#how poetic to start this film with blood and end it in blood as well
janeaustenlover · 3 months
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“What's this, Sara? What's this blood, Sara?”
Cerdita (2022), dir. Carlota Pereda
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prettygirlsarepsycho · 2 months
Female Suffering is beautiful?
I have not posted on tumblr in a while because I was not doing well mentally. I've honestly been struggling a lot with depression, anxiety, and my bpd. One thing I've noticed in particular over the past few months, when you're not feeling well and you like some posts online that fit your depressed mood, it happens quickly that the algorithm keeps suggesting more and more to you on that particular topic/mood causing you to fall down a rabbit hole.
Regardless of this, it is also not unheard of that in the "coquette community" one often encounters stories that romanticize the pain, suffering and oppression of women. Some good examples of this in music are Lana del Rey's "Ultraviolence," in which the singer talks about, among other things, not being able to leave a violent relationship because every punch from her counterpart feels as good as a kiss. Another example in film is "The Lover (1992)", where a young girl, despite abuse, stays with her way too-old husband and it is presented as a beautiful love story.
But why do we romanticise and downplay suffering especially when it comes to the female gender? Why does depression suddenly become this poetic, desirable, fascinating thing?
In order to answer this question properly we have to talk about gender roles and how women came to be "the weaker sex". Nowadays, it is assumed that thousands of years ago, when the human species came into being and men and women had no understanding of each other they still shared a strong bond called  ‘The Naked Ape’, despite their physical and behavioral differences. Males and females stayed together thereby creating family like arrangements. Starting from birth their human babies required care and supervision, regardless of gender. But when they approached the age of puberty, significant differences were experienced by them due to biological differences.
Girls started menstruating and had no control over it. Because humans were hunters and had seen blood only in life-ending situations, they started associating menstrual blood with physical disability. This belief was strengthened due to the pains and cramps experienced by menstruating women. Further, women kept on bearing children as there was no understanding of control on child birth. Both these facts, added to the then prevalent short life expectancy, led to a situation where women were either in the stage of pregnancy or post partum care during most of their adult life.
As a result, women in general were never in a state of physical or emotional fitness which would enable them to leave their abode and participate in typically male activities such as hunting and collecting food. During all these stages, they required complete care and support from men, both physically and emotionally. Thus, women became dependent upon men. This strong feeling of weak physical health in their minds made them literally a ‘weaker’sex.
As said, the labor to which women are condemned, like the process of childbirth, generates sensitivity and empathy in us. From this comes a moral knowledge for women, not because they are in a female body, but because of what female bodies are made to do. Giving birth is not only a psychological task, but also a physically demanding one. Because we are able to endure such pain and bounce back shortly after to care for our children, studies show that hospitals often overestimate women's ability to endure pain. This pattern is also evident in the commonly used saying, "If you hit a woman, you hit a rock." This sounds tremendously empowering and encouraging, but I believe that such rhetoric does more harm than good. I believe that women should not be rocks because being hit is inevitable. When we romanticize the idea that women are made to endure suffering and that their strength lies in their resilience, we create more room for abuse of power against them.
Now that we have clarified the historical background of why women are considered more fragile, why is their suffering ultimately beautiful?
Susan Sontag has described the nineteenth-century flowering of a "nihilistic and sentimental" logic that found appeal in female suffering: "Sadness made one 'interesting.' It was a sign of sophistication, of sensitivity, to be sad. It meant being powerless." This attraction largely carried over to the disease: "Sadness and tuberculosis became synonyms," she writes, and both were coveted. Sadness was interesting, and the disease was its servant, providing not only cause but symptoms and metaphors: an agonizing cough, a pallid pallor, an emaciated body. "The melancholic character was a superior character: sensitive, creative, an independent being," she writes. Illness was "a burgeoning weakness … symbolized an attractive vulnerability, a superior sensitivity, [and] became more and more the ideal look for women."
Women's pain turns them into kittens and rabbits and sunsets and dirty goddesses of red satin; it makes them pale and bloody and starves them, delivers them to death camps and sends their strands of hair to the stars. Men put them on trains and under trains. Violence makes them heavenly. Age makes them old. We cannot look away. We can't stop thinking up new ways to hurt them!
I cannot lie and say that I have not become a victim of this romanticization of grief. Why would I see my depression as an illness that makes it difficult for me to take care of my physical health, hygiene and goals, when I can ignore the harsh reality and present it as a fascinating melancholic experience? It's just easier to deal with when mental illness is portrayed desirably.
Thank you guys for reading!! If there's anything you need to talk about you can write me a dm on Instagram @purelypoisonousapple
-Lia ♡
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starilicious · 2 years
ishq wala love (echo x gn!reader)
》 summary: reader comforts an insecure echo after the end of tbb episode 4 "cornered" about having mechanical parts as part of his body.
》 word count: ~2.2k
click here to read on AO3
》 warnings: slight sensory overload, mild panic attack (i think it could be classified as relatively vague in regards to the description), insecure echo about his body, a teensy bit of in universe swearing, lots of flufffff and a dash of angst here and there, no use of y/n [if i should add more warnings, please let me know!]
》 spoilers: extremely mild ones from tbb episode 4 "cornered"
》 a/n: hello! this is my first tbb fic, so i really hope i do the show, the characters, and the fandom justice hehe ^_^ over the past few days, i've become obsessed with tbb fics, particularly the echo x reader ones bc my GOODNESS this man is such a soft bean who deserves all the love in the galaxy. as a result, please enjoy this sleep-deprived frenzy of a fic that i wrote at 1 am and let me know your thoughts! :)
》 misc. notes:
• title of the fic is from the hindi song "ishq wala love" from the film student of the year. i've linked the song (in blue) with some pretty good english translations in case you would like to take a listen, but it isn't necessary for the fic–i just thought it fit well!
• i kind of got way too invested in building up the environment at the beginning, so apologies if it seems like a slow start! i just had to indulge in having the other characters there too <3
• please ignore the inaccuracies of the havoc marauder. i don't really know what the ship looks like, especially the living quarters, so i unintentionally ended up using the ghost from swr to guide my writing for that part.
• what the reader says at the end about the word in love in her native language is true. the language i'm referring to here is hindi, and we have several different words for love. in my very humble opinion, i think it’s one of the many characteristics of the language that makes hindi so sweet-sounding and poetic :)
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After Tech piloted the Bad Batch away from Pantora and safely entered hyperspace, you all decided to turn in to get some rest–or at least attempt to. With the bounty hunter scare, you and the boys figured it would be best to discuss what to do tomorrow morning, for Omega’s sake.
You tucked Omega in with her doll and offered her a comforting smile. “Don’t worry ‘Meg,” you said softly, running a gentle hand through her cropped blonde hair. “You’ll be safe, I promise. You’re stuck with us for life.”
Omega smiled sleepily at your teasing and held her arms out for a hug, one which you gladly indulge. “Sweet dreams, love,” you murmur as you let go. You shut off the lamp in her makeshift room and closed the curtains as you climbed down the ladder.
You turned around to find Hunter looking at you from his seat in front of the blinking controls. You raised an eyebrow as you plopped down in front of him unceremoniously, the exhaustion of the action-packed day catching up to you.
"You're good with her," he murmured as you both glanced at the light beige divider and you shrugged in response.
"Just looking out for her. Besides, you're not so bad yourself. She mimics your every move," you grinned. Hunter chuckled fondly as he recalled the memory where they were all stuck in the Kaminoan prison cell and Omega copied his every gesture.
The two of you lapsed in a comfortable silence as you mulled over the day's events, the hum of the ship thrumming beneath your feet.
"We'll be okay. It's tiring and difficult and none of us know how to raise a child, but we'll be okay," you said, breaking the quiet with optimism. You placed a hand on Hunter's shoulder and smiled. "Crosshair will be okay too. Have faith."
Hunter sighed but nodded in agreement as he put his hand over yours. "Goodnight," he said as he stood up, stretching his muscles.
"Sleep well."
You sat at the small table for a few more minutes to think before standing up yourself. You quickly checked in on Tech in the cockpit since he was on watch, and he immediately shooed you away, insisting you get some sleep. You had a feeling he only did so to optimize the ship in peace without distractions.
Nevertheless, you obliged and left him alone. Walking to the back of the ship, you completed your rounds. Wrecker was snoring loudly and you stifled a laugh. At least he was sleeping well–it was all you could ask for really. But frankly, you had no idea how Crosshair was ever able to sleep through it. Thinking about him and seeing his empty bunk made your heart pang in loss, but you were as determined as the rest of them to somehow bring him back. You had to.
You opened the door to Hunter and Tech’s shared room to find Hunter already sleeping soundly and you quickly left. With his enhanced senses, he was already a light sleeper, and compounded with his responsibilities as a leader, he rarely got any rest. You worried for him.
Last stop was your and Echo's room. You stepped in to find the light still on. Echo was sitting on the floor in front of your bunk, staring at the ground.
"Hey there handsome," you joked lightly in an attempt to get his attention and mask your unease. Echo usually only came near your bunk when something was wrong and after everything that happened today, it was safe to say you were concerned.
Echo didn't respond. Did he hear me? You make your way over to your lover and sit down in front of him. You place your hands on top of his.
"Echo, honey?" You said softly and finally finally he looked up at you. Your heart dropped into your stomach.
"Oh, darling," you breathed and you moved to his side to envelop him into a hug, his head resting comfortably in the crook of your neck. You didn’t say anything more–you saw the deep pain swirling in his eyes, the grief, the loss. The anger. You let Echo take the lead; you knew how difficult it was to wrangle raging thoughts and muster them into words.
You didn’t know how much time passed of you two sitting on the floor, breathing each other in before Echo spoke.
“Today… when we went on the supply run, I was dressed as a droid.”
You bit your lip, knowing exactly where this was going. But you didn’t interrupt, letting him continue. Your thumb rubbed absentmindedly on his arm as you listened.
“That vendor we were talking to wouldn't take what we had. And then he saw me,” Echo took a deep breath. You stayed quiet, holding his hand in a manner that you hoped soothed his anxieties at least a little bit.
“Hunter sold me as a droid to him. I-I know he doesn’t see me as a droid. I know that. But–” Echo’s voice cracked. He cleared his throat of the emotion building up. Echo didn’t know how to express what he wanted to say. He didn’t even want to speak it aloud–that would make it feel too real. And Echo severely doubted he could handle the heartbreak. Can I do this?
“Cyar’ika,” he murmured and you hummed in response. Echo pulled away from you, his hand still in yours. Now or never. “I need you to be completely, absolutely, 100% honest with me,” he whispered. Echo steeled his expression, doing his best to hide how terrified he truly was.
You nodded because of course you would be. When were you not?
But the way Echo gazed at you threw you off. Something was wrong, very wrong. You were almost scared of what he would say next, but you made a gesture for him to say what was on his mind. Clearly, this was important.
“Do you really want to be with me when I’m just–” Echo struggled with the last few words and you strained to pick them up with how they caught in his throat. “–a pathetic, disgusting, hybrid machine?” It’s out, I said it. I said it. Echo felt like he couldn’t breathe, the pressure on his chest too much, too much. He stared down at the floor, face flooded with shame.
You stared at him in blatant disbelief, eyebrows furrowed and mouth open from a shocked laugh. No no no Echo. You’re nothing of the sort. You didn’t move. Echo’s breath hitched as he looked back up at you, broken and open and raw.
“Don’t lie, please don’t lie to me. I know there's no way you could ever love me when I… when I look like this,” Echo whispered, but he may as well have shouted with the way the blood was rushing through your ears.
And then something in you snapped.
You removed your hands from his and placed them on his cheeks, pulling him in until your foreheads were touching. “Echo, you need to listen to me,” you instructed and heaved a breath as you tried to sort your own rushing thoughts into articulated words. But the effort was futile as your careful speech turned into a haphazard and passionate stream of consciousness.
His eyes glistened with unshed tears and your heart broke into pieces. Echo gave you all of his attention. What are you going to say? He didn’t want you to agree, but he would understand if you did. Echo felt disgusted with himself. The walls were closing in on him. Breathing was getting harder.
“You are the best damn thing that has ever happened to me. I don’t give one flying banthashit about any of your mechanical parts. If anyone ever says anything about them, they’re di’kuts and you can send them my way because I will not hesitate to punch some sense into them,” you spat with pure determination, not even noticing the Mando’a slip. After being surrounded by clones for so long, you absorbed bits and pieces of the language. You didn’t even register how Echo picked up on the word, much too focused on getting your point across. You were a person on a mission and nothing would stand in your way.
The knot in Echo’s stomach was loosening a bit, the storm in his mind beginning to break. The walls were a bit farther from him. He wasn’t drowning in his own presence anymore.
“Because you know what? You’re still my Echo. You’re a man, my dear. Not a machine. You never were, and never will be. These parts?” you gestured to his scomp link, his legs, the cybernetic implant in his head. “They mean nothing. Absolutely nothing. Don’t focus on them.”
You smiled sadly as you rubbed your thumbs gently on his cheeks. “I fell in love with you, Echo, not your body. I love the way you make me laugh, the way you comfort me, the way you cry with me. As much as I kriffing hate that you have been through so much pain because of those damned Separatists, I’m grateful for the fact that I’m in love with a man who would do anything for his family, for his brothers.”
A tear slipped down your cheek as you remembered Fives coming back home from the Citadel but no Echo in sight. You would never admit it to anyone, but you swore a piece of you had died that day.
Echo felt like he was going to cry. The pressure that had been building up in his chest was releasing. He could breathe again, slowly, slowly. His only focus was you, was your words. The artificial lights didn’t seem to be as glaring now. They were softer, calmer.
“Echo, my love, even through it all, you not only survived, but you came out on top, victorious,” you paused, briefly overcome with how much love and gratitude you had for this wonderful man. “You came back to me, Echo, and you’re as handsome as ever. I have never stopped loving you, and never will. Don’t you ever forget that darling.”
Echo drew in a shaky breath. The harsh cold of the floor grates was biting into his skin, but he didn’t care. It grounded him as much as your warm touch on his face. He could breathe again. My cyar’ika.
Your fiery and passionate emotional speech came to an end as you stared into your lover’s eyes. There was so much more you could say, but you feared words would not be able to convey it all. You hoped your eyes would be enough to soothe his pained and tired soul.
Silent tears trailed down Echo’s face and you gently brushed them away as you pulled him into a tight hug. It was all you could do to not cry yourself. Echo was always so strong–you admired him for it.
“Thank you,” he whispered, voice thick with appreciation and love. You didn’t say anything. There was no need to. The charged air between you both was enough. The two of you sat in a comfortable silence on the floor of the Havoc Marauder, deep in your own thoughts.
“Ishq wala love,” you muttered fondly after some time, still caught up in your own mind.
“Hm?” Echo questioned, curious as to what you said. The soft sound gently pulled you out of the clouds and back to the man in your arms as you attempted to explain.
“There’s a phrase in my native language, ishq wala love. You see, in Basic, there’s just one word for love, which is love. But back home, we have several different words for love, each with their own subtle, but distinct meaning,” you blew out a breath as you tried to figure out what to say. Echo was hanging on to your every word.
“There’s… there isn’t really a direct translation, but the best I can come up with is that the love that we have, ishq, is much deeper than just romantic love. It’s deep and strong and pure and unyielding. It–it reminded me of us,” you admitted, a bit sheepish. Your fingers dance along Echo’s scomp link, nervous.
Echo took a moment to process your explanation before smiling. You felt your heart stitch itself back together again after seeing that beautiful smile. You would do anything to keep it on his lovely face.
“Ishq wala love,” he echoed, his pronunciation a bit off. You giggled in response. “Close enough,” you teased and Echo simply beamed. You leaned in and planted a chaste kiss on his soft lips, rubbing his metal arm gently.
Echo stood up then, offering a hand to you to help you up. You took it and he led you over to the bunk you shared together. You both quickly climbed in, relaxing in the warmth of the well worn blankets and the other’s presence.
Your head was near his chest and you could hear the soothing dull sound of his steady heartbeat. Your arm curled over his waist protectively and your head rested comfortably on his flesh arm. Echo shut off the light and you were ensconced in black velvety darkness.
“Goodnight, cyar’ika.”
“Sweet dreams, Echo. I’ll be here, waiting for you.”
please consider reblogging! it really helps me and is super encouraging ^_^
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drjackandmissjo · 2 years
I don’t want to keep secrets just to keep you
(but I’ll do what I must for there’s no me without you)
*** Set throughout the course of their 7th and final year at Hogwarts, this story follows Slytherin's finest and one of the only sane members of the House, Blaise Zabini, as he navigates war-torn friendships, school under a dictatorial regime, Death Eaters and, most importantly, his secret relationship with none other than the new leader of the DA, known blood-traitor, Gryffindor, Neville Longbottom.
A sequel to my previous story: Firewhisky on ice, sunset and vine, you’ve ruined my life by not being mine
Chapter 1 --- next chapter
Harry Potter fic masterlist
29th of July 1997
“I have to admit: I enjoyed the film way more than I expected to,” he said once they had left the muggle theatre. The air had become chilly during the time they had spent inside, but neither of them was bothered by that: they were used to colder climates, after all, spending most of the year in Scotland. And for all its spells and constant fires, one thing always must be said about Hogwarts: certain rooms and corners had never seen the light of the sun and they surely behaved as such, even during warm days.
Like the Potions classrooms, while Snape was their Professor. Those dungeon rooms looked and smelled and felt every bit of humidity that came from being so close to the lake and that, even with the countless explosions that Theo and the Fire Kid from Gryffindor caused with each lesson, could never get anything warmed up. A Hungarian Horntail could breathe fire in there for 24 hours straight and it would still be humid and wet and cold.
It was a good thing Professor Slughorn had decided to move the classrooms up on the fourth floor, in rooms full of windows and light. Blaise could have easily gone without having to add to his ever-growing list of worries his skin getting dehydrated with the stained and stale air that circulated down there.
He watched from the corner of his eye Neville nod along to his statement in agreement, before casually running a hand through his hair and messing them up even further. No matter how hard he tried to keep them neat and proper, like his grandmother wanted them to be, the strands appeared to have a life on their own, especially when certain Slytherin hands had free reign in between them whenever they were alone.
Besides, it really wasn’t Blaise’s fault: Neville had decided he wanted to grow them out, instead of cutting them just as his grandmother suggested on the daily, and, much to Blaise’s happiness, now his bangs framed his face divinely, making for a perfect place to leave his hands whenever they were else occupied.
He also enjoyed the way Neville would scoff in pretended annoyance whenever he disarrayed them and then would shake his head in disbelief at his antics, aiding Blaise’s purpose even further.
And, really, who could blame him? If Blaise wasn’t as in love with the dorky plant-head Gryffindor as he already was, he’d fall even harder at the sight of him with his funky tousled hair and puffy lips as he took a bite out of Blaise’s food without asking first.
He had been so glad that day, having bought a muggle camera that worked similarly to a magical one but that was way easier to manage. He had taken dozens of stills of them, never seeming to get enough of Neville’s smiling face and of his own relaxed and happy one. For Salazar’s soul, he had even sent one of the two of them smiling to his mother, after she kept on asking to at least see the young man that had enchanted her son.
She had replied to his letter the following day, with a simple: “Rule number fifty-one: don’t let him go.”
Blaise had never once wanted to disappoint his mother and definitely wouldn’t start now.
“I don’t really like the way it ended, though. The part where J removed K’s memories was a nice touch, but I feel like we didn’t have enough time with neither,” Neville commented, shoving his hands inside his jeans’ pockets as they kept on walking further and further away from the theatre, undoubtedly to stop himself from doing something idiotic like holding Blaise’s hand when there were still people around.
Given the current political and non-political air that permeated both the Wizarding World and Britain, the two young men had decided that it would be best to limit their encounters only to muggle areas in London, although they would still have to maintain a rather low and inconspicuous profile. It had become incredibly easy to be together without raising suspicions, especially with almost an entire school year of experience sneaking around the castle, but they still preferred to be cautious, to hide from both dark wizards and close-minded muggles.
Neville still lived with his grandmother, but she had become less strict during the course of his first week back at home from school and didn’t really bother him with the amount of time he stayed out, as long as he spent the nights at home. Besides, in her own words, they all had ‘bigger problems than teenagers breaking curfew a little bit to meet with their friends.’ Blaise couldn’t believe that he could ever agree with Augusta Longbottom, but he had seen stranger things happen.
Still, when Neville told him, he had been so shocked he had choked on his drink, causing the Gryffindor to laugh at the spectacle he had created with his Cola.
Blaise himself had been invited to spend his vacation at either Malfoy Manor and the Nott’s, both families offering their hospitality and implicit protection, but he had declined immediately under the ruse of a simple: ‘I live with you the whole year, I need my space and I need to breathe proper air that isn’t tainted with your disgusting deodorant.’ While the sentiment itself was true, he did not want to risk being found out with Neville, a known ‘blood traitor’. Not to mention the part of him being a guy. And a Gryffindor.
Blaise wasn’t really certain about which part would get him into more trouble and wasn’t willing to find out anytime soon.
Therefore, he had chosen to stay at his father’s old bachelor apartment in London, while his mother moved back to France, not wanting to be anywhere near the War that was brewing.
He had asked Neville to stay with him as soon as he was done cleaning the place, making it welcoming and a cosy retreat for them, but his adorable boyfriend couldn’t leave his despotic grandmother alone the entire time, especially not now that the waters were rough.
Always the selfless Gryffindor.
They had retorted then in meeting for random dates almost daily, which had been heavenly. Neville would show up at his apartment with Floo Powder, since he hadn’t taken his Apparition Examination yet, and then they’d just walk around muggle London, as if they had no care in the world. They still kept their guards up, checking every corner for danger that could be avoided, but they tried to ignore the Damocles Sword that hung above their necks.
Which had led them to the muggle theatre on more than one occasion. It had been a perfect idea: in the darkened room nobody questioned why they were holding hands or sharing the popcorn; and they wouldn’t risk anyone from the Wizarding World discovering them, those who would cause them troubles too high on their brooms to even look down at something as mundane as a muggle theatre.
They had also gone to muggle museums and parks and bookstores and restaurants, but Blaise loved the privacy the theatres offered, he loved the way Neville would get engrossed in the stories, he loved the way their hands would link together as suspense built on the screen, he loved to discuss the film afterwards and to dissect every aspect that he found interesting.
And he loved Neville, so it was all an added bonus.
There was a small theatre nearby his place that was quiet and seldom fraught and that allowed them to spend their evenings together, with the walk towards it full of the most random topic the pair could come up with and the walk back usually occupied with their thoughts and opinions about the film they had just watched. Neither of them had been too well versed in muggle culture to begin with, but it was very easy to pick up, especially with the way the family-owned theatre would sometimes project well-known and older productions, instead of only showing the recent ones.
It made the muggle spectacle even more fascinating, in Blaise’s eyes.
“It was kind of poetic, like a rite of passage and everything, but I understand what you mean,” Blaise said as they kept on walking, itching to grab Neville’s hand but holding himself back for the time being: they were still under the scrutiny of the public eye, after all. He’d have to wait until they turned two corners and were finally alone in the streets to finally place his hands on his boyfriend’s. With moderation, of course. “I feel like the story isn’t finished, especially with the way they had the doctor become an Agent. I understand that she had had her memory wiped more times than Lockhart, but she seemed fine! I don’t know, that ending left me pretty unsatisfied as well.”
His boyfriend huffed out a laugh at that and began to silently shake his head: “Lockhart got obliviated only once, by his own spell bouncing back from Ron’s broken wand. Compared to him, that doctor got her brain scrambled on the daily. But you’re right, it would have been so much better if she kept her job and was on the loop with the alien stuff.”
“Speaking of Lockhart, I wonder how’s he doing…” Blaise inquired, scratching his neck. It had been over three years since anyone had heard of the famous wizard and pretty much everyone had seemed to have forgotten about him. It was such a mystery for some, his sudden disappearance after his year teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts.
Yet again, pretty much all the students at Hogwarts knew of the curse on that position, which made his absence plausible, but to have such a well renowned and celebrated man vanish into thin air after publishing a controversial book where he told the world he had no memory of who he had ever been, it was more than suspicious.
“At St. Mungo’s, giving out autographs Godric knows what for,” Neville answered his implicit question with nonchalance, “I see him sometimes when I go visit Mum and Dad.”
During the time they had been together, Neville had slowly begun to tell Blaise about what had happened to his family: how they were members of the original Order of the Phoenix, fighting the Dark Lord during the First War; how Dumbledore had suggested they hid as well as the Potters, because of some prophecy that would connect their children with the Dark Lord himself; how, after he was defeated and the Potters were killed, his parents were tracked down by four remaining Death Eaters and tortured to insanity; how they now stayed at St. Mungo’s, without a single memory of their son, completely out of their minds.
Blaise had always been cold and calculative and preferred to keep a rational outlook to the world, but when he saw, for the first time since that new information, Bellatrix Lestrange, at Malfoy Manor, free and enjoying life, his blood had begun to boil. He had never wanted to murder someone as much as he did in that moment, forcing himself to maintain a smile on his face and to pretend like he wasn’t ready to slaughter someone. When he came back home that night after dinner with Draco and his wretched family, he had spent an entire hour in the shower, scrubbing at his skin as if he could erase the memory of that wretched woman, drinking wine and telling them all about the Cruciatus Curse and how useful it could be to a dark wizard. He had kept that piece of information hidden from Neville, even though he had recounted pretty much the entire evening the following day, while his boyfriend attempted to calm him down from his homicidal plans, without truly knowing what had instigated them.
And he would never know, for Blaise would go to any lengths to avoid his sweet and loving boyfriend any pain. He had already suffered too much, in his short life.
“Really, he’s at St. Mungo’s?” Blaise asked, trying to distract himself from those dark thoughts. When he was with Neville, it almost felt as if Death Eaters didn’t exist, as if the Dark Lord hadn’t risen again, as if they weren’t on the verge of War. “I thought the whole ‘Who Am I?’ book was all a plan to disappear after he botched our second year without being bothered and now you tell me that Weasley sent him to the healers and basically deprived the Wizarding World of that perfectly blinding smile?” Neville playfully shoved him to the side with his shoulder, lingering a little in his touch as they kept on walking, just as restless as he was to be behind closed doors and to have their privacy and safety: “Ron didn’t send him anywhere and he got what he deserved,” he commented sheepishly, regarding Blaise with a blinding smile of his own.
And Blaise definitely preferred his boyfriend’s smile, so true and sincere and warm and just perfect, rather than anything their former fraud of a professor had ever shared.
“He spent the entire year pretending he could do shit and leaving me hanging from the ceiling, multiple times, and then, at the first sign that he needed to be a responsible adult, he tried to Obliviate Harry and Ron and leave Ginny down with the Basilisk. They got so lucky that Lockhart took Ron’s wand that still hadn’t been repaired, otherwise they’d all still be down there.” Then, as if in an afterthought, he added: “And don’t worry, he still got that smile,” his face reddened and visible even in the dimly lit street.
“No need being jealous of a man who isn’t even worth the mud under your shoes, Nev,” he teased, enjoying how his boyfriend would stammer embarrassed at being discovered.
“I’m not jealous!” he defended himself, but the crimson on his cheeks spoke of another story.
Blaise itched to cup his cheeks and to feel the warmth of his skin, but they were still in the middle of a street that was fairly illuminated and with people around. Therefore he did the next best thing: returned on a safer conversational path. “Oh, yeah, I remember about Weasley’s wand,” he said, laughing at the memory, “It bounced back that Slug-vomiting charm that was aimed at Draco. We had a blast that day, when he told us the story.” “Glad some of you enjoyed it, with your sick sense of humour,” Neville said, shuffling his hands inside of his pockets as they moved closer and closer to the corner that would lead them to the apartment, “poor Ron had to carry a bucket wherever he went for two days straight!”
Blaise couldn’t help himself: maybe it was the serious way he defended his friend, or maybe it was the image of a tiny second-year Weasley carrying around the entire castle a bucket to throw up slugs in, undoubtedly aided by an equally tiny Saint Potter with a bewildered tiny Grander following suit and reprimanding them both, but he just burst up laughing, his entire body shaking with it as he put his hands over his stomach, to try and regain his composure.
Yet, all thoughts of etiquette were damned as soon as he heard his boyfriend join in, his own laugh bright and pure and just perfect.
And the icing on their cake laid in the fact that they were alone, without anyone watching them, and they could just be themselves. Blaise didn’t hesitate a moment into grabbing Neville’s hand, enjoying the warmth that the Gryffindor radiated. They kept on laughing and holding hands as they walked back to the one place they could call theirs.
They all but ran the few meters that kept them vulnerable, staggering over the stairs as if they were drunk. It was a somehow good paragon, considering how inebriated they were with each other, and Blaise couldn’t stop thinking about how wonderful his life was in that moment. He could just be himself, around Neville, without having to worry about composure or secrets or manners.
When they closed the door behind their backs and stumbled inside of the apartment, they didn’t even open the electrical lights up, too engrossed in making up for the time they hadn’t been allowed to share, close and up in each other’s personal space.
Blaise would’ve been content in simply existing there, in the tiny apartment that once belonged to his late father, with his hands up on his boyfriend’s hair as he worked and worried over Neville’s exposed neck, slowly undoing the buttons of his shirt, watching him lean against a wall for support once his legs had given up completely. The outside world didn’t matter anymore, not to him, not when he had Neville’s hands on him. He’d be glad dying there, in his arms, unbothered by the imminent war, by his friends, by their duties.
But reality had to crash down on them at some point.
Neville removed his mouth from his, panting and with his eyes shut, savouring for one more moment their closeness. Blaise studied his face from the short distance, as he always loved doing, recognising his boyfriend’s reluctance to separate. Yet, his duty would win, as it always did, and he would take a step back, trying to recompose himself and running a hand through his hair.
It was long due a haircut, by now, but Blaise was an egoist and wanted the length to stay for a little longer. Besides, when September came, his grandmother would definitely cut it, even against Neville’s will. And Blaise would take whatever he could, when it came to going against Augusta Longbottom.
He hadn’t even met the woman yet and he had already accepted defeat, if it meant keeping Neville in his life. And, while he did not harbour any love for the witch, he was most certain he could keep an amicable front with her, at least, all for Neville’s sake.
That didn’t mean, though, that he didn’t try to stray her grandson into a different path than the one she wanted, at every corner: “Can’t you stay this once?” he asked in a low and sultry voice, fully conscious of what that tone did to his perfect Gryffindor boyfriend, refusing to take a step back and let a single centimetre separate the two of them.
He watched as Neville slowly opened his eyes in the dim light that was filtered by the window from the empty street below. He watched as his throat bobbed as he swallowed, trying to regain his breathing. He watched, powerless, as Neville slipped them over, switching their positions, effectively trapping him against the wall in his arms.
The Gryffindor bent down a little and placed the most chaste and sweet and anticlimactic kiss on Blaise’s lips, driving the Slytherin mad with want and desire, unable to do anything other than comply.
“You know I can’t, flower,” he murmured directly against Blaise’s lips, his own stretching in a wicked smile. Neville Longbottom knew exactly which buttons to press and when to use them all against him: Blaise couldn’t help the shiver that ran over his back at that simple word, still not used to the way the simple pet name made his toes curl and his heart beat out of his chest, nor could he help the sound of appreciation that came out of his throat, and that transformed immediately into one of disappointment as soon as his boyfriend untangled himself from him.
He tried to make some air reach his brain, when Neville stepped back from him once again, leaving him space to breathe and recollect himself while still being infuriatingly close, neither of them wanting to truly part despite their obligations.
“Yes, I unfortunately do…” he answered, still leaning against the wall. He ran his right thumb over his lips, enjoying the way the Gryffindor’s body stiffened at the sight as his eyes tracked the movement. He sometimes still couldn’t believe his luck, especially when Neville looked at him like that, as if he needed all of his strength just to hold back.
Most of the time, Blaise wished he didn’t, yet the knowledge that he was the one to make the apparently timid, placid Schlongbottom, as his friends still believed he was, lose his mind completely was intoxicating. And he lived for those moments and hours when Neville would let go of his composure fully, causing Blaise to follow suit without a single complaint. Because he couldn’t be the farthest from timid or placid, but only he saw that side of him, only he got to enjoy that part of his sweet and amazing boyfriend.
“What are you going to do tomorrow?” Blaise asked almost out of the blue, conscious already of the reply, but wanting to steal some more time alone with the Gryffindor.
He didn’t particularly care that he was abiding by the stereotype that Slytherins were manipulating and tempting, not when Neville would shoot him a blinding but cocky smile as he fired back: “Already missing me?”
“I told you, I’m going to help Luna find a dress for the wedding and Grandma’s organised that family gathering to celebrate my 17th…” he trailed off, scratching the back of his neck, to try to make his blushing less noticeable. Unfortunately for him, in doing so, he had involuntarily made his shirt rise a little, showing off the skin beneath, and Blaise was not going to let such an opportunity pass: he moved closer and snug his arms around his boyfriend’s midriff, planting his hands in the small of his back. “Remind me again why I can’t crash her party and steal you away?” he asked casually, next to his ear, before he began to worry the earlobe with his teeth.
Neville seemed to be at a loss for words under Blaise’s ministrations, which was entirely his goal, but he eventually did manage to speak again: “Because she doesn’t know about us, since if she did we’ll never hear the end of it ‘cause we were keeping this a secret, and you are a Slytherin and I am a Gryffindor, and because she is not allowing me to invite any friends,” he said, his voice firm and unfaltering, despite the way his hands were holding Blaise close to him, silently begging to keep up with his work.
Not that he was planning to stop anytime soon. Still, some words at the back of his throat itched to be said: “I have a few words I’d like to tell your grandmother and none of them are kind,” Blaise claimed, staring right into Neville’s eyes and wondering how such a stern woman could raise such a loving man. While it was true that she had laid off his back for the time being, she had doubled down on her questions about Neville’s private life: the poor Gryffindor had to retort to lying simply to avoid her finding out about their relationship. It was a good thing that he had quite a vast number of friends and that said friends didn’t interact with his grandmother, because, based on Blaise’s very own experience with pureblood families, everyone knew everything, especially when ‘keeping the lines pure’ was involved and everyone turned out to be related.
For instance, Neville’s white lie for that day’s activity was very simple: “I’m going to play Quidditch with my roommates and we’ll have dinner afterwards.”
When Neville had told him as much, Blaise had exploded into laughter and disbelief. Was it believable for his boyfriend to play Quidditch? Absolutely not, but he shared a dormitory with Weasley, Thomas and Saint Potter, therefore he played by proxy. It would have equally been absurd for his grandmother to and not to believe him, which was what made the lie incredibly clever.
Blaise shook his head as he silently snickered at the fresh memory, still hesitant to remove his hands from his boyfriend’s body: “Anyway, who’s getting married now that we’re almost on the brink of war?” he inquired, truly curious. A wedding in the Wizarding World was a very public event, especially when pureblood families were involved, which they must have been, if Lovegood was invited.
All of his friends still kept on calling her Loony, but he had stopped using that epithet, since he had begun to consider her a friend as well, thanks to their mutual connection to Neville. And she was an excellent friend, both to him and his boyfriend, kind and compassionate and considerate.
He had already begun to wonder about who the couple must have been, considering no one in his circles had mentioned anything, when Neville spoke, making him understand exactly why nobody amongst the purebloods he spent his time around had even known or cared about such a thing: “Bill Weasley, Ron’s eldest brother, and Fleur Delacour.”
“The Triwizard Champion? How did they even meet?” he inquired, now even more curious. He had seen the eldest Weasley only once, at Gringotts, and it was in that moment that he first began to question whether or not he was straight. And, to pair that with Beauxbatons’ champion, well… That must have been a hell of a good looking couple!
“I don’t know,” Neville said, leaning his head against Blaise’s shoulder and looking at him with a soft smile through his eyelashes, “but they’re super cute together, at least that’s what Ginny told me.” “And you haven’t been invited?” His boyfriend shrugged at that, Blaise knew he did not particularly care about mundane events and being into the public eye: “No, from what Ginny told me it’s not going to be that big of a ceremony. Only family, close friends of the couple, and neighbours. Which is why Luna’s going, as well as to spend time with Ginny.”
“That’s a shame you won’t be there,” he commented, running for the umpteenth time that eventing his hands through Neville’s hair, as the other wizard stayed there, merely enjoying his ministration while he tried not to fall asleep. It had happened already once, right before he had to leave, and that incident had prompted his grandmother into a speech about the right of an adolescent Gryffindor to a little bit of rule-breaking. “I bet you would’ve looked dashing in a suit.”
“Jealous, darling? You know you could always look at me in a suit, if you’d just let me borrow one…” “Not a chance, caro. Mine are all tailored to perfection for my body,” he said playfully, moving his head to the side to place a small kiss on Neville’s nose, causing the other wizard to blush and giggle, “Besides, I prefer seeing you without a single stitch.” “Blaise! You can’t just say shit like that!” his boyfriend spluttered, trying to get away from his words as if they had just tickled him. He loved the way Neville would get all cute and embarrassed. His usual tell was the blush that started on his cheeks and spread throughout his body, and that was incredibly adorable. Blaise had tried to see just how farther the colour could spread, but he had been distracted in his path, somehow. “Why not? No one is listening and it’s true!” he had begun to retort, only to be shut up quickly as two lips pressed against his own, soft yet insistent, gentle yet commanding. One thing had to be said about Neville Longbottom and that was how efficient he was at quieting him with a single gesture, whether with a kiss or by simply occupying his mind with the little things he always did, essentially being himself, unfiltered.
It took them less time than usual to resurface for once, mainly because Blaise still wanted to know more about the hot new wizarding couple that could definitely take over the world, if the Dark Lord wouldn’t win.
He desperately prayed he wouldn’t, for countless different reasons.
“When is this marvellous event?” he asked, still refusing to put a single millimetre of space in between them.
“In three days, on the first. Luna’s absolutely on her last chance, looking for the perfect dress that won’t attire Wrackspurts,” he commented, shaking his head. Something inside of Blaise told him that it wasn’t the first nor the second time they went out shopping and, if Lovegood was anything like Pansy, it must have not been an easy task chaperoning. Pansy Parkinson could try on an entire street of boutiques, buy every single item of her size, and still lament she had nothing to wear.
“Why? Wanna meet up? I thought we were going for lunch on the second,” Neville added, pulling him out of the horror of the memory of the first time that witch had discovered French Haute Couture: a tornado would’ve left behind less damage.
“Yeah, I’ve been invited to Draco’s for dinner on the first, with all the others…” he trailed off, remembering exactly what had been discussed the previous night amongst the Death Eaters. It wasn’t unusual for Draco and Theo to invite him over, especially since they both believed he was fully on the Dark Lord’s side but was merely acting precious, never truly giving in. And he couldn’t deny an invitation, otherwise it would have looked suspicious. After all, his friends knew that he was staying all alone in London, away from his family, and that he wasn’t fooling around with anyone, which, in their eyes, meant he had a lot of free time.
Free time that they tried to occupy, not wanting to leave him completely alone. Thankfully, they weren’t overbearing, having him over every couple of days or so, respecting his privacy, but whenever an invitation came, he had to follow through.
Now, he couldn’t exactly tell his friends: “No, I’ll pass on spending time with you, I’m going to go watch muggle entertainment with my Gryffindor boyfriend,” could he?
Luckily for his relationship, though, the invites were rather old fashioned, called days prior, and that left him and Neville plenty of time to organize. The only person in their friend group that liked to show up uninvited or unannounced by an owl was Pansy, but she would’ve stayed in Spain until the mid of August, which meant Blaise could breathe a little without having to worry about her finding out his secret. Draco and Theo were way too busy in their official Death Eater work to even want to hang out with him in the mornings and afternoons anyway.
“What is it, B?” Neville asked, undoubtedly feeling the way his shoulders had tensed from up close. His hold on Blaise became slightly tighter, grounding and real, while still remaining gentle, letting him know that they were alright and, no matter what happened, they’d be okay.
Closing his eyes and leaning against his boyfriend’s shoulder, he began to recount what he had eavesdropped: “When I was at Theo’s last night, his father and his uncle were talking about something that went bad for them the day before, so on the 27th, and how the Dark Lord was more than displeased. All I got were hushed words about a failed kidnapping, I believe, and how the Dark Lord had completely exploded against his followers in anger, even though he had no idea who to even blame and punish. But then his father moved onto a different topic and said that they’d have their victory in a couple of days anyway, that they needed to wait, that they couldn’t lose, that August would be their month of victory. But he didn’t explain what exactly he had meant, without a doubt to keep us ‘children’ in the dark. I couldn’t really understand much, Crabbe had gone off about some bullshit of his and they were speaking in a low voice on the opposite side of the table, but the intent was clear. Something big is about to happen.” “Blaise…”
“I’m sorry I can’t tell you more, but they don’t fully trust anyone who doesn’t have the Mark. Besides, they consider us children, even Draco doesn’t know much and he let the bloody Death Eaters into Hogwarts! They know he’s loyal, or at least think so, ‘cause he was at some meetings with the Dark Lord himself. Yet they still don’t tell us shit. Not even to Theo, who’s more of a fanatic than a follower. And I am not going to taint my arm with that disgusting thing anytime soon, even if that would help. But it’s so frustrating and…” he continued, still refusing to open his eyes: he knew he should’ve told that story to Neville earlier, but he had got distracted by their date; he knew he should’ve contacted Professor McGonagall, warning her about what was going on and whose side he was on, but he was terrified he’d be intercepted somehow; he knew he was a terrible spy and that his motive was entirely egotistical, fuelled only by his will to keep Neville safe, and he couldn’t do anything about any of that.
War was coming and Blaise Zabini was powerless against it, unable to do anything concrete.
It wasn’t until he felt warm lips on his forehead and felt warm hands on either side of his face, gently holding him together, that he stopped his rambling. He usually wasn’t like this, letting his mind wander and his mouth running to catch up, at least not in front of other people, because it could potentially be dangerous and could bring unwanted questions. “Rule number eighteen: do not blabber, unless you intend to become a thespian and need practice for monologues,” his mother always said and he preferred to maintain a decent amount of control over the words that came out of him, never going into a rampage, unlike Draco did whenever he messed up his hair, yet never appearing bothered by the simple act of speaking, unlike Theo, who favoured monosyllabic replies to everything. His was always a perfect balance, studied to the last detail to make his speeches and his sentences reach the point and the mind of those who lent him their ears.
Rule number nineteen was: “do not fall in love with a thespian unless they’re a muggle actor from Hollywood,” yet Blaise knew he wouldn’t use that rule. Not anymore and hopefully not ever.
Still, of course, as it had become a routine in his life, everything about him became erratic and unpredictable when he was with Neville. He had found himself digress many times and he was always quite shocked when he realised how far he had gone from his initial path, much to his boyfriend’s delight and amusement. “I like seeing you ruffled,” he had admitted once, earning a copy of ‘Advanced Potion Making’ chucked at his head as they both laughed, with Blaise trying to hide his blushing cheeks.
“Blaise, my love, calm down,” Neville whispered softly against his forehead, hugging him closer and managing to reassure him without wearing him down with his own emotions, “I’m sure everything will be fine. The Order probably knows already that something’s about to happen. Besides, McGonagall’s in there as well, she’s not going to let anything happen, bad or not. Everything will be alright and I’ll come here on the second just like we planned to. You gotta trust me.”
He took a deep, steadying breath as he tried to ground himself back again. Neville’s presence helped greatly, as he had already told the other wizard countless times. “I trust you, more than anyone else,” he admitted, staring straight into his brown eyes as if they could hold all of the Universe’s answers, “But promise you won’t jump headfirst if something happens.” “Of course, I’ll stay home with Grandma as much as I can, when I don’t have my powerful Slytherin around to protect me. Besides, I’m pretty sure You Know Who will stay out of her path, she’s almost as scary as McGonagall!” Neville joked, causing Blaise to shake his head: Gryffindor antics were hard to knock off, it seemed. And, even if he was already wildly intimidated by Augusta Longbottom and she might make the Dark Lord reconsider his career path with her umbrella and her hats, theirs was not a topic to take lightly. “Neville, I’m serious.” “I know.”
Blaise scoffed at that and removed himself from their embrace, allowing space in between their bodies to better convey his message: “I know I can’t make you promise me you’ll stay put, ‘cause you won’t. But can you swear to me that you won’t risk your life recklessly?” he asked, unbothered if some of his desperation seeped into his voice. He knew he could let his walls down around his boyfriend, after all. “You mean like a Gryffindor,” came immediately the reply as Neville crossed his arms over his chest, now that he had the space to do so. “Nev…” “Only if you swear on Slytherin himself that as soon as shit starts to go down, you’ll get to safety,” he intercepted him, stopping Blaise before he could go on another tangent about House Values, “I need to know you’ll be careful.” Blaise nodded at that, he could understand the sentiment: of course his boyfriend would want him safe. But times were darkening by the hour and soon neither of them would probably know what safety even meant.
“Let’s make a deal:” he suggested, already knowing that Neville would agree to his plans, even if they were half-assed ideas about sneaking inside of a muggle library just to study and recreate the ambience of Hogwarts’ own, “usually I’m back from Draco’s around midnight. If nothing happens, we’ll just see each other in the morning after, as we planned. But if the world ends, meet me here at midnight. Sneak past your grandmother or stun her, since you won’t have to worry about the Trace by then. But just, come here, please.”
“The world’s not going to end, my love. Not on my watch,” Neville said, holding once again both of his hands in his and placing a soft kiss on his thumbs.
With the Gryffindor, it was all about the soft and subtle touches, the small moments. Blaise had dived into their relationship wanting to keep it hidden to avoid uproar by the entire school, yet he had been surprised when Neville hadn’t complained about their subtlety; he had almost expected the dorky plant-head to be the most PDA-indulging being in their entire school and it had been unexpected, yet not unwelcomed, his quiet way of giving affection, even when they were all alone and safe.
“Thank you, my mighty Gryffindor,” he replied with a flourish, pondering the pros and cons of bowing. On one hand, he’d keep up his theatrics that seemed to amuse Neville to no end, but on the other, he’d have to let go of his boyfriend’s hands, which was something he wasn’t willing to do. Neville, as always, resolved his qualm without a second thought: he playfully shoved Blaise away with a push from his hands, before pulling him back closer and making him crash against his torso. “Besides, it’s not like we’re not going to see each other before then! What did you say we would do again…?” Blaise saw right through his feeble attempt at distraction immediately: “Nope, I’m not going to tell you, it’s a surprise!” he exclaimed, placing a placating kiss on his boyfriend’s cheek. He had already planned the entirety of their date since he found out the plant-head wouldn’t be free on his birthday: they’d start the day by having lunch at a Chinese restaurant Neville had particularly enjoyed and then they’d move to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, allowing for them to spend the entire afternoon and evening there, since he already knew very well that his boyfriend would get distracted with every single leaf. And Blaise loved when Neville got side-tracked to talk about plants, even if he didn’t care about the ‘green things’ himself, so it would be a win-win. “Please, B, you know I don’t really like surprises!” he lamented, but Blaise was adamant on his position. “Mio caro, you’ll have to suffer then.” “You’re so mean to me.” Blaise kissed the tip of his nose once more, giggling at the way it involuntarily twitched under his lips: “Yeah, but you love me nevertheless.” What followed was a bad series of sloppy kisses and giggles shared between them as they walked in tandem next to the fireplace, miraculously avoiding tripping over furniture. They knew it was time for Neville to leave, but they were both incredibly reluctant to let go.
“Goodnight, then,” Blaise said, attempting without any real intent to put some space in between them, and he was almost immediately followed by Neville’s own: “Goodnight,” spoken directly against his lips as he removed his hands from around the Gryffindor’s torso, giving a little push to create some distance in between them. “I love you,” Neville sing-sang as he grabbed a handful of Floo Powder, waiting for Blaise’s reply before disappearing into the Network. “I love you too, but go before your grandmother decides to murder me for keeping her grandson away from home all the time!”
And with that, Neville Longbottom had gone back home, leaving Blaise alone in the quiet apartment, his laugh still ringing clearly in his ears against the deafening silence. The place always seemed to lose its warmth as soon as his boyfriend left and so he shrugged on a jumper he had ‘borrowed’ from the Gryffindor, without his knowledge and without any real intent on giving it back.
He was not as naïve as Neville was sometimes, still believing that everything would be alright in spite of all the signs pointing to Hell, but he knew that they would be together even if the world did fall off its axis, and that thought warmed him more than any fire could.
And with that, plus the jumper, he tried to fall asleep, ignoring the way his heart pounded at the uncertainty of his future.
But, of one thing only he was certain: he’d stay by Neville’s side and he’d stay at his, no matter what.
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aukanemin · 2 years
Hello dear writer/artist/wonderful human being,
Tumblr just showed me one of your posts and I realised that I never told you how amazed I am by your prose both in the game and on your blog (I feel simply calling it writing doesn‘t cut it). How you put your thoughts, emotions and atmosphere into descriptions and dialogue is absolutely stunning to me and feels ‘artsy‘ to me in the best possible way. I love this particular very inner-workings/stream of consciousness (?) based storytelling (I‘m not a literature expert, it‘s just how I would describe it). It made me fall absolutely in love with your characters while also being in awe/slightly intimidated of/by them - which I think works very well with the atmosphere you‘re creating, especially in scenes with Charet (which is again supported by the music and your amazing art).
I can‘t wait to play more of it someday (and until then I‘m just gonna replay it over and over again) and hope you feel appreciated by this <3
Have a lovely day ~
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Thank you so much.
Your messages left me speechless - and it is very difficult for me to describe, with all the possible colors of the language, how much they inspired and brought me into a state of delight for a long time, helping to work on new, more complex projects long before I had the courage to write this response text.
And I yearned and suffered from the fact that I could not think of something worthy that could show at least a part of my gratitude and admiration for your softness and feelings, and I would like my answer to seem complicated and interesting this time, since I would never want to leave you empty-handed. Yesterday morning, a very strange, special and inherently distant insight came to me - and I hasten to share with you everything that came to my mind, and I hope that you will like it more uwu
The difficulty was also that I am not so much fond of fiction in the traditional concept - my pace of life is restless and changeable, and, as a rule, I have enough patience and perseverance only for poetry and short stories, guided to a greater extent by a sense of aesthetics and associations (because yes, my writing style is a stream of consciousness and you completely hit the mark - I can't write in any other way, except relying on feelings and impressions * --- *) than a serious approach to the plot and idea. Apart from literature (and any other sources), which would be too hackneyed and understandable in its fame, it seemed to me that there were very few things that could interest and impress you, but now I want to think that I was wrong.
The list that I have sketched consists of writers and poets, who are united by the main thing - the fact that they are equally representatives of the same culture with me, and their feelings and aesthetics, colorfulness and sense of language were with me from the beginning of my early years and formed my idea of ​​the world and about the art of writing in general. In other matters, I do not think that the writing style and elements of history and culture will be simple and understandable - I myself have not always felt attraction and warm feelings towards them, but this is something that, I hope, can turn out to be completely new and fresh, not like anything you have experienced before experience, yet close in spirit to what I am myself trying to portray.
Starts from lighter comedies and flamboyant plays and ends in dark fantasy and heavy historical drama. The first of them are very short and read in one gulp - the last are longer, but with a reasonable volume of novels, so they can keep you busy, yet not bored;)
1. "Forest Song" by Lesia Ukrainka. This is a play written in a bright and lively language - but this is a great start if you want to read something light and airy, yet with elements of dark fantasy and Slavic folklore. The combination a little strange at first glance, - this a romantic fairy-tale play that tells about Mavka (a forest nymph), who was in love with a young human man. "Forest Song" is easy to perceive as a poetic fairy tale, but it also has a dark and tragic ending, and raises the theme of human existence in nature and the world in itself - their struggle between feelings, inspiration, brightness of perception and down-to-earthness of life, simple and understandable needs . This play prompted me to think about Margot - as the personification of these worlds and worries, but much darker, heavier and more mysterious, far from human nature.
2. "The Night Before Christmas" by Nikolai Gogol - a writer who has always been the most important and favorite for me, with a rich and varied language which I tried to copy and imitate most of my school years. "Night before Christmas" is included in the collection "Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka", which are equally small masterpieces, but it was "Night" that was a vivid and memorable experience, with such a close aesthetics of a small settlement, a heavy blizzard, creaking snow, and devils, prowling in such a mysterious darkness. This is a comedy with idealized romance - and based on it, both films were made and plays are staged, and it tells about the hopelessly in love with beautiful Oksana blacksmith Vakula, who with a cunning mind captured the devil and forced him to help Vakula in courtship. The story is very down-to-earth and light, but with elements of everyday life and culture of the Ukrainian hinterland, which can either turn out to be an interesting experience or push you away to your liking. There are Christian rituals, and descriptions of everyday life, and witches, and folk beliefs, elements of mundane comedy, the historicity of that era and many bright and partly gloomy aesthetics. This part of the culture is closely related to my thoughts and ideas about Margot, as well as about other characters and travelers from the continent (I was also inspired by the Romanian, Georgian, Mongolian and Tatar cultures equally *---*)
3. "Taras Bulba" by the same Gogol is a historical tragedy, difficult and complex, but with strong artistic elements - with a powerful feeling of a gloomy, dark era, characters in which many real and legendary persons were combined, and although they speak of it as romantic nationalism, I have never perceived it in this way (and I do not advise anyone, given the fact that you can find similar elements in almost every name in this literature). It tells about the Zaporozhye Cossack and his two sons, about the times of long wars and dark ages, and it will be a bright and exciting experience for someone far from this culture - it vividly and richly displays the life and psychology of a country that has long ceased to exist.
4. "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" by Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky is a dark historical story, written under the strong impression of the gloomy and mysterious culture of the Hutsuls - the Ukrainian culture of highlanders and old pagans, and the story, at first similar to a much heavier and darker version of Romeo and Juliet, smoothly flows into dark fantasy. It contains the complex psychological baggage of the hero, and a colorful description of such a strange and distant culture, the history of blood feuds and marital betrayal, and the dark forces of a crushing and dangerous nature dominating the earth.
Oh, and also, perhaps, if you have an interest in poetry - I have two big names, Ivan Franko and Taras Shevchenko. The first is a bright romantic of Galicia, with deep sensuality and passion, the second is the father of Ukrainian literature, a poet and artist, the son of a difficult and dark era with art to match him.
Thank you so much again.
I adore you with all my heart, and of course you can take as many hugs as you want;зз
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my-sherlock221b · 2 years
Supernatural Rewatch Ramblings: Bloodlust
2020-21 has been a huge transformative time for many of us. Whether we wanted it or not, we have been forced to stop, switch gears, rethink, reflect, let go, make new priorities, discover who we really are and who we want to be in the face of adversity.
One of those transformations for me has been giving up on control and finding a way to surrender to the power of the universe. Another has been to not let perfection be the enemy of good.
You may well wonder---What does all this have to do with the Bloodlust rewatch and review??!
Probably nothing LOL except for the fact that I still have to write up my review on Bloody Mary and have been unable to write for various reasons. And then because the Bloody Mary review was still incomplete I could not write about the next one etc etc etc.
So when we watched Bloodlust two days ago in the continuing re-watch, I decided that I am going to re-start the review, and from exactly where I am right now!
If time and life permits I might fill in the gaps later. If not, well, life is unpredictable and weird and we keep calm as it carries on….Thank you for coming to my Philosophy talk….:)
Read below for the Boodlust  review, Season 2 episode 3 and look out for the post from @soulmates-for-real​ on this rewatch too!! 
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The opening scene is the perfect switch and bait because we as an audience have been trained to latch on to types and identities and representations.
Woman in white night gown screaming and running--victim
Person who brutally beheads her—villain.
A few minutes into the episode we realize that we were wrong.
A good few minutes later we realize that we were wrong about being wrong.]
We are idjits, swept away on the eddies and currents of this masterfully written and directed episode. Thank you Sera Gamble and Robert Singer!
The acting and the mesmerizing beauty of the two leads is worthy of an entire essay of its own but in order to have a life and finish this review I shall only say this—Oh my goodness HOW gorgeous is Jensen Ackles?!!
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It is sometimes impossible to look at him in this episode because my eyes didn’t know where to land! That perfect face? The lips? Those eyes?? The quirk of the eyebrows? Those micro expressions that are constantly weaving across his face? The smile? The way his lips move when he talks?? His hair? The Samulet?
And then the shot pans out and includes his hand and the ring and honestly it’s a miracle I could follow the plot at all.
So the images I am going to include in this review, much as I love Sam Winchester and Jared Padalecki, are all of Dean Winchester. It’s a criminal waste to not do so when the man is just an ode to perfection.
Sheila O’Malley’s review of this episode is in itself a work of art and a thing of beauty so I will direct you most enthusiastically towards it and only add here my little pennyworth bits. Do click on this link but be prepared to sink into a one hour read which will make you feel like you were dropped into the episode itself.
Here is a quote from her review which is so insightful.
These are the details that a director like Robert Singer never misses, and at this point his relationship with Ackles and Padalecki would be almost telepathic (it’s probably 100% telepathic now). He has said before that he and Kripke were such a good team because Kripke’s primary concern is Plot/Gore/Horror and Singer’s primary concern is Character/Relationship. And they both end up in the same place. It’s a good mix. If Singer were also Plot/Gore/Horror focused, we wouldn’t have the depth of relationship which is the real point of the show, its real hook.
For a much briefer and far less technically adept and analytical review, read on here!
The opening of this episode shows us the Impala from every possible angle. Gleaming, gorgeous, road -worthy. This is mirrored by Dean. He is also gleaming, gorgeous and roadworthy. He is in a happy mood that not even Sam’s little brother snitty comments can deflate.
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Here is the soundtrack of this episode for those who are interested.
Here is some random but fun trivia:
Dean tells Sam in one scene "If it's     Supernatural, we kill it." One of the rare times the title of the     show is actually spoken in the dialogue.
This is the first episode where Sam began parting his     hair down the middle, the hairstyle he'd keep the rest of the series.
( I didn’t like his hair too much in this episode honestly but then again I could barely see anyone beyond Dean :D)
During the filming of this episode Jared injured his     hand when he fell badly during a stunt. He thought it was merely sprained     and went straight into filming the next episode without having it checked.     But it got more and more painful and finally he went to the doctor and     discovered that his hand was, in fact, broken. Because he had already     begun filming, he couldn't bandage the hand until filming for that episode     was finished. The writers ended up writing in an accident for Sam and his     line "I think she broke my hand" to explain the fact that for     the following few episodes he would be wearing a cast.
When Dean kills a vampire, blood is sprayed on his     face, mostly on his right cheek. In the next shot the pattern is     different, and notably the right cheek is almost clean. Furthermore, his     mouth was agape when he made the kill, risking the blood getting into his     mouth and turning him into a vampire. While the brothers didn't yet know     how a vampire is made at that point, Gordon did and should have been     alarmed that Dean might have gotten some of the blood in his mouth.
A random behind the scene shot from the episode:
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Guess who she is? Apparently this is Jensen’s sister in a super brief role in Bloodlust!
On to the review, or rather some of my thoughts during the re-watch.
The first scene with the Sheriff they are interrogating him about the cattle mutilations is hilarious. The way they bluff their way into the morgue is hilarious. Dean always leading and Sam following.
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Random trivia: When Dean enters the morgue with Sam and sees the name tag of "J Manners", it has been thought the name was to honor Jeffrey Dean Morgan and series producer Kim Manners. Dean guesses "John" - Jeffrey's character name - and the intern corrects with "Jeff"
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It a testament to the way Supernatural has trained its audience that we barely blink when they pull out a decapitated head in the morgue, squabble over who is more chicken, dig into the mouth and eventually discover vampire fangs.
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Yes, of course they do.
Next scene: Two hot guys walk into a bar…..
…….where the adorable Benny, who is not Benny in this episode but a random dude ( spoilers—later we find out the dude is a vampire), gives them directions/ mis- directions to a possible vampire nest.
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We see the first glimpse of Gordon Walker, amazingly played by Sterling K. Brown, and making us worry about and dislike him almost right away. The way he is shown with the light and shade bars on his face from the window blinds is so menacing.
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The next few scenes continue to build that sense of unease where the Winchester brothers, apparently telepathically, decide to double back and catch him following them, then he shows them his car and his weapons, where he references their dad and then refuses their offer for help.
The scene where he shows them his car is like a painting. (The car by the way is just as inconspicuous as the Impala –which is to say NOT AT ALL!! How do these people stay below the radar of the regular law enforcement is a mystery….).
The dust highlighting the rays of light, the two brothers on one side of the car and Gordon at the other, it’s all so consciously set up for a few seconds worth of screen time. Impressive!
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Next comes a truly brutal kill, at Dean’s hands, which we don’t even see except as a spray of blood on his face. Poetic! But it is Dean’s expression that makes my stomach clench. His eyes are dead and he is somewhere deep that even Sam can’t reach, as we can see from the distress on Sam’s face.
Gordon of course is all chipper and full of bonhomie and offers to buy them drinks.
That following scene is the one which gives Wincest brother-wives vibes like 100%.
Sam plays the role of the disgruntled ‘wife’ to perfection. No one but hubby is allowed to use the nickname. He hates the male bonding going on with Gordon and the more Gordon seems to slip into Dean’s inner circle, the more uncomfortable Sam gets, until he finally decides that he just cannot physically be there any more.
Dean’s smug expression when Sam tells Gordon off for calling him Sammy, his instant worry at Sam going back alone, his hand raised in exasperation to convey to Gordon—look what I have to put up with-- the tossing of the keys to his car----it is all a symphony of Dean playing his part in the brother-wives orchestra.
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The last line?! ‘Remind me to beat the buzzkill out of you later.’ And Sam’s expression at that? That’s exactly the way a bullying /abusive husband would react to a nagging wife who doesn’t like his toxic friends and wonders how he can be so blind as to not see them for the bad influence they clearly are.
( Bad Dean!!!)
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Sam goes back to the motel and does his due diligence by checking with Ellen, gets kidnapped by vampires, released and on his return is disgusted to find Gordon inside their motel room.
The next scene is where Dean erupts, having clearly had enough of the shifting power dynamics between them over the evening. Sam has been silently judging him since the kill and Gordon has managed to ‘other’ Sam and make Dean feel validated in his own bloodlust as a hunter.
Dean clocks Sam one.
Wow. I did not see that coming. And what shocked me at this re- watch is that Sam just takes it.
Like an abused wife, he just takes it. Not only that, sometime later in the episode he tells Dean to hit him again if it is going to make him feel better.
NO Sam! NO!!! This is NOT healthy and this is NOT the way to deal….ugh. Sigh.
Then the second half of the episode swings in and the moral dilemma they face becomes clear when the victim and villain switch roles and Dean is shook enough to question his dad’s judgement!
Dean is still kind of trying to give Gordon the benefit of the doubt even though he sees him literally torturing the vampire. But of course all bets are off the instant he touches Sam. Dean pulls his gun on him. I was surprised that he didn’t shoot him just on principle later simply because he hurt Sam even if it was a small cut.
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That is Dean’s definition of monsters-- Anything that hurts Sam. 😊
We don’t know it at this time, and spoilers ahead, but maybe Dean has been so annoyed and violent with Sam at the idea that he is standing up for MONSTERS is because he might also be one….and the way he looks at the end when he realizes that his whole life’s philosophy has been upended.
There are the details about the vampires who drink cattle blood so they don’t harm humans and therefore want to be treated as the good guys. Of course it is all about the inherent struggle between who you are and what you do—something that shows up hugely magnified in the later seasons when Sam is struggling with his own demon blood addiction and the knowledge of the demon blood inside him.
He needs desperately to believe in this as the utmost foundation stone of his life and its purpose—what you DO is more important than what you ARE!
So even if you are a monster, if you don’t behave like one—that is your redemption.
But it’s not just anybody whose faith he wants in his struggle to prove to himself that he is not a monster. He needs it from Dean.
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Remember the dialogue from the panic room “Don’t you say that to me. Don’t YOU say that to me.”
And the fake voicemail set up by Zachariah exploits this at the time of the breaking of the last seal.
Of course he doesn’t know any of this yet, but that’s Sam fucking Winchester for you –always purer and better than his circumstances allow. Always struggling to do better, be better.😍
It is fascinating how the visuals and the roles these two play are of rugged handsome men, badass heroes-- Dean of course super macho role playing all the time. But there are so many layers upon layers and honestly if it wasn’t for Jared and Jensen’s fine nuanced and impeccable acting adding depth to the characters, the show would not have held our interest for this long.
We are shown Sam as the brains with his lore and research, but then in the very next episode (Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things), we see Dean connect dots faster than Sherlock Holmes.
Dean is shown as the instinctively violent one with the gun under his pillow, trigger happy, and in this episode even that brutal kill of the vampire on the docks. But then please remember the way Sam kills Gordon finally. Or the insane way he bites himself to get blood for drawing sigils. Or the way he just simply shoots the crossroads demon point blank!
We see Sam as the soft hearted one and he does rescue kids once in a while, but he is never shown to bond with them even a fraction of the way Dean does—so effortlessly. Also the ladies of course, all of whom have a soft spot for Dean. The exceptions being Sarah and Madison, both of whom completely ignored Dean. Oh and that doctor from Sex and Violence.
Dean has had his share of bad dates of course with Cassie, the woman who gave birth to his magical superfast growing daughter ( who was killed by Sam), and the whole Lisa arc, but somehow we are shown Sam as the one who is invested in relationships. Hello?! Sam was planning to marry Jessica without having told her a thing about his life while Dean told Cassie the secret as soon as he thought he was in love and wanted a relationship.
So anyway, just to say that a rewatch is so brilliant because we know more about them at this point than they do and the character arc is such a thing of beauty to see unfolding!
That last scene where Dean is in a thoughtful frame of mind, the sun is rising overhead ( as a metaphor for him seeing the light, maybe?)--that insanely gorgeous shot of Dean with the ring of fire and light and his absolutely perfect face in a close up…sigh.
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Then he thanks Sam for pushing him to see this grey area and for the first time in that episode Sam finally smiles.
His big brother is back with him.
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And then he commits to Dean too. Ah…how it warms my heart to hear this dialogue!
 DEAN I wish we never took this job. It's jacked everything up.
SAM What do you mean?
DEAN Think about all the hunts we went on, Sammy, our whole lives.
SAM Okay.
DEAN What if we killed things that didn't deserve killing? You know? I mean, the way Dad raised us...
SAM Dean, after what happened to Mom, Dad did the best he could.
DEAN I know he did. But the man wasn't perfect. And the way he raised us, to hate those things; and man, I hate 'em. I do. When I killed that vampire at the mill I didn't even think about it; hell, I even enjoyed it.
SAM You didn't kill Lenore.
DEAN No, but every instinct told me to. I was gonna kill her. I was gonna kill 'em all.
SAM Yeah, Dean, but you didn't. And that's what matters.
DEAN Yeah. Well, 'cause you're a pain in my ass.
SAM Guess I might have to stick around to be a pain in the ass, then.
DEAN Thanks.
SAM Don't mention it.
Transcript here http://www.supernaturalwiki.com/index.php?title=2.03_Bloodlust_%28transcript%29
 Guess Sam does stick around for the next 15 years to be a pain in the ass 😊
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Some quotes from the writers about this episode: 
·  "The episode was really about what Dean would become if he didn't watch out: that Gordon was Dean in ten years if Sam didn't ask the difficult questions and keep him from getting too militant." - Executive story editor Sera Gamble
· "We set out to create a monster episode where you weren't entirely sure whether these monsters should be killed." - Eric Kripke
· "For me, the show is at its best when the supernatural story reveals something new about the brothers, or forces them to change in some way. Sam and Dean's realization that they've basically been raised as 'monster racists' was really meaty stuff. Exploring these characters' flaws is just as important as showcasing their heroism - these are the things that make them human, that make us invest in them." - Raelle Tucker
Check out this site for more amazing trivia and stuff
I have already finished watching the next episode ‘Children’s Shouldn’t play with Dead Things’….so let’s hope I get around to writing a review sometime soon !
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Rock n Roll Thack
Spoilers ahead for the season-one finale of The Knick.
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As The Knick kicked off this past summer, Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) reminded those around him that “We live in a time of endless possibility.” Unfortunately for this brilliantly unhinged surgeon, that potential boundlessness got him sentenced to a hospital bed on this weekend’s season finale. Turns out shooting liquid cocaine into your veins before surgery is bad for both you and the health of your patient! Thankfully, Thack will get himself cured with a new drug called, uh … heroin, which was considered safe at the time. “It’s from the Bayer Aspirin Company,” says the prescribing doctor.
My Week In New YorkA week-in-review newsletter from the people who make New York Magazine.
A fitting way to end the poetically harrowing first season of Steven Soderbergh’s 1900s medical drama — with its antihero hitting rock-bottom. What will Soderbergh and the rest of The Knick team have in store for us in season two? Vulture spoke with Owen to discuss those possibilities, the finale, and the unlimited energy it takes to play a cocaine addict.
So let’s start right at the end. Thackery is finally able to get the help he needs … [Laughs.]
… only to find out he’s getting weaned off of cocaine and onto heroin. Exactly! I always thought that was a pretty brilliant ending. And apparently it was true. There were a lot of people getting addicted to cocaine at that time, because it was a new wonder drug and they didn’t realize its addictiveness. So they prescribed heroin as a kind of antidote. Out of the frying pan, into the fire …
It feels like you need a tremendous amount of energy to play a cocaine addict. It’s true. It was very exhausting, simply for that reason. It was exhausting anyway because it was a very intense shoot and Steven [Soderbergh] worked so fast and we were doing a lot, but you do realize that every single scene takes a lot of energy. Especially those episodes towards the end because there’s the [cocaine] shortage, and then when it comes back, he’s taking more than ever. [Laughs.]
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And you guys shot the scenes out of order, almost like a movie. Yeah, [Soderbergh] boarded it like a ten-hour movie, so when we were in [Thackery’s home], we shot everything, from the first episode to the last episode, in just two days. So that was quite a challenge. I made a visual white board on my wall, which just plotted through all the episodes and all the scenes in the episodes, and part of that was to graph my drug intake. That this was a period where you need more drugs, or this is where you were on too many. In some ways, that needed to be charted throughout the whole ten hours.
So you were filming those scenes where Thackery is self-destructing early in the shoot? Exactly. It was all location-based. At first I thought, That’s fine. You always shoot anything out of sequence. But it wasn’t until we started that I realized what a challenge that was. It’s a big undertaking, especially with a part like that.
One of my favorite — though certainly horrifying — aspects of the show is to see all the medical procedures and techniques that are shunned now. Obviously there’s the cocaine, but then there’s the fact that doctors aren’t wearing gloves or that people need to stand in front of an X-ray machine for like 45 minutes. The great thing is, not only were the operations really well-researched — when we did them, they were incredibly faithful to how they were being done at the time — we go into discoveries that were made. But also there were a number of crazy ideas and crazy notions that they were exploring. I am sure in 20 or 40 years from now, we’ll look back and think, Did we really believe that?
I understand you went through a brief medical-school crash course with the show’s medical adviser, Dr. Stanley Burns, before you began production. Yeah, he was an unbelievable source of research and information. It’s almost like this show was his fantasy come to life, because his place, he has hundreds of thousands of photographs from this period, he had medical instruments from the period, he had booklets that were handed to doctors at the turn of the century. He was just an unbelievable resource to have.
What was the hardest procedure for you to do onscreen? Really, the first one was in some ways the most shocking, because we did everything we could, but we had never seen it with all the blood and everything. We had rehearsed it thoroughly, we shot everything up until the point where we make the first incision, and then the blood was pumped through and we just did everything in real time, and Steven kept his shot going. The blood just kept coming, and by the end, when he shouted “Cut!,” we were all covered. It was all over the place. It was a real moment of “Welcome to 1900!” [Laughs.] That was quite shocking. So we knew from then on that this was the direction we were going in.
I read Steven was looking for that “David Fincher” level of blood. Yeah, and again, Dr. Burns was there for every single procedure … He would be like, “More blood,” “Less blood” — that was what he asked for.
I assume you’re not too squeamish in general, right? It would probably be pretty difficult to play the role to begin with. Um, no, and also the scenes were so technically challenging. They work on such a number of levels. You’ve got the technical side of the operation, you’ve got to know what you’re doing, you’ve got the dialogue with the other doctors, and the whole element of performing it in front of an audience. So they were just very challenging scenes generally, and there was no real time to get squeamish. You just wanted to look like you knew what you were doing.
There’s a pretty brutal scene in the finale where you’re doing a blood transfusion and cutting your wrist open. Could you walk me through that? Well, first I thought, throughout the whole show, but specifically that one, the prosthetics guy did such an incredible job. Even to the naked eye, just as an actor standing there, some of the stuff that we were looking down and working on, it was so convincing. And that’s without doing any CGI. But I do remember that one, with the little girl lying on the bed, and wondering if the veins are connecting, and looking at Steven and saying, “How are we ever going to come back for the second season? How are we ever going to bring this guy back? He’s irredeemable!” [Laughs.] So that felt like a scene where we pushed him as far as it was possible to push him.
We don’t know much of Thackery’s background. He made a brief speech about his father slaughtering Indians, but that was about it. Had you and Steven come up with a backstory? There was actually, in earlier drafts, there was an element of him going back to see his father. So there was some stuff there that in the end Steven took out, which I think was a wise thing to do. So there was kind of a rough outline there, but we may find out more about that in the second season.
You’ve mentioned before that there’s something that strikes you as very rock and roll about Thackery. That came out of a conversation with the costume designer, who did such an excellent job. I went to a fitting and she pitched me the idea of these white boots. It was such a strange arrogance about it. And as we were looking at clothes — I have done period things before, and very often, a costume designer will say, “Oh, no, you can’t wear that because they never did that.” But Ellen would say to me, “Well, you can do what you like. You’re Thackery.” He’s the 1900 version of rock and roll. He can wear anything. There’s something about the way he carries himself, and his attitude, and the fact that he’s brilliant also helps him get away with it. There’s something so edgy and visceral about him.
I think one of the most interesting aspects of him is that he’s able to transition seamlessly from an uptown lifestyle to a more downtown decadence, where he goes to these opium dens. Yeah. And it’s also a lovely flavor of what New York must have been at that time. You get the broad spectrum. You get the real rough areas, where disease has taken a grip; you get the wealthy areas, where people are funding the hospital. It gives you such an opportunity to experience a broad palate of life at that time.
Did filming the first season feel more like a movie than a TV show, since Steven directed every episode? For sure. It didn’t feel any different. It felt longer, obviously — though I say longer, we shot the thing in 73 days. It was like the length of a really big movie. Apart from the amount we were getting through each day, which was an awful lot. We moved so quickly. I think our record was 13 pages of dialogue in one day. Apart from that, the pace of it felt absolutely no different from doing a movie. At the end of the day, Steven Soderbergh is a movie animal. And also the fact that we didn’t shoot it episodically. He did board it like a movie. It didn’t feel like television.
Is 13 pages a day a lot? That seems like a lot. It’s a hell of a lot. You try learning that and knowing you need to get up the next day and do another one. [Laughs.]
That’s what’s so great about the show and how insane it must have been to shoot. You’re not only playing an interesting character, but you have to learn all these medical terms that you’re not that familiar with. They are hard to learn, those scenes. And we did occasionally shoot one operation after another, but you have to really put time into them. You’ve got to look and sound completely convincing. I really thought so highly of the writers — the rhythms were often good. Oftentimes when the writing is good, even if it’s technical stuff around the operation, the rhythm is easier to learn. And it’s really difficult to learn if it’s stilted.
How much rehearsal was involved in shooting the actual scenes? There are some really long takes during those surgery sequences. He’s very, very quick, Steven. Those operation days, I’d say yes, the first hour or two of that day were crucial, because that’s where you’d dictate how everything plays — the technical side of it, the rhythm of the dialogue. But genuinely, we’d go and rehearse the scene a number of times, and Steven would have a look at it from a number of perspectives and make a very clear decision and take a very strong perspective on where he wants to shoot the scene from, and then shoot it fairly quickly.
Have you and Steven talked about what’s in store for season two? Yeah, I’ve got five scripts in front of me here. It’s just very exciting because it was such a bold take on a period genre in a way. I thought it was so visceral and edgy. It’s brilliant to be able to come this far. The exciting thing is we can hit the ground running. We’ve already done so much work in taking it to very interesting, unusual and dangerous places. It’s really exciting.
Are you worried about being able to top the first season? No, we’ve got such a wealth of opportunity. It just goes to really interesting and crazy places, and there is still so much there. We are lucky [the writers] literally immersed themselves in the time. There was stuff they were trying to cram in the first season that they can go to. It’s just really great stuff. There’s an awful lot still.
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Subconscious Match Making // Charlie Gillespie
Summary: Kenny brings in his niece Y/N and her band to provide a demonstration of the stage presence of a band. More than happy Tarnished Poets become mentors during the process of bootcamp. Charlie’s eye is stuck on Kenny’s niece; Kenny’s so powerful he subconsciously did match making
Warning: Swearing, talk about car accident, angst, and fluff.
Words: 4.6k
A/N: The song used by my fictional band is High Hopes by the Australian band Yours Truly.
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Being part of the audition aspect of Julie and the Phantoms was unreal, especially being young with such an opportunity. The timing couldn’t be better with the band stationed stateside for recording; Kenny had presented the offer to mentor during auditions. The capacity as a musician mentor was alien, but you would do anything for the guy you considered an uncle.
Stopping briefly at the bathroom, you encountered one of the options for Julie that Kenny had sent in the PDF file of people auditioning. As you stepped up to wash your hands, you noticed her lips moving along to the song they had been given.
“Are you okay?” You questioned turning to face the teenager no more than fifteen at the most. Her brown eyes colliding with yours unable to hide the nerves, “You’re auditioning for Kenny Ortega’s show, right?”
“Yeah. I’m Madison.” The girl spoke, holding out her hand to shake, “Are you auditioning for Carrie?”
You smiled at her question, “No.”
Julie went to answer before the glance at her watch, startled her barely getting a goodbye out before she was rushing out the door. You went back to drying your hands before heading to the room Kenny had messaged you about. It was a large room with people sitting at tables and four people on stage. All in a circle speaking quietly, you took the opportunity to settle beside Kenny and your three band members.
“Hey Kenny.” You murmured turning to the man, the myth, legend Kenny Ortega himself. The man beamed at you as he had not seen you in months due to touring.
“Y/N! Sweetheart.” Kenny spoke, taking in the differences, the bags under your eyes gone from the last time he had a video call, “You look stunning as usual.”
You chuckled at his compliment, feeling he was right; sleep was definitely better when not on a travelling bus. Late nights now found at the recording studio with the band and less stress on being hounded by fans.
“So, what do you want us to do?” You questioned glancing at the quartet on the stage each keeping their attention on each other, “Who are they?”
Kenny glanced at his colleagues ready for the day to start, “This the first time they will be performing on the stage as the band. They don’t know yet. As being their age, I’d like you to show them the dynamic we’re looking for.”
You nodded along with Lachlan, Brad and Jay. Kenny’s happy smile directed you guys for a second before turning to the stage. Huddling with your bandmates, you started throwing out song choices, one the most challenging things.
“Okay. Before we have you sing Bright, I convinced my niece to join us while they are off touring.” Kenny told the actors gesturing to the band in a huddle unbothered at the lack of listening, “Okay.”
Turning as Kenny’s voice centred towards you, the people on the stage caught sight of you all; Madison’s eyes grew. She adored your music, and not recognizing you in the bathroom, burnt her. The other guys were less familiar with the band other than Owen who knew them through Madison and Savannah.
“This is my niece Y/N along with her band members Lachlan, Brad and Jay. Tarnished Poets this is candidates for the show Charlie, Jeremy, Owen and Madison.” Kenny gestured to the two separate groups who quickly switched.
With a vast amount of experience, the small stage revamped itself with the band’s personal instruments. People held to move the stage drums to replace with Brad’s drums behind the clear plastic with quick succession as the remaining members took their places.
Your dark wash jean jacket tossed to the side of the stage mere seconds before Lachlan’s fingers started the song off with shredding on his baby pink guitar. The room melted away from your mind as the four got lost in the music.
You got the nerve to come and say 
That you’re not standing in my way
When we both know
Eyes closed you moved to the fast beats feeling on the top of the world as if nothing would knock you down.
The room was quiet aside from the music enthralling the occupants as this band shocked everyone but Madison and Kenny. This was precisely how Kenny envisioned Julie and the band would be like as the room burst into noise as if it was a concert. The stage was electrifying, and the actors couldn’t sit still with big smiles and bodies moving to the beat.
Well I’ve had high hopes up til now
 And I was kinda hoping. 
 You could be my hero
 You could be my hero
At the lull, in words, the guitars and the drums wove through the room as you flipped your hair side to side concealing the expression. The music brought a feeling euphoria to you as it always had because nothing made you feel as alive.
You never stayed in one place when you weren’t cupping the microphone singing you jammed with the others. Cleaning removing the mic from the stand you move to face Brad through the clear screen with a grin. A smooth practised twirl you found yourself by the bassist Jay delving into the lyrics once more.
You can’t take it back
With all, I’ve tried 
And I know that you can’t shape me
Moving back in fluid motion Lachlan and you switched places across the stage from Jay. Lachlan began his solo ending just as you circled back to your original positions. Everyone had watched Lachlan they missed your microphone being replaced in the stand.
As the song came to an end, you ended the last note bending to the side with the stand, every member leaning over to the floor. The guitar notes faded as the room burst into applause.
“This is what I want the band to be like!” Kenny called moving to the stage you hug you, “I knew I chose the right people. Did you see how they commanded the stage? They used the entirety, exploding with energy.”
Charlie’s jaw was dropped at how great the band was, they transformed the room into a concert, and you were damn good. Owen reached over and gently pushed Charlie’s jaw back up without looking; this move alone gave Kenny insight into the dynamic between the actors.
“Can you all come up here?” You asked the four actors moving aside for them as they stationed themselves you all wandered around, “Naturally you’ve all equally spaced yourselves out. That’s good because you understand you need space to rock out, but it comes with a negative.”
Lachlan stepped forth his accent, bringing the group to surprise, “But don’t stay in the box you’ve created. The stage is yours. You’re a band so interact.”
“Don’t play the music. Become the music you play, Luke doesn’t just love music. It’s in his blood and part of his soul.” You finished squeezing the arm of Charlie, eyes fractionally widening at the solid muscle. Charlie’s eyes glued to your eyes he didn’t notice as you gently pushed the white guitar into his chest.
“Show us Luke’s bond with music.” You softly spoke, backing away from the Canadian male turning on your heel to sit with Kenny again.
Your eyes couldn’t help but return to the male with the cut off shirt, and his hair pushed up out of his face. Suspenders connected to his jeans rolled above the brown boots. Your lips parted as Madison introduced the group.
“Hi, we’re Julie and the Phantoms I hope you enjoy.” The girl spoke before the group transformed in front of the group. They were no longer actors hoping for roles, but they became the characters they desired to play.
Charlie melted into the character of Luke with ease; it was beautiful and poetic. What they didn’t know was that they were, in fact, the band.
As the music died down, you relaxed into the chair as Kenny cheered with his hands high in the air with the entire room as they bowed. Kenny’s teasing grin glanced back as he approached the stairs to the huddled youth.
“I don’t know. Can we?” Kenny spoke to the audience amused with the anticipation of the stage.
“Do it!” You called out with a grin along with the rest of Tarnished Poets keeping your eyes on Charlie. His energy intrigued you incredibly.
“Yeah you are our band.” Kenny announced changing the lives of the official cast forever. The quartet exclaimed in response clutching each other close as if they had been friends for years instead of months.
Charlie’s grin fluttered your heart as you leaned back, watching the excited group knowing you would be watching the show when it came out.
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 The summer breeze was serene in the quiet area outside of the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada where filming had commenced. Scheduling was perfect with the members of Tarnished Poets breaking off for the break. Lachlan returned to his family in Perth, Australia while Brad and Jay decided on a road trip in their home state.
You had accompanied Kenny to Canada for the first part of filming moving into a small house near the set. The home quickly became the hub of the cast with the close proximation to filming, you had even given Charlie the spare key. You two incredibly close.
“So, this is where you disappear to.” The teasing voice came from behind you. Glancing over your shoulder, you met the gaze of Charlie’s hazel eyes.
He moved through the meadow to the tree you found shade under with your guitar nearby. You always had a feeling the adventurous guy would find the trail to the meadow you frequented. His forest green shirt bringing out the green of his eyes that you adored. As if you were a character in a Tumblr story, you fell for him and wondered if he felt the same.
“Sometimes I need to leave the city. I spent too much time in them.” You spoke, closing the notebook of the song you were working on. It wasn’t one you planned on using for Tarnished Poets, but instead something you hesitated on showing Kenny.
 “I didn’t know you could play the guitar.” Charlie softly spoke gently, stroked the neck of the well-used guitar. Passed down from your mom who loved playing at cafes in her teens and into her early 20s.
“Probably because we perform with electric more often. Plus, I like doing vocals.” You spoke shuffling to face him, “So it took you over a month to find this meadow.”
Charlie chuckled glancing at the notebook with interest. He always wanted to know more about you from the moment he saw you.
“What are you working on?” He questioned slowly grasping the notebook in his hand. Usually, you would be shy and letting someone see an unfinished song. Still, something about Charlie never made you feel nervous.
“A song about regret over hurting someone.” You softly replied, moving to bring your knees into your chest thinking about one of the final devasting moments, “I’m kinda the female counterpart of Luke. I grew up in a small town where people had reliable jobs. I always loved music. My mom taught me to play the guitar.”
“Yeah?” Charlie smiled, wondering what a kid version of you would have been like. Your eyes raised to meet his.
“Her dream was to make a living out of her music, and she got rejected. A lot. I think she lost a part of herself when she gave up for a secure, stable job as an accountant. Didn’t mean she didn’t still love to play, so she taught me how to play as a hobby.”
“But you loved it like she did.” Charlie breathed picking up where the story would be going so he gently took your hand in his; something not unusual with you two.
“I posted videos of covers on YouTube and Lachlan saw it. He had moved to America to make his dream and closely, our band came together. We did some gigs around my hometown even making the long trips to the city.” You reminisced on the times where you were an underground band with a small following. Things went sour when you hit more immense success, “We had the opportunity for our music, and at eighteen we took it.”
Slowly you leaned into the body of Charlie relaxing as his arms encompassed you in a feeling of safety and warmth. His fingers tangling in your hair as he focused on your story.
“My parents found out, and Mom just exploded. We both said cruel things, and I left that night. We played gigs constantly, so I always pushed back, making up with her. Six months into the move, she got into a car accident.” You sighed nestling further into Charlie, “I wrote that song, but I couldn’t even finish it, but with Luke’s storyline, I think it would be perfect. I’m polishing it up to present to Kenny.”
“What’s it called?” He inquired, smiling as you shifted to lean your back against his chest to cradle the guitar in your lap.
“Unsaid Emily. My mom’s name is Emily.” Your words nearly buried under the soft notes from the guitar. Your lips opened to sing, but you didn’t have to. Charlie started it.
The emotion was raw in the air as the power in his voice brought you to tears, unable to do more than strum the guitar and harmonizing at one point. It was like Unsaid Emily was made for Charlie to sing. At that moment you knew, this was the song Luke needed to do for his mom in the show; however, it could be incorporated.
Overcome with an emotion you pushed to your knees to cup his cheeks as he trailed off the last word. The guitar keeping you from pressing your chests together to kiss you poured your feelings in the kiss. A kiss he returned with gusto.
“Whoa.” Charlie breathed, keeping his forehead connected to yours smiling as your eyelashes tickled his cheeks. Calloused fingers set the guitar aside as he tugged you into his chest as his lips drew closer.
Your lips parted as a tingle overtook your whole body as he lips caressed yours soft lightly you thought you imagined it. His mouth claimed yours in what might be the most passionate one you’ve ever had. Pulling away, you became aware your hands had flipped under his shirt with knowing.
“Thank you.” You spoke softly looking up through your eyelashes at the guy the grew as important as the band.
Charlie’s cheeks painted a soft pink set off by the hypnotizing brown of his hazel gaze as if you were his whole world. His eyes scanning all your features from the small scar in your hairline thanks to a table edge at six years old.
 “For what?”
“Being you.” You replied tugging fists full of the green shirt to silence her thoughts with another fervent meeting. Yours arm coming to encircle his neck as his hands copied the move on your waist. Sitting on knees time slowed in the toe-curling kiss, he pulled away once more.
 “I could kiss you forever, and it still wouldn’t be long enough.” Charlie spoke, keeping his eyes closed as his fingers pinched his skin. This was what he dreamed of, being able to hold you more than a few seconds of an embrace.
“How is this going to work? My band goes on tour when you’re at the end of filming.” You questioned nestling into his arms again. The future was scary when you both were incredibly busy with the upcoming months.
“I’ll fly over for a few weeks. See you in action.” He chuckled, pushing you away to stand up, “How about we start with dinner first?”
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It seemed the universe took pity on a young couple when Charlie took you home to his family to meet. His parents and siblings being the only ones aware of the relationship. Tour came and went with Charlie, using the time before promoting JATP, attended before you flew back to Canada with him.
Being with Charlie was like breathing, necessary and beautiful. You got along with his family as he did with yours. It was remarkable how interconnected you became together in the months committed to the relationship.
“Hey.” Charlie spoke, kissing your cheek in your private home you were renting in the country of Canada. When whispers of the pandemic came around, you had flown from the house you rented in LA with a friend to home.
Charlie had had the same idea to return home to his parents’ home while you settled into a house further away from other people. Charlie walked the distance to your place, and when lockdown came into effect, the decision was, he would stay with you.
“Well hello.” You cheekily responded, resting your fingers on the sleep flush of his cheeks as the glazed look faded.
 Charlie straight out of sleep was by far your favourite version of him with the genuine and raw unguarded emotions he displayed. In the nine months together, you had fallen for him swifter than Swiper from Dora could take items. Completely reciprocated on his side.
“You look happy.” Charlie murmured tracing the path from your temple to the corner of your mouth. The boy with messy hair, he had started growing it out after Julie, and the Phantoms wrapped.
“I am.” You softly spoke, shifting closer to him, “I’ve never been happier than I am tucked away from the world in your arms.”
The flush of Charlie’s cheek no longer came from the nap, but from the attention, you placed on the actor. He could feel the love radiating from your heart just by the look in your eyes.
“I’m going to be incredibly cheesy and reply that I am holding my world in my arms.” He expressed leaning over to press his lips against your forehead raptured by the honour he had at loving you.
“The next few days will be hectic.” You articulated running your hands through the thick brown hair focusing solely on his eyes—the building excitement budding within the actor.
Charlie’s lips parted to reply when his phone vibrated on the side table, “One moment. It’s Owen.”
You shifted out of the camera view per the mutual decision to keep the relationship under wraps for the time being. You absolutely knew the show would be a hit and thousand, make that hundreds of thousands, of people, would crush on the character. By keeping the relationship quiet, it would increase the fanbase because some people honestly only care about looks.
“Hey Buddy!” Charlie beamed at his fellow quarantine hair buddy with over 3,000 kilometres between each other.
“Eh! Charlie!” Owen greeted just as excited at his best friend delving into a story of the recent lego build his mom had made.
“So, the show debuts in a few days. How do you feel about it? I’m excited but also nervous. First leading role.”
“I think people will relate to the show. I mean the music is amazing, and the acting wasn’t too shabby.” Owen replied just about to open his mouth when he slammed it shut. His blue eyes narrowed together, picking up on the odd background. He had to lean closer to his phone, “Either I’m suddenly eighty years old or your definitely not at home.”
“W-what?” Charlie scoffed eyes flicking to the surroundings completely forgetting he was in his girlfriend’s home instead of his parents, “I’m at home.”
“No! We’ve chatted so many times I could draw your family’s house blueprint with my eyes closed. That is a bedroom and it ain’t in the Gillespie home.”
Charlie moaned hanging his head, “C’mon buddy. I’m at home.”
“Charles Gillespie, you have sex hair.” Owen deadpanned unamused at the obvious and quite literally horrible dishonesty from the Canadian male. Charlie’s cheeks puffed as he blew air out of his mouth and taking the ‘L’ in the situation.
“One moment.” He spoke, putting his friend on mute and setting the phone down to create a black screen. The entire short conversation you had delved back into the songbook always on your person, “Babe, Owen won’t let it go.”
“Tell him.” You replied gazing over the rim of your glasses with a smirk scarcely visible to your partner. Your full attention returned to scribbling in the book while Charlie inhaled sharply; psyching himself up.
“Okay. I’m seeing someone.” Charlie admitted sending the blonde into screaming having been suspicious. Jeremy’s wife, then girlfriend, had tried setting Charlie up with countless refusals.
“Who is it?”
“Don’t get upset. I’m dating Y/N-“
“-like Y/N from Tarnished Poets? The musician from Bootcamp that completely made us look like toddlers?” Owen demanded gasping as Charlie panned the FaceTime to the girl under the blankets, “Holy shit!”
“I don’t know how I managed to get her date, but it’s the happiest I’ve been.”
“Hey Owen.” You acknowledged the blonde drummer with a shy smile and kind eyes that he had found numerous times on set. He looked up to you along with loving the suggestions and help Brad gave him on the drums.
“How long have you been together?” Wondered Owen with the cute little smile you found endearing. You felt happy that it was Owen that had pieced it together.
“Going on ten months now-“
“-and I’m only just now finding out!” Owen exploded jittery in his seat at the pairing he had wanted to get together since the unbreakable gaze multiple times on set, “God I love the world!”
“Just don’t tell anyone, okay? We want to keep this private; you wouldn’t have been told had you not figured it out.”
“More like hounded it.” Charlie muttered under his breath, slinking his arm around your shoulders as his right hand held his phone. You slapped the bare chest of the love of your life heart fluttering at the solid muscle as it always did, “We need to get together as soon as we can.”
“I’m so done. There’s nothing to do in Oklahoma man. So that photo from Tarnished Poet’s European tour was real?” Owen recalled the picture that had crossed his Instagram For You page a few months prior.
“Yeah. I flew over for two weeks having the best time watching my girl kill it on the stage, they destroyed the stage each performance.” Charlie gushed unable to hold himself from frantically telling Owen about you unfazed by your presence.
“Why am I so single!” Owen groaned flinging his head back, “Is it the whole living with my parents at twenty? Am I not established enough?”
“Nah, you’re just too boring.” Charlie quipped thankful he was out of reach of the taller boy earning a laugh from his side. Owen snickered with a quick retort to his fellow actor.
“Well I’d stay and chat, but my phone is at 10%, and I’m too lazy to find my charger.” Owen started waving as he hung up on Charlie without waiting for a reply.
Your lips twitched that the profanity that fell from your boyfriend’s lips at the abrupt end of the call. Owen was like that in the end, living in the moment to an extent. Charlie turned on his side to tug you into his side, uncaring of your task.
“You’ve slept enough.” You chortled at the clinging boyfriend you had.
“Do you think we should tell the cast? Owen will be bursting with the secret if we don’t” queried Charlie pining his gaze on the steadily flushing cheeks with a fondness, “They wouldn’t tell. I really want to brag about my hot rocker girlfriend.”
Your hand dropped the notebook to play with his hair, “We’ll just keep the relationship to close friends and our family.”
Too bad you didn’t place a bet with Charlie because two hours after the convo with Owen your phones harmonized together. Your iPhone showing Carolynn’s cute selfie while Jeremy called Charlie.
“You’re dating Charlie!” Carolynn practically screamed into the phone, completely excited, “Owen told Jeremy, and I have wife privileges.”
“Dude! How long?”
“Near ten months.”
“Damn, we missed so many chances for double dates, but hey now I know who you kept sneaking into the apartment. Not like the smug smirk, the next day and her stiff walking didn’t speak for itself.”
“Jer!” Charlie called out mortified yet also proud that you couldn’t walk the night after. Your reaction was to Jer’s blunt statement was to bury your face in Charlie’s neck, concealing the deep blush.
The two couples conversed a couple more hours before ending in the evening for food. The same routine would continue for the next few days with alternating between the cast. The day Julie and the Phantoms dropped on Netflix, you binged it. The acting was insane and the storyline paired with the songs? Beautiful.
The issue came when Episode 8 came with the tsunami of emotions as Luke shattered himself singing Unsaid Emily.
“Oh my god.” You sniffled shakily cupping your damp cheeks in your hands, “It hurts. He’s having this cathartic release while agonizing himself. His parents can hear him singing the song.”
Charlie tugged you into his side equally moved from the cinematic beauty Kenny’s team had done. Unsaid Emily was the most emotional piece of music you had ever written in your career; Kenny had fallen in love with it. His genius mind recreating the scene of Luke singing and changing his mother’s name to Emily.
“Sh.” Charlie soothed in your ear, rubbing circles on the small of your back crying along with you, “It’s just a show.”
“Where in the hell did you pull off that level of regretful sadness? Who hurt you.” You replied, breathing shakily as the scene. Your eyes still tearing up as Emily finally got a little peace back after losing her son twenty-five years in the past.
“I took inspiration from your story, and I watched a video with a bunch of people describing the last moment with their loved ones. Add some sad music and missing my family…well this happened.” Charlie explained gently pushing your hands away to wipe your damp cheeks in a soft smile, “You created the song. It’s your work that moved so many people.”
“I provided words and a melody. You provided emotion and bridge between Luke and the audience.” You retorted leaning closer to the Canadian boy so very much in love with him.
Charlie pressed another kiss to your forehead as you tried to pull yourself together but watching Luke and Julie try to touch? That shattered you even more. Luke deserved a hug, and he can’t even get one from his crush? Extremely tragic.
“Maybe we should write a song together.” Charlie suggested quirking up one eyebrow as his green eyes spoke volumes on his feelings no words could ever match. His long fingers playing your digits.
“I have a better idea.” You grinned, “I know season two hasn’t been confirmed but what if Jer, Owen, you and Mads write songs for the band? Give an authentic aspect to your characters and band. Do it together, in pairs and alone.” You breathed straddling him to ensure you had his full attention at the suggestion that lit a light in his eyes.
“You must be on to something.” Charlie acknowledged removing his phone from his pocket to use the group chat. In a few minutes, he had exciting suggestions for the song ideas, “I love you.”
“Love you too.” You replied, sitting back as he continued planning both via the group chat and FaceTime with the others.
Kenny was a genius both on screen and at matchmaking. As evidenced with Charlie and Kenny’s niece.
@safehavenmuse @siennanoelle01 @whiterose291 @mell-bell @blackhood5sos @ficrecsideblog @ifilwtmfc @deadpoolgirl23 @crappy-unicorn @sunsetcurve-h @elioelioeli0 @lovesanimals @popcrone818 @lolychu @deepsleepnat @tenaciousperfectionunknown @aunicornmademedoit @just-a-writer-here @simp4reggie @parkeret @faithiebrock01 @overlyhypedup @differentsoulrascalsalad @aesthetic-lyss @versaceapa @carleywhittaker @lostgirl219 @itsalexx21 @elllaoo4 @merxxleighann @mediocremunge @fantomlovesjuke4ever @dpaccione @oswin05 @kaylinfayezink @aberette13 @faithie-brock-gillespie01 @eharvey0218 @overlyhypedup @benstormy @auriandthepussicats @sarcasticsagittarius1998 @whothefuckstolemykeds @kcd15​ @siriuswvrld​ @princessvader15​ @xoxbloodreinaxox @heimdoodle​ @joshy-obx​ @lovesanimals​ @oopsiedoopsie23​ @am3l1a-24 @flying-solo-without-you​ @jaskiers-sweetkiss​ @lostrandomfangirl​n @must-be-a-weasley-92​ @jatp-holland​ @ilikealotofpeople-younotsomuch @dxlanhxlland​ @dasexydevitt13​ @ifilwtmfc @arianagrandes-things @kinda-really-lost​ @marinettepotterandplagg​​ @ssprayberrythings​​ @morgandamrose @thedarkqueenofavalon​ @zukoshonourr​ @crybabyddl @spooky-season-bitch​ @kcd15​ @morganayennefertyrell @magnet-girl​ @all-in-fangirl​ @kinda-really-lost
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so get this. I was gonna roll around in Tombstone related fluff today - but no, no - this post came across my dash so Now We Are Gonna Discuss the Carnal Consumption of Meat as it appears on That Show Supernatural.  YEAH BUDDIES!
(also my sincere apologies to OP of the inspiration post who innocently tagged it with “lunch date!”  because I am about to go Elsewhere, cursedly).
Let’s all go meat man, after the cut!
This analysis centers primarily on 5x14 Bloody Valentine.  The title of course is a semi-homage to a 3D Slasher Film Jensen starred in circa 2009. 
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Which I will be renting soon I guess.  ,[<- parasocial panda GET BACK IN YOUR ENCLOSURE]
Also Its Really Fun that the trailer for Said Cinema ends with “nothing says date movie like a 3-D ride to hell” [are you also thinking of Cas pulling Dean out of hell, or are you normal?]  ***unironically the teaser for 5x14 is -
First date.
They then eat each other.  Literally they eat each others flesh.  They also do it while dirty talking about it.  SPN IS A SHOW 
ALICE Ugh! I've been so alone. So empty...
RUSSEL I know. Me too.
ALICE I want you, Russel---All of you... inside me...
[they both take bites out of each other, Alice chewing on a piece of Russel's flesh]
****Remember this detail, as it is important.
ANYWAY, it’s truly Cursed that not only are we doing an homage to this 3-D Jensen Horror Date Flick but also this episode is specifically centered on Valentine’s Day.  The day honoring romance and love Now Coopted by Hallmark, everyone, that is the day spn writers chose to introduce us to 
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Sir Horseman of THE Biblical Apocalypse Famine. 
Canonically, we are aware that the show is drawing from the book of Revelations in its depiction of the Four Horsemen.  Here’s what it says about Famine -
"When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.”
-Revelations 6:5
Famine holds scales (used to weigh out grain in times of food scarcity).  Spn’s depiction is represented as hunger, a bottomless pit of need.  It consumes souls (demon and human alike).  
Cas describes Famine a little more poetically:
"And then will come Famine riding on a black steed. He will ride into the land of plenty... "
"... and great will be the Horseman's hunger, for he is hunger. "
"His hunger will seep out and poison the air. "
***Consider a prior season in which we are introduced to the Seven Deadly Sins.  Which are the sins associated with hunger?
and Lust.
***this is also important
Back to the episode.  Case cold open, and we find out that Alice was a Nice Girl.  In that she didnt drink, smoke or
have premarital sex.
***So Alice’s hunger for the sin of Lust caused her to succumb to it; and her demise was presented as Gluttony (literally eating her partner’s flesh). HMM
Famine’s presence is affecting the town, and Cas is not immune.
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And when did you start eating?
Exactly. My hunger-- it's a clue, actually.
***They lay it out a little more in case you missed it ->
I thought famine meant starvation, like as in, you know, food.
Yes. Absolutely. But not just food. I mean, everyone seems to be starving for something--Sex, attention, drugs, love...
***this is so important.  but of course because its spn and our textual narrators are generally unreliable (even in a Ben Edlund episode, yes I know)
we get a red herring
Right. The cherub made them crave love, and then Famine came, and made them rabid for it.
***but that’s not accurate.  they didn’t get married or become obsessed with each other (remember the cursed coin in 4x08 Wishful Thinking and the unconditional love wish? not what happened here). they had premarital sex.  they did the thing Alice considers wrong, and dark, and sinful.  and then they ate each others’ flesh.
Okay, but what about you? I mean, since when do angels secretly hunger for White Castle?
It's my vessel-- Jimmy. His, uh, appetite for red meat has been touched by Famine's effect
***mad lad Jimmy Novak’s hunger is for...red meat?  He is starving for red meat?  You are telling me that the Novaks, red blooded conservative religious midwestern Novaks, ate RED MEAT SO SPARINGLY that Jimmy Novak was LITERALLY starving for it?!?!  No way.  Absolutely no way.  This is a man who was such a religious zealot he STUCK HIS HAND IN BOILING WATER and accepted an angel of the lord into his own body but his secret hunger was for fucking ground beef?
give me a damn break.
to me this is an absolute coverup.  Because Cas’s burger consumption is not related one iota to his vessel Jimmy Novak.
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it is a representation of Cas falling.  Cas’s cravings for meat represent his growing (and very much prohibited) feelings for...humanity (Dean Winchester), and they are presenting as Gluttony in the form of his downing more and more copious amounts of red meat.  
SERIOUSLY, consider this - at one point the depiction is so desperately carnal that he is eating raw ground beef with his bare hands. It is fucking uncomfortable.  and it is SUPPOSED to be.  Famine stirs up hunger for the prohibited.  For the sinful. That which we are starving for but do not believe we can ever have, so we lust and we lust and we LUST after it, but should we allow ourselves even just a taste of what we have been ravenously craving, we binge it until we ourselves disappear into the oblivion of our own sinful, dark desires.
Since You Want More Examples of why this cant possibly be hunger for Cheeseburgers and Cheeseburgers alone, Consider Famine’s effect on Dean.  Remember his doctor kink?
**when its revealed that Doctor Corman has succumbed to Famine’s poison by drinking himself to death, Dean - very uncharacteristically by the way - reacts by saying out loud
DEAN Thanks. Crap! I really kind of liked this guy.
***please note that Doctor Corman says the following to Dean in the prior scene they have together -
DR. CORMAN [to Dean]
Agent Marley, you just can't stay away.
****was that a flirtation?
***Also, Dean doesn’t want to go out and chase tail for Valentines Day.   
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I mean, what do you always call it-- Uh, unattached drifter Christmas?
Oh, yeah. Well... be that as it may...I don't know. Guess I'm not feeling it this year.
So you're not into bars full of lonely women?
Nah, I guess not. [takes a sip of his beer] Ahh. What?
That's when a dog doesn't eat-- That's when you know something's really wrong.
***oh look we are relating things to eating again.  sex/lust to gluttony.  hmmm hmmm hmmm
ANYHOW -  *takes deep breath*
 this is also the Episode Where This Scene Lives
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oh and speaking of jacting joices, this is also the Dean Notices Cupids Crotch Episode.
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frAckles, I am once again asking why you only permit celestial beings to hug you from behi-[gunshots]
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but Dean isn’t hungry.  Why? Famine has the explanation, and we get it after Dean immediately runs inside after Cas heads in to complete his portion of their plan barely giving him any time to do so because he misses him that much.
I disagree. [Famine moves closer to Dean and touches him] Yes. I see. That's one deep, dark nothing you got there, Dean. Can't fill it, can you? Not with food or drink. Not even with sex.
Oh, you're so full of crap.
Oh, you can smirk and joke and lie to your brother, lie to yourself, but not to me! 
***not Dean making all of those homophobic/homoerotic jokes every time he’s in danger or feeing uncomfortable; not that, that can’t possibly be what Famine is referencing, right?
I can see inside you, Dean. I can see how broken you are, how defeated. 
***not THIS parallel:
You're a mystery. I can see inside your heart. Feel the love you feel, except… It's cloaked in shame
You can't win, and you know it. But you just keep fighting. Just... keep going through the motions. 
***not the motions of performative heterosexuality!!
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***Dean’s not hungry because in his heart he truly believes that he can’t actually have what he hungers for.  That Thing Which This Episode Overtly but Also Very Clearly Made Obvious.  It’s an angel riding shotgun [I did Do That and I am Not Sorry], eating a burger in the front seat of the impala.  But, I’ve deviated from the meat of this essay [gunshots] [this time just for the bad joke].
there’s Exists another episode in which a man ravenously consumes red meat; eventually succumbing to eating raw beef with his bare hands in the season prior to this one.  
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Yes Supernatural the Show That Brought Us Not One But Two Scenes of Persons Carnally Consuming Red Meat With Their Bare Hands.  
This episode is a MOTW - the man in question is a rougaru - a monster that starts out as human but due to some specific genetic disorder (hmmm hmmm hmm crack in THE chassis hmmm hmmm) soon begins to be extremely hungry - “for everything, but eventually long pig.” AKA human flesh. 
Wanna know the kicker?  
Episode’s called Metamorphosis.
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(GIF by jackttwist)
I’ll see myself out.
[DOUBLE BONUS for extra credit:
if you really wanna wild out, go watch the scene of Jack the rougaru looking at himself in the mirror in 4x04 - and then meander on over to 7x01 and check out God!stiel looking in the mirror as the leviathans writhe inside him over there. It’s worth the walk.]
***oh and @lilac-void​ im tagging you in this one because in exchange for your KIND creator content nomination I guess I will respond by cursing you with an Honorary tag in this, a Meat Meta.  you’re welcome slash I'm sorry XO [but seriously thank you again for your kindness and appreciation; it really motivated me to sit down and get moving on making more content <3]
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twopoppies · 2 years
Hello Gina, how is your day going? Yesterday I saw your message about quarantine fics and I was wondering, is there any fic when they have to be together because they’re locked in a lift or there’s been a misunderstanding or something like that? Like for whatever situation they have to be together in the same room and can’t leave. Thank you💚
Hi darling. I really don’t have many—which surprised me—so, I had to stretch it a little on a few of these. But they’re all really good.
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to the brim with fright by hereforlou (T, 14K) this fic is hilarious and paced so well. It so perfectly captures a sense of small town teenagers posturing and teasing and flirting while serving up a classic Halloween setting with great characterizations and OT5 friendship. (Link is to a download)
Search and Rescue Me by wildhalos (E, 17K) Footie/swim team captains get stuck in the locker room over the weekend. What happens next? A sweet and sexy fic, with a bit of pining thrown in, that’s what.
blood bank by starseas (E, 9K) This author just writes beautifully and this fic is wonderfully dreamy, poetic, and sexy. Harry’s stuck in a car with a boy he has a crush on. Who happens to be a vampire.
Have a Nice Trip by @kingsofeverything (E, 6K) I didn’t know I needed horny Harry tripping on ‘shrooms, but I definitely did! This is really funny and sweet. And I think this is the only quarantine fic I’ve read so far.
To the Ends of the Earth by stylinsoncity (M, 68K) I read this one years ago, so I don’t have great notes, but this author has written some of my favorite fics. What I do recall is that it was beautifully written, painful but ultimately so lovely, and of course...sexy.
an entire desert in our hourglass by tofiveohfive / @sunflowrsix (E, 20K) I really appreciated the pain woven into this story because it made the emotions relatable—even with a pre-apocalyptic setting—so the feeling cut even deeper. Such a good read. And even though the tags said there was a happy ending (which there is), I still cried buckets.
Sodalite & Adventurine by @forreveries (E, 81K) Gay pirate adventure that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. Amazing chemistry, great world building, super sexy smut, and beautiful writing. Do yourself a favor and read it!
Tainted Saints and Velvet Vices by Toomanytears (E, 126K) Let me start by saying that I know next to nothing about Harry Potter, but this crossover was so much fun to read. I thought this author did a terrific job of creating a realistic hatred/rivalry and growth for both boys so when they come together it’s as good for us as it is for them (well, maybe they have more fun — the smut is slow burn, but it’s well done)!
a body wishes to be held and held by turn your ankle (E, 9K) Louis and Harry are office mates who get trapped together as Harry unexpectedly goes into heat. Things develop from there in this sexy ABO ‘verse.
Never Stare by throwthemflowers / @hazzabeeforlou (E, 2K) Just funny and sexy and silly. Harry and Louis are stuck as nude models sharing a class.
Don’t Want Shelter by kingsofeverything (FullOnLarrie) / @kingsofeverything (E, 77K) This author does such a good job of creating these characters and their years-long dislike for each other that when they’re forced to work and live together and confront their behavior, the emotions feel so realistic and you’re just rooting for them to figure it all out. Such a great read (plus, “older” Larry, which is such a rare treat in this fandom).
like a boomerang by youwill (M, 48K) I absolutely adore this sweet, soft take on the movie Groundhog Day (although, other than repeating one day over and over it really is nothing like that film). I’ve read it multiple times (I do that a lot, don’t I?) and it holds up every time. Sadly, the author has deleted the fic, so the link is to a download.
i wish i knew how (your eyes are like starlight now) by orphan_account (E, 4K) What could be better than a snowed-in friends to lovers fic? Not much!
Coupe de Foudre by angelwarm (M, 15K) The characters (particularly Louis) are pretty OOC, but god this fic is gorgeous. After I read it I just sat there not knowing what to do with myself. It’s sad and hopeful and just gorgeously written.
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bleulone · 2 years
i love your analysis so much! i have a question as well, like, how do you envision polin's sex scenes ? thanks for your answer (:
    Hey! Thank you very much :)) I have no idea if they are that even good but I’m happy you like them. It’s just my brain tending to produce some iNsIGhiTfUL analyses though they usually end up drowned under a huge wave of stupidity and horrid spelling/grammatical mistakes XD. So, about Penelope and Colin’ sex scenes, I guess we’re getting spicy in this house 🌶. I mean, I don’t blame you. Who’s not hot for Polin ?! The steamy Polin hours have already begun and they’re legit challenging my patience. (Be still my Polin heart, be still).
   Okay, without further ado, let’s talk about sex baby, shall we ? It’s a pretty long answer/meta so bear with me.
    I don’t know if you’ve read Romancing Mister Bridgerton, but a quick reminder (for those who haven’t... yet), there are a bunch of iconic steamy scenes that I’m dying to watch on screen. First we have the famous “thank you” scene where Penelope, now a 28 year-old spinster, asks Colin to kiss her because she doesn’t want to die without having been kissed... then ends up thanking him— which happens to be humiliating for our 33 year-old boy because he thinks that she thinks he did it out of pity while he absolutely did not. The man definitely felt butterflies in his stomach... and in other places as well lol. We also have the ICONIC carriage scene where Colin gives Pen’s generous bosoms™ the attention they deserve. This is followed by his proposal. Later on, after the announcement of their engagement, there’s a pretty hot make-out scene on Lady Violet’s sofa. Finally, we have their first time in Colin’s bedroom, after sneaking out of their own engagement party... which leads Colin to push the wedding date forward. At this point, I just love their horniness, especially Colin’s who’s just so freaking amazed by Penelope for more than 300 pages straight (duh! who isn’t ???).
    When you say envision, I suppose you mainly refer to the way those scenes will be filmed right ? I’m afraid I don’t have an advanced knowledge in film-making but let me start by telling you what elements need to be depicted. I would love Shonda and Chris to capture the real essence of our boos’ feelings : the yearning, the love, the respect and the guilt (specifically on Colin’s side) in their eyes. The more we move forward throughout the seasons, the more we see different layers of the perceptions of they have of each other, going from a childish idealization/immature ignorance to a sudden realization. A mature one. Penelope goes beyond the facade of the charming devil-may-care guy to meet the seriousness and temper of her significant other. Meanwhile Colin discovers how confident, powerful and attractive this woman is and always has been. It echoes what I’ve written about the importance of the gaze in Polin’s love story in this meta. By the time season 4 hits, man... their heart eyes and eye-fucking will jump OUT XD, all fibers of their beings, burning with need. The fact that this evolution took literally years is very emotionally painful, which is why I find it important to keep the slowness aspect of their relationship before and during their love making. I’m really looking forward a slow build-up toward their intimacy. It would differ from Daphne and Simon who merely shared one hell of a kiss in Lady Trowbridge’s garden then shared their sexy times after they married or Anthony and Siena’s rough sex... In fact, there’s a certain (sweet) ardent tenderness in Polin I like due to the fact that they’re slowly (re)discovering each other, as adults. Since they were both introduced in season 1, the audience will have all the time in the world to notice numerous evidences of the many natures of love they have for one another : from an affectionate and friendly love to a more carnal and enduring one.
    Okay so, in terms of filming, with Netflix’s Bridgerton being a show which promotes the female gaze, it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise watching those sex scenes being shot from Penelope’s perspective, like it was the case with Daphne in the first installment of the series. Most of the time, sex scenes in Historical Romance are not gratuitous. Their presence serve an important purpose in a hero/heroine’s journey. In Penelope’s case, they’re here to help her learn to embrace and love herself. In other words, sexuality is synonym of freedom. I don’t know if they’ll show a lot of skin, but I won’t be complaining considering the fact that we’ll have the chance to get a chief kiss treat on screen : a plus size woman in a major successful Netflix period drama getting a love story as romantic and steamy as other more “fit” female characters. No, your weight doesn’t prevent you from being desirable at all. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t watched a plus-size female character portrayed as an attractive protagonist in a period drama (please if you have, let me know, I can be wrong). Having a beautiful half bare curvy body like Nicola’s being equally filmed like numerous slim actresses will be so inspiring and powerful to watch, especially for (young) women who struggle, like Penelope, to love their body shape which, to them, doesn’t “fit” the “beauty standards”. By showing her female gaze and portraying her as seductive, Pen’s “supposed” imperfections transform themselves into mighty assets, loved and worshipped by our dashing Mister Bridgerton. That’s body positivity at its finest darling ;).
    It will be deliciously erotic watching the undressing process being exquisitely slow, garment by garment, while their gaze are all heated and hungry. Their sex/make-out scenes should be tender and passionate, sweet and raw. The lightning, colored by a dark blood orange yellow or a blue depending the locations^^. Moreover, the depiction of the exploration of Penelope’s desire can translate itself thanks to multiple close ups. For instance, I can imagine a few ones on Pen’s fingers gently roaming over the smooth skin of Colin’s firm chest and back/touching his hair right after he removed his shirt. And a disheveled Colin letting his hands and lips making a journey of their own, mapping, conquering the alluring unknown territory that is her gorgeous voluptuous body... kissing her on the places he knows oh too well will give her pleasure (is this me wanting him to go down on her?— um yeah I sure hope it IS! If he doesn’t, trust me imma riot... AGAIN). Even a close up on her face while Colin is performing his addictively pleasing torment will be a marvelous proof of the female gaze. By the way, why not even adding a post-coital scene after their first time ? I can picture Penelope waking up first and contemplate her handsome soon-to-be husband. She’d bring her hand to his face and let it travel all around his forehead, his cheeks, his lips, his neck and let it rest on his heart— making sure that what she’s just experience was real... obviously, Colin will wake up in the process and he’ll take this as his cue to go for another round of sexy times under the sheets.
   Showing Pen reaction is essential according to me because she was stuck with the idea that she would never experience the luxury of being loved, giving pleasure nor receiving it... she ended up being happily wrong. Throughout her multiple intimate encounters with Colin, I want her to progressively realizes that she can be an active partner. In the carriage, she knew she had an effect on him, but it’s not until their first time that she actually realizes it. Hence the reason why I WANT the mirror’s introduction in one of their sex scenes. Here’s as a little reminder an excerpt from chapter 18 :
“I want to see you sitting up," he groaned, "so I can see them full and lovely and large [about Pen’s breasts]. And then I want to crawl behind you and cup you." His lips found her ear and his voice dropped to a whisper. "And I want to do it in front of a mirror."
“Now?” she squeaked.
He seemed to consider that for a moment, then shook his head. "Later," he said, and then repeated it in a rather resolute tone. "Later.”
   It would be such a shame if the show doesn’t use the incredible potential of this object (/kink). I mean, the symbolism is pretty clear. Penelope has always fled her “ugly” reflection but it seems like Colin wants to show the real her, the beauty that holds every single inch her alabaster skin and the effects they have on him. Thus, I would love to watch a scene where Colin just praises the alluring goddess and siren that is Penelope Featherington. Just imagine! Just IMAGINE the power of this scene : a shirtless Colin sitting behind her on a bed, meeting her gaze in the mirror, his lips touching her right ear, biting and licking the lobe sometimes, whispering all kinda of dirty yet poetic words to her while letting his hands caress her thighs, her hips, her arms, her lovely bosoms™... oof. At the same time, a wonderful and harmonic instrumental music will play in the background and match the melodic partition of shudders, breathes and moans let out by our lovers. I can imagine Luke inspiring himself from his performance in the 2019 short film, Youth In Bed. The way he conveyed the awe and the yearning on his face, in his eyes with his mouth slightly open when he knelt before his partner Shun Yin was just captivating and— and so Colin! I cannot help but bring myself to picture Ethan, the character he played in YIB, in a Polin steamy scene. I cannot unsee this anymore jsksk. I mean, all this gifset radiates this book4chapter18!Colin, you cannot tell me otherwise!
    Also, I would love Shonda and Chris to keep Pen and Colin’s cute/emotional pillow talk. One thing I really love in JQ’s books is the concern she gives to her male protagonists about potentially hurting their partner during the act of penetration. Colin is a rake, and what his experience with women taught him is that he needs to be very gentle with the love of his life. It was so adorable seeing him not wanting to harm her and asking her to tell him if he does anything she doesn’t like 🥺. Plus, before actually doing it, Colin and Penelope shared a few kisses and just laid down side by side, confessing their love. Though our boy kept feeling guilty about not returning her love after all these years. He desires nothing but to make up for the lost time and show his love and desire during this special intimate moment. I hope they’ll keep all of chapter 18’s dialogue. It’s just so telling of our boos’ feelings, you see.
    All in all, I can’t wait to watch those Polin steamy scenes. As much as I may sound crazy, I want them after two other seasons of pure pining and yearning in order to have a very good payoff. I’m not an expert on depicting intimacy on screen, but I loved so far what Lizzy Talbot, the intimacy coordinator who worked on the show, have done in season 1. Sex scenes in Bridgerton seem very real and dive you in the intimacy of the moment, leaving you all flustered and hot. So probs to her! I have faith in her work and have no doubts about what her and the directors will serve us in future seasons. Though, in the end, I think it’s mostly up to the actors, Nicola and Luke, to see if they’re comfortable filming sex scenes.
    If you guys have any suggestions or wishes for those steamy polin scenes, please do share them :) by commenting on this post or by sending me asks! I’d love reading your thoughts/take on this very important matter ;)) 
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brooklynboysficrecs · 2 years
Ria’s Top 10 Canon-verse Fics
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So, I’m a little surprised I’ve held off on doing this particular Top 10 as long as I have, if only because this does cover the majority of stucky fics that have been written. It also contains some of my all-time favorite fics, which I will be screaming about below. You’ve been warned. But anyway, this is getting down into the nitty-gritty of why I love stucky -- the original ‘verse, with the original storyline (although there are a fair few canon-divergent fics in here, I’m sure). Pure, unadulterated Steve Rogers loving Bucky Barnes. What more can you ask for, honestly? You could ask for it to be legit canon, but lmao, no, we don’t expect things like that, especially not from the MCU writers. Also, some of the fics I might’ve included in this list are recced in an ask I got a while ago, so go check that out for some mostly-canon angst. Regardless, here are my personal Top 10 canon-verse fic recs:
1. Ain’t No Grave (Can Keep My Body Down) by spitandvinegar. Alright, buckle up friends, because this is the end-all, be-all of my favorite stucky fics. I have reread it probably four or five times in the four years I’ve been in this fandom, and it hits me just as hard every single time. This is canon-divergent post-WS, where Bucky’s come-down from his Hydra conditioning is accompanied by a drug addiction and two smart-mouthed kids he rescued from the streets. Steve literally loves nothing more than he loves Bucky and he is determined to bring Bucky home, kids included. There is just -- so much I love about this story. I can’t possibly fit it all into a little blurb. But this is my favorite stucky fic, hands-down. It’s a must-read if you can handle the incredibly sensitive topics it covers, which means it’s not for everyone. But it has my highest seal of approval. 
2. Perilous Underside of the World by eyres. I reread this recently because I was in the mood for both angst and badass Bucky, and this delivered in spades. Steve’s been kidnapped and held captive by Ross for months, tortured and experimented on, and it as devastating as it sounds. Cue Bucky and the rest of Team Cap coming in for a rescue mission and an adrenaline-filled adventure through the Antarctic wasteland. The summary says it all, honestly: Steve throws a snow-mobile at a helicopter in this one.  
3. Steve Rogers at 100: Celebrating Captain America on Film by eleveninches, febricant, hellotailor, M_Leigh, neenya, tigrrmilk. A lot of fics are enhanced by visual media, usually some type of fanart, but few are incomplete without it -- this fic is one of them. It’s a look through in-universe media depictions of Captain America over the years, with real-life casting and amazingly done posters for the movies. The various Avengers are there to react to it all and it’s nothing short of glorious. 
4. Came Back Haunted* by Brenda. You guys should know how much I love Brenda’s writing, since I waxed poetic about it when I was doing the rec for Prince Charming, but I’m going to say it again: I love her writing. And this is yet again another fic series that will tear at your heart and stitch you back together again. It features, among other things: Bucky and Thor friendship; a road-trip; dark Steve; and bearded Steve! All good things. It’s been a while since I’ve read this, but I’m pretty assured there is much angst to be found here as well, plus the requisite happy ending, because, as previously mentioned, I don’t do unhappy endings. 
5. Tender is the Ghost* by Hark_bananas. OH WOW. Okay. So. I started reading this series right before the second part had been published, and I just. Fell in love with it. The first part is set right after Bucky turned himself into SHIELD, and it features Steve and Bucky re-learning about each other (and themselves) through a closed door, considering Steve isn’t allowed to see Bucky face-to-face. And the second part picks up once Bucky is ready to go home with Steve, and it’s. So sweet. Bucky and Steve recovering, together, and finding love along the way. Bucky loves plants. What more could you ask for?
6. Infinite Coffee and Protection Detail* by owlet. I think this is probably one of the most popular series in this fandom, and for good reason. It’s Bucky setting himself a new goal after the fallout of Project Insight, and that goal is a protection detail for Steve Rogers, well before he has his memories to back up the need for such a thing. Bucky and Steve don’t get romantically involved until much later in the series, but their friendship is a thing of beauty in this, as is Bucky learning how to be human again, through coffee, grilled cheese, and The Olds, the elderly neighbors he comes to care for while he’s watching Steve’s back from across the street. I adore this series and I think most people would be hard pressed to find anything they don’t like about it. 
7. The Blood Will Dry by castiowl. There are clones in this one. It might be the sci-fi nerd in me, but honestly that’s enough information to hook me already. But this fic is a fantastic, gripping read from start to finish, and the clones are only a part of that. It’s another fic that written right after The Winter Soldier came out, and so it has a lot of the hallmarks of that era: Bucky dealing with his conditioning, coming back to himself and Steve, Hydra-hunting missions, some kidnapping, unfortunate throwbacks to torture, and Steve having to figure his own shit out right alongside Bucky. 
8. To Stop My Mind From Wandering by Lynchy8. This one is a little shorter than the other fics on this list, but it’s still one of my favorites, and for a much different reason than the others. This is Bucky and Steve separated for the majority of the fic, with Bucky taking up residence in Steve abandoned apartment while he’s off being Captain America and also looking for Bucky. Bucky does home repairs for Steve. Steve broods and worries. Bucky heals on his own terms and it’s lovely. And the ending is very sweet when Steve finally does come home.
9. despite the threatening sky and shuddering earth (they remained) by praximiter. AKA The Mask Fic. Which. Jesus Christ. This should’ve gone in with my angst fic recs, because this will hurt you, in the best possible way. Bucky’s mask doesn’t come off, and so there’s no pivotal moment of realization for Steve, no hellfire determination to ensure Bucky survives their fights against all odds. But he’s saved regardless, and the rest of the fic is the team trying to communicate with him, learn his story, all while Bucky can’t speak and the mask physically cannot come off. Like I said, it’s a recipe for Pain, but the pay-off is more than worth it, in my opinion. 
10. waiting for the winter by coldhope. Also just recently reread this one, and I loved the progression of Steve and Bucky’s relationship here as well. It also has Bucky befriending all of the Avengers, not just Natasha or Sam; getting to see from other characters’ POV how their perception of Bucky changes as the fic goes on was so interesting, since it’s not something I’ve seen done in many fics. Which also might be a personal thing on my part, who knows. Anyway. Good fic. Steve and Bucky don’t take forever to figure out their feelings, but they do take a while to get on the same page with each other, which should surprise absolutely no one who has ever read a stucky fic before.
*series, not individual story titles
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Star Wars and the Space Opera
In 1941, a writer by the name of Wilson Tucker coined the term: ‘Space Opera’, used to describe what he called the “hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn space-ship yarn”.  This derogatory term followed in the footsteps of words like ‘Soap Opera’, a familiar term used even today, and ‘Horse Opera’ a less-used word referring to a cheap western.
However, in the years following this initial term creation, the words ‘Space Opera’ soon became associated with a different connotation.
Today, well, we’d probably call it ‘Soft Science Fiction’.
The term ‘Space Opera’ as we know it now refers to a story set in an unfamiliar galaxy, full of space faring civilizations with access to wonderful technology that isn’t terribly important to the story. Space Operas are epics, action/adventure stories spanning solar systems and galaxies, full of political intrigue, romance, huge space battles, sprawling empires and planets, and larger-than-life heroes and villains playing out the age-old good vs. evil conflict.
The total opposite of hard science fiction, Space Operas are concerned with characters and stories, rather than how the warp-drive works.  In the years since its original examples in the days of Buck Rogers, the term has lost nearly all of its negative connotations.  No longer looked down on, many writers and moviemakers have come to embrace the Space Opera.  Science fiction author Brian Aldiss even wrote a poem describing the steps that every self-respecting Space Opera must take in order to be an example of it’s subgenre:
The world must be in peril.
There must be a quest,
And a man or woman to meet the mighty hour.
That man or woman must confront aliens and exotic creatures.
Space must flow past the ports like wine from a pitcher.
Blood must rain down the palace steps,
And ships launch out into the louring dark.
There must be a woman or man fairer than the skies,
And a villain darker than a Black Hole.
And all must come right in the end.
There have been plenty of Space Operas in recent media history, ranging from the Dune novels to television shows like Battlestar Galactica or Star Trek.  However, easily the best known and most recognizable example of a Space Opera ever created is obvious: George Lucas’s science fiction epic from 1977: Star Wars.
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Star Wars was more than a film.  Like Star Trek, it was a cultural phenomenon, sweeping the world immediately and paving the way for stories like it to find success in the future, as stories either inspired by it or intending to cash in on it were created in the years following.  While hailed as the start of a renaissance of Science Fiction in film, it was more accurately the start of the Space Opera in modern popular culture.  While set in space, the film states its scale firmly from its opening words: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Star Wars wasn’t concerned with telling a story about science or logic.  It was a story about heroic rebels rising up and fighting back against an evil empire.  It was about big H heroes, Cool Starships, and Saving the World.  Star Wars was the shift in connotations for the Space Opera.  It was Star Wars’s thouroughly ‘space fantasy’  nature that changed the term ‘Space Opera’ from an insult to simply a genre.  
As such a game-changer, it bears some discussion.
Star Wars was the template used in countless science-fiction films after it, whether outright copied by films like Starchaser: The Legend Of Orin or spoofed in films like Spaceballs, creating a series of characters, scenarios, locations, and technology that has inspired multiple stories since it’s release over forty years ago.
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The fact that Star Wars has become such a codifier of Space Operas makes a lot of sense, considering that it almost follows Aldiss’s poem to the letter.  While it does put an entertaining, fresh spin on a lot of fantasy and science fiction conventions, it doesn’t stray from those conventions.  In fact, it embraces them.
Hence our discussion.
Today, we’re going to be analyzing the 1977 film Star Wars in the context of the Space Opera, using Brian Aldiss’s poetic criteria above to analyze how George Lucas, whether knowingly or not, managed to create the perfect Space Opera, starting with, of course, point number one:
The world must be in peril.
To start, let’s look at the opening crawl.  Spoilers below!
It is a period of civil war. Rebel
spaceships, striking from a hidden
base, have won their first victory
against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, Rebel spies managed
to steal secret plans to the Empire’s
ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an
armored space station with enough
power to destroy an entire planet.
Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents,
Princess Leia races home aboard her
starship, custodian of the stolen plans
that can save her people and restore
freedom to the galaxy….
The story of Star Wars begins in an era of galactic unrest.  The evil Galactic Empire rules with an iron, tyrannical fist over the planets under it, squashing attempts at resistance, but stubbornly, the Rebellion fights on.  However, even their attempts are hopeless in the face of this new weapon: the Death Star.
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The stakes for the story are established immediately.  By introducing the idea of a weapon powerful enough to destroy a planet, the audience, themselves only confined to one planet, immediately understand the threat that this weapon holds.  Billions of people extinguished in one shot, and the people with the only hope to stop them are on the run, in danger.
It looks grim for the galaxy.
At the beginning of Star Wars, it’s the End of the World as We Know It, and it’s not just an idle threat.  The Death Star is fully operational, and we see its effects as it destroys the homeworld of Princess Leia, Alderaan.  Billions of people are destroyed instantly, and the weapon won’t stop there.  
The galaxy is definitely in peril, and in order to prevent its destruction, the heroes must obliterate the weapon first, which, of course, answers our next line:
There must be a quest.
The quest is twofold.  The immediate quest is a small-scale one, a quest as old as fairy tales: rescue the Princess.
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After Princess Leia is captured by the Empire, she sends the plans for the Death Star, and a message pleading for help, in a droid, R2-D2, trying to get them to an old Jedi Master, (The Mentor and Wizard of the story) Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Unfortunately, the droid (along with fellow robot, C-3PO) end up in the hands of farmboy Luke Skywalker.  Luke, recognizing the name, takes them to the Jedi, and ends up whisked away, determined to rescue Leia.  As he finds out more and more, the second part of the quest, the larger one, becomes clear:  Destroy the Death Star.
In order to prevent the destruction of the Rebellion, Luke must go on a journey, traveling through interesting places, all while learning the secrets of the Jedi: a power known as the Force.  Throughout this journey, he learns and grows, becoming better equipped to complete his quest along the way.  As Luke passes through criminal-infested cantinas, the Death Star itself, and the Rebel base on Yavin 4, he gains new understanding and perspective, all while focusing on his main goal: Rescue the Princess.
This version of The Quest storyline falls under the ‘Overcoming the Monster’ quest, a single-minded one focused on the end goal of the story.  Rather than focusing on a series of smaller quests that tie into the large one, the story of Star Wars revolves around the final act, with the characters pushing to Rescue the Princess and destroy the Death Star.  It’s concise, simple, but solid enough to work, propelled forward by the characters in the narrative.
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The Quest directly overlaps with the famous Hero’s Journey narrative, seen in countless stories on the page and screen.  The combination thereof gives us a story where the focus is on the Hero’s growth and development as Luke finds his destiny, reacting to events pushing him forward, all while striving towards the end goal of the story.  It’s a very compelling narrative, traditionally done as a fantasy story, which naturally makes it perfect for the standard Space Opera story.
Which brings us to our next point:
And a man or woman to meet the mighty hour.
Of course, the man of the hour in Star Wars is farmboy Luke Skywalker, whisked up seemingly by accident into this world of Jedi, Evil Empires and Rebellions.  As with most Space Opera/Epic heroes, he isn’t terribly complex.  There are no moral struggles for Luke Skywalker, he knows what he has to do, and with determination, he strives for it.
In many ways, Luke Skywalker is the quintessential Hero archetype.  When we first meet him, (stage 1 of the Hero’s Journey), he is living on a desert farm that he desperately wants to get away from.  He craves adventure, excitement, and information about the father he never knew, constantly badgering his aunt and uncle for a chance to leave the planet Tatooine.
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Luke is a big H hero, good and pure, bent on achieving his goal.  He’s an archetype, as old as stories themselves: the Ideal Hero, determined to finish the quest, stop the villain, and rescue the princess.  He’s new to the galaxy at large, serving also as the audience surrogate as the other characters explain and teach him about the more mysterious elements of the galaxy, but he proves a quick learner, also able to (clumsily at first) wield the powerful Force to assist him in his quest.  He even inherits the lightsaber (the science fiction equivalent of a sword) of his father, further adding to his Knight in Shining Armor role in the story.
Despite his good qualities, Luke isn’t perfect.  He’s inexperienced, and naive.  He’s a good shot with a blaster, and a better pilot, but he has problems with patience and anger, and has to be reigned in by other members of the cast.  He also doesn’t always get along with everyone else on his team, as evidenced by his arguments with reluctant partner and Lancer Han Solo.
Oddly enough, Luke’s motivation to start this journey is mixed.  While it would seem like he must want to Jump at the Call, when initially offered the chance for this adventure, Luke turns it down, citing his aunt and uncle as reasons not to go.  Unfortunately, the Empire, in search of the droid in Luke’s possession, burn down his homestead, killing his aunt and uncle in the process.  With nothing left of his home and family, Luke embarks on the adventure he seems to have always wanted, being pushed into the role of unexpected Hero.
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While initially starting the story in a role akin to The Load, it doesn’t take long for Luke to go through some Character Development to rise to his full potential.  When dragged into the belly of the beast, trapped within the Death Star where Princess Leia is being held, it is Luke who assembles a plan, convincing the pilot who brought them, Han, and his copilot, Chewbacca, to assist him in rescuing Leia and escaping the Death Star.  Later on, it is Luke who exploits the Fatal Flaw of the Death Star design, destroying the weapon and saving the galaxy (for now).
Throughout his Hero’s Journey, Luke inevitably fulfills the next part of our criteria:
That man or woman must confront aliens and exotic creatures.
While most of the characters are examples of Human Aliens, not all of the beings in this galaxy are.  Good Space Operas tend to have interesting aliens to populate the planets the characters travel to, further spicing up the environment.
For Star Wars, one need look no further than the cantina sequence in Mos Eisley.  The scene is filled with odd looking creatures, some of which even assault Luke.  Earlier on, there are the Jawas, a species of scavengers who are responsible for C-3PO and R2-D2 ending up in the hands of Luke in the first place.  But both of these examples are minor in comparison with the token alien of the team: Chewbacca.
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Chewbacca is Han Solo’s copilot, and a Wookiee.  Large, furry, and unintelligible, Chewbacca’s contribution is invaluable, being the decoy prisoner, and the Big Guy of the team.  The Bruiser with a Soft Center Mr. Fixit, Chewbacca is presented as more than an alien, but a character who happens to be a different species as the rest of the cast.  He serves as a constant reminder of the ‘otherness’ of the galaxy, a constantly present ‘exotic’ creature to drive home the Space Opera atmosphere.  As the co-pilot and mechanic, it is also part of Chewbacca’s job to keep the iconic Millennium Falcon running, and fly her when Han is needed in the gun turrets.
Speaking of the ships:
Space must flow past the ports like wine from a pitcher.
The galaxy is a big place.  In order to move the plot forward, the characters need to get around, fast.  Unfortunately, space is so large that characters would likely die of old age before reaching anywhere interesting, so a faster method must be developed.
The problem of slow space travel has long been ‘fixed’ in science fiction stories since the ‘60s, with Star Trek’s warp drive being a prime example.  In Star Wars, a similar idea is used: that of the hyperdrive.
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In order to get anywhere, the ships in Star Wars travel faster than light, enabling them to hop from location to location speedily, as well as engage in high-speed chases and dogfights.  Indeed, it is due to this that the Death Star is such a threat.  Being able to travel quickly, it could destroy multiple planets that much faster.
Using the hyperdrive, the Millennium Falcon is able to travel from Tatooine to the ruins of Alderaan, to Yavin 4 quickly, adding to the urgency and allowing the characters to keep moving.  As useful an invention the hyperdrive is, though, there’s more to the use of speed in space than just travel.
Star Wars ends, not with a sword fight or shootout, but with a dogfight.
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The battle of the Death Star is a tense action sequence making up the climax of the film, reliant entirely on the forces of the Empire (flying TIE fighters) versus the Rebels (flying X-Wings and Y-Wings).  The fast pace and high stakes combine to make a tense ride, and an unforgettable ending.  Neither the Death Star trench run, nor the escape from Tatooine would be possible without the Handwave to physics, but in a Space Opera, it doesn’t matter.
All of this talk about stakes leads us right into the next line:
Blood must rain down the palace steps,
Victory does not come without a price.
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Throughout Star Wars, lives are lost.  Owen and Beru, Luke’s Aunt and Uncle, are the first notable victims, although the death toll is surprisingly high.  Princess Leia’s entire planet is wiped out with one blow.  Obi-Wan Kenobi is killed, sacrificing himself to allow Luke and the others to escape the Death Star.  And the final Death Star trench run ends with a victory for the Rebel Alliance, but only after all but three of their ships (and pilots) are killed.  These deaths are not without purpose within the narrative, demonstrating the severity of the Empire’s threat, as well as serving as reminders that more peoples’ lives are at stake.  These horrible events push our heroes on, forcing them to always consider the cost as friends are lost.
There may not be a palace, but there certainly is bloodshed.
And ships launch out into the louring dark.
Spaceships, like mentioned above, are absolutely essential to the quintessential Space Opera.  They are beyond forms of transportation, they are characters in their own right.  From the Empire’s menacing Star Destroyer to Han Solo’s beat up freighter, each ship has its own unique look and ‘personality’.
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Star Wars coded it’s ships in a very specific way.  The Empire’s ships are shiny and sharp.  They are grim and foreboding, all greys and blacks, well-put-together and dangerous looking.  From the tiny TIE fighters to the imposing Star Destroyers, the Empire’s fleet is both foreboding and numerous, a frightening force pitted against the small Rebel Alliance.
The Rebellion ships, on the other hand, look a bit different.  From the Tantive IV vessel to the tiny X-Wings, the ships of the good guys look a little more worn down, a ragtag assembly of ships that are utilized to the best of the Rebel’s ability to fight the Empire.  The X and Y-Wings are small but fast, evocative of our own fighter planes, bringing home the imagery of the space-dogfight.
But no ship says ‘personality’ like the Millennium Falcon.
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The Millennium Falcon is, to quote Luke Skywalker, a ‘piece of junk’.  She looks awkward, clumsy, cobbled together, and at times, she doesn’t seem to work all that well.  The ship is easily recognizable, with a unique design, and she seems to have a personality of her own.  A faithful ship, despite her flaws, the Millennium Falcon is fast, very fast, and maneuverable.  It is her speed that makes Obi-Wan and Luke choose to hire Han and Chewbacca to pilot them, as the Falcon turns out to be quite a match for TIE fighters, and is able to outrun the Empire’s forces.  It is Han and Chewbacca flying this trusty hunk of junk in for a last-minute rescue that enables Luke to destroy the Death Star, cementing the Millennium Falcon as a ‘Hero’ ship.  In fact, it’s the Falcon’s speed that made a lot of the rescuing possible.  Speaking of which:
There must be a woman or man fairer than the skies,
This one depends on how attractive you find Han Solo, but in the story proper, the ‘fairer than the skies’ part seems to land to Princess Leia, the Damsel in Distress who is the one giving the quest in the first place.  However, Leia is a subversion of the typical Damsel and Quest Giver character, as being a leader in a Rebellion, she is no stranger to battle, and once rescued, takes charge, and gets in on the action.  Leia is beautiful, and it is remarked upon by Luke, but her royal station and her position as a prisoner does not stop her from being a Royal Who Actually Does Something, and is quick to take up a weapon to help fight her way out of the Death Star.  In the end, she is the beautiful Quest Giver, but Damsel in Distress?  Only slightly.
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But we can’t talk about heroes, quests and battles without talking about the other side.
And a villain darker than a Black Hole.
Every Epic story needs a villain, and the bigger, the better.  The Dreaded Evil Overlord is a staple of the Space Opera genre, the very epitome of villainy.  In the case of Star Wars, thankfully, the villain bases are covered.
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Besides the overarching evil that is the Empire in general, there are specific villains in the story for our heroes to overcome.  Grand Moff Tarkin, a cunning, proud military leader, is in charge of the Death Star.  He orders the destruction of Alderaan, and is a cold-blooded killer, also willing to terminate the captive Princess Leia.  He presses in on the Rebel Base with the Death Star, intending to wipe them out, and it is his pride and arrogance that keeps him from being concerned about his superweapon’s fatal flaw.
Despite how horrible Tarkin is, he is not our villain ‘darker than a Black Hole’.  That would be, of course, Darth Vader.
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Darth Vader has long been heralded as one of the greatest villains of all time, and with good reason.  With an iconic, unique look (dressed head to foot in black armor, with a mask obscuring his face), Darth Vader, much like the rest of the Empire, is unquestionably evil, the epitome of darkness to contrast with Luke’s light.  Despite the fact that Tarkin commands the Death Star, Darth Vader’s power is greater.
Like Obi-Wan, Darth Vader is also a Force user, but one who uses its power for evil.  It is Darth Vader who tortures Leia for information (which she resists), and Darth Vader who strikes down Obi-Wan in the Death Star.  He is a foreboding enemy, and his skill with the Force, the lightsaber, and as a pilot is a triple threat to the Rebels.  He also plays a large part in the Death Star trench battle, picking off many Rebel pilots and nearly finishing Luke off as well.  Only Han Solo’s last-minute entry into the battle stops him, sending Vader careening off into the galaxy, defeated, but not destroyed.
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Unlike most variations of the villains of Space Operas, Vader does not stick close to his base.  He ventures out, actively hunting down and destroying the Rebels.  He commands his officers, but seems to answer to the Emperor himself, setting up the idea that he may not be the Evil Overlord he seems to be (revealed to be the case in later films).  Darth Vader is incredibly dangerous, however, cunning and powerful, and it is telling that, at the end, he is not destroyed with the Death Star, but merely taken out of action for the time being, indicating that he will return.
But although Darth Vader isn’t entirely vanquished, the day is still won.
And all must come right in the end.
Although Luke’s family is gone, Leia’s planet destroyed, Obi-Wan dead, most of the Rebel Fleet destroyed, and Darth Vader still out there, there is still a Happy Ending.  The Death Star has been demolished, proving that the Empire is not invincible, and Grand Moff Tarkin has gone with it.  The Rebel Alliance survives to fight another day.  Luke Skywalker has found his destiny and become a hero, pulling together his band to do so.  Han Solo managed to find a selfless side, joining the fight as well.  Leia has been rescued and can return to helping lead the Rebellion’s fight against the Empire for the future.  There is a New Hope for the galaxy.
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Star Wars, like most Space Operas, is an idealistic story.  The villains are defeated, the heroes are triumphant.  Good wins over evil.  It’s a good ending, a happy ending, well-earned by our heroes.
The ending doesn’t feel saccharine, either.  It is a hard-won victory, and many lives have been lost.  It is an against-all-odds victory, one not without cost, but thanks to the courage and sacrifice of people who believe in freedom, the Rebellion has a fighting chance, and the Empire is that much closer to destruction.  It’s a Happy Ending, and more importantly, it’s the right ending, perfectly matching the tone and characters of the rest of the film.
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Star Wars is not about how the hyperdrive works, or the technology required to build the Death Star.  It’s not about how humanity contends with it’s own creations, or how we live in a technologically advanced society.  In fact, it’s not really about ‘humanity’ at all.  It’s just about people.
Star Wars is a fantasy epic set against a backdrop of stars, set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.  It’s about good vs. evil, about the defeat of tyranny.  It’s about a heroic farm boy, a rogue smuggler, and a brave princess.  It’s about heroes and villains, magic and battles.  It’s a fairy tale.
All of the above comes together to make Star Wars the definitive Space Opera.  Every point is perfect, every element in place, so much so that it seems paint-by-numbers.  But it’s not.
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Star Wars relies on tropes that are almost as old as stories themselves, but it all feels fresh and new.  By developing interesting worlds, compelling characters, and a moving conflict, Star Wars managed to rise above the standard, taking the term ‘Space Opera’ and turning it into a defining subgenre, rather than an insult.
Star Wars single handedly changed a genre thanks to its earnest storytelling and characters, proving definitively that Tropes Are Not Bad, and that any story, no matter how ‘old’ it is, can still be made something fresh and beloved.
Don’t forget that the ask box is always open for anything from suggestions and discussion ideas to questions and conversations!  Thank you guys so much for reading, and I hope to see you guys in the next article.
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