Yes, it had been a risk to leave him at home with the baby. She’d worried all day, despite his constant reassurance that he could handle it. That she should go out for one day, for goodness sake. And it wasn’t like she expected him to do anything <i>ridiculous</i>; he wasn’t the type to hold the infant upside down, or try to feed him pizza, or leave him in the car. She worried anyway. Neither of them were really cut out to be parents, and they both knew it. On the other hand, a day to herself had sounded heavenly. So, she had taken the risk.
But then Miranda came home that afternoon and encountered her boys in the living room: Alric asleep on the couch, looking disheveled and exhausted and perfectly content, his infant son dozing on his chest and cooing in time with the rise and fall of his father’s chest. She watched them with a smile, and in that moment she knew, no matter what had happened today, the risk had been well worth taking.
a/n: This is a short one-shot I’ve had floating around in my head because CUTE, and Rue’s had a shit day. So here, love: have some squee, if only for a moment.
He lay on one side of the bed and she another. There was just enough room for the two of them, and quite honestly that was how they liked it. Surprisingly, it had not been at all difficult to get used to. Although initially uncomfortable with the idea of sharing personal space, Rosalind found that her brother’s presence was as familiar as that of her own, and lying next to him in the darkness was like lying next to one’s own shadow. It was comfortable, and safe, and she often wondered how she had managed without him there.
As she shifted next to him, Robert pulled the covers up and around her, the soft whisper of the sheets against cloth and skin the only sound in the room. But she knew he was smiling, even in the darkness, and knew just where his hand was so that she could twine her fingers in his. Then he kissed her nose, as he always did, leaning his forehead against hers. This close, she could hear his heartbeat, feel the gentle swell of his breathing; knew that he felt hers, too, and felt the change as their bodies naturally became synced and fell into the same sleepy rhythm.
A “good night” was not necessary, but they said it anyway; softly, lovingly, and in perfect unison.
“Booker, how could you?”
She was giving him the eyes again, and Booker didn’t know what to do with her. Was it his fault he’d spent most of their hard-earned money at the slots, and the rest on booze? The money that was supposed to be going to their trip to Paris?
“This is all new to me, all right?” he snapped, exasperated. “I don’t know how to be a—”
“A-a proper guardian! I’m not made to look out for anyone but myself— and I’m not even good at doing that much.”
“Maybe you should start with being responsible,” she snapped back, crossing her arms.
“Elizabeth,” said Booker, “I’ve been running from that my whole damn life.”
There had been one, once, but the anchor that had fastened his soul to this world had been swept away by the demons of betrayal and hopelessness. He had little time left, and in another time he would have grasped at this fleeting moments, begged them to stay as they tried to wing away through his fingers. But now he begged them to leave him. He couldn’t stand their shining brilliance anymore.
This had been a very bad idea.
Well, that was not entirely true. Leaving the city had clearly been the best option for Archer, but there was, admittedly, a lot that could have been planned that he had forgotten entirely. Like an actual plan; having one of those might have been nice. In fact, it probably would have saved him a lot of trouble, those troubles including the fact that it was nearly winter here in the border mountains; that he had no food, or warm clothes, or supplies— nor did he have the knowledge or resources to acquire them; that he had no goal at all, except to get far away from the capitol and the life he had literally run from.
Now he couldn’t run at all. In fact, Archer could hardly move. Instead, the young man lay where he had collapsed on his side, exhaustion and hunger and pain finally conquering his body and forcing his quest to an excruciating halt. The forest above him was silent; there were no birds singing, no animals snuffling about. Even the wind hardly dared to whisper as it danced through the thin, leafless trees. Sometimes it brushed against his grimy face, gentle and cool; as if it knew he was not long for this world, and wished to impart some final, sympathetic kindness; but the touch never lingered for long. Feverish as he was, Archer could only whine pitifully at the loss, when he was conscious enough to care at all. The forest was ignoring him. He was an outsider. He didn’t belong here.
But he wanted to be there all the same.
He could still feel the heat from the burn on his arm, the only thing he had taken with him from home. His father’s last gift to his son. The silence of the forest became filled with Lord Nelson’s crackling rage as Archer remembered— or was forced to remember, for only the delirium could have made him willingly relive those memories.
There had been a fight— a literal one, his father flinging him about in his fury and chasing him down the city streets as Archer fled in terror. Archer was fast for a boy who spent most of his days locked in the luxurious cage of the manse, but his father was powerful and experienced. And he had been caught.
“Do you have any idea what you’re doing?” That had been his father’s demand, spat in his face as Archer lay on the ground in pain. “Stupid, foolish boy! No one runs from me. You are mine!”
And that had been the turning point. Until that point, Archer had taken the coward’s route: sneaking out, manipulating his way around tough conversations, side-stepping responsibility. But, cornered and with nothing to lose, Archer had replied: “I’m not.” Defiant, arrogant, and much like his father in that moment; it had not been Lord Nelson’s expectation. It was the reason for the burn on his arm, the reason he lay alone on the musty forest floor, half-buried in dead leaves and filth.
“I am not, nor have I ever been yours.”
Those had been his last words to his father, and even now he meant them. Even in death he would cling to those words, and death was swiftly becoming the inevitable outcome. But freedom— his freedom— was worth everything. Had he known it would end this way, he would have chosen the same path a hundred times. The lonely mountain forest was far different from his place in the manse, a place where he could have all he wanted but nothing he truly desired; but he had chosen it. That was the difference. He had chosen it.
And somehow the forest acknowledged that. The trees remained as silent as before, but the chilly edge was gone; it was a comforting silence, the gentle embrace of a comrade. Archer smiled and the shivering subsided. His body relaxed into the earth and forest debris that made his bed. Archer could not make out the words, but the leaves whispered to him now, crackling under his weight and giggling conspiratorially as the breeze danced teasingly through them. Or, perhaps, that was the sound of footsteps through the underbrush…
a/n: more Archer, written for school. yup.
Running through the trees, trying to outrun the explosions and bullets that chased him through the forest, he suddenly wondered if a few well-intentioned choices had gotten him in over his head. Sometimes the best choice was not always what it seemed.
And this couldn’t be good for his health.
There was no way out. The enemy was just over the rise, and even in the depths of the hole he had found himself in, he could feel the tromp of their boots, the trembling of earth that accompanied the tanks. The oncoming assault was everywhere, and he had nowhere to go.
THUS FOLLOWS A TEXTDUMP, hopefully under a read more because I’m never actually sure if those work until it’s posted and too late. Please ignore format issues and any repetitive ideas or general saldkfjlasdjfl keysmashy things. I’m trying to write down what I know about the world I’m working with and despite my mental insistence that I know very little, apparently I know more than I thought.
Court, I hope this is all okay/makes sense/etc. because this is OUR world even if I keep poking it with large sticks.
Throwing this on my blog here because it is PERFECT and also is partly my world. <3 YAY BRAINSTORMING
“I think I am immune even to your subtle charms,” Elanor said drily, steering Nock down the hallway. “Now come on, let’s go.”
After a moment more of her pushing him, he sidestepped her and reversed their positions, pushing her instead. “Take that!”
“H-hey! Nock, cut it out!” she protested, trying to find purchase on the floor; but her shoes kept slipping along the boards.
“And why should I do that, oh radiant one?” he asked, imitating Lylan’s honorifics with a grin; the difference between the two was very much obvious.
The princess blushed furiously. “Why you— Nock, cut it out!”
“What,” he protested, “so Lylan can do it, but I can’t?”
Elanor spluttered. “I-I didn’t say that!”
“But you’ve never stopped him,” the archer said, a grin beginning on his face as Elanor betrayed herself.
“Well he means it!” Elanor gasped and slapped a hand over her mouth. She had said far too much, now.
“I’m sure he does,” and Nock was grinning even wider now, if that was possible; he only wished Bolt was there to participate.
“Oh, stop it!” she pleaded. “It’s not at all what you think!”
“You certainly haven’t given me much reason to believe otherwise,” he teased.
“Is he giving you trouble, my lady?” Arthur asked, stepping into their path. “I should be more than happy to stop him, if he is.”
“Yes, please!” Elanor said, desperate for a rescue. “He is being his usual annoying self, and I do wish he would stop!”
“Very well,” Arthur said theatrically, reaching for his rapier, “I challenge you, sir, to a—”
“Duel?” Nock finished for him as he stopped mid-sentence; the archer held up the thin blade, grinning unapologetically. “Don’t you need this?”
“Wh—but—how did you—”
Elanor stopped, surprised. “How did you manage that?” she asked.
“I specialize in sleight of hand,” Nock said loftily. “Comes in handy when you’re in trouble. I can do ventriloquism, too, though Bolt’s better than I am.”
“Well… could you give it back, please?” she asked. “I like it better when my rescuers have weapons.”
“I shall rescue you!”
“From yourself?” Arthur asked, half-smiling.
“Indeed! Take that, foul creature!” Nock said, and pretended to stab himself with the sword. “Oh! Oh, alas, I die!”
He collapsed—loudly—on the ground, his limbs splayed like a rag doll. Unconcerned, Arthur bent down to recover his weapon, poking the archer with the tip of the blade before sheathing it again.
Elanor giggled. “Oh, my hero,” she said, nudging him with her foot. “Come on— Oksana is no doubt waiting for us. Dying is no excuse for tardiness!”
“No? It usually gets you crossed off the Christmas card list,” Nock said, opening one eye. “But alright, if you say so.”
Liora sat in her rocking chair, hands resting on the bump that her middle had become in the last seven months. Adrian was outside, cutting wood for the cookfire and conversing with the trees outside their home. Her husband was a wizard, and while he was not a Spiritualist, he often looked after the spirits around him and had quite a few friends in the surrounding forest. Honestly, she was glad he had chosen not to join the Court; she had met him trying to flee the capital. There wasn’t much left in Zarin for the disowned daughter of a noble.
But she wasn’t complaining.
Perhaps the baby was; maybe that was why he was restless today, making doing much more than sitting fairly difficult. So she sat and talked to the babe, whispering soothing words and telling it how much better life was here in the South, away from the politics and the powerplays, all of the theatrics and sickening facades that had chased her from her home. She gazed out the window, not in the direction of Zarin but eastward, toward the sea. It was miles from here, but one day they would go. Adrian had promised.