Feathers

Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Fri Aug 06, 2021 1:12 pm

Something had changed within him. Quite possibly it had happened on this day with her leaking tears if not exactly glamourie. More likely it had happened on the night of the fire, a night that could have been endless had it unfurled slightly differently, a night where both her power and that of Catch were at play. He was not the manic creature around her that she had known during their last three (had there only truly been three?) encounters. The allergy or affliction or whatever it was (madness; it may have been madness; if so, surely it was still) to her primary form of communication, one that twisted and contorted the perception upon which he clung to so tightly, seemed to be gone. Everything now was more measured. For most, that would not mean that it was premeditated. With Glenn, was it ever not?

But was it?

"You do truly trust me," said with such confidence. It was one thing to make demands of a queen. This was so much less and quite a bit more. "But you don't trust me completely. They're different thing and, you know, I think I welcome it. I have known a connection without doubt or hesitation or confusion. This is better. Anything might happen. Any feeling might crop up. We don't know. We don't know the full extent of one another. There will always be something more to learn. And of course, I am prone to change as well as stubbornness, so you'll keep learning of me until the day I am no more and then thinking back in the years that follow and reexamining this or that." The temptation was there to lean forth and whisper once more but he learned and listened as well, even if it might take two or three tries occasionally. So he stared her straight on, even if his voice did soften. "Guess once and guess twice; it'll just make it all the more meaningful when you make your decisions in the end."

And a decision she did make, to ask not for a kiss, but about one. "You said it yourself. Certain lines should not be crossed tonight. I'd prefer you wait on such questions, if for no other reason that it would give you reason to return to me and not lose yourself in Catch completely once more. If I must compete with the eternity he offers, some things must be held aside."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Fri Aug 13, 2021 9:02 am

Trust this and trust that, and all the while resentment crept up her throat. Resentment, aye, but with a little resignation blended through it, bitter as gall. This, perhaps, was how she communicated with Catch when she wasn’t speaking: through complicated but eloquent stillness, through sudden flashes, through the palpable chill when she withdrew herself and the melting warmth when she thawed. It was very chilly between them now, winter on the other side of a door.

“I can’t afford to guess about a child.” Her voice was rough. She touched her throat and swallowed to clear it. “For her sake and for mine own, I must be certain.”

She met eyes with him again, stony. “We’re past glossing over unpleasantness, Glenn. This has nothing to do with if I trust or not. An I do not agree with you now, you will give me no chance to find out if either plan would work. But you know, and I know, there is a way to sidestep you entirely.”

She brushed his cheek again, with a tired, slack smile. Menace quivered in the quiet. “But you know I would not.”

Then she shrugged a shoulder and left her hand to rest cupped on the warm side of his neck. Taking advantage, perhaps, but for once, he was permitting it, and she did have some propriety, for all her other boldness. “What’s funny is that this is more to do with your trust than with mine. Whether you trust in me, or in your own cleverness, believing that you know me well enough to know I would do you no harm. Bit of a narrow rope to walk, but you’ve walked narrower. Or you believe you have.”

She had to swallow again. When she could speak, her voice shook with barely contained greed. “But I don’t know if you would stake your life on it, if you truly knew how I want this child.”

Quiet again, quick short breaths, collecting herself. Her hand stayed tense on his neck—not a threat, but a mooring.

“Glenn?” Quite a different tone, calmer, clearer, younger. Timid. “Three times we have met before this night, and every time we have parted, I ask you to say me farewell, and you never do. And you have never told me why.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Mon Aug 23, 2021 12:01 pm

Glenn listened to her almost all the way through (not all the way to her timidity and her final question, not to the question of farewell; he would speak before that). It was such patience from him. She took liberties, touched him here or there, flashed at him with absolute certainty and bared fangs. That certainty was more of a breach than her physical forwardness.

They were in two very different places in this conversation and he wasn't sure he could reconcile them (This was his certainty, not that he saw it). Even if he somehow could, she currently existed both here and there, then and now, all of this at once and he, himself, was just finding his footing once more. So as she brushed against him for the last time, his eyes shut and he let out a slow exhale. "Do you understand why you're here? Really? Why I did what I did to draw you here? Why I paid the price, and there is a price, and we both know it, to summon you? This was not my preference. It was not my first or second choice. You know me. You know the value I put in my own written word. I drew you out with letters once, without even that intent. I could have done it again over time. Even you thought so." This confidence, this assurance, it was a wonderful and frustrating proof of the veracity of his words; he believed it. "He stressed to me that there wasn't that time, that if something wasn't done immediately, there would be no further opportunities. I was willing to sacrifice your regard, my comfort, to pay the price, to ensure that there could be a tomorrow, one with at least some hope of wholeness and health. This was not what I wanted."

Yet it was what it had become. It was hardly a point of pride, to be panicked by a bird, save that the bird had been correct and the panic had been warranted. "I'm not so vain to think you want me more than Catch or more than the child or more than helping your people or more than a great many things, but if I know you, Finn, then I know you are capable of wanting more than one thing at once and if I give you the opportunity to have it all, even at some cost, you'll find it enticing. And why shouldn't you? You can't have everything if you take the easy route now. You'll lose not just me in all the ways you value me but a part of yourself as well. You'd have to live without me for a time but without it forever. Maybe you'd be happier without that part, but you'd be less for it and you'd know it forever, and for you, forever is a long time."

If the bird had been right and if the concessions that Glenn had obtained were not the sort that completely alleviated his concerns why was he letting her leave now? He couldn't stop her, but he could make it harder, could squeeze harder. This was the question she wasn't asking, but he'd answer it anyway. "You want the child more than Catch. You said as such." It had surprised him at the time. "So long as that is true, I don't think we need to worry about you quite so much. You'll do what you need to for the sake of the child," and there he was, seeing the child not as a person but as a means, but here the means was her well-being, and presumably he saw her as a person even if he saw no one else that way? Was she touched or horrified or both? "We'll get you there. You, me, Benedict, maybe Catch."

Which, unfortunately, finally led them to the matter of farewells and the lack thereof. "It's never been right. Never. I don't want you to fare well, Finn. I don't want you to fare at all. I don't want you to be alone and I don't want you to leave. You allow me quite enough other pettiness. You'll allow me this pettiness as well."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Tue Aug 24, 2021 7:19 am

He squeezed tighter. She twisted her hips to loosen his hold, while contrarily laying her wrists over his shoulders in what appeared to be fleeting acquiescence. In her mind unfurled the not-entirely-pleasant sensation that they had done this before. When? Now was precarious enough without trying to calculate when, too. Had they danced? That seemed unlikely. The lift in her stomach said it had happened, likewise the whirling in her mind. Both unreliable. Best to stick to where she knew she was, save that she couldn’t be sure of that, either.

“Holding yourself hostage is a very bold strategy for one who has just acknowledged he is but fourth or fifth in my affections. But fourth or fifth still took me away from my love on a wet night out of care for you. Fourth or fifth is enough to stay my hand when you set yourself between me and something a bit higher on the list.”

Which was a fine thing to say to a man when you were in his arms. This was all still rather baffling: he was both receptive and passive in a way she did not associate with Glenn, or with men in general. A response, reciprocation, a firm thrusting-away—one of these things should have occurred by now. It reminded her, rather sickeningly, of Catch, of the way he simply allowed things in order to please. He left her without guidance or direction, so that any touch more intimate would cross the line into taking advantage, yet without an outright escape, there really was no safe place to put her hands except his elbows. She had to lean back to look him in the eye. “This is why I try to keep you well clear of my schemings: in part so an it come to the question, you could say true you knew nothing. And part so that I would not have to choose between what I want and what I treasure.”

They had always played the game. Truth for truth, honesty for honesty. It was the one really fair thing between them. He gave her honesty. She returned it. Like it or not, they were hopelessly entangled.

“I think it is you who do not know the price you paid. So far you have used your advantage to trick me out of trifles, favors I would have given for free had you but asked, and I tolerated it, because that is what you need to feel alive and safe inside yourself, for all I’ve told you there is no need with me. All that, and what have you offered in return? What concessions do you make? What have I ever asked of you that you did not deny me? I chalked it to your pettiness. But this—this night is the first time I have felt ill-used. You hurt me.”

In opposition to such a straightforward, painful accusation, her fingers twisted into the folds of his shirt, and her forehead bent to touch his shoulder. Resigned. Sorrowful. Not angry. “And it means nothing to you, so long as your will be done.”

Her eyes were prickling again. Tears, it seemed, could happen for any reason; they even happened when you spoke the truth. It felt an unreasonable betrayal, a crack in her stone face.

She cradled his chin in forefinger and thumb, raising his head ever so slightly. A delicate touch, barely tangible. All the substance of her gauzy gown. “The next time you do this, I will not come, and my hand will not be stayed, and there will be a price. A true price. Not scorched pride or regrets. And the only reason next time is not this time is because I bear you yet enough affection that you should be forewarned. I remember when I am hurt.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Thu Aug 26, 2021 5:57 am

How does one keep tally of mercies? Ought tender ones be weighed more heavily than their more bitter counterparts? Does every mercy, no matter its color or flavor, have a cost? A mercy that allows for earlier acceptance causes more immediate pain. A mercy that spares someone that pain delays such acceptance. Here the mercy was that she had pressed her head towards him and had looked away from his eyes. It spared her, but it withheld from her as well. Had she been looking, she would have seen bewilderment first, bewilderment because he had explained to her in the clearest terms possible and yet somehow she still didn't understand. Then frustration, because of course she understood and despite his explanations (his intent) she was hurt anyway. And finally, acceptance.

She was hurt. He had hurt her.

The frustration seeped back in and for a second, maybe two, his hands clenched around her in response to it.

His will be done?

That was a fine notion considering that his will was to try to root her back in reality once more, to help her, to find the part of her that was lost?

Yet he hurt her.

He hurt many things over the years in the name of helping them. Necessity in a harsh world.

And yet, where had that gotten any of them? Where had it gotten him?

Yet, of course, this was different. It was a very clear path. Drawing her there hadn't been of any dubious morality. Benedict wasn't even wrong to force his hand.

But wasn't it always this clear?

It was. He had known years without introspection, without the ability to question himself. Yet even now, he almost never questioned what needed to be done but instead how to do it. That was the only difference. Lines could be too profane to cross but the destination was never in question.

When the kiss came, it was to a destination never in question, her forehead. Maybe that was her own fault for aiming him so and placing herself thus, but likely it wasn't. The kiss was soft and tender. Old. There was nothing young or vibrant within it. "When you live in the present once more," there was a slight rasp to his voice, effort, as if her draped form was a great weight upon him, "I will listen better to what you say you need instead of gorging you with the sour taste of what I feel you cannot be without. I see before me so many ends that I have no idea what to do with worthwhile beginnings."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Tue Aug 31, 2021 1:10 am

She lowered her chin and obediently presented her forehead. It was the sort of kiss she should have expected, the type one bestowed on a child: off to bed with you now. It printed its weight in a round stamp on her brow, as though he had imbued it with all his age and weariness and she would now be obliged to wear it, to remind her always that he would forever be the elder between them. Trust Glenn to somehow turn a simple kiss into a burden.


Well enough. A kiss was a token, no less than a coin exchanged for service. So often she accepted a kiss in lieu of a greater price, for a kiss cost nothing at the end of the day. A kiss was a fleeting pleasure that paid a debt or sealed a deal. Anyone could afford a kiss.

After the exchange, the retreat.



Before he was done, she sighed and patted him twice upon the arm to tell him to stop.

“That kiss was meant to be for you, not for me. You so seldom permit yourself to be vulnerable, and you only warrant kissing when you are. And now you are frustrated with me.” She smiled and tapped his chin with a fingertip, pleased with herself for noticing and mildly chiding him for daring to feel so. “You tried to do me a service and now you feel ill-used. You do not see how someone could still be hurt when you were only trying to help them. Now you must wonder how many times before you have hurt people. Isn’t that a wretched feeling?”

The smile did not touch her eyes. They were like staring down to the bottom of a well. In that moment, she was ageless. The sum of a thousand queens had brought her to him.

“You shall have plenty of beginnings. You are not as old as all that. I have tricked you out into the world so that you would see how much of it was left for you, but I could never have tricked you had you not already known that where you were was neither an ending nor a beginning, but only a salmon swimming after his own tail.”

Solemnly she raised herself to the balls of her feet, hands on his shoulder for balance, and bestowed him a quick peck high on the cheek. Nothing more innocent, save that it left the lingering sense that as far as fairy kisses were concerned, he’d been let off lightly. She lowered herself to her heels once more.

“It is more than the work of one night to bring the question of us in the midst of all else that must be done, but if it cannot be mentioned while I’m here in your arms, it never will be. Let me go now.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Thu Sep 02, 2021 12:38 pm

Anyone could afford a kiss but not anyone could afford to receive it. Depending on the kiss, or more accurately, the kisser. Her face was terribly impressive but it would always be less so than her presence. Burnie had done his research. The bards (the human sort)? Their stories were always over the moment they stole the kiss from the fairy queen. There might have been another hundred pages left, but it didn't matter: the story was over.

And were that the impetus for Burnie's reluctance, he'd be wise and disciplined indeed. So of course it wasn't that at all. He'd have refused a kiss from any beauty and most plain women as well, for he didn't differentiate except for, perhaps, to place more value on the latter than the former out of stubbornness and spite and past experience most of all.

"I predict it more often than not," spoken like a villain admitting to his crime in front of the traveling magistrate, not out of pride, not because it might help his case to show contrition (for there was no contrition to be seen), but because it was the truth and the truth ought to be told. "I predict it, and I do it, because I think it is the correct thing to do and is therefore the only thing I can do," which was his truth. "It's not a wretched feeling, but it's not a pleasant one either. Though, do it enough and it doesn't become much of a feeling at all," another of his truths. "I didn't predict it this time and that blindness is a wretched feeling, but not as wretched as the result of the blindness and the hurt itself. Putting the matter of the child aside," which was in and of itself reprehensible save for the the gains he made for all of them with her on this night, "I thought the worst of it would be you chiding us for daring to show concern behind your back. This is far worse than that," and that could be their truth, one that drew from him a concession no others had gotten from Glenn Burnie.

The kiss came, blunted by her deliberate aim. "You are free to come. And yes, you are free to go." For someone with so little deftness in human interaction, he had such control over his own body, the product of hundreds and hundreds of torturous hours, and the release was calm and steady and measured and even graceful. There was something courtly to it and something casual. It was awkward and intimate and artful, and save for the reluctant effort of separating from her, he seemed entirely unaware that it was anything worth noting at all. "But, remember, free to come." Which would have been a nice stopping point, maybe, but he had to get the last word in, even on himself, especially when it contained something he badly wanted. "And obliged to write, because where will we be without that?"
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Tue Sep 07, 2021 12:26 am

As he explained himself, she stood quiet, watching him sagely and looking as though she might nod in understanding. None of what he said was very surprising. All of it was as much as she expected of him. Glenn, endlessly bound to his own nature as much as she was, as much as Catch was. The raven had seen the parallels even when she refused to look.

“Oh, but I am harried by officious tultharian and upstart ravens,” she whispered, mostly to herself as she brushed at her eyes. “And you, who wish to defy fate and the very gods and even me at every turn, cannot defeat your own nature. I fear if I should quit you, you will go and hide yourself in another pool, salmon, which would be a shame. You are much more fun when you have an obstacle to hurl yourself against.” She sighed heavily. “Though I do wish your obstacle this time were not I.”

Proximity had quickened her words. Separation left her silent and numb, and with the feeling that part of her was still left twenty heartbeats back, when she had felt some connection, and hadn’t quite caught up to the moment they parted. He let go, and she was stranded, with a faint but uneasy sense of panic as to whether or not any of that had just happened.

She made a frantic snatch to pull him back again. “Wait, don’t—”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Mon Sep 13, 2021 12:16 pm

This had not been a pleasant encounter. It had gone against his expectations in almost every way. That might not have been a bad thing if his expectations had not been laden with a rare optimism (rare in the enthusiasm that colored it more so than the optimism itself). In truth, he gained far more than he had lost on this day. He barely knew what he had lost and no matter it's value, the truth of the matter was this: if they had not come to some very unlikely accord over the matter of the child, all of the value within her and all of the value she could bring to him and all of the value he might find within himself because of her would be worthless, bankrupt, spent. Something was not always better than nothing but a great deal of the fairy queen was far better than none at all. He was no longer in the market for Perfection. After all he had been through, a little tarnish brought with it character and quality.

Still, despite the unpleasantness, lip would upturn at the words she first spoke out loud. He had an answer, for of course he did. "Then let us next find a common obstacle to overcome." At this point, he might settle for a common anything, however.

She was not well and he well knew it but it was still easy to get complacent in her moments of presence; there was comfort to be found in them and he was badly starved for comfort. Still, she was never long in reminding him in the way she lost her temporal footing if not her physical balance. She made a snatch and he was there again, close but not leaning in, that embrace soft once more but constant, reliable in its laxness. She was no prisoner. Yet there was something different this time. She was about to receive another quite rare thing, one not less terrible for its uncommonness. "I'm sorry." Said genuine, not whinging or sniveling or pleading or with deceit. As if that made what came next any better. "I'm sorry," he repeated and then added the point of it all, "for not seeing it. My first night back and I was unprepared. I paid no heed to this place while away. I had no bearing, no direction, no sight, no idea. No idea at all. I still only have half of one. And an idea isn't the fullness of truth. Yet I am me and I should not have been so blinded by anticipation and drunk on familiarity. I should have seen it coming even before I arrived. I should have been ready to stop it. Myrken was ready for me but I was not ready for it and you suffer still because of that."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Tue Sep 21, 2021 5:23 am

He came back, which surprised her as much as she surprised herself in reaching for him. In her mind the question rose briefly of who, precisely, was meant to be consoling whom here, or if consolation was even the right word for it. Instead, she led his arm around her waist and leaned against him, feeling very young and vulnerable and old and hardened all at once. She often did, when she was steeling herself.

“He is…very distant, betimes,” she said softly. “Like a star, he follows his own course and takes no notice of us bound to the earth. I…I am not much used to being the one who sits still and waits. Perhaps it is good for me to learn. But it can be very cold, there on the ground.”

She sighed at the memory, then looked back to Glenn. “There is a word we have and you don’t, for being alone together. I keep trying to find one and it all comes out as ‘camaraderie,’ which is not quite right. It’s more desperate than that. To be thrown together by chance, almost, and to stay there only because the step beyond is to be truly alone. I’ve felt that way before, back at the beginning—the first time you came to Myrken, particularly—but now…I don’t know where we are. I don’t know if there is a we to speak of. I don’t know if there ever was.”


Her smile was a touch lopsided and cynical as she brushed his cheek. “You apologize for what you could not have foreseen but not for what you’ve done. I suppose you feel confident enough in what you’ve done that you see no reason to apologize for it. Small wonder everyone is cross with you.”

She smiled a little. We: the first time in memory she’d ever aligned herself with a group of tultharian—and of course, it would be against Glenn. One man against the world was he, so that a Tuatha queen must take refuge among tultharian to oppose him. If his antics did not so amuse her, she supposed it would all be more annoying than it was. Her hands lingered reluctantly, looking for the correct moment to let go, but seeming unable to find it.

“You’ve hurt them worse than you have ever harmed me. You’ve harmed Catch far more than you’ve ever harmed me. All this…” she shrugged and gestured around them “…is but a spat, a quarrel, thoughtlessness, ignorance, a difference in opinion, or in our own nature.” She caught up short with a small laugh. “I had disagreements with my Deirdre far worse than any of ours. We hurled insults and breakables and swore each other off for months on end. Every time, sooner or later, one of us would realize that what lay between us was more valuable than whatever drove us apart, or else we finally admitted to ourselves that we’d been wrong and foolish and one of us would move to make amends. Usually me. I hold fewer grudges than a queen rightly should.”

She trailed off, her hand slowing on his arm, finally coming to a halt as the light in her eyes turned inward. The memory was so perfect, so painful, that it stuck in her throat. Her dark-haired Deirdre, with the obstinate curl of her plump bottom lip and her tendency to flounce, all tied up in her beautiful bravery. Deirdre, who had never had either shame or tact, who blurted out whatever was on her mind, for good or ill, and never took it back. You bought the worm with the apple, with Deirdre.

For a moment she bore down on Glenn and wish he would turn into Deirdre—that a glam would dissolve, and he would have been her all along. Even at his most pliable and lenient, he could never be anything like. Even as she was now, she could not lose herself enough to believe such a thing.

“If I suffer because of you, Glenn, it is not because of anything you do or fail to do but only because of what you are. What I am. And there can be no compromising that, not without we undo ourselves utterly. I cannot. And I would never ask it of you.”
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Mon Sep 27, 2021 4:42 am

There may have been no word for it in their language, but to him, it was a very Myrken notion. They were all lost but they were all lost together at least. Obviously, he had not received anything resembling a pleasant welcome and perhaps he felt closer to her than to the others currently, but in years past it had been something that had united all in the province as they faced threats from within and without. He did not mention this now, though as it would only bemuse her. Better to have that association with her and her alone instead.

Though, of course, immediately thereafter she found herself united with all of them against him. That, too, was the way of the place, though best to not mention that either.

There was hardly time anyway. Untethered in time and space, she was also untethered int his conversation and soon it was Deidre this and Deidre that and..

"Oh, I see now," it started slow, glacial, even, as unmoored as she was. "You experience every day as it comes, which is why there's a Deidre you haven't even mentioned. Because, of course, there was time for a Deidre." She hadn't quite left his embrace as of yet, had even invoked it after it had gone and left, and now she was trapped in it as the mental motion of it, of him, began to creep faster and faster. "What is there but time? You experience every day as it comes but you process it overtime differently. Stories and song. Generalized lessons. You experience every day but you don't fall to Vanidor's malaise or Sarayn's madness. And why?" A pause of three seconds, a calm before a storm.

"And why?" And there it was, the sharp fall and the suddenly acceleration. "Because of the glamourie. We have our dreams but you have your living, shared shaping of reality. To communicate, but to cope and process what you've experienced as well. It allows you to package a thousand days so that you have only the weight of a hundred, or to take but one day and make it tenfold. The passage of time weighs upon you right up until the point it doesn't, because you'll ultimately decide, consciously or unconsciously, alone or together, what it means for your inner selves."

Which of course, in a pique of elation and elucidation, the only passion he knew, that of connection and discovery, was the moment that he leaned into kiss her. He almost made it too before pressing his own hand harshly upon his face, over his nose, into his eye, turning his head. "No," he talked into his hand and while she understood that word, she'd be hard pressed to understand the rest as he muffled himself. "Not when it's all me and it's all about you. Maybe if we were pulling apart something together. Not when you're the wall I batter against. Maybe if we were to batter together."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Mon Oct 25, 2021 12:54 pm

At the mention of its name, the glamourie perked up its ears. Glamourie did not change the real into the fantastic, but asserted itself to be more real than the truth. If anything, she condensed, all her colors deepening, her presence more firm upon the world even as her very existence threatened to reveal everything else—perhaps even Glenn—as mere airy nothings.

“Glenn, Glenn, Glenn.” She half-turned her face away, but he had already stopped himself. Her smile was sad and full of reproach. “Do you think I don’t batter myself against you as well? ’Tis great fortune we’re both matched for stamina. Otherwise…”

That thought turned sour even as she expressed it. It reminded her there was no otherwise. Had she not only just said how the game would end? She shrugged, leaving it to him to understand her.

We—” she poked a finger at his breastbone “—do not have any other time than this we have. That is the only matter of importance. I told Him once that the best place to hide from you is right under your nose, for you see forward, see backward, but never see what’s before you. Mayhap you should wonder how you perceive your own time before you go speculating about how we other ones do.”

There it was again. Other ones. The factions kept shifting and once more she was on the other side of the divide from him.

She sighed and fiddled with the neck of his nightshirt, which needed no straightening, then rubbed her own cheek like a tired child. She felt tired. Drained. If Glenn hadn’t been there, she might have sunk down to the carpet to sleep. Glenn could lay down three arguments in the time it took you to defend yourself from the first one. There was never any catching up to him, and she took the bait, always. Niall stubbornness.
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Wed Oct 27, 2021 5:40 am

He may have had his arguments but he was subject to them as well; that was true in normal times with normal people. Here he was waist deep in glamourie and in close proximity to her. Very rarely did her people diminish others. If one truly, truly deserved it, it was possible. More likely it would be elongation, an endless stretching and diluting of one might be. If that punishment did fit the crime. Even that was probably rare. More likely but not likely at all. What was standard, commonplace, to be expected, was quite the opposite. Around her people, those other ones, humans became more of what they truly were, the most that they ever could be. They burned brighter, right up until the point that they burned out.

With Glenn, however, the oil seemed to last forever. It was an infinite well and she'd blind herself in the effort long before he was ever exhausted. It left him lost, however, not lost in her, but lost in himself, and here, in the here and now that was so important to her and a seeming inconvenience to him, he was all but snatching for words that would still be relevant. "I never want to say goodbye." He repeated, in exacting spirit if not in actual exactitude. "I've said goodbye too much. I can't say goodbye to you as well. Instead, when you leave, you'll leave with a plan. We'll write. Ten letters between us. Full letters. Five from you and five from me. You then I then you then I. You'll send the first. Then after the tenth, which will be mine, we'll meet again. You'll choose the place. The time. The activity. I'll agree to three things without complaint, but just three."

Then he paused, because it felt like it should be a choice. He had let her poke him, prod him, pull on his shirt. There had to be a choice and he worked hard to set the terms, physically permissive but burning bright and aggressive in all other ways. "Or you could stay and the now that we have together need not end quite so soon."
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Re: Feathers

Postby Niabh » Mon Nov 01, 2021 4:09 am

Another subtle, eloquent silence when he was done. She did not so much as shift, yet he might feel the disengagement of a thousand invisible hooks that bound them, a thousand painless pinpricks that stung only after they withdrew. She needed the space to think. At the moment, he was an insistent distraction, one of the pitfalls of living so absolutely in one’s own flesh, and a distraction made all the more compelling in that, while connected, she felt grounded. It was not the abiding certainty of Catch, but being near was so much better than being adrift. Small wonder she had grabbed for him only an instant after asking him to let her go.

“You and your plans,” she whispered. A plan that sounded more like a bargain. A crease formed across her brow as she mentally prodded his phrasing for holes and traps, weighing them against her own schemes. The idea of three choices, three options, glinted like a lure, interesting her in spite of her resolve; she could not but, hypothetically, imagine what she might choose.

“Glenn, I have already granted you such liberties, you cannot realize them all. I have given up power so that you would feel you had your own, because it means nothing to me and everything to you. What good does a letter do? Ten letters? A hundred? Will anything be different when we come to the end of them? A goodbye now might spare us later. We part ways and remember one another as we are—what is left of us.”

Another precipitous silence followed as she teetered on the edge of an answer. The glamourie made it seem that the room balanced atop a steep pinnacle, and that her next word would be the difference between a sudden plunge and continued equilibrium.

When she spoke again, her voice was hollow, as though it came from a great distance. “I will write to you. And at the end of it, I pick the place. The time. The activity. And you will bend yourself to my choice, whatever it will be.”

And then he asked her to stay, and her fingers gripped his collar all the tighter. She winced as though he had wounded her, shoulders cringing. It felt spiteful of him, to offer her something she wanted but must refuse. She glanced behind her toward the door, as though Catch might already be waiting there in a silent fury, pawing the floor with steam pouring off his skin. She found herself literally unable to imagine Catch’s reaction should he come across a scene such as this.

Almost shamefaced, she at last let go Glenn’s collar and smoothed down the wrinkles with an air of hiding the evidence. “I should not tarry much longer. He worries.”

Her hand found his, strong fingers weaving through his, and squeezed.
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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Re: Feathers

Postby Glenn » Tue Nov 09, 2021 8:27 am

He'd lost everything. He'd already returned and found so little here for him. She had everything ahead of her again. She had everything now before her. She had too much. She was drowning in the today and would be further gorged by the assured tomorrow. He had her, a bird, endless frustrations with Gloria Wynsee, a role that would be disastrous for both children and adults in Myrken, a few mysteries unsolved, blessed mysteries albeit ones he had almost no clues for, some hard decisions ahead. Very little. How long was it before he became another Aloisius, life having passed him by, so deep into stubborn denial that what might have begun as something wilful would transform into something entirely witless. It made all of this very difficult. It made his actions at least partially selfish, though at least not blindly so. It came from a place of undesired solitude, but it came from a plate of absolute caring as well. No human, not even Glenn Burnie, was ever entirely one thing.

"Ten letters," he repeated, for it was worth it, considering the alternative, and it was everything she deserved for good or ill. "And then I will bend." Not a small thing to say for someone who made it a goal in life never to bend. For her though, or was it because he had no choice left? It could well be both. Perhaps the meant the same thing. Perhaps that was what caring as all about. Perhaps not, though, for not this was a high level of brinkmanship indeed. Surely, it was complicated one way or the other.

Was the offer spiteful. He had no choice. She had no choice. Their lack of choice wasn't even about the same thing. Did that make them, separately and collectively, failures, or was it a sign of something else? She squeezed his hand. He squeezed back. "Be safe then and be kind. To me, to him, to him, to her, to them. To everyone you can afford yourself to be. To yourself. I think kindness will serve us better than wrath in what is to come."
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