Fic: Friendship

Ficlet from the WRE WiP. On duty at the call centre, Romaine and El talk about friendship, giving insight into their dynamic – and El’s relationships.

After the caller hung up, Romaine watched El for a while. At last she leaned back in her chair, rolling her head around her shoulders.

“You okay, Rommie?” she asked, catching his eye.

“Just thinking. We get a lot of calls about broken relationships, broken friendships, and issues that wouldn’t be so bad if someone had a close confidant to talk to. I’m used to being mostly alone but calls like that one make me wonder if I need more friends, or if the chances of finding someone who won’t stab me in the heart – metaphorically – are so low that it’s not worth the risk.”

Woods. He didn’t speak the name aloud; his ex-partner, whose inaction at best had led to Romaine getting shot.

El spun her chair around. “This job makes you think about things,” she said. “About your own life. And it’s good to reflect. But don’t let it change who you are. If you like being alone, so be it. And if you want friends then hey; I can’t promise never to piss you off, but I’m generally loyal and aren’t we already friends?”

Romaine blinked a few times. “Sure.”

“Sure?” El repeated, mock horror in her tone. “One word answers like that can be a sign of insincerity you know.”

“You took me by surprise.” Romaine shook his head. “How do you know when you’re friends? How do you know when you’re in love even? Or if you meet someone as a friend and then suddenly you’re dating?”

El shrugged. “I guess you just know? Things can develop gradually and no-one has to say ‘Hey, want to be friends’ because you just are. There’s no proposal, like when you get engaged, not for friendships. As for love, well, I distrust the idea of love at first sight. You have to get to know someone whether you’re dating or befriending them. There is the ‘I love you’ moment in a romantic relationship but love…that’s a big and complicated word. I love my parents, my sister, my nieces, and pizza, but all in different ways.”

The phone rang and she answered. Romaine got an email and as he opened it, he couldn’t help noting that El’s boyfriend hadn’t got a mention in the list of her loves.

 

—comments, shares, likes, are all much appreciated—-

 

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Ficlet: Harvest Celebration

Inspired by some prompts at One Sentence Only (Table 25b), a summer themed ficlet for Lammas/Lughnasagh/Lunasdagh, as a priestess prepares to lead the ritual for the harvest celebration.


Lammas/Lugnasadh Comments

Magickal Graphics

The heat of the fire was scorching even in the hot summer’s day air, like dragon’s breath against her skin. On the spit nearby the wild boar was cooking nicely. Bread, salad vegetables, cookies sprinkled with sugar, were all arranged on a table ready for the feast.

The boughs of the trees moved in the gentle breeze, carrying the scent of smoke, food, and wine to every house in the small town, beckoning everyone to join the harvest celebration. Most of the inhabitants were already there, having fed their letter with expressions of gratitude and wishes for the future, to the flames. Now they were adding to the offerings of food and drink, gossiping, laughing, playing alongside the excited children, or sitting in what shade could be found to await the ritual.

The village herbalist was one of the latter, sat in the shadow of an old oak, and knitting a blanket as she watched the games with a warm smile. Her teenage son, shirtless, was flirting with young men and women alike, though not with any seriousness. The mood of the day was light and happy.

As priestess, she’d made libation this morning, a mug of bitter tea and one of sweet mead, a cup of wine and one of ale. She’d thanked the gods for their blessings, not least the weather that had brought sun and rain in quantities enough to grow sufficient crops and sustain the livestock. The days were growing shorter already and despite the warmth of the day she knew winter would approach and they must soon prepare for it.

The door to the Elder’s office opened and he moved slowly across the open town square to join her by the fire. She bobbed a respectful greeting to the man who’d been a lawyer in his youth, a professor in his middle years, and was now the leader of their settlement. He was known for both his wisdom and compassion.

He returned her greeting, an open hand over his heart, honouring the woman who spoke with the gods.

“I was writing my letter,” he said. “Forgive my lateness.”

“The sun is not yet at its zenith,” she returned with a grin. “You are right on time.”

He cast the parchment into the flames, closed his eyes as it burned. Then he drew himself to his full height and clapped his hands.

“Gather around,” he called. “The ritual begins shortly.”

Soon all eyes were on her and she took a deep breath. “Welcome all to our harvest celebration on this glorious day. We honour and invite the gods to join our feast day.”

A poem followed, one written long ago for this occasion, the words flowing from her tongue easily for she knew the rites by heart. Then a longer prayer and, finally, the casting of the powder into the fire.

The fire leapt in response, crackling, and sending bright multicoloured sparks and a plume of white smoke into the air. She was no longer startled by the reaction though it never failed to impress her. Everyone applauded.

“Let the feast begin,” she said.

People needed no further encouragement, swarming off to fill their plates and glasses.

The Elder offered her his arm and she took it, moving with him to the table where the innkeeper was serving drinks. The blacksmith, proud of their new hobby, was already setting up the archery targets at the edge of the square, while some people were talking of going to paddle in the river.

It was going to be a lovely afternoon.

 

prompt words: dragon, fire, cooking, smoke, trees, house, poem, sugar, lawyer, shirt, wild, respect, shadow, open, professor, door, hobby, knitting, writing, office, tea, bitter.

Fic snippet: Juliet

Opening paragraphs from my first novel WiP, working title “Juliet”

“Marry me,” Juliet said, unable to keep the desperation from her tone.

Sean bowed his head, staring at the grass which was still damp with morning dew. “You know I cannot.”

Juliet’s heart sank. Sean was her oldest friend. He had conducted her marriage to Dayne, the first such ceremony he had ever performed. He had blessed her daughter Sophia when she was born, and was her godfather, loving her as if she were his own child. He had comforted Juliet when she was told of Dayne’s execution, and carried out a memorial service for the man they’d both cared about. Now, in this hour of greatest need, he was unable to help her. Prayer would not be enough.

“I would if I could.” Sean took her hand. “But clerics are now forbidden to marry.”

Neither he nor Juliet had expected the new rule to affect him. He was a loving and compassionate man, but he had never felt desire for anyone. The people of the community were his family, none more so than Juliet. Many clerics however preferred to take a spouse and now most had been forced to surrender their titles. It was a strike against their authority and talents. The queen could not yet destroy the clergy completely but each new law she passed further diminished their influence.

Queen Edda. The bane of Juliet’s life and fast becoming the ruin of her homeland.

Ficlet: A Foolish Fantasy

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A ficlet taking place in the Sorceress Apprentice world. Pre-canon, a young Bryony watches Emeri at the annual Summer Dance and indulges in a foolish fantasy of being his dance partner.

The Summer Dance, held at the solstice, was one of the most important festivals for the village and the ritual fire dance was the highlight of the celebration.

Bryony watched as Emeri held out his hand to his sister, Sabrina, to join him for the dance. They were so elegant and refined. Emeri was rarely the tallest man in any gathering but he had an undeniable presence, and Sabrina, almost as tall as her brother, drew many an admiring glance.

Logically his dance partner had to be Sabrina, another clan member. Traditionally the dancers were of equal status, and intimates of some sort. Emeri had no wife to dance with and there was no-one else present who was even close to his social rank.

Despite this, Bryony chewed at her lower lip as the music began, longing to be the one to dance. To be partnered with the sorcerer himself. It was a foolish fantasy, childish when she was almost a woman now, but she couldn’t help herself from imagining being in Sabrina’s place.

Kerine clapped along with the music and Bryony joined in with her sister, their mother beaming and fanning herself against the heat of the flames. Bryony had once mentioned her attraction to Emeri and her mother had scoffed. Kerine had gently reminded her that whatever all those love stories Bryony read showed, it didn’t mean that life worked that way.

Of course Kerine was right. Besides her lowly status, Bryony was almost ten years younger than Emeri, and while her skill with a needle was something she could be proud of, her education was lacking. What could a non-magical girl offer such a man as the village sorcerer?

After the dance had finished to thunderous applause, Sabrina linked her arm with Emeri’s and they wandered around, talking to the villagers. Bryony curtsied, heart in her mouth, when Sabrina stopped in front of her.

“What a beautiful dress,” Sabrina said, running her gaze over the emerald green silk. Bryony had purchased it cheap because of some damage to the fabric, carefully cutting and stitching a dress from the best of the material and covering the rest of the marks with elegant embroidery, the highlight being details picked out in metallic threads that caught the firelight as she moved.

“Thank you, my lady,” Bryony said, adding, “I made it myself.”

“It is exquisite,” Sabrina said and Emeri gave a smile.

“The stitching is remarkable,” he agreed. “It is truly beautiful.”

They’d moved off then to talk with the blacksmith, little knowing the effect of their words. The warmth in a giddy Bryony’s cheeks was not merely due to her proximity to the fire.

Bryony went to bed that right reliving every moment of the dance, skirting the flames across from her partner, the music’s tempo increasing and her steps more frantic until at the climax of the dance she was in Emeri’s arms and the villagers cheered them on.

 

 

Fic Snippet: Survival

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(From my WiP Sorceress Apprentice a fantasy romance. Bryony’s sister, Kerine, has gone to bring home the dying Emeri’s sister, Sabrina. Bryony agreed to stay and keep the sorcerer company and found herself studying magic as well as beginning to fall in love with Emeri, but she still misses her sister during the months apart.)


Bryony stared at the ceiling after a restless night. The sunlight had awoken her not long after she’d finally fallen asleep, and for a moment she’d thought about asking Kerine to go with her to the river before breakfast, a pleasant walk to start the day.

But Kerine was not here.

This was what Emeri had meant, when he said waking up could be the worst thing. The realisation of abandonment all over again, though he also had the spectre of death to contend with.

Bryony tried to comfort herself with the thought that Kerine would come back, had to come back. That didn’t mean she couldn’t be sad at the separation however. “Pain is not a competition,” Naomi sometimes said and it made more sense to Bryony now.

She could ask Emeri to walk with her; if he was awake, if he was up to it, for some days were better than others. That could be nice.

Yet it wasn’t the same, not when she wanted her sister. The bond they shared could not be replaced, no matter how much she’d come to care for Emeri and enjoy spending time with him.

Emeri was in his study, making notes, when Bryony finally dragged herself from bed and went looking for him.

He glanced at her dishevelled appearance. “You didn’t sleep well?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know how you’ve survived this long without Sabrina,” she said, hating the tremble in her voice.

He looked away, fingers still marking a passage in the book he was studying, pen poised over the page of his journal. “People can survive many things,” he said. “But surviving isn’t the same as living.”

Another time she might have rolled her eyes and accused him of wordplay. But today she nodded and moved to stand at his side, pressing herself against him. He slipped one arm around her waist and they stayed close and silent for a long moment.

Ficlet: Innocence

“He knows this gentle courtship might be all they’ll ever have”

The writer’s block persists so I will share an older ficlet, never before posted here.
Nikolai is a vampire (or close enough) and Cecilia the mortal he has his eye on, though he wonders if he should or will make her a vampire too.

Pre-canon for a longer work I’ve put aside for some years now, in which Nikolai and his bride have spent years together and face new challenges in the modern world.

Originally for the writerverse prompt “write a fic that ends with the line In that moment, it’s enough”

 

aura-innonce

Innocence

She is so very young – perhaps not so much by mortal standards, but certainly by his. Innocent, definitely. Not a beauty to most eyes, but he finds her attractive. Besides it’s not just the physical that Nikolai is drawn to and it never has been.

She no longer thinks of him as a demon, though he’s not yet told her exactly what he is. He has told her stories though, folklore and mythology, priming her in case he should want to reveal more of his nature.

He’s had mortal companions, most long gone by now, and friendships with others like him. He’s never made another like himself, never Changed anyone. He’s thought about it, thought that if he did, he wouldn’t be alone.

If he chose to, he could make this Cecilia like him. Yet deep down he knows that wouldn’t guarantee she’d stay with him. Nor would he do it without her consent, and she’s not ready to give him permission. She couldn’t yet understand what she’d be consenting to.

If he’s honest, he’s not ready to explain. Part of him fears she’ll turn on him if he tells her the whole truth of what he is. Part of him savours her innocence- he wants to enjoy those moments with her, to see the world through her eyes for a little longer.

He kneels at her feet, the same as he does almost every day now, while she embroiders, and begins another tale. She listens, a smile on her face, and it warms his heart to see her enjoyment.

He knows this gentle courtship might be all they’ll ever have. In that moment, it’s enough.

Sorceress Apprentice micro fic (2)

microfic

The one_sentence_only community has a number of prompt tables with the challenge to fill all the prompts with a single sentence. Here are five more fills from the fluff/romance table, written for my WiP novel Sorceress Apprentice.

Secret
“There were few secrets between us,” Emeri said, and Bryony again thought of how his closeness to his sister mirrored her bond with Kerine, and the agony of the separation he’d endured for so long that far outweighed the few weeks she would be parted from her sister.

Music
Bryony loved to listen to Emeri play the lyre, and she appreciated how it could be a distraction for him from his melancholy, losing himself in the notes and only as the tune finished remembering where he was or even that she was here with him and he was no longer alone.

Gift
“I know you don’t like it when I give you expensive things,” Emeri said hesitantly, gesturing to the family heirloom he had loaned her and recalling how Bryony had once accused him of trying to pay her for her affection which was freely given, “but I would dearly love for you to keep this necklace for it suits you, and I can think of no-one I would rather give it to.”

Roses
Bryony knew roses were often given as love tokens, adored their sweet scent and varied colours, but now she learnt of their many uses in magical workings and practical applications, rose hips, rose buds, and petals all having numerous purposes.

Whirlpool
Bryony dreamt of water, a rushing river, a whirlpool, the sea; her element was air and yet it seemed Emeri was right that water too called to her and that she might be a weather witch, a storm sorceress.

 

Sorceress Apprentice Excerpts

There are a lot of posts, articles, and prompts asking about themes and characters in you WiPs. For my WiP Sorceress Apprentice there are a number of themes and motifs. One of the important features of the novel is sibling bonds, both between protagonist Bryony and her sister, Kerine, and Emeri and his sister, Sabrina. While the romance between Bryony and Emeri is at the heart of the novel, the sibling bonds are a vital part of the book.
I find that in too many books and TV shows the sibling bonds are often tossed aside in favour of, or overshadowed by, the protagonist’s sexual partner. I didn’t want that to be the case here. Here are some excerpts illustrating the depth of the sibling bonds in SA – please remember that this a WiP so there’ll be further editing in the future.

Continue reading Sorceress Apprentice Excerpts