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Tricks & Treats: A Mixed Bag of Drabbles [Oct. 31st, 2008|07:14 pm]
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Although these drabbles are derived from the requests of five people, I've decided not to address them directly to the recipients. These are, in effect, for all of you. Happy Halloween! You will find these are all (I hope) appropriately themed...


Witching Hour


"And anyway," concluded Roland, tugging the coarse blanket more tightly about his shoulders, "it's all nonsense. "If there were any such thing as wandering spirits whose sole purpose is to torment the living, I'd have been rid of my stepfather ages ago."

Oliver tutted into what was left of his mulled Breton cider. "It's unlucky to speak so ill of the dead. Even in my homeland, we know better than that."

"Note that I wasn't so much speaking ill of the dead as of my stepfather," Roland mused, kicking a coal from near the edge of the fire circle in Oliver's direction. "You have no specific stories to tell, then? Just vague legends and dry yarns from your grandmother's withered fingers?"

Oliver's empty mug went sailing, but Roland was able to duck it just in time.


Shadowlands


At times, the road they wander after dusk is fraught with horrors for even such beings as they have become. Being bound to the land is one thing, Oliver had said some two centuries ago, but finding that other paths cross through it is entirely another. Roland had gone on frowning at the spot in the road, where not a moment before they'd seen army as spectral as themselves thunder through one small breadth of space before vanishing. Neither of them had recognized the arms upon the standards.

Tonight is apparently another such night upon which these crossroads are flung wide. Wary, Roland raises his sword and catches Oliver's eye as the wild-eyed stranger advances on them step by halting step with his axe raised high. His armor is fine and untarnished, the same silver-grey as his eyes. He was perhaps red-haired in life, and the sparest glints of green slip between cracks in his armor somewhere at his waist.

He's terrified, Roland thinks, lowering his sword.

Ever so slightly, Oliver nods his agreement.

As the stranger lowers his axe, the wildness in his eyes fades to confusion.

"Some moments ago, there was - " he stops, struggling to find the right words - "a sort of...man. There. Did you see...?" He cringes. Clearly, he has not been as well-schooled in Latin as befits his class.

"No, brother," says Roland, gravely. "You are all we have seen this night."

The stranger's eyes flit to Oliver's, seeking reassurance. "Is this true?"

"Yes, by my faith," Oliver said. "I swear it by Our Lady."

Seemingly comforted, the stranger nods. His eyes dart abruptly to one side, frightened again, as if he has heard something just out of reach of Roland's hearing. A split second later, he is gone.

Oliver re-sheaths his sword, sighing. "I have yet to understand it."

"Perhaps there's naught to understand," says Roland, and leaves it at that.


Flights of Fancy


He's grave before the mirror, far more grave than a boy of ten should be. He frets at his Halloween mask with thin, pale fingers, biting his lip till he gets it just so. Alfred glances sidelong at Lucius, afraid to smile. Lucius, unperturbed, does it for him.

"You did a good job," he says, stepping forward to pat Bruce on his cloaked shoulder.

"It doesn't look right," Bruce mutters, eyes downcast. "It looks make-believe."

"Pardon my saying so, sir," Alfred interjects, patting his other shoulder, "but that's exactly what it is. Make-believe. I won't have you scaring yourself silly."

"I'm not scared," Bruce admits, his eyes traveling back up to his reflection.

"Then what's the trouble?" Lucius prompts, giving his shoulder a squeeze.

"I just want to do it right."


Respite


It's been the coldest of all months these few years past, or at least it seems so to Frodo. Still, he writes on into the wee hours, meeting the dark of morning with determined eyes. He's grown accustomed to the cramping in his knuckles and the ink-stains on his fingertips. He fears that some of them may never scrub clean.

And it's only when a knock at the door wakes him that he realizes he's drifted off.

"Mr. Frodo?" calls Sam, tentatively. "Frodo?"

"Come in, Sam. No need to dawdle! I'm awake."

"Begging your pardon, sir," Sam says, already halfway to Frodo's chair from the sound of it, "but it's no way to spend your nights this time of year. Surely the book can wait!"

"Nothing can wait, Sam," Frodo murmurs, his eyes trailing the dawn along the top of the window. "Not anymore."

"Not your hot cider, anyway," says Sam, setting something steaming down at his elbow. "Have a drink, sir. It'll warm you right enough."

Gratefully, Frodo drinks, finally turning to look at him.

"As will you, Sam - soon enough. In the meantime, sit with me."


How It's Done


"You didn't mention the bit where it gets me fingers all red," Danny complained, bringing the knife down for another go. It sliced through the cabbage and hit the cutting-board with a satisfying thwock. Nicholas turned from his stirring at the stove to glance over Danny's shoulder.

"It's the juices," he said, half smiling. "Can't be helped. You're doing just fine."

"I don't think I've ever eaten the stuff," Danny mused, dropping a handful of the chopped cabbage into the plastic mixing-bowl that Nicholas had provided. "I know it's traditional and all, but Dad wasn't fond of red cabbage, so Mum never made it." He probably sounded a touch misty just thinking about them.

Nicholas leaned over and kissed the side of his neck.

"If you like it, I promise you I'll make it all the time."

"Sounds like a plan," said Danny, brightly, and got back to chopping.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ineptshieldmaid
2008-10-31 10:22 pm (UTC)

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ooooh. 'Shadowlands' is actually rather unnerving. But cool!
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-01 12:03 am (UTC)

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Have you heard of the legend that Roland and Oliver became sort of saint-guardians of the route to Santiago de Compostela after their deaths? It's well-enough documented that there are actually late medieval illustrations of them guarding the path as heavenly spirits. When I write of them in this context, that's what I'm basing it on.

Thank you!
[User Picture]From: addie71
2008-10-31 10:43 pm (UTC)

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'Respite' is so sad, yet lovely.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-01 12:02 am (UTC)

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It seems to be what comes to me when I think of them these days - the last moments, the fading of the light, the burnt-out remnants of their old life in the Shire.

Thank you <3
[User Picture]From: goddessdster
2008-10-31 11:42 pm (UTC)

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Oh. That was...thank you...I love it.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-01 12:01 am (UTC)

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You haven't experienced autumn in Britain till you've had some red cabbage done up with red wine vinegar, brown sugar, and bacon. Mmm. We had some with our Halloween dinner this evening!

Thanks for requesting :)
[User Picture]From: teithiwr
2008-11-01 12:31 am (UTC)

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Flights of Fancy is just so spot on. A lovely portrait of all three of them! Obsessive boy!Bruce is so sad yet perfect. And Alfred, and... well, I just said it, didn't I. All three are spot on.

Respite really captures the bleak feel of that stage of Frodo's life. So poignant. <3
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-01 07:10 pm (UTC)

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I don't write F/S much anymore, but I have fond memories of the days when I did. It's nice to revisit them!
[User Picture]From: azureflight
2008-11-01 01:53 am (UTC)

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I think Roland and Oliver is my favorite thing that you write. Aside from the poetry, of course.

Do you have/know where one could find those late medieval illustrations of them guarding the route to Santiago de Compostela? *curious*
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-01 07:11 pm (UTC)

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I'll scan it for you - it's in a book I've got! An out-of-print book, at that :-P
[User Picture]From: azureflight
2008-11-01 07:23 pm (UTC)

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Awesome, thanks! What book is it? (Out-of-print books roxorz.)
[User Picture]From: thisbe
2008-11-01 02:17 am (UTC)

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Aww thank you for doing the Alfred/Lucius drabble :D
loved young master bruce in it as well ;)

[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-01 07:11 pm (UTC)

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Thank you! Cute, yet disturbing, that boy.
[User Picture]From: wizefics
2008-11-01 04:09 am (UTC)

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*wibbles*

I love your Danny and Nick piece. I want more, because I am a greedy awful person that way. Great job!

Also, wee!Bruce and his mask and wanting it to be right was so sad. But so true.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-01 07:13 pm (UTC)

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There is a lot more Nick/Danny coming, I fear. One piece going in the sandfordpolice fanzine for January, several pieces kicking around in my head for which I have made notes...

Perfectionism from an early age is always a sure sign of insanity mental...inquietude
[User Picture]From: sirdrakesheir
2008-11-02 12:36 am (UTC)

Long comment is long, sorry.

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For shame, woman! I'm a recovering capslocker. How dare you make life so hard on me; I almost broke out the unintelligible fangirl squeeing.

That being said, I have a few more things to.

Item One: What is this "Hot Fuzz" business and how highly do you recommend it?

Item Two: I wish I knew who half of these people are. As I don't, I obviously can't appreciate all of the drabbles fully, but your writing is, as always, very lovely.

Item Three: It's feedback time.

"Flight of Fancy" is so dreadfully ominous and scrumptiously insightful. The line about Alfred being afraid to smile cuts. Also, obligatory fangirl squealing over the pairing. It goes here.

"Nothing can wait, Sam," Frodo murmurs, his eyes trailing the dawn along the top of the window. "Not anymore."

I don't know if it was because it speak to the eventual end of RotK or what, but this line "Respite" gave me the same overwhelmingly sad, weighty feeling as very few things in fiction ever have. The death of Dumbledore, the end of Cyrano de Bergerac, and the demise of Harvey Dent come to mind. Almost like, it's gorgeous and wonderful and perfect, but still not satisfying. I don't know. I don't know half the things I say.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-02 04:47 pm (UTC)

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Hot Fuzz is a truly precious, amazing, and hilarious British comedy flick that came out back in '06 or '07 (not that long ago, in other words). It's precious because the slash is pretty much all but canon. I say "all but" because, although we don't necessarily get snogging onscreen, we have the writers (one of whom is the director; one of whom is one of the leads) and the leads saying that the love story in this film is Nick and Danny. And damned if I didn't just fall head over heels for them. You know that rash of four stories I wrote after writing the most recent of my TDK stuff? It's all Hot Fuzz, and frankly, my brain is at the moment jammed in HF mode and I'm not sure if I can get it unstuck till I write a few more. Actually, I'm not sure I want it to come unstuck. But. Um. Glowing recomendation. It's brilliant.

<3
[User Picture]From: sirdrakesheir
2008-11-02 05:59 pm (UTC)

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Ok, I shall rent it then. :)
[User Picture]From: miss_morland
2008-11-03 10:18 am (UTC)

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(Sorry about the late reply; I was away for the weekend with no internet.)

As always, I love the way you portray Roland and Oliver - "Witching Hour" is so playful and calm (I can think of no better word for it), while "Shadowlands" shows the way they communicate intuitively, reading each other's mind, almost, and just... LOVE. Thank you! &hearts

The others were wonderful too, especially the last one. *melts at the mention of Nick kissing Danny's neck*
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-03 01:00 pm (UTC)

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In spite of their frequent disagreements/arguments, I do tend to view Roland and Oliver as very intuitively connected. They're never boring to write!

I'm gearing up for some major HF output in the next couple of months. I really, really can't get Nick and Danny out of my head...
[User Picture]From: tawg
2008-11-03 09:44 pm (UTC)

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I read this back when you first posted it, and was all 'oh, I'll comment later'. And then I didn't - sorry :(

Aside from red cabbage, what is it Danny and Nicholas are making? Is it just red cabbage, or some super food in which red cabbage is a component?

Anyway, Danny and Nicholas are very cute together - I have such a soft spot for domesticity.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-03 11:01 pm (UTC)

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This is exactly what they're making (and of course, there are many variants out there, give or take a couple ingredients). It's an absolute staple of English winter menus; you'll see it as a side to at least one dish at nearly every restaurant over here that's worth its salt. And it's easy/delicious to make at home, too!

Edited at 2008-11-03 11:02 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: tawg
2008-11-04 10:28 am (UTC)

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That dish sounds very, very weird. But kind of intriguing. I'll ask around some of my older friends, and see if they know of it. But thank you for that little tidbit of English food culture. I likes learning :D
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-11-04 11:18 am (UTC)

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Looks weird on paper, but it's fucking delicious.
From: hyarrowen
2008-12-26 09:33 am (UTC)

R/O

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Yep, found them! And they're as good as I'd hoped, especially Shadowlands. I love how they're so kind to Gawain. I'm all sadhappy now.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2008-12-27 12:21 am (UTC)

Re: R/O

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And thanks once again :) If I recall correctly, I've done more than just these two entries over time, too. It's hard for me to keep track of my own archives; that's what the tags are for *wry grin*