Archive | November 28, 2016

Movement (more Chess/Black Knight AU)

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“I do hope eventually that isn’t a negative for you.” She patted his shoulder. “But I don’t think ‘eventually’ is going to be ‘today’. Okay, the next…” she glanced at a clock over her shoulder, where it was in plain sight for Luke. “…half hour is going to be experimental. It does not reflect on you as a Kept in general, nor does it set any precedents. Understand?”

“It’s a sparring session?” Luke guessed. “Wait…” he winced. “It’s the sort of sparring session where you show the new kid he’d not as hot of shit as he thought he was, isn’t it?”

“That is a pretty close analogy. All right.” She glanced at the clock, nodded, as if to herself, and started. “I’m really disappointed in you for not coming home sooner. I know this isn’t what you wanted, but the least you could do is remember that you have a Keeper, and that your Keeper might want to see you once in a while.”

The guilt hit Luke like a punch in the gut. It’s explanatory, he reminded himself, but the part of him steering didn’t want anything to do with that. “You told me to help Leo,” he protested.

“Did I ask for excuses?” She asked it so sweetly, it was hard to reconcile the panic Luke was feeling with the tone of her voice.

He shifted, pushing himself to his feet. “I have to…”

“You have to do what you’re told. And what you were told was to kneel there and take it, darling. So…?”

Luke knelt. He brought to mind Ambrus when he’d first come to Addergoole, and he lowered his head and folded his hands in front of him. He wasn’t submissive. He wasn’t a pet. He was a warrior, a soldier. He was a teacher, a fae older than the nation that he’d watched fall to ruins.

He was Kept. He knelt and did as he was told.

Her voice was by turns sweet and scathing. She cut into Luke – his behavior, his word choices, his hair, even the way he smelled. She found fault with just about every part of him. And when she was done with that, she started reiterating points.

It was awful. It was torture, without out even the luxury of shouting. Only iron discipline kept Luke from sobbing, from trying to explain himself, from yelling at her — and he slipped in that last one, once, and bellowed at her.

She just shook her head and told him she was disappointed in him.

It lasted forever. It went on, and on, and on, while Luke clenched his jaw and clenched his wings. There was nothing left but her voice, and there was no getting away from it.

When she took a breath, Luke looked at the clock. It had been fifteen minutes. He was only halfway done.


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In Which Amrit Makes Sense – a continuation of BeeKeeper.

First: A beginning of a story which obnoxiously cuts off just before the description,
Previous: In Which Mieve thinks too much.

She was looking at him strangely.

She’d been looking at him strangely since he volunteered to break his own leg, and it had just been getting worse all day, until bedtime, when she’d told him she wasn’t going to tie him down for the night.

She’d looked like she wanted to say something else. Amrit hadn’t given her a chance — though he had managed to thank you. Sleeping with a healing leg was going to be hard enough without restraints.

It had been. In the end, he’d muttered a Working to knock himself out. He’d slept like a log, but woke groggy and still trying to shake off the sleep.

Now he was chopping wood, his splinted leg braced so he didn’t have to put too much weight on it, and she was doing like she’d been doing yesterday, looking up at him strangely, looking back at her work, circling the yard and then coming back to looking at him.

Finally, Amrit put down the ax. “I already promised not to run away and not to attack you,” he pointed out patiently. “What’s the problem?”

She jumped when he started speaking, and looked guilty as she looked away. “Just trying to figure you out.”

“Well, while you’re doing that, you’ve got seeds you need to plant, right? All that plowing and forking and turning over and…” He shrugs. “Spring won’t last forever.”

She smirked at him. “Yes, sir,” she teased. “Looks like you’ve got the firewood sorted.”

“Until I have to go get more out of the hedge, at least.”

She raised her eyebrows at him and said nothing. Amrit shifted his weight and leaned backwards a little, trying to look non-threatening. He didn’t have that much experience with it.

“Look,” he said, picking his words carefully, “I’m here for a while. You’ve clearly thought about this process. I’m not getting away quickly, and I might not get away at all.”

“This is true,” she allowed cautiously, like he’d said something momentous instead of something pretty banal.

“And, look, I’m from not that far from here.” Now why had he said that? “I know how hard winter can be, and, uh. You’re feeding me. I want to carry my own weight.”

“That is why I–” she stopped herself. “–brought you here,” she tried, as if they didn’t both know she’d been about to say bought you.. “Yeah. So you want to, what, help get ready for winter?”

“Of course. I mean, I’m not a shirker. I’m just,” he shrugged. “I’m bad at being told what to do. So, uh. Yeah. It’s your house, your land. But I can help get the wood ready and make sure the house is all warm and snug and, well, everything. I’ve done this before,” he added, because she was looking at him strangely. “I survived the last few winters, didn’t I? One of ’em I even survived on my own, but that sucked.”

She was not looking at him any less strangely. Amrit sat down on the pile of wood and looked back at her. “You’ve been doing this for years, right?”

“Yeah. Since the collapse, really.” She perched on the chopping block.

“And, I mean, most of them were Kept, so, uh, they wanted to make you happy, right?”

She blinked slowly. “Yes. The Bond does that,” she said, carefully. Again, like he’d said something strange and outlandish.

“And what about the human slave?”

“Mostly he just wanted to be free. He settled in after a while and did what I told him, especially once the snow started falling.”

If she was going with one-year cycles, that could have been as much as six months in. “Must have been exhausting.”

She raised her eyebrows at him. “Yeah. It was.” There was definitely a challenge there.

Amrit plowed on, ignoring the strange feeling in his gut at her challenge. “So uh. Nobody ever just wanted to help you out because, you know, you were giving them a safe place to stay?”

She stared at him. Amrit shifted uncomfortably. “What?”

“No,” she said slowly. “Nobody has ever offered to help in return for the safe place to stay and the meals. If they had…” she spoke like she was working her way through a minefield. Amrit wasn’t sure he blamed her, even if he wasn’t sure he liked being treated like a dangerous weapon.

Well, she wasn’t the first. He sat there looking as harmless as he could manage.

“If they had,” she tried again, “I wouldn’t have needed to buy people from the slave market.”

“Hunh.” Amrit hadn’t considered that. “Well, uh. I mean, you could put the gag and chain back on me and tell me to not help except what you order, but, um, that seems counterproductive. Besides, I’m gonna get bored just doing basic chop-and-dig sort of work.”

“Can’t have you getting bored.” She smiled at him, a cautious sort of expression, like she wasn’t sure he wasn’t going to laugh at her.

“Oh, dead gods, you don’t want to see me when I’m bored. That’s how I got in trouble, my last place. Got too bored.” He grinned at her, cocky and comfortable again. “It’s no fun.”

He could tell she’d relaxed a little by the way her shoulders shifted and her eyes crinkled a little. She shook her head. “You know, never thought I’d be worried about keeping my Kept – my sl –“

“Your prisoner,” he offered, because she was getting uncomfortable again.

“That works? Yeah. Keeping my prisoner entertained. But now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t lay in some board games and cards for when the winter comes.”

“Probably carrots and venison first,” Amrit suggested. He could think of plenty to do that would keep them both entertained and warm, but if she wasn’t going to suggest it, neither was he. “You know, once this heals up, I’m a pretty decent hunter.”

“You said. Well, you mimed.” She repeated his gesture back at him, drawing a bow. “But that would mean letting you out of my sight.”

Amrit slumped a little. “Yeah. It would.” Damnit, he really wanted some fresh meat. “I could promise, I guess.”

“You’ve been making a lot of promises, lately.”

“You’ve been doing a lot of work, lately. Costs you energy to fight me.” Amrit rolled his shoulders. “Look. I don’t want to be yours. I don’t really want to be a slave, or a captive, or a Kept. But I can help you out and stuff, and not leave until the winter’s over. I’m good at at that much.”

She wasn’t going to go for it. He knew she wouldn’t; why was he even making the offer? Why were his shoulders all hunched again? He shrugged them up, trying to loosen the tension.

“I’ll consider it.” She tilted her head. “I’ve got a couple days to think about it, anyway. You shouldn’t go hunting with your leg all splinted, at the very least.”

He thought she looked guilty. Amrit didn’t know why. He relaxed his shoulders and gave her a half of a smile. “Oh, woe is me. Three or four more days where all I can do is split wood and eat your food.”

“Careful,” she teased, “or I’m going to have you washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen instead of splitting wood.”

She was smiling, and she was teasing him. Amrit’s half-smile grew into a full grin. “Oh no, not that. Not the place with all the food.

“Whatever will you do?”


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Weekend Blog and Thanks Giving

Oh my, let me tell you… five day weekend. Five. Days.

The last time I had that much time off in a row, we were driving to/from Raleigh for my cousin’s wedding. It’s, uh… It’s been a while.

And I took full advantage of it in as hermitty a way as I could manage & barely left the house.


Oh, we went out a few times. we both needed a haircut. We took a last-minute Black Friday trip to BJ’s for a new tablet (mine still works, but with a cracked screen (Dropped it on the pavement at a bus stop, sigggh), I don’t know how long it’ll last, so go go Black Friday sales.

(As a note… I really like the Black Friday complex. It helps that mostly we buy online, and that we live in a very small town that doesn’t get nearly the news-worthy crowds — I mean, we don’t get crowds at all — but man, for $100+ off small electronics, totally worth it.)

And we went to the nearby (hour away) outlet mall with my Mom for Christmas shopping on Saturday, because family tradition, because deals, and because Mom. It appears I want all the sweater-dresses… 1989 me wants her wardrobe back <.<

Other than that? We hauled firewood and made turkey and dressing and gravy, we made pumpkin pudding and apple crisp and ate far more food than we needed, we watched Victorian Bakers and made bread.

In the spirit of the season: I am grateful for the times like this, when I can catch my breath. I’m thankful for all of you, for all my friends and all my readers (and all your enthusiasm and all your questions). I am thankful I live in a modern era, in a modern world, with stand mixers, oil furnaces, and, of course, the internet.

And kale. Strangely enough, I’m thankful for kale.

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