Feathers

Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Thu Jul 08, 2021 9:13 am

She dragged her head up from his shoulder and pushed herself away from him. Now it was more than planting doubts. Now he was snooping. Now…

Now her head throbbed from crying. She pressed the heel of her hand against one aching eyes. The room seemed unsteady underfoot; she might shift her weight and rock it back and forth. The very thought made her stomach lurch.

Now…

Now the stupid tears forsook her. Apparently they couldn’t be summoned when they were wanted, but came on their own schedule, independent of her. She stared at him, a haze across the black mirror of her eyes, her chin stiff and brave.

“Think you I didn’t know all that?” Her voice shook, outrage and pain together. “I’ve woven myself into a net, Glenn Burnie, and it’s too tight to untangle. You are the least of my worries, but you’ve made yourself one anyway. You always do. You always…squirm your way into things.” Her chest gave a watery hitch; she looked furious with herself. “I don’t know what else to do anymore. It isn’t even…I don’t care about Catch. Or Gloria. It’s just the child. I don’t…know how to turn back.”

Her shoulders shook, her head hunched in contrition. She took both his hands and gathered them together. “I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Sat Jul 10, 2021 1:31 pm

And here they were at the very end of the road and the fairy queen, welcomed into his home, banding insults, truths, and shared confusion, had unveiled the greatest temptation she could ever inflict upon Glenn Burnie: she asked that he tell her what to do.

"I do," he admitted. "Always in the midst of it, but with you, there's just so much it, Finn. You cast a wide net, a deep one, one that sparkles in the depths. You pulled me in when I was so far away and it did nothing to help you get what you wanted the most."

Could he know that? Wasn't that how to deal with her kind? Suspect everything was some sort of plan or ploy or machination or trick. When it was a queen, it was always either a machination or a lark, and one did not cry over a lark. Maybe that's where that term came from, too many fairy queens turning too many fool men into fool birds. Likely not.

That was the problem with the stories and cautionary tales. He'd met all manner of creature and each and every one, from undead wraiths to murderous dark elves to forces of nature and gods, each and every one was a person as well. They had feelings and desires and a sense of identity. Sometimes such things were framed or bound or shaped by elements that could be called nature, but that made them no less valid no less real. It just removed some element of choice in the name of power or efficacy. And she was as much of a person as any of them.

It's just the child. She said it so clearly, so cleanly. I don't care about Catch. And thus, that final temptation found infertile ground which provided none of the to-be-expected nurturing. "I hear you, Finn. But I understood it up til now as logistics, survival, and sentiment, a deep fondness for the innocent and a deep rationalization of the latter for the former, I'm sorry to say." His voice was soft, tender even, and his actions even more so. An apology as only Glenn Burnie could make one, earnest and absurd all at once. He stepped forth and pulled her hands apart so that his own arms could wind around her in an embrace, one that was maybe too tight for lack of practice, lack of precision; he'd kept his swordplay up to snuff but this was a man who had never known physical comfort so easily taken for granted as a lad and had never quite gotten it right later in life.

Tenderness gave way to something else with this new proximity, this new warmth whereas lose fitting clothes offer an additional, merciful layer of softness that his wiry frame would not otherwise provide. For this, he whispered. "I don't understand this love of yours, Finn, but if you let me try to learn, I will hear you and come to understand it as best as i can, and then we can figure out together what there is that can be done."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Tue Jul 13, 2021 3:17 am

It both was and was not the response she anticipated. Any other man, faced with a lovely, powerful woman turned vulnerable and pleading for his guidance, would have taken the bait eagerly, but Glenn made such a point of defying convention that she expected him to resist. It irritated her to think that if she had offered, he would have refused her on principle. Obstinate man. Always he had to believe everything to be his own invention.

In every net, a glittering hook.


Still she was more experienced at the physical than he, guiding him through a handful of small, subtle adjustments that dissipated all awkwardness: a shift of the shoulders to ease his arms to a more acceptable position, a shift of the foot for balance, her own arms folding gracefully across his back. No glam needed but practice, but the same effortlessness. She cradled her cheek to his shoulder, with a mild sigh of exasperation. “I am trying to be cross with you and you are making that difficult.”

Her stomach kept squirming, as though it couldn’t find a comfortable position. It was him, the unexpected change in his tone, his touch. Too intimate. The only way to answer was to close her eyes and pretend she was speaking to someone else.

“There is a reason, my sionnach, that people have lived and died and built empires and razed them for love. There’s a reason why there are so many damn songs about it. Love’s a ruinous thing. An scrios mór, the great destroyer, for the stronger it is, the more the damage it can do. But it is a very fine thing, too. One of the finest. The thing that makes other pursuits worth their effort.”

Lifting her face, she gave him a tiny smile. “Granted, now you will make me a very pretty speech about how some things are grander and deeper and more meaningful and altogether different from mere Love, but—” Her shoulder raised and dropped, indifferent. “—that is because you like to believe you’re above the whole business.”

She closed her eyes again, wearily. “I know the reasons. I do not go lightly, my sionnach, whatever you may think of me. When one does grave things, it is best to know why and if they are worth what will come of it. What it comes to is that I love Catch. But I love him as a woman loves, and he is not a man; he will never love me back. But a child…you know I had a child once. Almost.” She swallowed around a hard, painful thickness in her throat, her voice going rougher. She stiffened against him. “I want her back again. I am owed. Gloria has no right to take that child. She had no right to lay a hand on Him, whatever she thinks of it. All her self-righteous bluster and she’s naught a common stinking tultharian crumbling to dust. I am Queen of Cnoch-na-Niall and if the gods are willing then one day I will be the High Queen and if anyone is worthy of that child, it is I. She’ll never have a life here, not the kind I could give her. This place stinks of death.”

Her face twisted, and her chest knotted; her fingers convulsively clenched in his shirt. The smoke from the fire got up her nose and made her eyes water—not tears this time.


The Woods are burning. But before that…something happened.

The smell of sea spray in the air, exactly as salty as tears, or blood.
Blood soaking into grains of sand in a spreading stain.
But before that…something happened.


She whispered, “Do you remember that little boy? The one who died? And you said…you said it was but a small injustice. The whole of your meaning was that sometimes we must tolerate small injustices in order to make a world where such things do not happen. But I couldn’t. I could not wait. In that moment, he could not wait. He would have died. And in the end, he died anyway. And I think…afterwards I wrote to you that it was nothing to do with him. It was because I could not be the sort of person who did nothing. But we agreed…we would safeguard one another from ourselves.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Wed Jul 14, 2021 12:31 am

There was a certain amount of protection in being a poor hugger. You could have the social niceties of it, even the credit one might get for being supportive, but there was never the emotional risk of opening one's self up to that primal stimuli that came from an embrace. The Tuatha were self-proclaimed agents for change and here, a queen of them enacted a very physical and immediate change, repositioning limbs, balance, pressure. It was a familiar experience for Glenn Burnie, though the familiarity was both distant and uniquely absurd. Rhaena Olwak and dancing. Ariane Emory and swordsplay.

His breath caught in his throat as they both gave way to the more properly situated embrace. She disassociated him from the situation and he embraced the similarities between this and his previous muscle memory. It was a mechanical exercise, an input to create an output. A lever pushed to create lift. The lift just happened to be the beating of his heart and the bottoming out of his stomach. It wasn't desire necessarily, but it was intimacy and it was emotion, and for Glenn Burnie, so firmly bottled up for so long, was there really much a difference between those things?

She looked up at him. She explained her presumed practicalities. She hearkened back to a story and to a promise. Throughout it all, he stayed silent. He gave no speech. At the end of it, he didn't want to respond. She was giving him the answers he sought and he wished she had just stayed silent so they could have this moment, so he could have any moment at all, yes, but this moment in particular. The hole was too deep, though, and the promise was just one of many between two people who knew full well the futility of such things.

Speaking was necessary, so with a silent groan (a stretch perhaps, but from the inside out, from his chest that did not make it to his limbs), words found a way to escape. They may have been disruptive in content, but they were delivered peacefully enough. "Is she? Tultharian? Having been through whatever she went through before she arrived here? Having been through all of this? Having carried his child? Even so, she'll not leave behind dust but mud and feet will get stuck in it for a thousand years to come. Stay long enough in Myrken and you become something else." That would not compel her. It didn't compel him, for he refused to look too closely at it, but there was always a mystery to Gloria Wynsee; it was just the one mystery he never sought to answer.

When he spoke again, the words were quick and clinical, though the embrace remained. Perhaps this was how Glenn Burnie loved and why so few loved him back. "You lost a child you did not ask for but craved none the less. She has a child beyond her means and beyond her station. Nothing is beyond your means your station. You love the father. You cannot be loved by him. There's symmetry in this, expediency, poetry even, but not justice. Only it's opposite." She was an agent of change, a priestess of it, and familiar, endlessly familiar with him. Did she feel it then, given their current physical oneness? Did she feel Glenn Burnie's entire self snapping into serene, wonderful, terrible place? "The child is forever. Or mostly forever. You are his.. her godmother." One bit of knowledge granted by a raven and another learned and barely remembered so otherwise buoyed by guesswork (for when did Glenn Burnie ever care about the gender of a child). "Here, time is not the usual factor. Childhood will last a thousand years for this one and was also likely over the moment of her birth. She swims in forever, much like her father. Your usual tactics of spiriting away and loving immersion wouldn't work here anyway. Give Gloria her paltry few decades. Let her be the everpresent stick, discipline and foolishness and fumbling mortal worries. Be there over the child's shoulder with secret gifts and even more secret whispers of a promise of something better to come. Be there when the child, still as much as a child as she ever would be, ever could be, watches Gloria wither and fade away and offer her something more, something better, a love that will not die. You get what you want. You do not damage Catch's understanding of trust. You leave Myrken untouched. You have a different but even deeper bond with the child, one built on established truth instead of fabricated ones, and you get to keep me as well, for as long as I am to be keepable. You win in every way, on every front, in every battle, instead of just one, and all it costs you is partaking in the most enjoyable guile of your life and having the patience to savor it."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Wed Jul 14, 2021 6:45 am

All while he spoke, she was quiet. Only once in the middle of things—when he mentioned Gloria and her paltry few decades—did she tense, with a quick inhalation as though preparing a sharp objection. Whatever the protest might have been, she thought better of it. She let it go, the breath seeping silently out through her nostrils, and subsided. With her good ear to his shoulder she heard plainly the uptick of his heart, the catch in his breath and the reverberations of words in his chest—all the hundreds of strange bumps and swishes and gurgles that went on inside tultharian to keep them alive—and managed not to smile. A strange territory they were in, to be sure. Who knew what the mortal folk were like on the inside? She had no great urge to cut one in half and see, but she wondered if it was any different from herself—parts added, or parts missing.

She remained quiet long after he had finished. But for the hand that caressed between his shoulderblades, she might have been asleep. That odd side-slip made her begin to wonder if he really had said spoken, or if she had spent all this time remembering something he had once said, or written. She had to lift her head to shake off the feeling, squinting at him mistily as if just wakened. “Your heart pounds like a stonemason.”

The hand that had stroked his back slipped around and rested lightly upon the center of his chest. She frowned at the floor, moody and disconsolate. “Just this once, I do not care about justice. I’m not out to balance the scales. I’m the old queen with the red mote in her eye, and it’s fixed itself on that child. She’s not mine, and she’ll never be mine, and she’ll never be the one I lost, and it would do disservice to both to pretend that one makes good for the other. But it makes me simply furious to know that for all the misery that came of bringing her into the world, she’s been…forsaken.”

Her voice grew rough as she spoke; her face clenched like a fist. she had to catch herself again, with another long deep breath, let out slow. As the breath left, so did something of the steel in her spine, and her mouth puckered into mournful resignation. “Time. That’s always the weapon we wield against you all, isn’t it? More time. We can outlast you. I’ve told you again and again, and I do not think you believe me: a day’s a day be you tultharian or Tuatha—no longer, no shorter. It is a long time to be patient.”

It seemed she could almost imagine it, off somewhere to the side rapping her fingers in irritation, waiting for one simple stupid mortal woman to blunder her way through life, no doubt instilling all manner of suspicions and superstitions and filling the child’s ear with poison for twenty, thirty, forty years, all the little knots it would take ages to undo. She had to make herself imagine it as though it were real. As though she were truly resigned. Her face went stony-still, her gaze looking beyond the boundaries of this room, and Myrken. Perhaps outside the boundaries of Glenn’s very life. She was present, but no longer with him.

Then she remembered to blink, and seemed to return to herself. A wry smile creased her featured, half-embarrassed, as though he had caught her woolgathering. “And then there’s this.”

With but a small twist of her posture, her arms going over his shoulders rather than around his ribs, the embrace turned into a confrontation: chin to chin, he could no doubt see his own reflection in the black mirror of her eyes, breath against his face, her breasts crushed tight to his chest. Time and distance rendered an abstract construction, with the sort of pert defiance intrinsic to her nature: a childish so-there. There was only one place and one moment and both of them stuck in it, and she was rubbing his nose in it. But her words were tender.

“Long ago I promised myself I would never chastise you whenever you let yourself feel something. But this is…getting very near a line.” She rubbed her thumb over his earlobe; human ears were still funny and fascinating to her. “You’re a prude, dear one, but you’re not an innocent.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Sat Jul 17, 2021 9:43 am

"But you need not be patient."

That much was an effort. It was an effort and it was the only effort for a time. She was a very active embracer, far more than he was an active embracee, save for his voice and his heartbeat. Maybe the hairs on his neck, unobtrusive as they were. She did this and that and this again. He was moved to and fro, never far, save for in ways that were absolutely immeasurable, even for he who had a mind to measure everything with pencil and image for distance and rough but necessary categorization for everything else.

But you need not be patient was an effort and at first it was swept aside by her words and far more by her actions. She was tracing his ear and that was the very least of it. One side of his lips upturned towards his cheek. The other did not. A spasm? No, she would have felt that in other parts of him; she'd certainly have felt that especially if she was looking for it. No, no, likely a grin instead, wry and inward, barely even for her even as she lay claim to virtually everything else, save perhaps an innocence she acknowledge he did not possess. "You've grown older since I've met you," and it's been quite a while since he deemed her anything younger or lesser than a queen, "but I've grown older still."

Yet he did not pull away. He did not send a chastising hand across her cheek. Instead he pressed his head forward, taking his lips not towards her own but instead, with a press of cheek against cheek, towards her ear. Hers were alien to him as well, except for that he barely spent much time looking at those of other human's. They were better served through his voice, and it was that voice that whispered to her now.

"But you need not be patient," he managed once again, voice soft and tender and just for her, really nothing more than an intimate whisper. "You need be engaged. You need be active. You need to be a presence, like any mother ought to be, godly or otherwise. The child is forsaken? Maybe. Sent away for her own good, I wager. That's the lie. The cowardice. The wisdom? I'm not a mother. But I was forsaken. I had books and tales and hints of things, but I never had you. I was starved of everything you could provide a child from afar and anear, a secret, conspiratorial promise." His hands did not wander, but they held tight and seemed pleased enough to be where they were as he spoke. "From the stories alone, when I was the age this child would be when Gloria is no more, factoring in the timelessness of her nature of course, I ran away, straight to everywhere you would have hoped me to run, straight to everywhere you hoped this child might, and that was with just the tiniest glimpse of what you shall adroitly offer her. You'll weave a tapestry of tales that will itself one day become story and song. You'll claim a victory that might be trite, save that the prize shall be worth all the more for the effort. A stolen child is a child stolen. A child that grows into her hope and runs to her godmother willingly though? That's a heart of gold stolen instead; it is the greatest promise fulfilled, a gift like no other imaginable. And in the meantime, everyone wins. I win, you win, Myrken wins, the child wins in the end, Catch wins, and while Gloria does not win, at least she gets a fair chance at playing, whether she knows it or appreciates it or not."

She joked and japed about it, but she knew it true and she felt it now. Was it a disappointment? Truly? Or was it yet another sort of promise fulfilled. An expectation played out to its utmost, that transcended satirical scorn and made a otherwise unspectacular mortal worth possessing? For it was true in the end... when Glenn Burnie made love, it was with his words and not his deeds.
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Wed Jul 21, 2021 6:46 am

This time his response was exactly what she anticipated, and she could not but feel a little smug over the success, except that all at once this was quite a bit more serious than she expected, particularly as she hadn’t taken into account how she might respond. His breath in her ear made her skin feel flushed; instantly her arms prickled with gooseflesh and her nipples tightened to knots. The whole room seemed unbearably warm. Her hands tensed on his shoulders in a way that could either clutch tighter or push him and all his plans away. Dash it all, she’d told him about the ears and if he was using this against her on purpose, she’d—

She planted her palms on him and finally pushed them apart to get a scant inch or three to breathe. The pained, twisted feeling in her stomach was genuine and she did not bother trying to conceal it: hungry and hurt and flustered, all muddled. “If you wish this to go no further,” she said sharply, “stop it now.”

Catch had warned her, This is what he does: he put his grand ideas in your head and made you think they were your own, all while getting exactly the response he wanted. In no small part, it was how he had brought her here tonight, and the resentment at being so neatly cornered still burned. It hurt that he had no real care for the child. He only wanted to stop her from doing anything foolish. This was what he did, but she must let him do it. For now. Glenn Burnie made love with words? Very well; she would be seduced. As she understood tultharian seduction, that involved making a half-hearted, easily overturned objection before succumbing.

“And how will that work, Glenn, once Gloria knows? For all I know she’ll whisk the child away somewhere and I’ll never find it again. An she knows I’m hunting, she’ll never stop watching for me. You give me a splendid plan altogether but you won’t admit that it’s finished as soon as you tell her!”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Wed Jul 21, 2021 7:15 am

Words went into ears. It could hardly be his fault if hers were more sensitive than most. He'd try to keep account of it, yes, but no more and no less than she tried with her preferred form of communication, which was, of course, a terrible and understating way to describe glamourie.

As for what he wished. It might cost him his heart, in a very visceral and literal and physical sense were she to know it, but he knew full well what he wished and he also knew he had no idea what he wished. Whatever she spoke of was certainly third in a list at best. He was grippingly, strikingly, staggeringly alive and active in the thick of this in equal parts because he was slamming his all not against a fairy queen but against her plans and wants and wishes and desires. He, a self-obsessed builder, a sculptor, a long-term planner, a defier of fate was so much better at opposing something than fostering it. Was it his fault? Was it really? There was always so much more to oppose than to foster in Myrken. The child was the least of it, and this was the first of it, the first of the two equal impulses. The second, more favorable (not that she might not appreciate the sheer severity and extremity of the first), was about what he unquestionably wanted: her, them, more of her, more of them, for this, whatever it was and whatever it wasn't and whatever it might be, as little or as much, insufficient or topped to the brim and overflowing, not to end. Whatever her current affliction, whatever his but mostly whatever hers, with time it might pass and they might find another way, a way back to letters or a way forward to tales told instead of written or even, though his brain, sublime as it might be, was hardly imaginative enough to picture it, to memories made instead of simply recounted and examined and contrasted. Her primary goal being the child and the means she went about seizing it would have ruined all that. It was an undeniable end to the "and" of him and her, and truly, here at the end of all that he might have ever been; here, hanging on after his story had unmistakably ended; here, the ghost of a footnote hanging to the bottom of a page that not even obsessed completionists would have reached, what did he have to live for save for that "and" between them.

"We cross lines now so," and his voice caught, finally. His brain was almost always ahead of his voice, for while both were swift, one was swifter. Now, though, even his mind hit certain limits. "so that there are lines to be crossed later. I don't know what they are yet, but the idea of a life without more lines ahead of us is one tragedy too many for my frail tulthurian..." To bear. The brain caught up. There were other limits, like how he couldn't tell her, not now and not here, that he couldn't bear something or that it might be unbearable. Instead, he spiraled off to some sort of self-deprecating blather which hardly suited and the brain outpacing the rest of him and forcing realization of that very quality, his cheeks took on a slightly red tint.

Then she saved him with her objection and brain and voice decided to walk forward in harmony, both holding a tone of rather appalled patience. "Why would I have to tell her a thing? With a kidnapping, yes, of course, without a doubt. For cosmic meddling, even the like that one's only seen in stories? Well, that's women's business and therefore what business is it of mine? Especially when i was the one to prevent the kidnapping and give her a sporting chance to be a mother in the first place, not that she need ever know that either."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Wed Jul 28, 2021 6:47 am

Blushing was a cause for alarm. Likewise stammering. All at once, she was a flutter of dismay. Her fingers went over his lips—a bit like damming a river one-handed, that—and her brow furrowed with consternation. “Ah…no, don’t. Don’t say any more.” She huffed with exasperation and tried to smile, but it was too worried to be winsome. “Tragedy indeed. You always make the most simple things sound so dire. Of course there are more lines.”

Her hand eased away from his face, and her wrist settled back over his shoulders, as near to armslength as he might allow. She still felt tense and shivery, ready to dart out of reach. “I can understand it might seem overwhelming to you, who are still unaccustomed to feeling much at all. Everything balances on verge of catastrophe. But this is all quite ordinary.”

She frowned, studying him, then bowed her head. She spoke slowly, picking her way through a maze of words. “I do not want to cross this particular line, for now, because I can’t be certain…on top of everything else, I would never be certain an it were true or if this was all another ploy, that you would show me something of yourself when you cannot but know how I crave it, all to bring me to agreement. I confess, this is much preferable to you slitting your wrists but the damage would be done, all the same. I would always wonder.” Her dry throat clicked when she swallowed; she had to suck her own parched tongue to carry on speaking. “So would you, I expect. There is no way to prove yourself because I don’t know if you know the truth yourself—how much of what you feel is honest, and how much artifice. You’ve been doing it so long. You were never taught, as I was, how to hold fast to yourself inside your glams. I am sorry for that. But I’m very tired of battering myself against it.”

A quick peek up at him to see if he was still listening.

At the back of her eyes, the sharp glint from the tip of a lure.

She sighed again, shrugged a shoulder, and lay her head down against him again. “So you win. I am done with it. You are better at the game than I.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Fri Jul 30, 2021 7:50 am

He looked. He listened. If he licked his lips, it was only because he wanted to talk as he always wanted to talk. Probably.

Of course, before long he did. "The world is but what we perceive of it," which was his eternal difficulty with glamourie. His arms were around her and he supported her with a sort of ease. He'd held women taller than him before, often (but she was not taller than him currently, but of course, she was; it was one of her defining physical traits. It took all he had to push such thoughts from his mind and to refocus on the moment at hand). "I am not one to lie. If I lose myself in a ploy, it is because the ploy is reasonable and rational. It's because it a better truth than the previous truth that I accepted. Clearer, crisper, more likely, or at least more apt to create a better outcome, while being no less accurate than the other possibility, whatever it may be. Whatever this ploy may be, I must be capable of believing it, and I believe deeply, not lightly."

Which was not an answer, but then she had not asked a question.

"As for winning," and there was real warmth here: in his voice, in his embrace, in everything about him, head to toe, inside and out, and for this moment it was hers save for what was always to be his. He did like winning, and in this case, he was most especially relieved, for if he had lost, he would have lost something dear to him. "I told you. Everyone wins. When you are involved, I don't think I would be happy winning unless I was sure that you had won too."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Mon Aug 02, 2021 4:15 am

Beneath the glam she felt damp and miserable, prickly and uncomfortable, wet hair and slimy, waterlogged boots. Still too flushed, in a way that was rapidly growing embarrassing, as if she might accidentally spill some onto him. She wasn’t used to feeling awkward or uneasy in her own skin. This glam was getting very close to coming out the other side and turning true again.

“I don’t doubt that you believe it, and I don’t doubt that you are truthful. But did we not once write about the difference between honesty and truthfulness?” She fitted her arms back around his waist. “It’s a tool for you. Even when it’s true. You give nothing away without there be some gain in it. I do it, too. That is how the glam be played. But it takes so much of you away.”

She rested her head and forgot to speak. Awkwardness aside, it was nice to be held. Her thoughts lazily spiraled outward toward creature comforts. A hot bath, hot coffee (hadn’t there been a cup of coffee somewhere?), and sliding between freshly cleaned furs that smelled of the western wind they’d dried in. All comforts these days blurred into Catch: the scent of him, his warmth, the great boom of his heart, the vast stillness he bore about him that seeped into her brain like sleep. Glenn was not Catch. He was small and quick, all angles, collarbone jutting into her cheek. There was no resting with him. She conceded, and here he was sprinting toward the next goal.

“Would it truly make you happy, then, if this is the path I follow?” She studied him, curious. “I have asked you and asked you, and you never say. I don’t think you know how that hurts.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Mon Aug 02, 2021 7:57 am

They had said so much. He wondered, in passing for there was little time to linger, what it was like for them. He wondered this a lot, not out of jealousy or contempt so much as a simple curiosity. He knew full well how he saw the world, but it was different for them. Moreover, it was different from what he had shared with Rhaena. That had almost always been an open sharing of each other's honesty, whereas the shared sort of ebb and flow of a sea of glamourie was more like battering each other in the warmth of competing truths. It was amusing on some level that he seemed more inclined for the latter, even if he, humans in general, were not the water itself but ships sailing through it. He navigated the truths and possibilities but he could not outright create them, not like she could. That was the difference and it had nothing to do with honesty.

There was one more gambit, one more goal, one more lever to push down upon to try to move the immovable, but it wasn't yet the time for that.

Something more direct was ahead of them first. "I will give you a direct answer, but in order to do so, you must speak with exactitude. Just tonight alone, we've discussed a half dozen paths. Some of them overlap and some criss and cross and some lead opposite ways. I need you to tell me which path exactly and then I will tell you, directly, an honest answer whether or not if it would make me happy, so long as it's in my ability to do so."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Mon Aug 02, 2021 9:26 am

Any woman worth her salt can make a man feel himself pushed aside while she stays in his arms, all through a stiffening of the shoulders and a palpable silence. Her eyes averted downward to somewhere near the base of his throat. The set of her jaw looked all the world like a child being shamed into an apology. “As you say. For your silence, I will bide my time. I will watch her from afar and find some way to make this child love me better than its own mother, and when the time is ripe, she will come to me of her own accord.”

It irked her that he would press to extract clarification, but at the same time, she admired his cleverness. He had learned a few things, after all. Not for nothing had she named him her sionnach; it had been a name born on a whim, but it had proven true.

Her grip tightened against his back, and she shook her hair in a spirit of defiance and glared at him, jaw shaking. “Though if that wretch Gloria ever does that child harm, or brings her into danger, no word from you will stay me.”

There. He had an answer. She braced herself for half-a-hundred follow-up questions. If he were wise, he’d have them ready. Or—and her stomach unexpectedly plunged with the thought—he would keep his word and tell her the truth. Quite suddenly, she wasn’t certain she wanted to hear it, whatever it might be. “You don’t need to tell me anything,” she muttered. “Disappointment I have plenty. I don’t need another.”
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Tue Aug 03, 2021 8:34 am

"Yes, it would make me happy," he stormed over her final request as if she'd never said it, or at least that he never heard it, though the first was a falsehood and the second unlikely. She deserved that much. His embrace had not changed for all of her shifting; it hadn't become warmer or more natural either. It was like hugging a letter, though at least she was less likely to get cut. To the quick, perhaps.

He said it because he meant it, but he also said it because he meant to say more. Wisdom, in this case, was at odds with well, the entire point of all of it. "You will halt whatever indirect machinations are already in place to steal the child even if you cannot recoup what you have already spent to set them in motion. As for danger and harm, there is immediate dire harm and long-standing harm, and if possible, and let us show one another a bit of faith and goodwill on the margins here, you will first consult with me on any matter that is long-standing as opposed to immediate before acting. Gloria harms and helps those around her every time she opens her mouth after all. Sometimes it is more the other than the one, but it usually more the one than the other." That drew a little laugh from him, enough so that he'd press a head towards her shoulder just for a moment. Rare it was that he'd laugh at his own joke, but it was an emotional time.

With a swallow he withdrew the few necessary inches to continue. There had not been a litany of questions, but instead one firm line and then a hope that they might trust one another and merely the one. "And in return, I will not get in the way of a godmother loving her goddaughter as best she can. You'll have many years to think about that love and what might be best for the child. Perhaps the answer you come up with will be a rather broader answer than you have now."

Which was all he dared and more than he should dare. She'd not strike him down for that now. "So yes, you've made me happy. I need to find some purpose here among these people, some hope of positive change. You need to be a queen that can save yours. You need the child. You want Catch. I see the difference now between those two things; you've spoken it and I've listened. I want you in my life. You want me in your life. You saw me before you. I have no happiness without you, without your letters and careful ideas, without your sudden surprises and gestures, without your tempests and without your sunlight. Whatever tomorrow may bring, what other paths may be before us, you have made me happy by accepting a future that we may face together, however long it may be."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Wed Aug 04, 2021 5:00 am

As he laid out his conditions, she wilted more and more, her face closing up in sullen stubbornness. Glamourie being what it was, by the time he was done, the top of her head came a little below his nose and her waist felt waifish and insubstantial, as though his very words diminished her. In the end, she remained silent.

You will this and you will that. Commanding a Queen as though ordering a servant. Catch would have hauled back and struck him across the face. But Catch was Catch, while Fionn was Fionnuala ni Niall, last of the Nialls, first Tuatha to set foot on the Mainland since the Crossing, who walked out of the High Court when the Queen meant her to die there. She knew who she was, and what she wanted.


“You do set a high price for your happiness, don’t you?” Her voice was tight and bitter—although, amusingly, once she opened her eyes to find herself looking up, she gracefully elongated and filled out to put them level once more. Frowning, she touched her hand to his jaw. “If you mean all that,” she said quietly, “then I will heed you. But if you say it, you are bound to it. Ten or twenty or thirty winters along, however many you live to see, if ever it should prove you said nothing but what would make me stay my hand, then you…”

She swallowed the last of that sentence, shaking her head. “This is what keeps me, Glenn. I feel…if I truly trusted you, I could never have a second thought such as that.”

Now we pause. Now we count heartbeats, one, two, all the way to ten. Now we take a breath, and hesitate. All as intricate and deliberate as the steps of a dance. But the hesitation was real, and heavy. It slid down from her chest all the way to the pit of her stomach as though she had swallowed a stone.

She met his eyes. “You told me once what would happen if I tried to trick you out of a kiss,” she said, “but what if I should ask for one?”
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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