You really did need Peter, more than you thought you did too. It didn’t hit you the night you confessed to him, no, that night you stopped crying the moment you reached your house; everything felt numb. It’s like it was a nightmare. Fake, but terrifying.
It wasn’t until the next morning, when you walked into science class, and saw that Peter had switched spots with someone else in class; all so he wouldn’t have to sit next to you.
It was horrifying how much you really depended on him and your friendship.
You sit alone at lunch, understanding and doing homework was a bitch, you didn’t have anyone to talk to anymore, and you lost the one person that meant so much to you. All because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut and accept his hectic life and feelings for Liz.
Friday night, 11:54 p.m. is a time where any normal teenager would be going out and hanging with friends or going to some wild party.
Friday night, 11:54 p.m. is when you’d be at Peter’s house; binge watching Star Wars and Harry Potter, debating about whether or not that sneaky son of a bitch was a Slytherin or a Gryffindor.
But Friday night, 11:54 p.m. is now spent with you curled up in bed, attempting to fall asleep. Ever since you and Peter had a fall out three weeks ago, you found sleepless nights your only friend.
‘Just go take a walk,’ You thought, ‘It’s not like mom and dad will know and stop you.’
Your parents were away until Sunday night for their 20th anniversary.
‘At least they’re in love and well.’
You got out of bed, slipped on some leggings, a sweater, and converse, and got the hell out of that apartment.
Leaning against the wall of the elevator, you closed your eyes and started taking deep breaths to calm yourself.
‘In, out, in, out,’
The elevator dinged and opened on the first floor. Reluctantly, you opened your eyes and stepped out.
Leaving the lobby, you felt the cool night air hit your face.
‘This is all I need. Fresh air, that’s it.’ You thought to yourself.
You made it two blocks before you heard the sound of someone jump and land behind you. Immediately you turned around to face whoever it may be.
“You know you really shouldn’t be out here at this time,” Peter stepped closer to you, “It’s not safe.”
You rolled your eyes at him, “Why’re you following me, Peter?”
“I wasn’t following you, Y/N. I was patrolling the city and saw you on your own,” Peter sighed, “Look, could you just go back home? It’s really not safe.”
“And why do you care?” You asked aggressively.
“Because I do. You’re my friend, Y/N, no matter what,” he shook his head, “I’m sorry about hurting you, I just don’t feel the same way, but that doesn’t mean you ever stopped being my best friend and one of the people I care about most.”
“Then why did you leave?” You choked out, only for him to walk closer to you, “Why did you change your seat, why did you stop sitting with me at lunch, why did you stop talking to me? Peter, why did you cut me off?”
You felt tears falling faster and faster down your face as he took off his mask.
He was distraught. He never meant to hurt you the way he did.
“I-I wa-was giving you space,” he stuttered, “I never meant to cut you off, I just thought that maybe it would help.”
He stared at you as you wrapped your arms around your waist to hug yourself and tried to look in any other direction than his.
“Y/N…” he whispered,
‘Oh, that sounds all too familiar.’
Peter grabbed your arm before closing the distance between you two to pull you into a tight hug. You instinctively wrapped your arms around his waist and buried your face into his chest. You felt your own chest clench and every feeling of anger and hurt release then.
“It’s not-not f-fair,” you sobbed, “It’s not, i-it’s not-”
“Shhh, it’s okay,” Peter cooed into your ear, “It’s okay, I’m here, I’m here, I got you.”
You held onto him tighter, as if you’d die if you let go.
Neither of you knew how long the both of you stood there for, but neither of you cared.
“You’ll never be cut out, I promise,” Peter mumbled, “I’m always going to be here.”
Will get to be pretty mature (explicit??), but not yet.
Spoilers for everything Leigh Bardugo has ever published. Don’t read any of this if you haven’t finished Crooked Kingdom and the entirety of the Grisha Trilogy.
If you’d rather read this over on AO3, here’s a handy link for you.
Nina stood at the bow of the ship with Genya, taking measured breaths of the briny sea air. Between the ship’s crew, the refugee Grishas, Kuwei, the members of the Triumvirate, and Matthias’ still body in the ship’s hold, Nina was beginning to feel claustrophobic.
As she often did when she stood above deck, Nina felt Sturmhond’s eyes on her, assessing her the way he assessed everything - the sails, the stars, the weather, his crew.
She was no stranger to the gaze of men, but there was something cool in Sturmhond’s eyes which made Nina think him impervious to the curve of her hips, the swell of her breasts.
Frankly, it was a relief.
He picked his way across the deck, murmuring words to the sailors and the Grisha working up top.
“Morning,” Genya said, looking up with a smile as he approached.
“We should be pulling into port by the end of day tomorrow,” he said by way of greeting. Nina loosed a relieved breath and he eyed her curiously. “Not much of a sailor, Zenik?”
“I’ll just be glad to set my feet back down on Ravkan soil again,” Nina replied. A wide smile broke across Sturmhond’s face, softening his sometimes strange features.
“Me too,” he murmured as he walked away. “Me too.”
Nina turned back to Genya who was watching the privateer’s retreating form almost sadly.
“I’d thought he’d be… bigger.” Nina said. Genya huffed out half a laugh.
“He used to be, once,” she said with a shrug.
“Do you know him well, then?” Nina asked.
“Not well, exactly. Our history is…complicated.” Nina raised a sharp eyebrow.
“Not like that!” Genya laughed. “We never, I swear! But I’ve known him a long time. Before…and after.”
“The war?” Genya bit her lip, her eye thoughtful.
“Yes, that too.” Nina didn’t press the subject. She didn’t know what role Sturmhond had played, exactly, but she was familiar with the things the Grisha had endured during the Ravkan Civil War. The war had changed people, changed the country she loved. And it seemed even the coolest and most confident of privateers hadn’t been immune to its horrors.
Nina hadn’t wanted to even go back to the Little Palace once they returned to Ravka. She was eager to find another ship to take her and Matthias’ body to Fjerda as soon as possible. But Zoya and Genya were insistent that she rest at the Little Palace for a while. Only there would they be able to find a healer to prepare Matthias’ body for another long sea voyage. Genya had done what she could before their trip to Ravka, but her knowledge on the subject was pretty limited. So Nina reluctantly agreed to return with them to the Little Palace before setting out again. She had to admit the idea of a couple weeks with solid ground under her feet again sounded nice.
“And besides, the King will surely want to be briefed on the happenings in Ketterdam, right?” Genya and Zoya shared a conspiratorial look.
“Right,” Genya said with a small laugh. She was practically hopping from excitement to see David after her time away. The thought of Genya and her Fabrikator love lightened Nina’s heart as they approached the palace walls.
The day after Nina’s return to Ravka, she was called before King Nikolai. Genya had already secured a new kefta for Nina to wear, and she smoothed it nervously as she walked through the King’s throne room.
Darker than the typical Heartrender red by a few shades and embellished with swirling black embroidery along the back, the beautifully-crafted garment belied Nina’s new dark affinity.
The King watched her as she approached with a suppressed grin. Of course he didn’t need to be briefed on the happenings in Ketterdam, as he’d been there himself wearing Sturmhond’s face. But his Grisha Triumvirate was insistent that he continued the ruse, even in the midst of their own trusted Grisha.
“Miss Zenik,” Nikolai said as she came close and sketched a stiff bow. She had always seemed at ease around Sturmhond’s ship, if a bit reserved with the other travelers. It was strange to see her dressed up in the Grisha formal wear with her dark curls piled atop her head. “Squaller Nazyalensky has been filling me in on the events of the last several weeks. It sounds like we have you to thank for the recovery of several expatriate Ravkans, as well as the safety of Kuwei Yul-Bo.”
“Of course I didn’t act alone,” Nina demurred. “And of course it wouldn’t have been possible without Zoya, Genya, and Sturmhond.” Zoya nodded in her direction, but Genya was missing from the room. Nina suspected she and David were still enjoying their reunion at the Little Palace.
“Still, your actions were very admirable in the face of the challenges in Ketterdam. Will you be returning to your role in the Second Army, now that you’ve returned to Ravka?”
Nina rubbed a slippered foot awkwardly on the floor tiles in front of her.
“Actually, Your Majesty, I have a personal matter to attend to first. My -” she cleared her throat uncomfortably. “My close friend lost his life in the fighting in Ketterdam. I wish to return his body to Fjerda as soon as possible.”
The King’s golden eyebrows rose up into his hairline.
“I don’t suppose I need to tell you that Grisha such as yourself are not well-received in Fjerda. We’ve suspended the ships on our northern trade route in light of the tensions abroad. There are of course no passenger ships going out to Fjerda either.”
Nina shook out the stiff cuffs of her kefta.
“I was hoping I might convince Sturmhond to take me actually.” She said quietly. “He seems to have only a sliver of self-preservation. He might not find the trip entirely impossible.”
King Nikolai’s hazel eyes lit up a bit.
“No, I suppose he wouldn’t find it impossible at all. Shall I make a formal request on your behalf?”
Nina’s cool formality lifted like a veil at that.
“Oh, could you?” She looked like a girl again, staring up at him with so much unbridled hope that Nikolai suddenly found it hard to meet her eyes. He shrugged.
“He owes me about a million favors. I’ll send a letter right away.”
“Thank you so much, Your Majesty.”
“Of course,” Nikolai nodded. “If that’s all, then you may go. I’ll be in touch when I hear from Sturmhond.” Nikolai could almost feel Zoya rolling her eyes from beside his dais.
Dismissed, Nina turned to go and the rooms’ torches shone upon the back of her kefta. Black embroidery crept from the hem toward her neck in a dark, swirling riot amid the rich, wine red fabric. The sight sent a shiver up Nikolai’s spine. His fingers itched inside his ever-present gloves. It felt, suddenly, like the twist of scars and the dark shadows in his blood had reared up again. His arms, his chest, the backs of his shoulders suddenly felt too hot, too constricted by his finely tailored clothes. As the dark Heartrender swept from his throne room, Nikolai’s eyes watched her go with an intensity he hadn’t felt in years.
Two nights later, Nina had just returned to her room after dinner when there was a knock at her door. Some of her old classmates had been stopping by since her return to hear about her adventures being captured by the druskelle, then gallivanting around Ketterdam for a year.
But when she pulled open the door, Sturmhond was leaning against the door frame.
“Hi,” she said, somewhat awkwardly. His mouth quirked up into a lopsided smile.
“Hi,” he responded. “Uh, can I come in?”
Nina cast a backwards glance at her small room, and shifted to block it from Sturmhond’s line of sight.
“Can you give me a minute?”
“Yeah that’s fine,” but she was already shutting the door in his face.
For someone who arrived in the country with almost no worldly possessions less than a week ago, she had amassed a giant collection of shoes, dresses, tunics, capes, hair ties, and undergarments which were currently strewn across every available surface of her room. There was also more than one serving tray of days-old tea and pastry crumbs haphazardly stacked on the small desk.
Without a second thought, she swept as much of the clutter behind the dressing screen and anything that wouldn’t fit got kicked under the bed. She straightened the quilt across the bed and fluffed a pillow, then her hair. There was no help for her clothes - a drab and ill-fitting tunic and olive leggings, but he had seen her in worse aboard the ship. Her new kefta might have helped a bit, but it was somewhere buried in the heap of clothes relocated to the corner of her room.
With a deep breath, she yanked her door back open. Sturmhond was still lounging in the same position she’d left him in a moment before.
She plastered on her best “House of the White Rose” smile and gestured to the room behind her.
“Come in. Welcome to my humble abode.”
His calculating gaze swept over her room.
“It’s very… homey.”
“Well, we can’t all call a shockingly well-appointed and lavishly furnished pirate ship home.”
“It’s privateer, actually.”
“Alright, shockingly well-appointed and lavishly furnished privateer ship.”
“That has a nice ring to it actually. I’d like that engraved on a plaque,” he said as he perched on the edge of her desk beside a cup of yesterday’s tea with a dead flying floating in it. He poked the cup with one gloved finger and watched the fly slosh around.
“I didn’t know the serious pirate captain could make a joke.” She fixed him with a wicked smile, a challenge.
“Privateer, dear. And I’m not joking. You’ll know when I am because it will be hilarious.” He looked up from the disgusting tea cup and returned her wicked smile. Nina couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled up and out into the small space.
“What are you doing here?”
“I heard you had a proposition for me.” His ruddy eyebrows arched into his ginger hairline in an expression that was vaguely familiar. Nina had enough good grace to blush at the innuendo.
“You got the King’s letter?”
“Actually, I showed up before he’d had a chance to send it. But he filled me in and suggested that you wouldn’t be discouraged from the task. He assured me that you were already well aware that your plan to show up in Fjerda was pure madness.”
“I’ve been told you’re an expert at mad plans,” Nina said coyly, picking at the hem of her tunic.
“By whom?” She could hear the smile in his voice without looking at him.
“By the other expert of mad plans.”
“Kaz Brekker, I assume?”
“Of course,” and he looked up to meet her eyes. They were shining with that light again, that hope that he had seen in the throne room. He shook his head to clear his mind.
“He humbles me. We’ll take my smallest and fastest ship.”
“Wait, what?” Her eyes became glassy with unshed tears.
“Honestly, I’d rather take one of the flying craft but the weather that far north is too unpredictable. Maybe if we waited till spring, but still, if we went down in Fjerdan waters and couldn’t get airborne again, we’d be, well, fucked. So a traditional ship is our best bet. We’ll take a skeleton crew and I won’t force any of the Grisha to travel with us. I’ll ask for volunteers, of course, but I can’t guarantee that any of them will want to take the risk. In the last month the situation in Fjerda has become even more unstable.”
“I understand,” Nina said. A relieved tear spilled down her cheek. “Why are you doing this?”
“Well, when the King asks so nicely…”
“Right,” she sniffed, “because you owe him a million favors.”
“Did he say that? Ridiculous. He owes ME a million favors.” Nina shook her head, laughing.
“I guess I don’t really care why you’ve decided to help -” but he cut her off.
“You have a lot of heart, Zenik. I like that. And I think what you’re doing for Matthias is very honorable.” Another tear rolled down her cheek. “I have some business to handle for the King over the next week or so, but I’ll start making preparations for the journey. I’ll send correspondence when I have a better idea of our sail date.”
He hopped off the corner of the desk where he’d been perched and headed for the door. Nina followed, wringing her hands.
“Thank you for this, Sturmhond. Truly.” He shrugged.
“Call me Niko.”
“Niko?” There was a devilish light in his bright green eyes.
“You didn’t think my mother named me Sturmhond, did you?”
“I didn’t know people like you had mothers, actually.”
Sturmhond - no, Niko’s - laughter echoed down the hallway as he walked away, leaving Nina to her small, disheveled room again.
“This is a terrible idea.”
“I haven’t asked for your opinion, Zoya.”
“You’ve barely been back a week and already you want to go off gallivanting for no reason.”
“I still haven’t asked for your opinion, Zoya. And besides, it’s not ‘no reason.’ Not to her. She made a promise.”
“A promise that has nothing to do with you.”
“I like when people keep their promises,” Nikolai insisted stubbornly.
“Believe me, we all do, Nikolai. It doesn’t mean you have to be the one to take her.”
“There’s no one else who can.”
“If it’s truly that dangerous then all the more reason that you shouldn’t go,” Zoya stomped her foot to punctuate her point.
“Do not treat me like a child, Nazyalensky.”
“Then stop acting like one. You’re no longer the spare second son who can waste his time playing pirate captain. Privateer, I know I know. Don’t waste your breath. I shouldn’t have to tell you that you’re the King now and -”
“Yes, and as the King -” But Genya cut him off.
“Can you two stop arguing for a moment so I can concentrate? If you keep scowling like this I’m going to end up marring one of your beautiful features. On accident, of course.” Genya was removing the Sturmhond tailoring he’d asked her to work up a few hours before. Her hands worked across his face, returning his features to that of the King.
Zoya bit her lip and restrained herself for a whole minute before she started talking again.
“Your people need to see you on the throne.”
“My people need many many things from me, Zoya, and I cannot give all of them all of what they want. But in this specific instance, I can give one of my people exactly what she wants. And I’m the only one who can.”
“Are you fucking her, Nikolai?” Genya’s hands on his face stilled.
“Really, Zoya?” Genya said as she shot a critical look at the Squaller.
“I apologize. That was uncouth. Are you making sweet, passionate love to her, Your Majesty?”
“If I was, that would be my business alone. Not a matter for the Triumvirate. But the answer is no.” Genya’s hands stilled on his face. “What? Spit it out Safin.”
“Well, do you want to?” He could have sworn Zoya was biting her lip to keep herself from bursting out laughing.
“Do you two plan ways to gang up on me, or does it just come that naturally to you?”
Nina made her way to the Corporalki workshops the next morning. She was meeting with a Grisha named Annushka who had taken on the task of preparing Matthias’ body for preservation and eventual burial once they returned him to Fjerda.
Nina had once called the Corporalki labs home when she was a student at the Little Palace, and not much had changed. She picked her way to the desk Annushka called hers.
“Nina, it’s great to see you again.”
“Hello, Annushka. I got your message. Did everything go ok?”
“Yes, all went to plan. The body is prepared and one of David’s apprentices brought a box over just yesterday. It will keep the humidity stable aboard the ship to make sure everything stays intact on the journey over.”
Nina swallowed thickly and nodded her thanks. She never imagined she’d be barely an adult and preparing to bury her first love.
“Would you like to see him before we seal the coffin?”
“I - I don’t think so, if that’s alright.” She had said her goodbyes in Ketterdam.
“Of course,” Annushka reached out to grip her hand. “I’m sorry for your loss, Nina.”
“Thank you, Annu.”
“Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Nina bit the inside of her cheek. There was something else she was wondering.
“Genya said you would be the best to work with Matthias’ body because you’re particularly well-suited to working with the, um, dead.”
“Yes, I’ve always struck a bit of a balance between the Heartrenders and the Healers. Not interested in killing, but not best equipped for medicine and healing, either.”
“I see,” Nina tapped her foot nervously. She liked Annushka, but she wasn’t sure how much she could confide in the Grisha seated across from her. “As you know, I trained as a Heartrender here a few years ago before leaving to join the Second Army.” Annu nodded. “But recently I’ve found that my power has changed. I’m much more in tune with the dead, than the living. In fact,” she dropped her voice low, “I’ve found that I can actually move the dead.” Annushka, to her credit, kept her expression carefully guarded.
“Bring them back, you mean?”
“Not exactly,” although she remembered the moments that she’d tried and almost succeeded with Matthias. “More like, re-animate. I could cause a corpse to get up and walk around, like a marionette. Have you ever heard of other Heartrenders with such affinities?”
Annushka shook her head.
“Not exactly. My own power is much more limited. In the most basic terms, I can isolate and arrest the decomposition of the dead cells. That’s why I’m well suited to the work you needed done with Matthias. But I’ve heard of others who possess a stronger affinity for working with the dead. Those who can manipulate the appearance of a corpse, extract internal organs for study, or even transplant, from the dead. But nothing as large scale as what you’ve described. To re-animate a corpse.” She let out a low whistle. “The power that must take is astronomical.”
Nina shrugged off the praise.
“Well thank you, Annu, for everything. The work on Matthias’ body, as well as the extra information. I’d appreciate if you could keep this confidential. I’m still working through what my new abilities mean.”
“Of course, Nina. If I hear of anything else on the topic, I’ll let you know.” Nina nodded her thanks again and headed back to her own quarters, with thoughts of Grisha who worked with the dead milling about in her head.
Nina was a little bit drunk. She swayed down the hall laughing with two other Grisha her age, on their way to their rooms. Maybe she was more than a little bit drunk, actually.
Suddenly Naomi beside her froze.
“Why didn’t you tell us you had a tall, red-headed man friend, Zenik?” Sturmhond leaned against the wall across from the door to her room, his gloved hands tucked into the pockets of his trousers.
“Oh him? He’s no one. Just renowned sea captain and scourge of the seas, Sturmhond. Maybe you’ve heard of him?”
“Saints, Nina. Send him to my room when you’re done with him, then.” The women giggled as Nina left them behind to approach Sturmhond.
“Did you just call me ‘scourge of the seas’?” He asked her in a low voice as she sauntered toward him. She nodded with a smile. “I take back what I said about calling me Niko. I only want you to call me that from now on.”
Nina laughed and opened the door to her room, gesturing for him to follow.
“Your wish is my command, Most Excellent Pirate Captain, Sir.”
“I like you like this, Zenik.” She turned to him with mischief in her eyes.
“Like what? Drunk? Reeking of kvas and pickled herring? Wearing a low cut dress that barely contains my tits?”
His gaze lowered very slowly to her cleavage and then very slowly back up to her face.
“I was going to say ‘laughing’ but now that you mention it…” She laughed louder at that and stepped away from Sturmhond to reveal the disaster of her room.
“Did you get in a fight with a Squaller? It looks like a tornado came through here. Did the Little Palace fire all of their housekeeping staff?”
“Austerity measures,” she said with a shrug.
“Well I’m glad they’re not skimping on kvas in the dining room, at least. You do smell like liquor and pickled herring, you know.”
“When in Ravka?” He smiled, looking around for a place to sit. With every available flat space covered in clothes and clutter, he sat awkwardly at the end of her unmade bed. She bounced next to him.
“What business, then?”
“The ship and crew are almost ready. We can leave in two days.”
“Wonderful, I’ll start, uh, packing my belongings.”
“You’d better start right away. It looks like it could take a while,” he said surveying the mess.
She leaned in close to him, until her messy curls were nearly brushing his shoulder.
“As soon as I get you out of my bed, I’ll begin.” He loosed a ragged breath and ran one gloved hand over his red hair.
“Are you doing this on purpose to unnerve me?” His gaze was steady on hers.
“Yes. Is it working?”
“Yes!” They laughed together, fierce blushes crossing both of their faces.
“I’ll see you in two days, then.”
“Two days,” he confirmed with a nod.
As she walked him to the door, Nina puzzled over something.
“I thought you were going to send me a letter about the plans,” she said as he started to walk out the door. He paused, shoulders stiffened. Then without turning around to look at her, he shrugged his shoulders.
“I just wanted to see you again.” And then he was gone.
That night, for the first time since Matthias’ death, Nina did not dream of snow and pines and wolves and blue eyes. Instead, on the waves of sleep, she sailed with the green eyes and clever smile of the boy she called the scourge of the seas.
I’m currently $50 away from buying the last three things I need for this photo to be complete - the CDs of March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, and an In Trousers Playbill (not the cast on the album, but a Playbill nonetheless.) Sigh. Gosh, do I love William Finn.
THE social justice blog. his whole thing is just long rants and speeches that earn him a TON of followers. Advertises a bunch of different petitions going on, posts pictures from all of them. A lot of sharp colours, but almost no selfies.
Religious shitposter. All the posts are like weird unicorn porn or headless chickens or instruction videos on how to use a guillotine. His blog is so colourful it looks like a unicorn vomited it out. Also makes sure to like anything Darrow posts. Has a secondary account just to spam roque and adrius (mostly roque) but he keeps having to make new ones since he always gets blocked.
Roque:fabiilousfabii(jk its like thepoetofdeimos or something equally boring)
lifestyle blogger. Super aesthetic tbh. All the stuff is in pretty pastels. Posts a bunch of those inspirational quote things, and poems he wrote himself. Makes sure to post all the time, and gets himself a lot of followers. He always flips out about all the anon hate he gets though, and his constant bitching everytime it happens annoys some people. Sevro finds it funny.
most adorable blog ever. he doesn’t really get tumblr, and he forgets to post a lot, but when he does its funny selfies with sefi or sevro and darrow, and pictures of flowers with excited text where he goes out of his way to find the name and type and a bunch of random facts. Also posts a lot about scenery and and pictures of all the places he’d like to visit, like venice and france. There is no colour sheme or anything and its just a mishmash of different pictures, but he ends up with so many followers just because of how adorably excited about everything he is.