’s all based on partying, but I think Alan would have to admit that he had fun with us at times,”) but even early on Gore and Fletcher constituted one faction, Wilder and Gahan the other.

The recurrent tensions clearly didn’t do too much damage. Their refusal to use preset keyboard sounds or to sample melodies from other records made them unique amongst electronic bands. Third album, Construction Time Again (1983) ventured into pipe-banging industrial sampling and toytown socialism, while the following year’s Some Great Reward, containing breakthrough US hit People Are People, introduced perv-pop and cynical wit. “Suddenly we’d turned into a proper band,” says Gahan. “Totally by accident, I think.”

Both albums were partly recorded in Berlin, where Gore had moved after splitting up with his devout Christian girlfriend. A shy teenager, he had immersed himself in the club scene - fans of bizarre rock clobber will fondly recall his leather skirts and bondage straps. For a long time afterwards, his lyrics laid out a kind of manifesto for hedonism as a defence against the boredom and disappointment of everyday life. As he wrote in the lyrics to 1987’s Strangelove, “I give in to sin/Because you have to make life liveable.” If it wasn’t for his candy-floss hair and impish grin, people might have believed him earlier.

Gahan, meanwhile, had settled down with his soon-to-be-wife Joanne. But in Berlin, where the bars opened late and Depeche Mode were celebrities, temptation winked. “I’d already had these wild years and I guess I did have a longing to have some kind of normality in my life on a personal level. But, to be honest, I was fooling myself.”

With the inclination towards excess already there, only the funds and opportunities were lacking. But not for long. With 1986’s dark, claustrophobic Black Celebration and the following year’s anthemic Music For The Masses the band made giant career leaps as much as creative ones, proving that electronic music could sound expansive and powerful enough to fill arenas. Simultaneously, Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn became their longstanding designer and video director, moulding four disparate individuals into a stylish unit. When Martin Gore named Music For The Masses, he was making a sly joke about always being on the verge of global success without ever quite getting there. As it turned out, it was no joke at all.

IN Depeche Mode’s 1989 tour film, 101, there is a fine Spinal Tap moment. It is the triumphant final night of the Music For The Masses tour and Dave Gahan is pacing his dressing room at the Pasadena Rosebowl, agonising over whether to shout “Hello Pasadena!” or “Hello Rosebowl!” When the tour manager suggests he says, “Good evening, welcome to the concert for the masses,” Gahan retorts, “I’m not fucking Wordsworth, you know!”

The fact that Gahan had the opportunity to shout anything at all to 60,000 Americans seemed remarkable to British viewers. But watching him wiggle and prance and shout “Hey!” at every opportunity while the other three prodded their keyboards, it was clear what an unexpectedly thrilling live proposition they had become: Kraftwerk fronted by Rod Stewart.

“After that film came out, suddenly we were this 'stadium band’, which wasn’t actually true - we’d played onestadium - but the perception really changed,” says Gahan. “We started to get bigger than I’d ever imagined we’d be.”

After 101, everything was primed for Depeche Mode to deliver their best album, so that’s what they did. With producer Mark Ellis, aka Flood, they decamped to Milan, where their clubbing exploits helped inspire the lean, gleaming sound of Violator, a record that also contained some of Gore’s best songs. When they announced dates for the World Violation tour, every single ticket sold out in advance, and the tour became one long lap of victory, fuelled by cocaine and E.

“We hit a point during the Violator tour where everything was just great,” reminisces Gahan. “But I think I overdid it even then. Every night, after coming off stage, we’d all get on one and go out…If you can imagine going out on tour for a year and a half and you’re like this circus and then you finish all that and come back to the reality of your life. The longer those tours got, the less satisfied I became with normal life. For me that was the last time the partying side of it was fun.”

Radiohead flirted with madness during the OK Computer tour, Oasis have problems spending any extended time on the road without a punch-up, and most other recent British bands have never had the worldwide popularity necessary to find out what month after month of arenas can do to people not psychologically equipped for it. Perhaps if Depeche Mode hadn’t been so lousy at communicating with one another they might have realised they were walking on glass. Or if they had let their indulgences affect their work then somebody else might have intervened. But, at the time, there seemed no reason to stop having fun, so they didn’t.

One legacy of World Violation was Gahan’s love affair with their Californian PR girl, Teresa Conway, and the disintegration of his ailing marriage to Joanne. “It was nothing to do with my first wife,” he contends. “I was yearning, I think, for some sense of adventure again.”

Gore and Fletcher, meanwhile, were becoming fathers for the first time, and Wilder had just married his long-term girlfriend. Gahan’s enthusiasm for going out with the rest of the band had waned anyway, so he decided to relocate to Hollywood with Conway. (He hasn’t lived in Britain since but still has an endearing habit of hastily correcting his Americanisms: 'ass’ to 'arse’.) After living like a rock star on tour, Gahan wanted to look like one, albeit a cartoonish version. With Conway’s encouragement, he grew his hair long, got tattoos and started going to gigs again - they even got married in front of an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas.

“A lot’s been said about that image, but also during the whole of the '80s, that wasn’t me either,” Gahan elaborates. “I felt I wasn’t having to lie anymore and pretend I’m some clean-cut guy, when really during the '80s we were out drinking and tooting it up, like everybody was doing. I actually felt like I was living more honestly. I didn’t realise how quickly I was spiralling cos I was living like that every day. It didn’t have to be a gig or anything, it was always that kind of drama attached to my life in Los Angeles.”

Part of the “drama”, although Gahan never calls it by name, was heroin. But when he talks about his first months in LA, it’s with rogueish amusement rather than regret. Properly wealthy for the first time in the wake of the world-conquering Violator, experiencing a second adolescence surrounded by a loving new wife and people impressed by his fame, he clearly enjoyed himself, for a short while at least.

HALFWAY through 1992, Depeche Mode convened in Madrid to start work on the next album and realised that, in their 18 months apart, everything had changed. “I was excited and I really wanted to bring that sense of enthusiasm back and, to my dismay, once I walked into the studio I realised that nobody else was on the same page,” remembers Gahan. “I think the band were pretty scared of me. I was definitely off my rocker.”

“I don’t think we’d seen pictures,” agrees Gore. “It was a real shock to see him with long hair, covered in tattoos, even dressed in different clothes. I think when we first got together in Madrid it became obvious that there wasn’t a real feeling of band unity.”

Producer Flood had the wheeze of getting the whole band to live together during the recording process, but it did no good. Perhaps it was down to English reserve, but they evaded their problems rather than dealing with them. Talking about it now, the defiantly non-confrontational Gore seems contrite.

“I don’t think I was aware of it as much as I should have been,” he admits. “I remember when I didn’t like the direction that certain songs were going in I would sulk for a few days, and maybe that caused tension. Dave wasn’t really driving it as it was during his honeymoon period with heroin. Although we had a row of bedrooms next to each other, he would disappear for three or four days at a time.”

It’s to Gore and Fletcher’s credit that they don’t pin the blame on Gahan or the increasingly disgruntled Wilder, who felt his contribution wasn’t appreciated. The precarious interpersonal architecture that had held them together was falling apart, and nobody was in a position to prop it up. Fletcher was struggling with depression and was hospitalised during the final album sessions in Hamburg: “I was too busy worrying about myself, let alone worrying about Dave. And also we felt slightly hypocritical because we were doing our own things as well.”

Gore, meanwhile, was out clubbing most nights and drinking heavily. “At the time I never felt it was necessarily a problem,” he says, marvelling at his capacity for self-delusion. “I just drank too much. I had a couple of seizures and I was told by doctors that it’s when your body goes into withdrawal. So sometimes I woke up after a heavy night, started having a panic attack, then I’d immediately think, Well if I go to the pub and have a drink I’ll be OK.” Gore didn’t even realise that Gahan was using heroin until a meeting at Alan Wilder’s house on their return to Britain: “To be honest I was really ignorant, but once the pieces of the puzzle had been put together for me then it all made sense.”

If Songs Of Faith And Devotion had been as bad as the atmosphere surrounding its gestation, the subsequent tour wouldn’t have been so destructively long. Against the odds, however, it was one of their best, most adventurous records (it remains Gahan’s favourite). And so, on 19 May 1993 they played their first date in Lille, France. Nobody had mended their ways, although Gahan impressively managed to juggle his heroin habit with intense workouts and an hour-and-a-half of yoga a day.

“Since Violator’s success, I think we felt that we were indestructible,” Fletcher reasons. “We were very naive.”

“We still managed to have fun,” Gore insists. “It was just never-ending.” Fletcher reckons they were the first band to go on the road with a psychiatrist and a drug dealer - the psychiatrist was laid off but the dealer stayed. “The bigger the tours get, the easier it is to party,” label-boss Miller contends. “It’s a bubble in which anything can happen as long as you perform on stage. I went out on the tour and thought it was horrible. I remember being introduced to the official drug dealer and at that point I thought, Fuck this, there’s nothing I can do.”

The addition of the second American leg was a major bone of contention, but Wilder and Gahan argued that with scaled-down production costs it would make them millions, so on it rolled, with the barely talking members travelling in separate cars. Gahan’s choice of support act didn’t help either. “Primal fucking Scream,” in Miller’s words. The results were gruesome. In LA, Gore had a seizure, brought on by alcohol and stress, while Gahan overdosed after a show in New Orleans. Yet still they kept on, and Gahan showed no signs of calming down on stage or off. “I realise today how much I’m carried, how much I’m taken care of,” he reflects, with the semi-religious language of many a converted addict.

“Sometimes I don’t know how I really did survive that. Everything’s been said about the insanity of that tour but itwas. It was that, and more.”

Alan Wilder officially resigned from Depeche Mode a year later. Daniel Miller firmly believes that if he hadn’t, the band would have collapsed. “It was so obvious that those four people could not make another record together.”

Fletcher’s less charitable about Wilder’s motives. “I think he felt the band would split up, what with the state Dave was in. I think he wanted to be the first one to jump ship.”

Ultra, Depeche Mode’s ninth album, was thus recorded as a three-piece, with producer Tim Simenon shouldering much of the weight. In May 1996, halfway through recording, Gahan overdosed, but even then it took an intervention from his friend Jonathan Kessler, the band’s accountant-turned-manager, to convince him to check into the Exodus Recovery Centre. He was court-mandated to live in a sober-living house with other recovering addicts (“the closest friends I’ve ever had in my life”), then moved to New York with his new girlfriend, Jennifer. He hasn’t had anything stronger than a cigarette since.

WHEN DAVE GAHAN talks about what he calls “all that bollocks”, he alternates devastating honesty with awkward pauses, perhaps mindful of the fact that Ultra’s musical qualities were overshadowed by his soul-baring confessions to the press. As a faint silver lining, even cynics had to admit that there was a kernel of truth in Gore’s recurrent lyrical obsessions with extremity, sin, guilt and absolution after all, although Gore maintains, as always, that “I never think of Dave when I’m writing the songs.”

“I don’t actually believe that, to be honest,” Gahan counters. “I think he has a deeper sense, and knows that some of the things he writes about are what’s going on all around us. That’s how I feel connected with him. We don’t talk much.”

Depeche Mode put their recovery to the test with a worldwide trek to support their second hits collection, Singles 86>98. On a typical day they would sightsee in cities they had only previously glimpsed through car windows and an alcoholic fug. Where once there was a drug dealer now there was a masseur, and Gore’s pre-show two bottles of wine had become two small glasses.

The result of their rejuvenation is Exciter, recorded over the past year with producer Mark Bell (LFO, Bjork) in London, New York and Santa Barbara, where Fletcher, Gahan and Gore respectively live. “I wake up every day and I see sunshine and I see amazing mountain views and I do feel a bit more in touch with God, whatever God is,” beams the songwriter.

Blame it on the sunshine, or the settled wife-and-kids lives of all three members, but Exciter is the most optimistic record the band have made in 20 years. There are still some dark shadows and intimations of perversity, but there are also unapologetic love songs, Freelove and Goodnight Lovers, with Gahan’s voice warm and intimate. Yet the distance between Gahan and his bandmates remains. Now that he has channelled his energies into music rather than narcotics, he is antsy about the friction between Gore’s perfectionism and his own looser, more organic tastes, and plans to release a solo album in that vein next year.

“I have a feeling that he respects me as much as I respect him but he has an inability to actually acknowledge it,” Gahan frowns. “Martin’s not the sort of person who turns around and pats you on the back and goes, That’s fantastic. To be honest, I wouldn’t know what to do with that anyway.”

Depeche Mode are clearly not the last gang in town, and not one of them can explain why they have kept on going. Daniel Miller has a theory though. “A lot of the arguments that they have now are identical to ones they had 20 years ago. Fletch and Martin have always been mates but Alan was always the outsider and even Dave didn’t grow up with them. If they’d all been big mates at the beginning and then grew apart, that would have been different, but relationships haven’t changed that much. Who knows? If you start trying to define it, it falls apart.”

Gahan, for one, wouldn’t even try. He has endured such self-induced horrors that the fate of Depeche Mode is no longer his top priority. The interview finally over, he looks suddenly drained and starts talking about how much he misses Jennifer, now his third wife, and his baby daughter Stella. “I really have a life now,” he reflects. “I have a life separate from Depeche Mode. It’s the first time I’ve had that in years and I’m determined not to fuck it up. I still make mistakes but I’m there for it. I’m not running away any more. I’m right here.”

And Dave Gahan smiles at the wonder of it all

For non profit use only | Photo by S.Politis

anonymous asked:

It's funny because Larries forget about that tweet of that woman who was walking in London Jan 8th and ran into "Louis and his girlfriend walking their dog" and we were all confused because we knew for a fact Danielle was back in LA and his dogs weren't in London. So Louis and El had already reconciled back in early Jan (I'm sure Jan 8th wasn't their first day back together and they just decided to go public and risk being seen). Fans also met Louis with Eleanor mid Jan at the beach but his+

+ location and who he was with out of respect for them both. Louis did his IG thing. It wasn’t until a fan met them both at the airport and confirmed he’d been holding her hand and kissing her, that they were “public”. And then those fans posted their pics from Jan confirming they had been together that day as well. Technically Louis and El have been “public” since Jan 8th….we just didn’t have the pics to prove it yet.

Yup. ^^^^ all of this.

fic: it’s not that hard to say

“They’ve both been scared for a good seven years now. No book ever tells you what to do when you’re in that position.”

Or, 2016 told in a series of moments and realisations that have been a long time coming.

Word count: 2k 

Tags: Reality, 2016 in summary, BONCAs, #busgate, general boyfriend-y stuff

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anonymous asked:

Hello! In case you read spuffy FF, could you recommend me some great works that are, if possible, long? :)

Hiya Anon! Spuffy fic recs? Heh, you’ve come to the right place! I can indeed recommend you an alarming amount of stuff. 

  • West of the Moon, East of the Sun - “I keep having the strangest dream. Every night it’s the same thing: a dark room, a big bed, and a silent vampire that I can feel, but not see. I’d be wigged, except it’s just a dream, right? It’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever willingly sleep with a vampire again.” This is the obvious rec. An incredible s5 rewrite, probably the best fic in the Spuffy fandom (possibly the best fic ever written) and very long. Read it now, thank me later. FYI, you’re gonna need to set up an account on Elysian Fields to read that, if you haven’t already.
  • The Barbverse - “An AU which branches off from canon after “The Gift” with an alternate version of Buffy’s resurrection. A saga … in which is explored the question of whether or not one Buffy Anne Summers, vampire slayer extraordinaire, and one William the Bloody, vampire of infinite heart and limited ethics, can reach a certain degree of mutual accommodation after diverse discourses and considerable ass-kicking. another rewrite, this time of s6.” There’s something like 120 works in the series and all of them are fab.
  • Embers - “Buffy is a waitress at a gay coffeehouse, and Spike is a dashing captain of a space ship … and it’s not an alternate universe. It’s a year after the events of Season Eight, and Buffy is still reeling. But while she and Spike try to sort out the hurt and confusion that Buffy’s been dealing with all year, the aftershocks of her betrayal have brought a new enemy forth … one that might just be the one to break her completely.” Perhaps the best comic fic there is, but if you haven’t read them, you only need a rudimentary knowledge of s8 to understand what’s going on.
  • Family - “Post-Season 5, an alternate reality take on Season 6, but not so crazy-alternate that anyone’s unrecognisable. Starts with strong Spike and Dawn friendship, and builds from there. Just lots of small tweaks that pack a punch - like the odd bit of honest communication amongst the Scoobies.” This is a WIP but it’s updated relatively regularly and it’s really really good. You know every problem you had with weak writing in s6? This fic fixes them but without being overly simple or unsatisfying. The author takes no short cuts and doesn’t hesitate to make things painful. Feels like canon.
  • Tempesta di Amore - “While vacationing in Monte Carlo, a young Buffy Summers meets the notorious William de Winter, withdrawn and desolate still from the loss of his wife. When her employer threatens to leave Europe and head back for America, William offers Buffy the choice of leaving or marrying him—a proposal she cannot refuse. With a husband she barely knows, the young bride arrives at an immense estate, only to be drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Drusilla, dead but never forgotten…the suite of her rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant— the sinister Mrs. Hart—still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightens around her heart, Buffy begins her search through internal destabalization and a knowledge that haunts her with every wake: she can never be Drusilla.” All Human AU, obviously. A Spuffy retelling of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, which works perfectly. The author really made the story her own.
  • Detour - ” Future fic. Vengeance, memory and the course of true love.” Set post Chosen, ignoring the events of AtS s5 and the comics, Spike loses his memory and reverts to what he was before he came to Sunnydale but Buffy refuses to give up on him. Great read, and très sexy. This author’s other works are also excellent.
  • Aloof Rocker Kryptonite - “It all started with a one-night stand, and suddenly, Buffy Summers found herself involved with rock star and premiere bad boy of England, Spike Rock.” AH, not to be taken too seriously. I love this fic because it’s light hearted and fun and sexy and also because Rockstar AUs are my kryptonite, ironically. Technically this is a permanent WIP, but it finishes in a satisfying place, so you can get over that I think.
  •  Clocks of the Long Now - “Four years after the gang helped Sunnydale perform its swan dive into Hell, a terrifying new enemy emerges from an unexpected quarter.  As secrets are revealed and old friends are reunited, the greatest Apocalypse of all looms ever closer.  Will they manage to save the day one last time?” While Spuffy is the main pairing of this story, it’s not the focus. This isn’t a romance this is an action-adventure epic with a romantic subplot, but it’s so so frickin’ good, read it anyway. 
  • A Stone’s Throw From Yesterday - “The Sunnydale Hellmouth has been destroyed for over three years, and the Scooby gang has scattered to the four corners of the globe, continuing their fight against the dark evils of the world. In the Egyptian desert, a single man hears a tortured plea for help. It’s just a shame he doesn’t recognize his own voice.” A very sweet post Chosen story. I love the ending.
  • A Promise of Frost - “When a snowstorm strands Buffy and Spike, they are forced to turn to each other for strength, especially when a missing Giles, mysterious visitors, and way too much magic threatens to turn it into a not so very merry Christmas. Set mid-S4.” Christmas fic meets baby fic (sort of - no pregnancy involved) meets plenty of smut. Who could ask for anything more? *tap dances*
  • The Writing on the Wall - “There was no body to bury. There was no funeral. There was nothing but the three rules and the knowledge that a thousand years of torment was nothing compared to a world without her in it. Spike embarks on a journey through the Gates of Hell to rescue the one he loves, but in order to save her, he must risk losing himself.” Set post s5. A different resurrection story, kinda in the vein of the Orpheus/Eurydice myth. Beautiful. 
  • Things That Go Bump in the Night - Set several years post NFA, Buffy has moved on, is no longer in mourning for her two dead vampires. Then Dawn calls her for some help and she finds something she never expected to.” Summary says it all. Very charming story.
  • Always Wait For You -It is more than ten years after the events of NFA and we find Buffy in a familiar place - sitting in a crypt with a stake in her hand.” Set in a world where Spike Shanshued after NFA and then got revamped. Starts off sad, ends happy.
  • Living Conditions - “Set in early S. 3 with a few changes: Buffy is still working in LA, she never had the run-in with Lily that made her decide to go back to Sunnydale, and Spike’s come back to California already. Both of them are living completely separate, unrelated lives until fate and its sick sense of humor throw them together.” This story requires a little suspension of belief because it has soulless Spike acting a lot like ensouled Spike, but it’s still really enjoyable.
  • Lirazel - Okay, so this is an author and not one fic but her stuff is in general, short, introspective and too good to miss, so just read all of it. Especially Prism and Kaleidoscope
  • Quinara - Another prolific writer of excellent shorts, often very funny. Make sure you check out Long Distance to London, a very sweet post-NFA series.

So, I reckon that should keep you going for a while, Anon! Come back to me when you’ve finished that lot, I’m sure there’s more good stuff I’ve left out. I hope you enjoy.

The Butterfly Effect

I said I wasn’t going to write anything else, and this will show you why, because it’s tripe :/

I’ve never been to Dubai or Bali, or scuba-dived, so if this makes no sense, blame google! 

Read it on AO3 or here. 

No warnings except for poor quality and excess length.

So they say that when a butterfly flaps its wings in New Mexico, it causes a hurricane in China.

Another way to put that: when you go shopping in London, you fall in love in Bali.

I’d never have fallen in love if it wasn’t for that new year’s resolution.

No, wait, that’s not the start, let’s begin again. It all started when there was nothing on at the cinema.

No, let’s go back another stage… See when that chaos butterfly started flapping its wings.

I’m only in love, because he cheated. No not him, not the guy I’m in love with now. The other guy. The first one. The creep, the jerk I stayed with too long because I was afraid of everything. The guy who, I can see now, belittled me, and treated me like crap. I’m in love with this guy now, because of that guy. Maybe I should thank him?

So, let’s start at the beginning. The day I finished my Christmas shopping too early. Maybe, just maybe, if I’d taken longer, things would have been different. There’s that butterfly flapping its wings. I’d told Brock I’d be out of the house all day, I was going to go tackle all my Christmas shopping in one day, the first of December, maybe catch a film after to celebrate, get home around 10 at night. That was the plan. Then, flap flap flutter… I was on a roll, I had half the shopping done before I stopped for coffee. Had a cake to celebrate, made a list, set off for the other half. I was like a demon, in and out of the shops, that for Mum, that for Dad, that and that and that for Brock, because, well, we were in love, weren’t we?

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Operation OZ

Chapter Three

Read it HERE on AO3

Ch. 1 / Ch. 2 / More SamWELL

“Motherfucker!” Derek cries, holding his nose. Dex at least has the good grace to look sheepish, though it’s only a subtitle to his pissed expression. “What the fuck was that for?”

“I’m not used to other people touching me.” Dex says, and it sounds like half an apology, which Derek figures is all he’s going to get. “I forgot I wasn’t back in– back home.” Dex wrinkles his nose in a way that lets Derek know that that’s not at all what he wants to say, which makes him curious.

“Where the hell did they even keep you?” he asks, getting up off of the floor. His nose isn’t broken, though he makes a mental note that Dex has a killer right hook. He wasn’t one of those defenseless Q types, then. “It definitely wasn’t at the HAUS; I’d’ve seen you before now, if so.”

“Maine.” Dex says, rolling his shoulders and settling back into his seat, seemingly more calm. “Like, really fucking remote Maine. Cabin in the woods type of deal, except with really good wifi. It wasn’t too bad.”

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Words. Fate. & Accidents (Part 1) - One Word

(Narrator’s POV)

Josephine Reinhart was a genius. 

Being born from a family whose names were never once written in the History books nor found in any political or economic archives, nobody knew where she got her brains from or how she had miraculously managed to graduate college two years earlier than expected.

Her father was a suspense and thriller novelist in the US and had sold millions of copies of his books worldwide. Allan Reinhart: the New York Times bestselling author of the Don’t Trilogy: “Don’t Look Now”, “Don’t you Dare”, and “Don’t You Even Try”.  

Josephine always thought her father wrote the craziest stories and gave them the funniest titles. She had gotten her love for reading from him, but his thrillers don’t exactly fit her taste and she was more attuned to fantasies, romance, and adventure stories. She loved reading about heroes—heroines—in action and doing the impossible. She loved going on adventures through an unknown land or dimension; and she loved meeting new people from all over the world and from distant stars… to befriend them, and even fall in love with them.  All these she does just by reading books.

Just. By. Reading. Books.

In real life, Josephine was no heroine but more of a sidekick; she was a coward who’s afraid of taking risks and going against the flow; and she was not one to be social and had never once fallen in love or even been infatuated with any guy. The closest she got to having a thing with a boy was a blind date set up by her friend Marien in middle school, which turned out well…for Marien, since she was the one who ended up dating the guy.

But like any other person, Josephine had a dream. She wanted to travel the world, go on adventures, and break a few hearts here in there. She wanted to be free, to be bold and daring as those heroines in her books… but then reality strikes and she’s hurled back into her room, sulking as if her life has already ended when it should have just begun.

A girl like me can never be like that, she thought.

When Josephine graduated college, she made a promise to herself that things would be different. She didn’t only graduate with honors but two years earlier than her classmates. Maybe all those Friday night studying paid off after all.

Allan was so proud of his daughter that he didn’t even think twice not to grant her daughter’s wish to travel to Europe. He had immediately booked a flight, found a tour company who will take her around, and had given her a reasonable amount of pocket money for the trip. Josephine was ecstatic at the fact that she would be travelling to Europe; terrified at the fact that she was actually going to do it alone; and a little annoyed at the fact that her father seemed to be a little too excited for her. She knew she should just be happy for the opportunity but she couldn’t help but think that he was partly doing it so that he could get rid of her and have the house alone to work on his new novel… (which had a ridiculously weird pro tem title: “What’s Under the Bed, John?”)

A week later, Allan took Josephine to the airport early in the morning. She was on her way to London, the first stop in her tour.

“You ready, kiddo?” Allan said as he ruffled her hair.

“Dad!” she whined as she fixed her hair. Her blonde hair fell loosely on her back and she had thought about cutting it short—like pixie short— but never had the courage to do it. 

“Sorry.” He chuckled and then his face grew serious, surprising Josephine. “Dad? Are you—“ before she could finish her question, Allan had pulled her into a bone-crushing hug. “I’ll miss you, Josie.”

Josephine felt herself sigh at the sound of her nickname. He almost never calls her by her name and would rather stick with kiddo, bud, or other common terms meant to describe one’s offspring. “I’ll miss you too, Dad.”

“Be careful, okay? Call me if you need anything.”

Josephine nodded and saw her dad give out a sad smile. She rolled her eyes, “Dad it’s only two weeks. You won’t even notice that I’m gone. I’ll be back before you save a new file on your laptop.”

Allan feigned surprise as he covered his mouth, gasping. “That is not true, kid! I will think of you every second of everyday—“

“How’s the book coming?”

“Quite well, actually. I have these ideas for a new character and a new—“ Josephine playfully punched his arm, making him chuckle. “Kidding. No seriously, I’ll miss you.”

Josephine gave him one last hug and goodbye before grabbing her luggage and walking away. Heading towards Europe…

Heading towards her dreams.

(Josephine’s POV)

Two and a half weeks later


A word I had neglected for almost three weeks. I never thought time could fly by so fast. The tour practically whizzed by; leaving dust and smoke on its path, leaving me—urging me—to keep up. As I flip through my journal, ignoring the sites of Paris through the van’s tinted windows, I wondered if I had made the most of it.

The tour was amazing; don’t get me wrong. I was able to visit all the sites, which I’ve always wanted to see and more. It was a highly enlightening and educational experience and I’m glad to have gotten the opportunity. But I couldn’t get that nagging feeling at the back of my head that I was missing something.

The van came to a stop at the airport’s main gate a few minutes later, and I let out a sigh as I dragged myself off my seat and out of the car.

“Have a safe trip! Hope you enjoyed the tour!” the guide said, waving enthusiastically, his head jutting out of the passenger side window with a huge grin plastered on his face. I wonder if it hurts to smile all day like that, I thought as I returned his wave before making my way inside.

I walked towards the queue to get my luggage checked-in when someone bumped into me—hard, causing me to drop my book and passport.


Mianhe!” A deep voice answered and I looked up to find a boy, probably about my age, staring at me with wide eyes. I shook my head, slightly annoyed as I crouch to pick up my stuff. Unfortunately, the boy was thinking of doing the same thing and we ended up bumping our heads against each other.

“Ow!” we said in unison. I winced as I held my forehead and was about to crouch down again, only to be stopped by strong hands on my upper arms. “No. Stay. I’ll get it.”

He picked up my book and passport, dusting it off like the airport floors were as filthy as the roads. As he was doing so, I finally got a good look at him. And boy was he a looker!

He had orange hair (yes, orange), sharp features, and heart-shaped lips. When he looked up at me, I saw deep-set eyes which seemed to look right through me and his gaze was both unnerving and beautiful that I couldn’t figure out whether to look away or stare right back at them.

But before I could even decide, he thrusts my stuff into my hands, and ran off to the nearest gate entrance. “Sorry again, pretty girl!” He yelled before disappearing into the crowd. I blushed at the comment and looked at the passport and book in my hand.

Did that just really happen?


“Ladies and gentleman, an important announcement.”

My head snapped up from my book at the familiar ding followed by the sound of a female voice. Having moved from one country to another had made me accustomed to these sounds and I immediately fixed my things, assuming that it’s probably an announcement that my flight will already be boarding.  

“Flight 112 to California is cancelled due to some technical discrepancies. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please approach the airport staff for assistance or questions regarding the delay.”

“WHAT?” I exclaimed.

This is just great. What am I going to do now?


I don’t know how long I sat there, my face buried in my hands. I had gone to the information center and they had relayed to me that the flight won’t be resuming any time soon since they’re having technical problems with the plane.  I nodded meekly as I took everything in but deep down, I was terrified. I’ve never been into these kinds of situations before and I had no idea what to do in the next few hours.

When I finally realized that moping wouldn’t do me any good, I decided to go to one of those airport convenience stores to buy some food since I didn’t have any breakfast; considering how early my flight was.

I made my way into the store, going straight to the drinks aisle to get myself a bottle of water. I didn’t bother getting one from the freezer since it was already so cold. Grabbing one from the shelf instead, I hummed to one of my favorite songs before moving to the snack bar. I was so immersed in the song, my steps following the upbeat tune, that I didn’t see the “Wet Floor” sign. The next thing I know, I slipped. A yelp came out of my mouth as I felt myself falling backwards.

I prepared myself for impact but it never came. Instead, I felt something snake around my waist, my back hitting something soft and strong, and a hand closing around my right wrist. My bottled water fell to the floor with a thump and everything seemed to happen in slow motion as I release a sigh of relief. I looked up and was met by wide eyes the color of chocolate brown. Words escaped me as I stared into them and I when I felt my heart quicken its pace, I realized that they were the same eyes I stared into this morning.

“Are you okay?” he asked, his voice deep, snapping me from my trance. “I’m—“ Suddenly realizing that I was still leaning onto him, I immediately straightened up and got myself back up on my own two feet.  “Fine. I’m fine.”

“You don’t look fine.” He stated and I thought maybe I looked as red as I felt.

“I’m okay.” I nodded. “Thank you.”

The guy crouched down to retrieve the bottle I dropped. He handed it to me with a smile. “You dropped this.”

“Thanks.” I said, taking the bottle from him and trying not to stare at how pretty his smile was.

“Is this a habit of yours?” he suddenly asked. “Dropping things?”

I smirked at his remark, remembering our little incident early this morning. “Only when people bump into me like some crazy lunatic who’s late for his flight.”

The guy grinned, showing off a set of pearly whites. “What made you think I was late for my flight?”

“Why would anyone be running in an airport?”

“I don’t know, maybe to go use the bathroom?” I sniggered at his response. “Okay, whatever you say.”

“Oh and by the way, the problem is not the person who bumped into you…”


He shook his head, “You just weren’t holding on to it tightly enough.”

“Oh so now it’s my fault?” I countered and crossed my arms. He shrugged and let out a little laugh, which I found incredibly cute. “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

“Is that a habit of yours? Being unsure?”

He shrugged again and this time I laughed. He bowed before reaching out his hand, “Annyeong, Kim Taehyung, imnida.”

“You’re Korean.” I blurted.

He nodded, “What gave me away?”

“Aside from the fact that you just greeted me in your native language?” I chuckled. “The accent… the bowing.” I pointed before taking his hand. “Josephine.”

“And you’re American.”

“What gave me away?”

“You didn’t bow.”

Ha.” I chuckled. “Nice.” I turned away from him and continued on to the snack bar.


I half-turned and found Taehyung catching up to me. “Yeah?”

“Just like that?” he shrugged with a frown. “You introduce yourself and then walk away?”

I shrugged, ignoring the way my stomach churned at the sight of him. “Shouldn’t I?” When he was standing in front of me, I tried not focus on how flawless his face was. “I wanted to apologize.”

“For what?”

“For bumping into you this morning.” He said then suddenly squinted his eye, giving me an inquisitive gaze. “You are the pretty girl I bumped into this morning, right?”

I was about to answer but he beat me to it. “No, I don’t think it was you. I think I’ve mistaken… You’ve gotten prettier.”

The comment made me blush and I prayed to God he didn’t notice. Well if he did, he didn’t show it. “It’s alright.”

“I owe you one.”

“You saved my life back there.” I pointed to the other aisle. “I should be owing you.”

“Nah.” He shrugged. “That was nothing.”

“Is that another habit of yours? Catching strangers who slipped on wet floors?”

“Only the pretty ones with nice smiles.” He winked and I blushed; thinking to myself if I was dreaming or not. Was he actually flirting with me?

“Are you okay?” I looked at him and saw concern filling his beautiful eyes. “You’re all red.”

“Oh!” good God! I ran a hand over my face and tried to suppress the grin that threatened to show. Why does he have to say things like that so bluntly? “Probably just the heat.”

“It’s the middle of autumn.”

“Exactly, the heat.” I nodded as I face palmed myself mentally. Stupid.

Taehyung laughed, which caught me off-guard. I never expected a giggle to come out from someone with such a deep voice. “I like you, Joey. You’re funny.”

Joey? I wanted to reprimand him for giving me such a nickname but the way he said it…the sound of it coming out from his mouth and the way his eyes lit and his smile brightened at the mention of it made me stop. I actually liked it when he called me by that name.

I started walking again and Taehyung followed. I tried not think about how closely he was walking beside me. He was a stranger and here I am talking to him, walking with him, like some old friend I haven’t seen in a long time. I stole glances at him, smiling every time I did. He was handsome, no doubt. But he also looked innocent and very childish. I saw it in the way his eyes wandered to the shelves; the way he stopped to read the labels, and the way his mouth (and eyes) would turn into an “o” whenever he saw something that interests him. He was quite fascinating to watch.

 As I was looking through some chips in the snack bar he started, “So what brings you here in Paris?”

“I’m actually on my way home but my flight got cancelled.”

“Same here!” he said. “Except, I missed my flight.”

“Ha! So you were late.”

“Fine, you got me.” He opened his arms with a smile and I shook my head. “So you probably booked another flight?”

He shrugged, “I should—“


“I’m waiting for a sign.”

“What sign?” I said as I decided on getting the Wasabi chips.

He shrugged again and this time, I didn’t push for an answer. Somehow I felt I didn’t need to because I have been waiting for signs all my life and I still kept wondering when it would come.

I was paying at the cash register when Taehyung asked another question. “So what were you doing here?”

“Why, aren’t you a nosy one?” I teased.

“Can’t help it, you’re pretty interesting.”

“Well you’re kinda creepy.”

“Yeah?” he smirked. “That’s a good creepy right?”

“How is creepy good?”

“Creepy doesn’t always come with good looks.” He gave me a sly smile, biting his lower lip; a habit of his, which I’ve noticed. I tried not to smile but it was pretty hard when you’re talking with this boy. “Wow, you’re not only creepy. You’re arrogant too.”

“Aren’t I special?”

“Yeah…. special.” I rolled my eyes, knowing that his meaning of special was different from mine.

“I heard that.” He said and I laughed.

A real laugh.


Taehyung and I spent the next half hour talking as we sat ourselves at one of the waiting areas. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to converse with him. It’s like I’ve known him all my life and I wondered how on earth that was possible when I’ve only met him—accidentally. These things only happen in the books, right?

We were in the middle of talking about the tour I went to these past two weeks when an announcement was aired through the PA system. “Ladies and gentlemen, an important announcement for passengers of flight 112 to California. Your flight will be resuming tomorrow morning. Repeating the announcement—“

I groaned inwardly as I heard that my flight wasn’t due till tomorrow. I covered my face in my hands and prepared a speech in my head as to what I’m going to say to my dad.

A few moments later, I felt a poke on my arm and I looked up to see Taehyung giving me an encouraging smile. “Hey… it’s okay.”

“It’s not, really.” I sighed. “I was supposed to go home.”

“Adamant at leaving me already?” he mocked a hurt expression, placing a hand over his heart. “Ouch.”

I shoved him lightly, “It’s not that… its just…. I don’t really know what to do from here. I’m just gonna wait? Sleep here till morning?”

There was silence and I could almost feel him shrugging beside me, since that’s what I assumed he would do. But to my surprise, he did something completely different.

“Let’s go out.”

I snapped my attention back to him, “Huh?”

“Let’s go out.” He repeated, standing up from his seat. “Let’s go around Paris. For one day… what do you say?” he grinned, spreading his arms wide as if he was some guide about to start a full day tour around the City of Love.

I gave him an “are-you-serious” mixed with an “are-you-crazy” look. “What?!”

He sighed, “If I have to repeat this one more time—“

“I heard you, Tae—“ I closed my mouth at the sudden nickname I just called him. When did I start calling him Tae? I looked up at him shyly but he didn’t seem to notice. It was like I’ve called him that ever since. “Come on, Joey. It’ll be fun!”

“I don’t know…”

“Scared?” he challenged.

“Yes.” I said a matter of fact. “Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I hardly know you. What if you turn out to be a drug dealer—“

“A drug dealer?!”

“Or someone who kidnaps and sells girls—“

“What the hell—?”

“—or a serial killer!”

“Seriously, Joey?” He gave her a judging stare. “Do I look like I do those things for a living?” No, I wanted to say. You look like one of those Prince charming’s in my books who sweeps the girl off her feet every time.

I shrugged, “You can never know how people are these days. It’s hard to trust anyone.”

“I’m not asking you to trust me.” He said as he placed his hands in his pockets. “I’m asking you to take the risk.”

“You’re making this sound like some Fear Factor challenge.” I groaned, making him laugh.

“What’s the difference really? A foreign country… an incredibly handsome guy asking you to go to spend the day with him on the most romantic city in the world—“

“Oh wow. That does sound tempting” I said sarcastically, though I was already getting psyched on the inside. A day in Paris. With him? It’s all so surreal!

“Come on, Joey! It’s Paris! Everyone would kill to visit this place.”

“I’ve already seen it.”

“But I bet you haven’t seen it my way.” He gave me a pointed look, and something in his eyes made me shiver. “Well I—“

“Spend the day with me, Joey.” He said, his eyes focusing on me; his voice dipping lower, like we were sharing a secret. “Come see Paris, my way.”

I looked at him and a million thoughts ran through my head like it was rush hour in there. It was a bad idea and I knew it. Why would I agree to go out with a guy I just met? Who knew? Maybe he turns out to be a kidnapper or something?

But looking into his eyes, I saw something special which stirred a weird feeling at the pit of my stomach. A good feeling. It’s like, as cliché as it sounds, my mind says no while my heart says…

No. I shouldn’t. The real me wouldn’t go on an adventure in Paris, France with a guy I hardly knew. The real me would be calling my dad, telling him that my flight got cancelled. The real me would be thinking rationally and planning whatever it is I would have to do till the next day.

But then there was Taehyung and his deep-set gaze, his heart-shaped smile, and his genuine laughs. I don’t know why, but something about him made me want to go… made me want to take the risk.

 I sighed and looked at the book, sitting comfortably atop all my stuff in my backpack. I should just sit here and read it, I thought. That way I can start on a new book.

But to my surprise I do something entirely different.

I say yes. 

to be continued…


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My Face

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I’m not sure why I’m writing this right now. I’m not even sure if I am writing this now or, if I am, whether the words I’m seeing in my mind’s eye are the same as the words my hands are typing. I suppose the only way to find out is to check tomorrow and see if this is still here. If it is, and it still looks like this, then I’ll know it wasn’t some dream I was having with my eyes open.

‘Dream’. Even looking at that word right now makes some guttural part of me tense up. I’m not surprised though. After all, my dreams are the reason I’m even awake at this hour. Everyone else in the house is asleep right now. Well, except for my mum, but she always wakes up at 4 AM like clockwork. Hell, she doesn’t even need an alarm.

I’m looking back at what I’ve written so far and I realise I’ve been rambling. I tend to do that, simply because my thoughts just get scattered like dandelion seeds when I don’t completely concentrate. There’s only so much concentration you can give something when you keep getting flashes of terror every time you blink. It might just be that I’m doing it so that I can stay awake as long as possible by writing. Either way, I should probably at least explain what I’m babbling about some time before my parents find me awake like this.

I’ve been a student at London University for a year now, studying psychology. I would be in my second year, but I had to stop mid-way through, so this year is a resit. I was hoping at some point to be a counselling psychologist, to help people get past their problems without being the guy who forces a prescription down their throats.

 It went fine for the first semester; I even managed to make a few friends, which is an achievement for someone as socially awkward as me.

For the first few months I would hang out with a small group of people, all of whom shared my weird interests: we’d talk about the usual nerdy pop-culture we’d digested that week, about how we all threw our shoes at the television when a certain character from one of our shared favourite TV shows was killed off very ignobly and needlessly by a bear, that kind of shit. Of course, as close as we got we never saw each other outside of lecture days, which suited me just fine.

I remember exactly the day that my current “predicament” started. I only call it that because even now, six months later, I still don’t know what the Hell it is.

It was February 2nd when we received a foreign exchange student from Canada. I’m not going to name him here, partly because he wouldn’t want me to and partly because I don’t want this to come back to him. It was clear on his first day that he wasn’t the talkative type, so it wasn’t surprising when he started gravitating towards our little clique. He seemed enthused about what we were saying, sure, and he even managed to get some of the references we flung out about some of the TV shows that was more localised to Britain, but none of our geeky bullshit would ever stimulate a reaction with him quite like his extensive knowledge of urban legends. I’m not talking “Sewer alligators of New York” kind of legends either: I’m talking about the kind you see on the darker underbelly of the internet; the ones that make your palms sweat and give you a nervous tick while you read about them.

The first time he ever mentioned his … “hobby” was after a lecture we’d been given on the neurotransmitters involved with fear. Our lecturer, on one of his slides, put up a rather disturbing image of a dog with a malicious grin across its muzzle in an effort to demonstrate one of the technical variations of fear. Needless to say, it worked.

After we left, our new Canadian friend told me and the group that he knew where that image came from, and then went into great length on the mythos surrounding what he called “Smile.jpg”. At one point, I remember him using the word “Creepypasta” and one of my friends, who we’ll call “Michael”, inquired, after the obvious quip about haunted ravioli, what he meant. After a quick explanation on what he meant, our friend continued on to say that, according to the Smile Dog myth, everyone who saw that image and didn’t pass it on to someone else would be plagued with nightmares from the creature in the picture.

After joking away the macabre subject and going our separate ways, I took the Canadian aside, curious about where I could find the original story. At that point, I thought it might give me a good laugh, and when he told me to listen to a narration on YouTube for the best effect, it didn’t take long to find what I was looking for.

Of course, being the cynical asshole I was back then, it did make me giggle a little to think that something as simple as a photoshopped picture of a husky could inspire such fear in people, but ever more curious, I kept going into the topic of Creepypastas to see what else I could find. Most of it was the same shtick about being stalked by creatures with no face or eyes as big as dinner plates with claws the size of your arm, or the trope about some kid picking up a bootleg copy of a nostalgic game only to find out that the main character had been warped into some sadistic shadow of its original self, but some of them actually sent a real, visceral chill down my spine, which really surprised me.

I think by about 2AM the next morning, I’d watched about twenty different videos of narrated Creepypastas and I was about ready for bed. I didn’t have anything resembling an early morning lecture the next day, but I knew I’d have to be up and about by around ten o’clock.

 Now, I always considered myself a rational human being, not prone to believing in boggarts and the sort, but for the life of me I swear I couldn’t keep my eyes closed for five seconds without flinching from some gut feeling that there was another presence in my room, and in my mind’s eye it kept metamorphosing from one form to another, and after around half an hour of my futile attempt at sleep I decided that enough was enough and that I should go into the kitchen and get something to calm myself down.

As soon as I put my hand on the wood of the kitchen door on my way back to my room, a sense of danger jabbed at me inside my stomach, just like it had before in my room. I got that same irrational feeling that I wasn’t alone, and I spun around, my eyes scanning every facet of the brightly lit kitchen, even checking the doors of some of the cabinets, and saw nothing. I sighed, knowing that my binge on horror stories was getting to me, and that it was my own fault for listening to so many of them, especially so late at night, so I went down the corridor and back to my room.

As I opened the door, I did my best to swallow down the feeling of dread that was accumulating in my gullet like a stone, and when it was open all the way, I had to take a step back for a second. My breathing picked up as I stared wide eyed at the empty space where my bed once sat. Everything was gone, from the crates underneath to the posters on the wall, leaving a barren, white-walled corner.

As I stared in disbelief I heard a soft, muffled whisper of a chuckle from one of the nearby rooms.

Thinking that maybe one of my roommates was playing a prank on me, I smiled and looked back at the door behind me that led to Jenna’s room. Jenna was the only person I got along with on my corridor, and she even showed up in some of my lectures as her sociology course sometimes overlapped with my own.

I quietly knocked on the door, and when I heard the lock click I came in ready to confront her. “Alright, Jenna, I know you took my bed, so… .” my words died in my throat as I looked into Jenna’s room, or what should have been Jenna’s room. As I gaped blankly through the doorway, I saw my room exactly as it was, right down to the last detail, and sat on the bed was a young man with bedraggled red hair, exactly the same as mine, looking down at the floor. He was making some sort of sound as he held his face in his hands, and to this day I still don’t know whether it was laughing or crying, but it was a wheezy, choked noise that ran through me like a cold breeze.

I dared not move. I didn’t even blink, though my eyes were becoming itchy and irritated.

I blinked once, and in that short time between closing my eyes and opening them, something flashed against the inside of my eyelids too quickly for me to figure out what it was, and when my eyes opened again, I was face-down against the keyboard of my computer, which had grown tired of waiting for me to turn it off and gone into standby.

I let out a haggard, relieved breath. It was only a dream. Just a bad dream.

I was reassured the next night when my dreams returned to normal. Hell, I don’t even remember what I was even dreaming about that night. All I remember is waking up the morning after like I always did and getting on with my day. It was a long lecture day, though, and I remember being almost completely wiped out when I left the lecture hall at 6PM, cursing my allergy to caffeine. I would’ve killed for an espresso right then.

I remember feeling slightly on edge as I walked the path back to my hall of residence. I put it down to the cold winds and the darkness at the time, but I couldn’t shake that ominous feeling I held in my gut as my eyes darted around the darkened campus grounds. It was that same feeling as in my dream, that feeling of being watched.

I heard a sound against the wind buffering my ears. It wasn’t quite a giggle, but it wasn’t quite a sob, and it seemed choked and gargling, as if both had been stuck in the throat of whatever had made it and formed some odd chimera of the two.

The hairs raised on the back of my neck. I knew that noise.

The sound was getting closer with every quickening step I took, and no matter how hurried my stride it gained on me. I knew I’d look like a pussy to whoever was watching, but I had to run.

The sound was right in my ear by the time I touched the front door of my hall.

I jerked awake and looked around at the emptying lecture hall. I’d dozed off again.

I was, as you can guess, as unnerved as they come when I left the lecture hall. My hurried pace was brought into question several times by my friends but, unwilling to talk, I brushed off their questions. Placated by my repeated insistence of “It’s nothing, really: I’m just being silly”, they decided to leave me be and go off, disgruntled, in another direction.

It was about quarter-past -six when my hall was in sight again. That was when I heard that noise, that goddamn choking laugh again echoing in the distance. This time I knew not to take my chances. I bolted, and as my legs pounded and my body lurched forward from abject fear, I heard the giggle slowly ascend into a mangled cackle that grew louder and more fervent as I ran.

I didn’t even make the door before I felt a hand clutch my throat.

I awoke again in my room and looked at the clock, which had long since abandoned trying to wake me up, I recoiled in surprise: I’d woken up at 8:30 PM. I had to check twice to make sure it was in fact evening time and not just early in the morning, but it was.

I’d slept through an entire lecture day. Up until that point I’d never done that before in my life. Hell, I didn’t even take sick days when I was a kid, but now I’d missed a whole day for no reason.

But still, from the dream, I would’ve sworn I was in the lecture

The worst part was that that was the pebble that set off a snowball.

My dreams became worse and worse for the next few weeks. I’d awaken several times every night in a hard sweat and have to gnaw a little at the same spot on one of my fingers just to make doubly sure I was awake. If it drew blood, real blood that I could taste, and I felt real pain from it, only then would I calm down. I had a bandage on my finger for weeks, and people were starting to notice.

That man … creature … thing that I saw sitting on my bed was there in every single one of my dreams. It would always just appear in random places in my dream environments, always keeping its face obscured in its hair and always laughing that wheezy, throaty laugh, sometimes approaching me, other just keeping its distance and watching.

It was almost as if it was toying with me, playing on my subconscious irrational fears for sport.

Thanks to those dreams, my sleep patterns were getting so erratic that it even got to the point where I was awoken by security after having slept for five days straight. Jenna had called them after having missed me at a lecture and not seen me enter or leave my room at all that week, not even to eat or go to the toilet.

Missing lectures was starting to become a habit, and my grades were beginning to suffer from it. That only served to aggravate the problem, it seemed.

My coursework and assignments were beginning to suffer as well, but in the most disturbing ways. I’ll give you an example: at the end of February, we were told to carry out an assignment essay on the relative effectiveness of talk therapy on alcoholics and other chemically addicted people. I remember specifically that I’d finished it right down to the references and saved it before putting it away for later submission.

Being a meticulous student, I had the urge the next day to check it again to make sure I hadn’t missed any key points or references.

It wasn’t there. I checked the recycle bin frantically, thinking that maybe I’d accidentally deleted it, but it wasn’t there either.

I did find something else in that folder, though. It was a gigantic, unpunctuated wall of rambling nonsense, as if someone had gotten jacked up on cocaine and decided to write an essay on whatever random word would pop into their head until they got bored. Interlaced with the text were several disturbing images of the corpses of small animals, ranging in size from mice to squirrels. In each picture, the animal’s eyes had been removed.

When I checked the timestamp, it read “27/02/13, 15:45”, the exact same date and time I saved my last draft of that coursework.

As time went on, it was as if my idea of reality was beginning to unravel around me. As my constant nightmares began to erode my fondness of sleep, it got more and more difficult to tell when my dreams stopped and my waking moments started. When I was in the middle of working on something, I’d begin to see hands reaching for me that vanished when I turned to look, and when my stubborn refusal to sleep faltered, I’d hear a low chuckle in my ear and bolt awake again, terrified that it was too late and it had already dragged me into another dream. Sometimes it really was.

At one point, I was getting so distressed by these dreams that I began entertaining the possibility, against my better judgement, that it could have been that fucking dog in the picture my lecturer used in his fear presentation. After all, the Canadian told me that it’s supposed to haunt your dreams, right? Looking back on it now, it seems stupid, but I was desperate enough at one point that I actually had an email ready with a random ‘Smile.jpg’ picture I’d lifted off Google Images just in case.

I didn’t need to, it seemed. It showed me its face a month into the “predicament”. It’s a face that still haunts me this very second, and I see it against the blackness of my eyelids every time I close them.

It happened when I awoke one day after a peculiarly dreamless sleep. I tried not to think about it too much in case I jinxed something, but I let myself feel a small sense of relief.

It was patently obvious that I was in dire need of a shower it seemed, as I’d been wrestling with my “predicament” for weeks now, leaving little time for hygiene. As I walked into the shower room, I caught a glimpse of myself in the small mirror and nearly jumped out of my skin.

Having simply mistaken my reflection for someone else, it didn’t take long for me to calm down and assess my appearance: my eyes had devolved to pinkish orbs of irritated veins hooded by purplish-black bags of skin that attested to my lack of proper sleep and the utter destruction of my body clock. I’d grown a thick, prickly beard of red hairs across my chin, and my hair now lay dishevelled and greasy across my shoulders in long curtains. I chuckled: this shower was a long time coming.

That shower got rid of aches I didn’t know I had. I felt like a new man after I stepped out of the steaming glass cubicle to towel myself off. By this point, the mirror had fogged up beyond being a mirror, so to help get my hair in some semblance of order I decided to wipe it off and sort my hair out then and there.

I froze. The blood in my veins screeched to a halt, and my breath caught in my throat like a vice.

The figure that stared back at me from the now cleared mirror was not my reflection. It wore my face, but I swear on my life it wasn’t me. Its mouth nearly touched its earlobes and was contorted into a horrible rictus grin filled with yellowing teeth. The skin of its face seemed stretched over, like a mask, and its hair stuck to its scalp with a layer of shining grease.

It didn’t have eyes. The sockets were just empty, featureless craters, made all the more haunting by the sagging black bags beneath them.

Despite this fact, it still managed to look at me in a way that made my windpipe tense up like it had hands squeezing it.

It laughed. It laughed that same gargling chuckle I’d heard countless times over, but this time it felt as if, between its maniacal giggles, it was forming words with its croaking wheeze, repeating the same fragmented sentence over and over.

“Missed … you.” 

I blinked, and the words were scratched all over the walls. Missed you. Missed you. It covered every bare patch of wall, scrawled frantically.

It was then that I finally snapped. I punched the mirror as hard as I could, knowing it had trapped me in another nightmare, and kept punching until most of the glass was either on the floor or sticking out of my hand.

It was only after the last of my anger had given in to a crushing sense of defeat and I slumped down into the corner that it dawned on me.

My hand was hurting.

I flipped out. According to Jenna, when I asked her about it earlier this year, I was inconsolable for the rest of the day. I was just sat in the shower room next to the pile of broken mirror shards letting my hand bleed out as I held my head in my hands, trembling and muttering in tongues. I apparently wouldn’t even let the paramedics come near me when the ambulance Jenna had called finally arrived. Of course, I remember none of this.

My parents, being the insufferable worrywarts they are, have insisted I live at home while I resit my freshman year so they can keep an eye on me. They’ve thrown me into a therapy program too, for all the good it’ll do me. Kind of ironic, if you think about it: I was going to be a therapist, but now I’m sitting here on the other end of the stick.

I did have a mirror in my room, one of those old vanity mirrors you sometimes get on top of chests of drawers, but it’s been covered up at the request of my therapist.

After I told my parents what I saw in the mirror, they went white and looked at each other as if I’d just threatened them with a knife. Then, with great reluctance, they told me that when I was just turning four I’d had an imaginary friend that looked exactly like me with what I described as “a nice big toothy smile”.

I called him “Timmy-Tom”, and explained that he was born without eyes, so naturally the best thing to do was find him a pair that he liked. It started out with household objects like sequins, buttons and marbles, so my parents never paid much heed, but soon it became apparent that these weren’t what he was looking for.

That was when they found me cutting out the eyes of a squirrel, and fearing for my sanity they had me … as they put it, they had me corrected.

Even now, months into my therapy, I still have those dreams sometimes: sometimes I’ll wake up in my old bed back in the halls of residence, wondering if everything up to that point was just another twisted dream; sometimes I’ll wake up in a padded room, the screams of other broken souls ringing through the little viewing slot in the door, and wonder if I’ve always been there. That last one seems to be its favourite place to send me.

It doesn’t matter where I wake up though. It will be in there with me when I do, giggling that mind-curdling giggle just to let me know that I’m still at his mercy, that I’m still its plaything.

It’s here now, just sitting in the darkest corner of my room watching me write this with that distended grin spread across its face, across my face.

It’s wearing my face.

It’s not even giggling anymore, it’s just … it’s just sitting there.

It’s still wearing my face.

It won’t stop looking at me with that goddamn eyeless smile.

It’s STILL wearing my face.

Maybe it just wants my eyes. It has the rest of my face, so why doesn’t it have my eyes?

Either way, if I didn’t have eyes, I wouldn’t be able to see it anymore. Maybe it’d get bored and go find someone else to drive insane.

Now there’s a thought.

Credits to:

Christmas Lights

Pairing: Phan

Genre: Angst, Angsty Fluff

Warnings: Arguments, alcohol mention

Summary: Inspired by the Phanfic Weekly Challenge, based on the song ‘Christmas Lights’ by Coldplay (x), featuring 'Always’ by Erasure (x). Dan and Phil have been having a lot of fights lately. When the inevitable huge fight happens on Christmas Eve, can the Christmas lights bring them back together?

Word Count: 2,232

A/N: Okay so November writing didn’t happen, but I wanted to write at least one fic this month and I heard this song the other day then Phanfic posted their weekly challenge which is Christmas songs this week so here we are. It’s not my best and I’m literally so tired posting it right now so there may be some errors (I did try to proofread it though), but yeah. The middle section of the song was definitely the hardest part to write (candles and out of tune singing), but I think I did okay considering.

Merry Christmas everyone! :)

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A Tactical Response

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The day Malfoy arrives to the London Headquarters Harry can feel it in his bones.
Harry wakes up on edge and his tea tastes off, he burns his crumpets and ends up running late.
Everything is a flutter as soon as he steps into the Department, personnel rushing about everywhere. Kingsleys finally been elected Minister of Magic and his latest reform has thrown the Department of Magical Law Enforcement on it’s arse.
“Potter! Conference room B!” Robards yells over the calamity and with a nod in understanding he makes his way over. “Tactical assignments. Conference-”
“-Room B.” Harry echoed, slapping Robards across the back amiably. “Cheers.”
Robards snorts, chuckles and then uses his finger to direct his hovering quill, checking something off on his clipboard.
“Harry! Long time no see!” Dean Thomas throws an arm around him before he’s barely through the conference room door, clutching at his hand in a firm shake. “You’ll be glad to see how well the teams shaping up.”
“Well now he’s here of course!” Master’s teases, his tone light coming for an awkward side hug handshake thing.
“Glad to see you’re back at work Glen,” Harry smiles. “Was worried that Dragon had knocked you onto your arse for good!”
They all laugh and it’s easy and he’s starting to feel really good about this by the time Penelope Ashflower comes in.
“Relax boys. I have arrived!” She cries and it isn’t until Master’s wraps his arms around her and introduces her to everyone that their earlier comradery returns.
“Ashflower here is a Cursebreaker.” Master’s smiles almost proudly.
“Well I know I’m technical support.” Dean raises two fingers in the air stuffing his other hand in his Auror coat.
Harry groans, “God! Master’s really? You and I are offensive maneuvers?”
“‘Fraid so.” Glen smirks.
“I’ll have my leg blown off within the month!” Harry cried letting his head drop back in mock defeat.
“Good thing I’m immediate response, Potter. You’d be rather useless without your legs.” Draco interrupts. Harry knows it’s Draco before he even opens his eyes. He hasn’t seen him in years not since the trails and still he knows its him.
“Malfoy.” He replies and sure enough Conference Room B is silent with Draco Malfoy standing there in the doorway, looking slightly dishevelled.
Harry watches as Malfoy minutely surveys the room, gauging their reaction, he looks a little wearily but mostly he looks… good. “Glad you could finally join us.” Harry steps forward offering his extended hand. He hopes Draco catches the meaning, hopes they can start fresh from this. “Did you get lost?” Harry smiles.
It takes Malfoy a small moment to realize he’s ribbing him and smiles brightly back, throwing Harry off guard, clasping Harry’s hand with his own and shaking it stepping into it with his whole body.
“I’ll have you know there’s a sea of people out there Potter, I practically had to swim here!” Malfoy jokes and Harry let’s go of his hand. They all settle in before their team leader comes in and starts group orientation.

The best part of Kingsley’s reforms Harry decides is this; The way he and Master’s took all three assailants down with Dean’s surveillance and Penelope assistance. They knew how many going in and counter cursed the exits so they couldn’t leave. It was genius.
Harry decided the best part of working with Malfoy was after the dust had settled, when they were still on site and Malfoy was sewing up a few gashes on his chest. Gashes caused by spell fire splintering the wooden door frame on the main floor.
Draco smooth long hands worked deftly over his skin using enchanted thread for little to no scarring. He was efficient and it was virtually painless. His hands however were warm and reassuring and Harry leaned into his touch rather than away from it.
“Anymore like these and we might be forced into early retirement.” Penelope cackles, high-fiving Master’s just before he apparates with the suspects in custody.
“We should be so lucky.” Draco mumbles, focusing on the final wound as he cleans it delicately by hand.
“Supposed you could always defer back to Healing I suppose.” Harry leans back on the edge if the table they’ve propped themselves upon.
“Don’t be ridiculous Potter. I am first and foremost an Auror. Just like the rest of you.” Draco doesn’t look at him as he speaks, too caught up in his work, returning to his thread and needles.
“Good thing too. Who else would I have to follow me around sow me back together?” Harry means to teases, whispering only to Draco.
Malfoy crosses his brows and looks at him with his soft grey eyes, “Patil.”
“Patil?” Harry repeats back.
“She’s good with stitching. Best in my year I think. Though if we’re talking trauma cases you’re best bet it with Pemberly.” Draco considers before returning to his work.
“Um? That’s okay I..?”
“Though really the smarter solution would be to not race headlong into danger. Thomas had barely given you the go ahead before you bust down that door!” Malfoy is teasing back he realizes with the curl of his lip and Harry’s feels his blood pulsing in his ears.
“Mother dearest telling you off again?” Penelope laughs receiving a dirty look from Malfoy over his shoulder.
“Again? Hey! I was totally within my limit last time! Malfoy was exaggerating I didn’t nearly lose anything thank you very much!” Harry cries, half rising up from the table.
“Potter! I had to throw half your body into a stasis charm just so Penny and I could set to work on that Hex! Now sit still and let me finish!” It thrills him when Draco orders him about in a way it never did in school.
He bristles a little before sitting back down, “Thank you.” Harry whispers and for a moment Harry is lost in Draco’s eyes and is contemplating concussion at the very thought of it, “Both of you.” He corrects himself and let’s the moment slide.

“Do you have a problem with me?” Harry grits through his teeth and Draco is repositioning Harry’s dislocated shoulder. “Ah fuck-!” He screams.
“Why would you possibly suggest that?” Draco grunts as he casts a sticking charm to the sling he wraps around Harry’s left arm. “Are you suggesting my medical service is becoming sub-par?”
“What? No!” Harry exclaims. “You just. I don’t know seems to hate this more than you did when we started.” Which really wouldn’t do Harry thinks, because if Draco hated his job he might leave it and the team.
Draco sends Harry’s knee back into place with a flick of his wrist and the pain is so much worse. “It’s been three months Potter. Do you know how many times I’ve had to patch you up? Your sense of self preservation bothers me. I’m half tempted to call in for a psych eval.”
Harry laughs, he can’t help it. The way Draco’s brow crosses, the way he purses his lips when he’s concentrating it’s all too much coupled with the pain.
“Hey Malfoy-” Harry faints.
“You know Potter. You didn’t have to faint to cheer me up. Though I must admit it has been some time since I’ve had a man swoon over me.” It’s Draco’s elegant drawl that pulls him into full consciousness when he wakes up, standing over him in his Auror’s best.
“Ha ha.” Harry grumbles sarcastically. He’s in a bed at St.Mungo’s, he can tell by the wallpaper. “Why am I-?”
“Protocol.” Draco jumps ahead, finishing his thought process for him. “Had to have you cleared by full medical team after a loss of consciousness. Sorry.”
“That’s alright. Should be thanking you and all. And the team?” Harry sat up a little.
“Everything’s been cleared up on site and the three musketeers are getting stuck into the paperwork.” Draco happily reported. “All potions seized were disposed of and everything.”
“What are you doing here then? Go home Draco get some rest!” Harry waved him away, noticing the strange way in which Malfoy went rigid all over very suddenly as if he didn’t know what to do.
“Are you alright Malfoy?” He asks.
“Yes. Quite fine thank you.” Draco murmured, straightening out his the front of his robes before sauntering out.

“Cafeteria food is the worst kind of food.” Masters sighs.
“Thank god I don’t have to eat that tripe!” Penelope curdles in disgust. Dropping her homemade lunch ceremoniously to the table.
“It’s fine and you know it!” Harry laughs spooning another mouthful of food into his mouth savagely.
“Lovely.” Malfoy approaches, sitting opposite Harry next to Penelope. “Excellent display of tonsils you’ve got there, really.”
Harry has zero time to be embarrassed before Glen interrupts the conversation, “Pray tell Malfoy, why you have such an avid interest in our young Harry’s tonsils?”
Penelope whoops at the implication loud enough to get Dean to laugh throatily beside him.
Harry is too busy hiding his face to notice Draco blush ever so lightly.

“If I had a galleon for every illegal potions ring we had to raid on I could probably fund an illegal potions ring!” Master’s sighs dramatically with his hands.
“Ah but that kind of defeats the point.” Harry disapparates side along with him down to processing.
“Not really. In fact it’s almost logical to take out all the competition first. Really, it’s just smart business!” He prods his two as Harry leads with his two, they grunt as they shuffle forward. Draco pops into place not twenty seconds later with his two and Penelope with hers. It was a sizeable bust.
“Dean’s just collecting data and evidence to be sent down to the Unspeakables.” Penelope explains, “They seem remarkably interested in this case.”
“Of course they are. Anything groundbreaking in the science of potioneering is sure to tickle their toes.” Draco sighs to nobody in particular.
It’s two hours later and they’ve all been through processing those guilty sent to holding. It’s late and they’ve worked well past into overtime.
“Drinks?” Dean asks weary at his desk, blank forms sitting at his desk.
“Yeah. I can’t be arsed writing these up tonight.” Penelope agrees. “Besides, we need to celebrate.”
“Celebrate what?” Draco asks over his paperwork, his gold rimmed reading glasses sitting elegantly at the end of his nose, distracting Harry.
“Harry finally made it through a whole investigation without needing repairs!” She cries, “Didn’t even need a band-aid!”
“That can’t be right!” Harry sounds skeptical. “Are you sure?”
“Most definitely.” Draco stares at him from across the room and even in a room full of his peers Harry feels hot under his gaze.
“That’s impossible. You’d be in a lot better mood if you hadn’t gotten your kit off.” Harry laughs.
Draco’s eyes widen in alarm, Penelope giggles before he realizes his mistake. “Out! If you hadn’t had to have taken you kit out. Your med kit!”
“Fuck.” Harry whispers to himself as his co-workers erupt into laughter. They all agree to drinks. Draco is last to leave, following close behind him as they make way for the pub.

“Potter!” Draco storms up to Harry the following Monday, he seems all business and seemingly recovered from their drunken shenanigans the previous Friday.
“Fly with me.” Draco demands.
“What?” Harry asked confused, usually better at listening than this.
“Fly with me, this weekend. Brooms. Quidditch maybe. Seekers games something like that. It’s been ages since I’ve flown and who better to play against than the youngest Seeker in a decade or whatever that tripe was.” Draco shifts uneasily on his feet, almost as if he’s excited but he doesn’t look like it. In fact Draco looks as if he’d rather be anywhere else, like social interaction frightens him however untrue Harry knows that to be.
“Um yeah okay?” Harry brightens, “When and where. BYOB?”
“What?” Draco’s small smile is lost.
“Bring. Your. Own. Broom.” Harry clarifies smirking. Harry decides denial be damned Draco looks endearingly soft flustered the way he is and walks back to their response room with a smile plastered across his face. Harry Potter fancies Draco Malfoy.

“Tactical Response Team A will be taking point from the south side entrance, teams B and C will be flanking their rear. Teams D and E will be on standby at the northern entrance in case they escape on foot, are we clear?” Robards is bellowing with the use of a Sonorus. “I want everybody good to go on my count, are we clear?”
“Aye Sir!” The room roars back in unison and they stand in formation, ready to apparate, wands drawn.
Harry is nervous for the first time in so long on the job. The man power behind this far exceeds what they’re used to and instead of working together in their own way they’re all on the ground today. He worries for Penelope, Dean and Draco.
“Ready? Move out!” Robards calls and they all apparate as one, gripping onto each others shoulders in circular formation.
Harry feels the squeeze of apparition and the dizziness clear, he takes a moment to ground himself and take in his surroundings before Draco’s hand drops down from behind him. He let’s go of Masters.
The proceed down the embankment in circular formation, Harry and Masters are in front, Draco and Penelope behind, Dean bringing up the rear. The other tacticals move in the same way around them he knows but Harry doesn’t have the luxury to notice much else.
The abandoned building ahead of them looks like it may have been a garrison of sorts or maybe even a castle, fitted moat and all. The three teams wait for Robards in Team A to give the signal, all waiting with small disillusionment charms placed upon themselves.
A man on the inside let’s the moat down, going agonizingly slow it isn’t until it has dropped all the way down with a heavy thud that Robards gives the signal and the storm the place. Rushing forward in sequence Teams A through to C, one team at a time cross over the drawbridge.
“B left, C right!” Robards commands hoarsely and from there the chaos begins.
The man on the inside is dead by the time they make it up to the top floor.
“Definitely dead Potter, Killing Curse.” Draco announces, sitting in a crouch with his fingers to the man’s pulse points. Checking him over, running diagnostics spells and checking his pupils.
Harry send his patronus in a hurry to signal Robards and is met with wand fire as they try to move the body. “Heads up!”
Penelope throws a shield in time to block one from both her and Draco, who is quick to his feet once more.
They assault the three men together before Harry disarms the first, Masters stuns the second and Draco fires spell after spell until he’s close enough to simply clock him in the face.
“Nice,” Harry blurts out before throwing a body bind on the three of them. Penelope puts a magical signature beacon to alert back up of the dead informant and the proceed to clear room after room.
“FUCK!” A man cries as the thunder through a larger door, they’re on a roll now, firing spell in succession, stuns and curses absorbed through Dean’s shield now as Penelope breaks down the hexes before they even land.
“Remind me to never fuck with you, Ashflower!” Harry yells over the noise, body braces behind a door frame.
She smiles in a way that reminds him so much of Tonks in that moment that he can’t remember how to breath as she pushes off from the wall and throws herself into the line of fire. He can’t hear noise, he just hears the magic and the pounding of his own heart, Master’s proceeds behind her, sliding down onto his knees throwing up a shield. Draco follows after them and back’s Penelope’s offensive spells by deflecting them, throwing stunners around the room. A body falls. Dean nods at Harry and they both push into the room, not even a minute later and they’re body binding that lot too.
Sound creeps into his register again and the adrenaline pumps through his body. Harry is sweating profusely but he doesn’t care, the thrill from the endorphins is enough that he doesn’t care one bit. They make their way to the rendezvous point to meet up with team C, ready to take the basement level.
A scream of agonizing pain hurries them, they launch themselves down the basement stair and throw themselves into the noise, as Team A still combats against enemy forces.
They fall into combat positions, applying shield reinforcements, Penelope rushes over to her counterpart in team A and C, who must have made it down here first. The three of them break curses as they fly through the air, dispersing in colour before they even have a chance to eat at their shields.
Harry grips Draco’s wrist and steps in from of him, protecting him bodily by instinct, throwing stunning spells straight for their enemies. He throws explosive spells overhead to overwhelm them and tries to knock them over with everything else he has tucked up his sleeve.
He feels Draco’s presence behind him and it makes him fight harder, stronger, he doesn’t flinch as he feels a stinging hex hit the side of his neck, hoping only that it hit him more than it ever had any chance to his Draco.
He knocks another man out on his arse before he hears it, the words that echo some of his more recent nightmares. He tracks the caster and watches as the wand trained on him shoots off the Sectumsempra curse.
He falls backward throwing Draco behind him bodily to the floor, crying out as the feeling of many cuts slashed at his torso. He was bleeding he knew, he’d seen it all before.
“Harry!” Dean rushed to cover them with a shield. “Malfoy! Do something!”
Draco cradled Harry’s head in his lap, tears streaked down his face easily as he took up his wand and went about trying to heal him. “Vulnera Sanentur..” He whispered in a sing song voice inches away from Harry’s face.
Harry could feel his blood coursing out of him but he felt the closer burn of Draco’s magic healing him, stitching him together, the smell of sulfur burning his nostrils.
As Harry slowly drifted away all he could concentrate on was the pained look in Draco’s expression and the way he was clutching onto him with his free hand so tightly it hurt.

“That was beyond reckless!” Robards was yelling at someone.
“Yes but if team C and B didn’t aid us we would have lost all of those in team A. Our informant, who is now dead thank you very much was misinformed. I for one am quite glad not to have died!” Robards was yelling into the fireplace.
“I am aware of the costs Kingsley!” Ah, so that’s who he was yelling with. “Look, I have six in St.Mungo’s and some pretty distraught Auror’s in the waiting room. I need to get back to them thank you.”
“Minister.” Robards conceded before removing his head from the flames. “Oh! Team B! What can I do for you? Just a heads up, I haven’t heard from St.Mungo’s yet.”
Draco still felt sick.
“We couldn’t identify the curse that hit Harry.” Penelope began, the boys all silent.
“Potter?” Robards shifted in his chair. “I don’t understand, I thought he was better off than the other’s. Didn’t Malfoy heal most of his injuries on site?”
“That’s the point I’m trying to make Head Auror.” Penelope spat with undisguised emotion. “The Curse-breakers on site couldn’t stop the curse before it hit but Malfoy was able to heal it.”
“Surely you aren’t implying…” Robards let the sentence run out.
Masters looked around dismissively, Thomas was eerily quiet. Penelope cleared her voice, Draco, whom had taken to sitting down was wrecked, still covered in Harry’s blood eyes red rimmed and bloodshot. “No. We’re not implying anything. Draco!” She called to him with understanding softness, catching his attention. “Tell him what you know.”
Draco sat straighter, smoothed out his robes and coughed a little. “I uh, we. Sorry. I mean to say that the reason why I knew the counter curse is because I was once hit by the same curse. The only people I am aware who even knew that curse were myself, Potter himself and pr- er, the creator of said curse, who is now unfortunately dead. What I’m saying however is that I think there is a connection between this spell and the potions.”
Robards waiting patiently with a face of stone for Draco to finish.
“It was their base of operations, we found many of their cauldron’s at the ready. We’ve been raiding potion rackets all year and this was supposed to be the end of it. The thing is, it was Snape.”
“Snape?” Robards repeated sitting forward.
“Snape created the curse that hit Harry. That hit me years ago. I just think it’s too much of a coincidence that these potions rings are hitting the market with all these new and untested potion’s and using Snape’s signature curse. He was a potions master for fuck sake.”
“What is your informed opinion then? Severus Snape is dead!” Robard didn’t believe him, he knew that, he could tell by the way he looked down at him.
“I’m not sure. The only other person who may have insight is laid up in St.Mungo’s right now!” Draco barked back savagely and immediately regretted it, reminding himself of his father for a moment there.
Robards sneer faded, the whole team seemed to let out a breath.
“He’ll be okay, surely.” Robards managed finally, a hand splayed down upon his desk.
“Yes.” Draco murmured, averting his gaze back down to his hands in his lap, still covered in Harry’s blood. Penelope reached over quietly drawing small circles soothingly across his shoulders.
Harry had been covered in blood, puddles of it seeping into Draco’s trousers. He had never seem Potter fade so fast, he was almost too stunned to take action. He knew just how much it hurt, he had been in that very same amount of agony. He watched as Harry’s eye unfocused, how his body shook suddenly chilled without his blood inside him. He poured everything into closing Harry’s wounds, everything…
A small black owl swooped down from the window, landing on the perch affixed to Robards desk. Robards untied it quickly, petting it without thought as he read the missive.
“He’s awake.”

Harry Potter woke up screaming.
It wasn’t the pain, it wasn’t the injury, it wasn’t even the nightmares. It was all of it. He woke up in St.Mungo’s and the shock of it all hit him harder than a bludger.
Mediwitches came bursting through his doors as well as his Healer and he began spouting nonsense. Asking for the mission reports, wanting to know how everyone was.
“Six down including yourself Mr.Potter, most in critical condition.” Healer Fir explained, “Word has been sent to the department now. We’ll have your people here. In the meantime you’re loved ones are waiting for you outside. Would it help if I let them in?”
Harry nodded and waited as Ron and Hermione rushed him, worried faces slipping as soon as they saw him sitting upright and well. Hermione threw her arms up to wrap him up in a hug but stopped short, looking down at his bare chest.
“They said it was blood lost, I didn’t think to ask what the cause was.” Hermione murmured.
Harry looked down at his chest, littered with scars and then everything came rushing back to him. The spell, the blood, Draco looking down at him with such fear.
Harry gasped, “Malfoy wasn’t with you was he?”
“No Harry, but wh-” Hermione began.
“He can’t come in!”
“Mate, what’s wrong?” Ron asked quizzically, “I’m sure Malfoy’s used to patching up your scars by now!”
“No Ron, please! My team will arrive shortly, you got to stop them from letting Draco in, tell them I don’t want him in here.” Harry sat up further, from the bed, looking like he might jump up out of his bed.
“Alright Harry. We’ll tell the staff, he won’t come in. We promise,” Hermione reassured him, worry plastered across his face.

Harry settling back into work a week later, paperwork. His team running smaller ops without him whilst he caught up to speed on everything.
He hadn’t spoken to Draco since the night of the raid. They’d missed out on their fly together and Draco was frosty, couldn’t quite look him in the eye.
“Knock knock.” Hermione sang from the door, knocking at the door frame. “Mind if I come in?”
“Screw that, let’s go out for lunch. I’ll shout.” Harry rose from his chair before Hermione had a chance to deny him, they left using the atrium floo’s and ate in Diagon Alley. By the time Harry had got back his team still wasn’t in.
Looking around the room there was evidence of it. Dean’s robes slung over his desk chair. Penelope’s lunch removed from stasis. They were probably eating in the cafeteria.
“Draco!” Harry cried involuntarily as Draco swaggered in, flipping through paperwork as he did.
Malfoy didn’t register him, didn’t acknowledge him in any way and it was starting to grate on Harry’s nerves.
“How did the mission go?” He opted for instead, trying to calm himself.
“Good. Successful. No injuries, probably could have done without me really.” Malfoy still wouldn’t look at him.
“Of course, what without me there to barrel head first into danger,” Harry tried to joke but Malfoy didn’t even engage. He was ignoring him, he had to be. “Malfoy. I said-”
“I know what you said!” Malfoy snapped at him, his face filled with venom. Harry had been waiting for his attention all week and now he had it he didn’t want it anymore, not like that at least.
“Look. I don’t know what’s crawled up your arse-”
“Shut up Potter!” Malfoy interrupted him, placing his paperwork down on his desk.
“No you know what, I don’t think I will.” Harry decided, approaching him with a creeping sense of nostalgia washing over him. “You’ve been icing me out since I got back and I want to know why!”
“I’ve been icing you out?” Draco snarled, placing a hand upon his chest accusingly. “I did nothing that you didn’t already do, okay. So just leave off Potter. Go down to third and bother everyone there!”
“No! You listen to me!” Harry grabbed onto him at the only available place he could, snatching a bit of his collar. “Talk to me damn it. We’re colleges, fuck! I even thought we were friends!”
“FRIENDS! HA!” Draco snapped viciously, “Right, of course! The next time you save my life Potter, I’ll keep note of that!”
“What?” Harry gripped onto him tighter, causing Draco to stumble into his own desk.
“You turned me away Potter,” Draco grunted. “I saved your life and you pushed me away. I thought I’d did something wrong, that I’d screwed the spell up or something.” Draco whimpered, “Did you know they all thought I had a hand in it when I told them what spell it was?”
Harry shook as he exhaled, trying to control his breath but failing, “What?” He stepped closer to Draco.
“Penny couldn’t figure out what the spell was, no one could but me. I had healed you with the counter-curse. I-…” Draco reduced himself to whispers by the next step Harry took.
“I’m sorry.” Harry was a few inches from Draco now, he could read him so clearly from here. He couldn’t hide it anymore. He swallowed thickly, “I didn’t want you to see the scars.”
“The scars?”
Harry let hand relax against Draco’s collar, let it drag across the nape of his neck. With two fingers he undid the first button there, the second button popped out of its own free will as Harry slipped his calloused hand inside the shirt there. Draco shivered visibly at Harry’s touch.
Harry relaxed a little, the reaction promising. He slid his hand down across bare skin until he found the smooth tip of Draco’s scars. “I did this to you.”
Draco flinched at the words and Harry felt his insides tumble. “No.” He whispered.
Harry tore at Draco’s shirt until his chest was completely bare, a criss crossing of scar marring his flesh. “I did this to you and I know how it feels now Draco. I did this to you without thought. I’d been aching to try out this new incantation without knowing what I did. Look at my thoughtlessness. I-” He began, fingers tracing up and down over each one. “I didn’t want you to see my scars and have you think I thought any less of yours.”
“Harry,” Draco sighed wondrously.
“I never did apologize,” Harry admitted, selfishly roaming both hands now across Draco’s chest.
He felt desire course through him like fire, not just for Draco’s body but for his closeness, the shared intimacy from someone he felt so drawn to for so long in so many ways.
It was his lips that brought his crushing relief, like a cooling touch to his burning inferno, reaching him with a soft press and slowly ebbing movements, urging him into Draco’s embrace. Draco kissed him and Harry melted like sand.
Draco kissed him again until he couldn’t breath. He sat back against his desk and pulled Harry by the shirt before ripping it open. “We match.” Draco growled off-handedly and Harry moaned at the action. Draco didn’t take his time to touch Harry’s scars of which were still and angry red, he pulled Harry closer to him until their chests pressed together, till their scars met, till all Harry could feel was Draco’s heat.
Harry’s burgeoning erection was practically climbing into Draco’s lap as Draco started feverishly lapping at Harry’s mouth.
“Go flying with me? This weekend?” Draco whimpered between assaults.
“Yes, anything, yes.”
Draco moaned in relief, “It’s a date then.”
“It always was a date wasn’t it?” Harry murmured, moving up Draco’s jaw eliciting gasping shudders of pleasure from him.
“Yes!” He cried.
“Good.” Harry affirmed before taking Draco’s earlobe into his mouth and sucking on it. Draco’s eyes rolled back into his head and his neck arched. A smile tearing across his face.
“Fuck!” Draco groaned.
“You’ve no idea Potter.” He growled into Harry’s ear, arousing him further, causing Harry to rock his hips into him. “Oh!”
Harry rocked into him until his hardness adjusted, finding a pace in long sweeping strokes against the bulge in Draco’s pants.

A purposeful cough from the doorway halted them. Their hands and legs and aching hips frozen in place. “Um, it has come to my attention that this Potions Ring thing needs a fresh set of eyes.” Robards explained from the doorway, his poker face airtight. “So take the day off. The both of you.” He glanced down at their tattered shirts, “Get some rest and come back tomorrow with your eyes fresh. Alright?”
“Yes Head Auror.” Harry replied, Draco stunned into embarrassed quietness.
Robards nodded and left, rolling his eyes in amusement as he went.
“Sorry.” Harry apologized, flicking his wand over Draco’s shirt to repair it, doing the same of his own. “That may have gotten a bit out of hand.”
“Potter. You saved me.”
“What?” Harry blurted.
“You scarred me yes, but you saved me from the fiendfyre a year later.” Draco reasoned.
“You saved me from Bellatrix that same year!”
“Yes, but… you saved everyone! And you put a word in for me at the trials!” Draco argued.
“You patch me up nearly every mission we go on!” Harry exclaims on the verge of laughing.
“True.” Draco admits, “It’s my job though.”
“Yeah well it’s my job too, yet I go in harder than hell. Trying to deflect everything, hoping that I won’t… never mind.” Harry steps away, collecting his things from his desk.
“Hoping you won’t what?” Draco pushes, collecting his own things from his desk.
“Dean and you stay behind because you don’t have to go in. Penelope only goes in when there’s something really nasty in play. If I can take the brunt of it, you three won’t have to.” Harry stops in the doorway, leaving Draco speechless by his desk. “So what do you think?”
“Pardon me?” Draco smiles, however involuntarily.
“Yours or mine?” Harry smirks offering his hand like he did the first time Draco arrived at the London Headquarters, except when he takes it this time he folds his fingers in between Draco’s and guides him out the door.

The fact that so many books still name the Beatles “the greatest or most significant or most influential” rock band ever only tells you how far rock music still is from becoming a serious art. Jazz critics have long recognized that the greatest jazz musicians of all times are Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, who were not the most famous or richest or best sellers of their times, let alone of all times. Classical critics rank the highly controversial Beethoven over classical musicians who were highly popular in courts around Europe. Rock critics are still blinded by commercial success: the Beatles sold more than anyone else (not true, by the way), therefore they must have been the greatest. Jazz critics grow up listening to a lot of jazz music of the past, classical critics grow up listening to a lot of classical music of the past. Rock critics are often totally ignorant of the rock music of the past, they barely know the best sellers. No wonder they will think that the Beatles did anything worth of being saved.

The Beatles were the quintessence of instrumental mediocrity. George Harrison was a pathetic guitarist, compared with the London guitarists of those days (Townshend of the Who, Richards of the Rolling Stones, Davies of the Kinks, Clapton and Beck and Page of the Yardbirds, and many others who were less famous but no less original). The Beatles had completely missed the revolution of rock music (founded on a prominent use of the guitar) and were still trapped in the stereotypes of the easy-listening orchestras. Paul McCartney was a singer from the 1950s, who could not have possibly sounded more conventional. As a bassist, he was not worth the last of the rhythm and blues bassists (even though within the world of Merseybeat his style was indeed revolutionary). Ringo Starr played drums the way any kid of that time played it in his garage (even though he may ultimately be the only one of the four who had a bit of technical competence). Overall, the technique of the “fab four” was the same of many other easy-listening groups: sub-standard.

Theirs were records of traditional songs crafted as they had been crafted for centuries, yet they served an immense audience, far greater than the audience of those who wanted to change the world, the hippies and protesters. Their fans ignored or abhorred the many rockers of the time who were experimenting with the suite format, who were composing long free-form tracks, who were using dissonance, who were radically changing the concept of the musical piece. The Beatles’ fans thought, and some still think, that using trumpets in a rock song was a revolutionary event, that using background noises (although barely noticeable) was an even more revolutionary event, and that only great musical geniuses could vary so many styles in one album, precisely what many rock musicians were doing all over the world, employing much more sophisticated stylistic excursions.

While the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa, the Doors, Pink Floyd and many others were composing long and daring suites worthy of avant garde music, thus elevating rock music to art, the Beatles continued to yield three minute songs built around a chorus. Beatlemania and its myth notwithstanding, Beatles fans went crazy for twenty seconds of trumpet, while the Velvet Underground were composing suites of chaos twenty minutes long. Actually, between noise and a trumpet, between twenty seconds and twenty minutes, there was an artistic difference of several degrees of magnitude. They were, musically, sociologically, politically, artistically, and ideologically, on different planets.

Beatlemania created a comical temporal distortion. Many Beatles fans were convinced that rock and roll was born around the early 60s, that psychedelic rock and the hippies were a 1967 phenomenon, that student protests began in 1969, that peace marches erupted at the end of the 60s, and so on. Beatles fans believed that the Beatles were first in everything, while in reality they were last in almost everything. The case of the Beatles is a textbook example of how myths can distort history.

black swan rising (1/?)

so i decided to write another mini-au since the royal au was such fun. it’ll probably be about as long – four or five parts. fair warning, this one will be quite a bit darker in tone. thanks to gillie for the prompt.

The fragile winter sun falls in gilded stripes along the hardwood floor, among the forest of flashing legs, as a piano older than the Bolsheviks strikes out the notes that will on opening night be joined by the full thunder and majesty of the orchestra, the haunting strains of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s classic score. The red velvet curtain will rise on the hallowed stage, and the dancers will float like exquisite visions in white tulle and pink satin, one true corps de ballet. The swans will fly beneath the moon. Princess Odette will fall in love with Prince Siegfried, and the cruel sorcerer Rothbart will try to tear them apart. The Black Swan shall appear at the royal ball and perform, precisely, her thirty-two fouettes. Roses shall be thrown, admiring editorials written, and within the Bolshoi there shall be general pride and success: another season, another Swan Lake, all exactly as it should be.

Opening night is very far away. The dancers are in black leotards and warmup leggings, their pointe shoes leaving smears of fresh rosin on the floor. The practice room, as Moscow tends to be in January, is cold as hell frozen over, though it slowly warms as the heating system grinds into action. The grit of the early morning strains in their legs, even though they have spent half their lives at this. Yet under the eye of their new ballet master, nobody wishes to show weakness.

One-two-three, one-two-three. Emma does not look back, does not look down, does not betray any awareness at all that he might be watching her – though doubtless he is, she being his new principal dancer, his Odette and hence also his Odile, and this will be their first performance together. All of the ballet world will be watching very keenly indeed. Killian Jones is a former male soloist at the London Royal Ballet, career ended early by a traumatic onstage injury, and is the first non-Russian to direct the company in its three-century history – especially taking over from such a legend as Goldovich, the pressure is intense. But that is how the Bolshoi does things. They are known for being bold and subversive and daring, the antithesis of the stolidly traditional Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg, and after the laundry list of accusations of corruption, bribery, and sexual tithes – that the ballerinas are loaned out as essentially unpaid escorts to Russian oligarchs, telecom czars and oil tycoons and former high-level KGB members, while being expected to pay handsomely for the chance to even sniff leading roles – the venerated theatre has decided that it has come time to clean house. In theory, Killian Jones possesses considerable power to control the day-to-day operations of the company, and to protect his dancers from anything untoward. No one is sure, however, how much stock to put in this.

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A Game of Give and Take (Hawkeye Squared AOU Fix-It)

Summary: When Nathaniel Pietro is born, Clint and Kate receive a call from the current Hawkeye requesting them to come visit their grandson. 

Notes: All countlessuntruths‘ fault. Contains reference to canonical sexual assault, and random cameos from the Young Avengers who do not owe their existence to Wanda Maximoff. If you don’t know that the title comes from “Can’t Hurry Love,” you break my heart. 


2015, Brooklyn

The rain wakes him up.

He has a memory, increasingly distant, of what rain used to actually sound like. He remembers Iowa thunderstorms and the way the claps used to frighten him, until Barney took it upon himself to take Clint out to collect frogs in the middle of a thunderstorm.

“If you’re looking for frogs, you’ll forget about the storm,” Barney had said, and he’d been right, because hunched over the pond, two miles away from their house, all Clint had wanted to focus on was catching the frog before his brother did. There, at that pond, Clint was able to first ignore, and then relish, the roll of the thunder that was much more quiet than the roar at home.

But it’s been almost fifteen years since Barney’s death, and even longer since Clint’s been able to hear a storm announce its presence.

The rain still wakes him up, though.

It wakes him because their bedroom window is open. They both chill too easily these days for the damn air conditioner, but it’s too hot in early June to go without a little air at night.

(Too hot for him; Katie still sleeps with four blankets pulled around her, the top layer having been a gift from Ellie’s oldest daughter two Christmases ago.)

The smell of the rain hitting the rooftop garden that Simone still supervises on her more mobile days is what wakes him up. Once you’ve lived in Iowa and gone frog hunting, there are some terrible things you can’t shake, like the smell of wet dirt.

As terrible as wet dirt does smell - and the new fru fru organic shit the neighborhood garden is using smells even worse - it lets him wake up a fraction before Katie does.

The arthritis has to make it agonizing to sleep facing him - that busted knee from ‘91 hates the rain more than Clint’s busted hip hates the cold. But she’s curled up to face him, close enough to kiss, and he takes a moment to count the liver spots that have taken over for the freckles that used to be so noticeable when they were this close.

He’s still lying there, watching her breathe and thinking if the rain is going to interfere with their previous plans to stop by Barney’s grave before their regularly scheduled (more or less) Sunday catch-ups with the Alleyne-Altman brood when Katie wakes up. She looks exasperated when she wakes up, and that is Clint’s first clue that the phone is ringing.

It’s the cellphone she keeps by the bed, not the house phone that Clint will always insist on having, and she’s disconnecting the call by the time that Clint’s tired bones have allowed him to reach over and put his hearing aides in.

“Well, she finally had baby number three,” Katie tells him when he turns to her expectantly. “One too many if you ask me, but it’s not my uterus, I suppose.”

“Great. When are they coming to visit?” He means it. There’s literally no reason for the grandparents to travel half-way across the country, when the young and sprightly could do it just as well.

But Katie fixes him with a look. “I’ll book us a ticket,” she tells him. “You start packing.”

“I’m too old to have to go to Iowa, Katie,” he whines, a little petulantly, because if anything deserves it, it’s Iowa.

“We are going to visit our son’s son,” Kate informs him.

“Why? It’s not like it’s his first son. They already had one.”

“Because we flew to London last September, when Ellie had her fourth daughter,” Kate answers. “You’re just going to have to deal with it, Old Man.”

“Fine. What did they name him, anyway?”

“Nathaniel Pietro.”

“That’s the worst fucking name I’ve ever heard,” Clint complains. “The kid has been complaining about being named Clinton Francis Jr. for more than 40 years now, and he goes and names his son that?”

“I believe Laura had something to do with it, too,” Katie tells him.

Clint just sighs and goes to feed the dog who gives the kind of groan that can approximately be translated into “Ugh, Iowa.”

Dogs are great like that.


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Troye Sivan Seattle LIVE Show Review

Review by Josh A. // Tweet @mrjoshuahh // Instagram @mrjoshuahh

In the space of two days @troyesivan​ went from announcing his full length album, ‘Blue Neighbourhood’, live on iTunes Beats 1 Radio, to performing his first live show ever at the Neumos in Seattle.

Seattle is a city renowned for its music scene. It’s the birthplace of legends like Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, and has a constant stream of new, interesting, up and coming artists flowing through its venues. As Troye has not performed for some time, it makes sense to pick a smaller city to have your first show in, to iron out the bugs of the performance.

The Neumos is a small venue in the liberal, arty and gay district of Seattle called Capitol Hill. I went by the area for lunch and there were people queuing from 1pm wearing WILD and TRXYE sweaters doing calculus homework! I arrived at around 6pm and that queue was now around the block. That pretty much sums up the dedication of Troye’s fanbase, something I’ll touch on later.

Doors opened at 7pm and DJ100PROOF kicked things off at 8pm. If you’re familiar with the YouTube music channels Majestic Casual and The Sound You Need, both playing an eclectic mix of lounge remixes, house, hip hop and downtempo beats, then you would pretty much recognise all the track played. It set a good tone for the show ahead and finished around 8:45 leaving just 15 mins to pack up the DJ equipment and set the stage for Troye.

The stage was small, and the setup simple. One very talented drummer on a standard kit with extra electronic pads to achieve Troye’s electropop sound. Another guy on keys, fills and backing vocals, this guy also cued the tracks on two laptops. The stage was adorned with 3 lit up outlines of blue houses. This embarrassingly for me took me until the last 2 songs to realise the Blue Neighbourhood connection. Very smart Troye.

So on to the show. SPOILER ALERT - Please don’t read further if you’re not interested in the show’s set list or song details.

Troye walked on stage dressed in skinny blue jeans, black shiny platform boots and a black printed Adidas sweater with Japanese characters. After a chorus of screams Troye opened immediately with ‘Bite’ featured on his WILD EP.

Bite is an upbeat but edgy song, filled with heavy bass and off beat fills that pay tribute to the song’s meaning of feeling discomfort. Despite his self admitted nervousness he immediately took control of the stage and crowd. Troye danced around on stage looking confident and comfortable. You can tell that he loves his music which is a really endearing thing to see.

He went straight into another WILD EP track ‘Fools’. Troye’s voice is ridiculously on point, so much so that I couldn’t tell whether it was the studio version. Bravo!

As with Bite and Fools, the crowd sang along to every word, so when new song ‘Cool’ got introduced it was nice to hear him and his band without the added background noise. Of all the new songs Troye played ‘Cool’ has to be my favourite. The live version sounded incredible, with 80s synths and a Phoenix/The 1975 feel to it. I can’t wait to hear the studio version of this with its catchy chorus! 

Moving on, Troye played ‘DKLA’, with Tkay’s rap laid on the backing track. This was followed by Ease which was a huge crowd pleaser. At this point whatever fear or nervousness Troye may have had, he had certainly overcome it. Between songs he would thank the crowd and marvel in disbelief at where he was and where he began.

His next two songs were tracks from his new album. The first, ‘Talk Me Down’, is part of Troye’s ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ music video trilogy where Troye bravely and truthfully shares his sexuality and experiences, including the struggles and pains, in his three part video. Of the whole show this track is the most downbeat - from the previews of the music video depicting a death/possible suicide it makes sense.

‘Suburbia’, another new Blue Neighbourhood album track, followed a similar tempo, with the lyrics relating to the Blue Neighbourhood theme of idillic suburban, middle class life. This nicely set the stage for ‘WILD’ the title track of his recently released EP.

‘WILD’ is ridiculously catchy. It has recently made it onto BBC Radio 1’s Playlist; a feat on its own! As the first note chimed in the crowd literally went nuts. Troye claimed in a recent interview of all the songs he performs in his show, WILD is his favourite. It’s easy to see why. He bounced around the stage gleaming and smiling to his audience who jumped around with him. At the end of the song he thanked the crowd and left the stage with his drummer and keyboard player for the inevitable encore walk off.

Chanting ensued, with more screaming and shouting. The drummer, this time with an acoustic guitar returned to the stage with Troye and the keyboard player. They played beautiful stripped back version of ‘Happy Little Pill’, a track from Troye’s early TRXYE EP which the crowd sang along to with glee.

Troye’s final song was ‘Youth’ another very upbeat new track, which features a very catchy vocal loop. A great song to end on.

To summarise:
Troye’s first performance really could not have gone better. There were no technical cock-ups, there were no awkward interactions with the crowd, it really was perfect. His voice was impressive and powerful. The length of the show was around 40-45 mins, in other words short but sweet. His band is talented; you could tell that whatever practice had gone into the show paid off as the performance was tight. Troye’s stage presence was good, he worked the stage and crowd from the minute he came on when he left. One observation was that he often looked down when he sang which could be put down to many things. Regardless this will only get better as he does more shows.

One of my favourite and most humbling moments of the show was when Troye announced his mum was front and centre of the stage amongst the crowd. She was Facetiming someone back home for the duration of the show, my guess is family. This felt very fitting as you really get a sense of family, and the support of his family running through the narratives of his music, show and in the room itself. His fans are like extended family, each connected to Troye through a series videos, social interactions and moments shared in their homes around the world. What makes Troye different from a normal musician is that there is a very tangible preexisting connection between him and his audience that makes a very successful career for him inevitable.

A big congratulations to Troye on his success so far, and I look forward to seeing his performance in London in November

Set List as follows:

Talk Me Down

Happy Little Pill (Acoustic)