to my everlasting shame

A Pile of Empty Brass

Author’s Note: This is the first time I’ve felt like I have a story worth writing in a long, long time. I wanted to thank everyone who has made such kind comments on my writing in recent weeks. All of the stories that you’ve seen on my tumblr are at a minimum a year old. You’ve reminded me why I enjoy writing, and I can only express my deepest gratitude to you all. Thank you.

It was not the human warriors that convinced us of their worthiness.

It was not their works of engineering.

It was not their music, it was not their cuisine, it was not their weapons of war, it was not their policies of peace, it was none of these things for how can we measure a species by these things?

A species may fight with ferocity and valor on the field, and scorn their poor. 

A species may build great works, and flee before a fight.

A species may sing beautifully, and use that song to pervert the truth.

It is no measure of a species how they treat their poor if they treat those who are not of their species as worse than dirt. 

No, no it was none of these things that convinced us of humanity’s greatness. 

It was their spirit. It was their resilience, their willingness to take a just cause to the bitter end and to watch their towers crumble and their skies burn before they would sacrifice what they considered sacrosanct. 

It was as their great fleets were smashed before the oncoming tide of terror and their armies massacred from the skies, for though we might not judge their race by their martial prowess it was a prowess they had in abundance. And the terror that came from the great void between the stars could not stand before the fury of a human army, and so rained fire on them from the skies. 

It was as disaster after disaster befell them, and a single demand was broadcast again, and again, and again. 

Surrender. Bend the knee. Permit the terror to stand tall. Let them break you beneath their whips.

Surrender your freedom, and be spared.

And so it was that a human diplomat came to us, the Concordat, the council of spacewalking species, and to my everlasting shame we counseled surrender. Many of us had. It was not wrong to bend the knee to the strongest, we argued. 

Humanity, it seemed, disagreed. 

“Honored Speaker of the Concordat, my fellow members.” He began, slowly, and I heard something in his voice I could not place then but I know now to be the joy humanity can only feel when they have dedicated themselves to a cause they know deep in their hearts to be so just, so pure as to be worth the deaths of everyone they knew or loved. It was the voice of a man who saw his death on the horizon and resolved to greet it with his head held high and a song on his lips.

“Caution, you have counseled us. It is wisdom you say, to bend the knee to that terror from beyond the void, to let them have our homes and our families to do with as we please. For you say there is no shame to live as slaves. No dishonor in surrender to an evil, so long as we live.” 

There was an unspeakable quality to his voice, a deep tenor that echoed throughout the chamber for those of us with the ability to hear it. 

“My fellow members of the Concordat you call your policy accommodation and say if we surrender, if we let the enemy into our homes and our hearts he will come to love us. 

“Humanity has considered this proposal, and as one we have spoken. As one we have rejected it, for we are not a people who will go quietly into the night we are not a people which will let our children grow up with the yoke of slavery around their necks without a fight. 

“We are all retreating under the pressure of this war and so you say that the time has come to surrender because you have heard from your own people pleas for peace at any price. You have heard those that say they would rather live on their knees than die on their feet.

“Honored members of the Concordat those voices may speak for your own people but they do not speak for us. There are things in this life worth bleeding for, worth killing for, worth dying for and the sweet air of freedom is such a thing. We will not surrender. This has been our position from the very beginning, and it has not changed.

“There is no price we will not pay to maintain our freedom, for as we die it is the only thing we have. One day, we all know, that one day we will go to meet our creator or the void. One day we will go into that darkness, and we will be judged, of this I have no doubt. I, my father, my mother, my son, my daughter, my people, my people will go into the void and we will hold our heads high. Our children will enter the void. Our children’s children will enter the void. This we all know.

“So the question before us is not ‘will our children live’ for our children will die. This is our burden to bear. The question that lies before us is how will they live. How can we look our children in the eyes and say ‘we did this for you’ as they are broken beneath the heel of a tyrant. 

“So members of the Concordant, we will set our children to flee. We will send them and our parents and those we can spare far, far away. We will send them further than the terror can follow and they will grow up free.

“And we, we who can? We will fight. We will fight in the space above our colonies, we will fight in the atmosphere of our homes and we will fight on the landing grounds of the terror. We will fight, and fight, and fight until the terror no longer comes, or the last of us has fallen.

“And we will pray to whatever God we believe in. We will pray to be made fast and accurate. We will pray for true aim and quick hands and minds. And we will not pray for victory, for we will not leave victory up to the fickle hands of fate. We will take victory, and our victory will be the free lives of our children. 

“We will not pray for victory. Our victory is assured. So members of the Concordat, we do not ask for your prayers for our victory. We ask that you pray for us to die in piles of empty brass.

“We will die on our feet so that our children will never know the agony of living on their knees.”

A Hundred Lesser Faces: (Four)

Notes from Mod Bonnie

  • This story stems from the premise: what if Voyager!Claire had gone first to Lallybroch instead of directly to the print shop in Edinburgh?

[Jenny] 

“Jen, love?”

I started and jumped from the pillow in the dark, my whole body seizing and splintering wi’ panic—

But it was only Ian, of course, half-asleep at my back. He pulled me closer against him and kissed my shoulder.  “Yr—tossin’ and turnin’ about like—S’matter?”

“Nothin’…Nothin’, only somethin’ I ate,” I whispered, tryin’ to catch my breath.

“Get—ye somethin’?” 

“Nay, lad, I’ll—I’ll do,” I panted, my blood racing and pounding. “Go b—back to sleep, mo ghriadh.” I pulled back the quilts and made to sit up. “I’ll—go take a turn— settle meself.” Nearly midnight, it must be. 

Ian groped clumsily for me and caught my hand. “Lov’ye…”

Tears prickled in my eyes, sharp and hot against the air of the night. God, the tenderness of him—the sweetness and care and love this good man lavished upon me, always

“D’ye think me a good person, Ian?” I whispered into the dark between us. 

Mm?”

My throat felt sore, the words as raw and frail and desperate as my pathetic heart. “Am I truly good? Or have I only been good at pretendin’ to be…while I’m no more than the verra worst kind of filth?”

The question rang out into the silence; unanswered. He’d have reassured me, had he actually heard, had the soft, familiar whiffle of his snorin’ not already resumed. It was as well not to be coddled wi’ comforting lies. I kent the truth well enough. 

Oh, but how I ached to wake him, to tell him at least of Claire and the evil that I’d done; to let him hold me tight and safe while I wept into his chest; let the comfort of him surround me, soothe me, as he convinced me wi’ gentle kisses and soft words that all would be well, that he’d carry the burden wi’ me—that I wouldna be alone, ever.  

Alone like Jamie. 

Alone like Claire.

This was my penance: this coldness—this regret—this utter, writhing, blistering shame. I’d taken away any chance for their happiness, so for the rest of my life, I had to bear it; to atone, myself, however I might. Emptiness, carried alone: a fitting punishment for my crime. 

I kissed Ian’s brow, slipped out of bed, found my shawl, and made my way down the stairs toward the study. I reeled a bit on the treads, my head achin’ and spinnin’, and small bloody wonder, for I’d drunk heavily all the evenin’. 

At first, it were only that I was preparin’ myself for the task at hand, hopin’ the drink would brace me, give me courage for when I found the right moment to face Jamie. Every time I looked at him, though, the gentle hunger in his eyes that lit over bein’ wi’ family; the smile on his face as he played with the wee bairns, as he joyed in the balm of home—of love—God, my coward’s heart had bucked and fled, at every opportunity. 

And by the time I might have finally confronted things, the drink had taken hold, bringing my fears to bear, and I’d staggered up to my bed long before anyone else, and dreamt of screams of pain—and sorrow—and—

Now, I was surprised and relieved to find as I reached the bottom of the stairs that I was hardened, a wall of conviction slowly rising up around me, protectin’ me. Jamie need not know; Jamie must not be told. It was too late, after all; Claire was too far gone. I’d done wrong, to my everlasting shame. I’d committed a terrible, cruel evil against them both. But what good would it do to torture him wi’ that knowledge, now? When he had no chance of findin’ her? None. T’would be only agony to him, that wisp of hope, now vanished by my hand. 

No. He couldna ever be told. It was the kindest thing I could do, now, to keep the secret from hurting him further. 

All that remained was for me to find a way to live wi’ myself—drink and distraction; and there was always a good decanter of whisky in the study along wi’ the books. I pushed through the study door and was no more than two steps in before I collided wi’ something solid and—

JESUS!”

“WHAT IN—?”

My candle was somersaulting through the air and onto the good rug, and just as suddenly, quick fingers snatched it up again before it could catch.

“I’m so sorry, Jen,” Jamie was sayin’, settin’ the candlestick on the table next to one of his own before turnin’ back to grin at me, all sheepish in only his shirt. “I couldna sleep and came down for a dram and was looking at the books just there by the door, and—” He stopped and blinked, surveying me in alarm. “Lass, you’re white as a sheet and shaking like— Are ye hurt, dove?”

“No, its—I’m fine—” I shrank back from his touch, from the heartbreaking sweetness of the endearment.

Tell him.

Only—agony to him, now. 

It’s far pa—past—(breathe)—too late—damn me to hell for it. 

I turned hastily for the door. “I didna mean to intrude upon your quiet, Jamie, I’ll just—”

“No-no-no, dinna be daft,” Jamie laughed, eagerly, stepping swiftly around me to block the door. “Stay! Sit wi’ me a time—have a drink.”

“No, really, I should—”

“Jen, we barely got to speak all this evening,” he said, and there was more than a touch of hurt in that soft voice, those soft eyes. “Please? Stay wi’ me?”

Brother, if ye only kent what I was, you’d cast me out into the cold this moment, and have me walk until the very sea swallowed me up. 

And I’d deserve it. 


[Jamie]

“Come on, wee fool,” Jamie said, gently, but in truth, he was begging. He wanted her to stay. He needed her to stay, to help drive this terrible sadness away, tonight. 

At last, she relented, and let him close the door. He held out his arms to her, and after a very long moment, she came to him. “It’s very glad I am to see ye, lass,” he whispered into her hair, trying not to let his voice crack with just how glad he was of it. 

“Aye—well—” 

Lord, why did she sound so tentative around him, tonight? She had been cool toward him all the evening, busying herself with the meal and with clearing it, and with taking another whisky, offering him one, but then bustling onward to the next task and retiring early before they could exchange more than a dozen words. 

“Tell me true.” He gently took her by the shoulders and held her far enough away to look her in the eye, beseeching. “Have I done something to wrong ye, lass?” 

She gaped at him, going even paler than before. “Wrong me?” 

“I dinna think I’m mistaken in noticing you’re no’ pleased to see me, this visit. So I’ll ask again….Have I done something that’s wronged ye?” Even moments ago, she had seemed barely to touch him as he embraced her. “I’ll do anythin’ I can to make it right, I swear it.” 

“Never.” To his astonishment, her face fell, and she made a little sound almost like a sob as she at last hugged him tight, a real embrace. “You would never do anything to wrong me, Jamie.” 

He held her close, the sense of home finally settling around him. His blood—his sister. 

“I’m sorry, Jamie,” she said, muffled into his chest, “I am glad to see ye. I’m just—no’ quite myself, tonight.” 

“Is something amiss wi’ ye then, dove? Are ye feeling ill?” 

“No, I’ll do.” He could have sworn she shuddered, but she pulled back and put her hands on her hips to study at him with brows drawn, as she always did, the dear, wee busybody. “Lord above, you’re too thin, ye great toad.”

“Are great toads typically thin?” he laughed, placing a kiss on the top of her head and moving to settle onto the plump cushions of the settee.

“Aye, and your voice all scratchit like one, to boot,” she laughed with something like her usual fire, curling her legs under her on the armchair facing him. “But truly, do ye get yourself fed at all, in Edinburgh?”

“Aye,” he said, passing her a whisky glass, “not grand fare, mind,” he winked, or tried to, “but dinna fash: I make it a special point of policy to eat every day.”

“Well, that’s good. Do it more, aye? You’re—” She shook her head, looking actually pained as she took him in again. “You’re….wasting away, Jamie.” 

He waved a hand in dismissal. “That’s why I must visit my sister, whose excellent cooks will always get me fattened up again.” 

“I must thank ye again for seeing my wee Ian safely home to me.”

“’Course, Jen,” he murmured, “happy to do it. The lad continues to be quite the handful, I see.” 

“God,” she groaned, “I’ve not the faintest idea what’s to be done about the wee eejit. S’like tryin’ to trap a breeze upon a mountaintop. I’m sure he’ll ask to be allowed to go back wi’ ye wi’ our blessing this time, but—” 

“I’d no’ mind it, owermuch” He tried to sound casual, not as desperately eager as he felt. “In fact, I verra nearly let him talk me into letting him stay, this time.”

“Wheedles something fierce, does wee Ian,” Jenny agreed ruefully. “I suppose ‘tis good for his hope of catchin’ a wife one day. A boy that’s so plain best ken how to wield charm to his good uses, at least,” she said with a grimace and a deep draught from her glass.

“Aye, that’s so,” Jamie laughed. “He can argue the black off a boot. Though, it was less to do wi’ him than me,” he added quietly, a moment later. 

“How’s that?”

“I’d have been happy for the company.” He shrugged, trying for nonchalance, but it was a shrug of unease. “It’s quite lonely, there in the shop.” His emptiness rang into the very corners of the room in the saying of it. 

Jenny heard it too, and put on a cheery, winning manner as she scoffed, “Nonsense, you’ve got Fergus, aye?”

“Fergus is a great help, true, and an even greater comfort to me,” he agreed. The boy—Christ, he was fifteen years or more past being a *boy,* but Fergus would always be so, to Jamie—was his pride and his right hand. 

“But, of course, ye may not ken how often Fergus is gone from Edinburgh seeing to—other business. Scarce half the days of the month, do I see him, in fact.” He shrugged. “And of course, I’m alone in my rooms, after the shop closes. Wi’ only myself for company, the conversation tends to be a trifle repetitive.” 

He meant it as a wee jest to lighten the mood. It didn’t work, for either of them. There was a fair-sized lump in his throat. Jenny’s hands were tight around her glass, her eyes down. He knew he shouldn’t speak so, so wretchedly self-pitying, but damn him, he needed to have someone hear him and understand.

“Sometimes, I go an entire week or more wi’out anyone—not a soul— speaking to me as if they knew me. And it can be longer, even, wi’out anyone saying my real name to me….In Edinburgh, ken, I’m Alexander Malcolm.” 

She gave a weak smile, whispering, “Sawney.” 

“Aye. And folk smile and bow and say, ‘Good Day, Mr. Malcolm.’….‘Shall we see ye on Saturday, Sawney?’….’When are ye thinking of taking a wife, Mr. Malcolm?’” 

The empty glass shot from Jenny’s hands and spun ‘round on the carpet. Neither of them moved to pick it up, and Jamie found he couldn’t stop talking. 

He swallowed. “Before the cave—prison—England——”

Lord, that he might be safe. 

“—I didna truly ken how much it meant to me to be….known. MyselfAnd after everything that’s happened these twenty years, I now find most days as though—” He shook his head. “—as though I’ll just fall away and vanish into naught, from lack of it. I havena….” He dropped his eyes, too ashamed to look her in the eye as he spoke the darkest desolation of his heart, “I can hardly even name the broken pieces of me, any longer…..let alone hope to put them back together.” 

Jenny blinked hard as though holding back tears. Lord, no, there were tears in her eyes, to his shame. He wasn’t saying these things for pity. It was simply the truth of his heart, and it was a true gift to be given the grace to say it aloud, rather than having it tear him apart in the quiet of his mind, day after day. And yet it pained him to grieve Jenny so, to give her any more reason to fear and fret for him. 

He started to say so, but she suddenly blurted, “Maybe—” She was pale, and Jamie could swear she was trembling. “Maybe ‘tis time to—to come back to Balriggan.”

“No,” he said at once with half a laugh, standing and walking over to one of the bookcases.

“Jamie…”

“No, I said.”

“I ken things wi’ Laoghaire—”

“There’s no’ moving me on this,” he said, more sharply. He had no desire for her to dream up another scheme for rehabilitating his personal happiness. “I’ll continue to do right by them, of course, see them taken care of but…No. I’ll no’ try to find comfort, there, again.”

“Jamie, mo chridhe, please just listen—” She was right on the verge of weeping, from the sound at his back. “I ken she’s not—that she’s… what she is…but I dinna want—” There came the sound of Jenny throwing up her hands in desperation, “—Ye shouldna spend the rest of your days alone, Jamie, wi’—wi’ no JOY! The thought of—”

“There is no joy to be had at Balriggan, sister. Not that kind.” 

“If—” 

He turned to her and gently grasped her shoulders. “You’ve known me all my life, Jen,” he said softly down into her face, contorted as it was with shockingly-vehement feeling. “I’ve been wrong about many things; been hasty and reckless and a fool, when my emotions got ahead of my better judgment, or before I kent proper facts—” He cupped her cheek, his voice hoarse. “—but trust me to ken my own heart, at least: to be alone, to be empty, is better than—than that; to lose what pieces of me still remain to—anger…bitterness….”

She stared up into his face, lips pursed, eyes red and glistening, voice trembling uncontrollably. “But can ye no’—?”

He released her and kissed her cheek, putting all his self into being strong and brave-faced once more, as was his duty. “Dinna fash yourself about me. I’m sorry I let myself carry on down such a maudlin road, this night.” 

Jamie smiled, as warm and broad a smile as he could, as he walked past her back to the settee, meaning to sit. “But it means a great deal to me how much ye do trouble yourself for my sake, truly. I ken ye always mean the best for me, Jenny, and I’m—”

The sob burst out of Jenny like a cannon blast in the night and Jamie whirled, reaching for an absent dirk. “Jen, WH—”

Her face was a broken thing behind her hands. “I’m so—sss—so SORRY, brother.”

“Sorry?” Jamie felt as though he’d been hit by a charging horse. That wasn’t pity in her ‘sorry’: it was true apology. “Whatever for??”

“For the fool that I am,” she sobbed, the tears flowing over her fingers. “After all ye’ve been through—your own sister ought—OUGHT to—Christ, Jamie, I’m so—ashamed.”

“Jenny, dove, mo chridhe,” he whispered as he reached for her, “what on earth  are are ye going on ab—?”

“Wait here—” she managed to choke, already staggering for the door. Her eyes were wild and she put out a staying hand as she went. “Dinna move, just—Just—wait!!”

Too stunned to do otherwise, Jamie stood unmoving on the study rug, mind racing, absolutely at a loss to guess what had come over her. 

When at last she came back through the door, she was white as death, a paper, or envelope, perhaps, clasped against her breast. 

“Jenny, you’re frightening me. Tell me at once what’s happened.” 

“I’ve done—” Her chest seemed to cave in around the envelope, wracked with her sobs. “I’ve done a terrible wrong against ye, brother.” 

“Nonsense,” he vowed, moving toward her to sort things out. “Whatever’s the—”

Don’t,” she hissed, halting him with a frantic shake of the the head, her teeth gritted. “Just—stop.”

He raised both his hands to her in desperate plea.“I dinna understand, Jenny.” 

She closed the distance between them with halting steps and forced the envelope into his hands, holding her own tight around them. He couldn’t take his eyes off her face, for it was an expression he’d never seen there—absolute anguish and absolute shame. 

His eyes dropped to his hands. Aye, a thick envelope, the face bare and unmarked. 

He turned it over and saw the single word there written:

J a m i e

He might have been screaming—he might have been crying—he might have fallen into a dark pit, with the earth closed in over him.

He was on the ground, his leg aching from where he’d fallen against something. The envelope stared up at him from the floor and he stared back. 

those five letters 

written in Claire’s hand

a thin interlace pattern pressed into the blood-red seal.

Jenny was sobbing. “She was here— Claire was here, Jamie—”

“Claire’s gone—” he was screaming or whimpering, “Claire—is—GONE—”

“She came back.”

“—GONE—”

“No, she came for ye—CAME here

Nothing made sense

“—And I did such grievous wrong by ye in the things I said to her.”

There was no damned SENSE in the words that she—

C l a i r e

Jenny kneeling before him. 

Claire—

Jenny, grabbing his hand, hard. “She said it would give ye peace, what’s inside.” 

CAME for’—?

Jenny, pressing the packet against his chest wi’ his own hand, holding it there, tight. 

CLAIRE? 

Jenny’s face, mere inches from his, breaking apart with weeping—all but mute from the violence of her pain. “I'm—so—sorry, Jamie.” 

A kiss on his cheek, and then she was gone.

Watching like one paralyzed as the envelope fluttered once more to the ground onto its face. 

J a m i e

…his real name. 

He lunged, but he couldn’t even lift the envelope. His fingers felt like claws—lacking thumbs—lacking everything except brute force. He managed to rip off the seal and force open the pages, but he could only press it flat onto the floor with both his hands, hunched over it like a starving beast over its kill. 

And though he’d feared it some nightmare, his soul burst like the lungs of a drowning man as he read—as he believed— the words beneath him:  

“My own Jamie,” 


onceabluemoonwrites  asked:

Paladin. You're a paladin, M-chan. I saw that 0027 shrine in your closet from at least four countries away. Your Devotion and Power is That Great

agsdhagsdgjasdj whY IS IT THAT I CAN SEE IT

unfortunately and to my everlasting shame, my 0027 Shrine extends only to my fics, AUs and headcanons and the art I see online. BUT DON’T WORRY. that’s not going to stop me from flavoring things RL with 0027. I definitely know what type of accessories I want to get next :3

lacefedora  asked:

I'm really sad today. How about some ObiQui kisses that aren't sad?

Oh no! I’m sorry Lace! I hope this helps at least a little!


“Good morning love.”

“Ngggh.”

Qui-gon chuckled as Obi-wan grabbed at the blankets that covered them, pulling them over his head and curling into a tighter ball, grumbling something inaudible into the pillows.

It was a rare morning, peaceful and calm, where no one needed them right now, and there was no rush to do anything. Soft, golden sunlight filtered through the small window of their bedroom, and even the Force itself felt peace.

Obi-wan pulled the blanket further over his head, and Qui-gon grinned as he muttered something that was most likely threats of bodily harm aimed at anything that should dare wake him. So, naturally, Qui-gon took it upon himself to do just that.

Obi-wan made a noise that was half curse and half shriek as Qui-gon pulled the covers away and pressed his lips to the bare skin of Obi-wan’s stomach, blowing a noisy raspberry. Limbs flailing, Obi-wan jerked away from the unexpected contact, a foot connecting solidly with Qui-gon’s chest, even as Obi-wan fell off the bed, hitting the floor in a tangle of blankets with a dull thud.

Silence filled the chamber, and Qui-gon peered over the end of the bed at his bond-mate, rubbing his chest. “Obi-wan?”

“I hate you, Qui-gon Jinn.” Sitting, sprawled on the floor in a mess of blankets, Obi-wan looked far from impressed, and Qui-gon bit back a smile at the younger man’s bedraggled state.

“No you don’t.”

“I really do. Don’t you know waking someone is widely considered to be quite rude?”

“You have my deepest apologizes.” Qui-gon said, laughter in his words, even as Obi-wan climbed back into bed, dragging the blankets with him.

“I’m sure.” Obi-wan replied, one eyebrow raised, accenting his sarcasm. Once he was fully back on the bed, Qui-gon reached out, one arm wrapping around Obi-wan’s waist and pulling him close. Obi-wan smiled. “Good morning.”

“Good morning. I really am sorry I made you fall off the bed.” Qui-gon pressed a kiss against Obi-wan’s temple.

“You should be.” Obi-wan laughed, stretching his head up for a proper kiss. “What a horrible thing to do to your loving mate.”

“My shame shall be everlasting.” Qui-gon murmured, catching Obi-wan’s lips in yet another kiss.

They fell silent for after that, reveling in each others’ arms and the touch of lips.
“Are you needed on the council today?” Qui-gon asked, nuzzling at the crook of Obi-wan’s neck. Obi-wan shook his head, moving to tangle his fingers lazily into Qui-gon’s hair. “Not that I know of.”

“Good.” Qui-gon pressed a kiss to the skin under his lips, enjoying the soft, breathy noise it caused Obi-wan to make. “Let’s stay here.”

“Here?”

Qui-gon looked up, locking eyes with his bond-mate. “Yes. Here, in bed, all day. Just you and me.”

Obi-wan smiled. “But Anakin-“

“Anakin is a knight in his own right, Dearheart. He can take care of himself, I’m sure. Besides, he has his own padawan to keep him in line if need be.” Obi-wan grinned at that, wide and bright, and Qui-gon knew he had won.

“Alright. Just you and me today.”

Matching his lover’s smile, Qui-gon reached up to cup Obi-wan’s face, brushing a calloused thumb over his cheek bone before bringing their lips together.

/I love you./

/I love you too./