Precipice

Feb. 1st, 2009 09:12 pm
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"You should not push her."

There is an intensity to the Lord Shaper's words that belies his calm exterior. Desire looks sharply up, cigarette in hand forgotten. Nearby, a smudge of black taffeta mars a corner of the Great Hall's marble, and two figures stand attendance a few feet away. Death looks back at her siblings irritatedly, but Despair's lumpy form is intent on the girl, as a terrier with a kill in sight.

"Oh?" Desire's tone is calculatedly light.
"Indeed. I do not think she can take much more of this."
"Oh, but it does make the hours go by so much quicker, don't you think? Lends a little interest and drama to the wait?"
The ever-present furrows on Dream's forehead deepen. "You endanger all of your plans by it. For what? You are not welcome in her domain and yet she suffers you with equanimity. But you could be..."
"Shh-!" Desire turns, pointing.

Behind them, a cowled figure stares with blind eyes at the scene before him, a massive book held against one hip. Destiny pulls a quill from the middle distance, and very carefully notes something in the tome. A long moment passes, and he nods, fading into nothingness.

"Well that was unnecessary." Desire's petulant expression changes to disgust as the cigarette between those long white fingers burns out. "Oh for the love of-"
Loud footsteps interrupt the complaint, and a huge lumberjack of a man strides in, tracking red clay mud across the pale and glistening marble.
"Hullo sibs." He scratches his beard thoughtfully. "What have we here?"
"Oh, one of his projects, you know. She doesn't seem to have much of a sense of humor."
Dream opens his mouth as if to speak but closes it again, a stormy expression on his face.
"Huh. She's lasted this long. I think she's made of sterner stuff than either of you realize."
Desire looks confused, Dream looks thoughtful.
"Besides, we wouldn't want to find out if he was wrong midway through, eh? Have to have a bit of a stress test to find out, first."
"We are endangering a very rare tool indeed."
"Even a broken tool can be repaired and put to use."
"But the stakes-"
"The stakes are only as high as he wants them to be. Couldn't let him get bored now, could we? No, no. This," Destruction gestures grandly, "all of this- you, me, her, them - is according to his plan."
"And if she breaks?"
"Then we delay, find another."
"What if she refuses?" Desire flicks a lighter, irritated.
"She won't refuse."
Dream turns back to look at the girl, curled and rocking in the corner of the grand room, tear-stained face held between hands marked with red crescents, hair limp and disheveled against dull black fabric and clacking beads.
"I pray you are correct, brother."

Why now? Why this? It should have been over months ago, why bring him back? And why for so short a time? What are you trying to prove? We've known for years that my heart is implacable - impractical, self-destructive. Why drive the lesson home now? Why? Answer me! Please! Please...

Endings

Jan. 15th, 2009 11:23 pm
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The new globe is still warm to the touch as she sets it down, the images inside churning and fluttering in their own maelstrom of nostalgia.

Yellow gingko leaves stick to the wet soles of his boots as he thumps up the wooden stairs...

Clean white sheets, and dappled sunlight on naked skin, a book fallen sideways in sleep...

Copper hair and freckles and a vine that ran just... so...

Tea and bathwater and roses, and the sound of guitars in the sweet June air...

A tiny christmas tree, and tiny lights against frosty air, and lonely tears...

Bitter weeping stretched on the floor in the cold and the dark...


Somewhere in the Palace, a door slams. And then it slams again. And a third time, as if for emphasis, and the girl closes her eyes wearily. Desire smirks over her shoulder into the display.

"I know. I know."
"I still think it's funny."
"That it took so long to realize it was her I was in love with? Or that it's she who plucks the feathers from my wings and sends me tumbling?"
"Both, I imagine."
"Well you needn't look so smug. It's not like I didn't suffer the same for the Elf."
"Ah, but the Elf still gave you hope. This one burns your city and dances on the ashes."
The girl purses her lips. "Yes, she would. It is her way."
"And what will you do?"
"Nothing, for the time being. There are more things depending on me than this ridiculous circus."
"And what of them?"
Her lip curls slightly as she closes the door of the display case. "Let them stew in it. I've said my piece. If they can live with themselves, they are not the people I built them up to be."
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"I demand nothing." she said quietly. And then she turned her eyes away, lest they betray her. For what shone in them was not a demand, but a plea: "Please, give me permission, please let me love you."

Bust she would not say it.
She would never say it.

She demands nothing, not even her due.


"Why are you so satisfied with your misery?" Desire asked, toying with her sigil absently.
"Because... I could never please my mother," she takes a deep breath, exhales, "so I try to please everyone else."
"Ah. And get walked on. Tell me - do you think it makes them happy?"
She lowers her eyes. "It does not make them upset."
"Not the same thing."
"No."
"Did he scorch every last fiber of romance out of you?"
Her face is full of bitterness, and grief. "I don't know."
"And you won't try to find out."
"How could you know?" Her lip curls, revealing clenched teeth. "Near the end, every gesture, every touch, every thought of him was a short step closer to losing him. How could you understand what it is, to love and yet be ever more silent in your adoration? To love and hold it in? He may not have burnt it out, but he trained it out of me just as effectively."

Later, she stands on the rampart of the Tower, new-Called, and stares out into the vasty roiling emptiness of the City. An obligingly stiff wind springs up, pressing against the folds of her skirt, toying with escaped strands of hair, scraping gently over her outstretched palms. Scraps of paper explode into the air and hang there for a moment, suspended between one element and another. She watches them, a swarm of cream-colored butterflies as they swoop and dart and twirl, and are eventually lost out of sight, past the borders of her domain.

Miscast

Jun. 23rd, 2007 12:38 am
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"Torturing yourself over it isn't going to make it stop, you know."

Desire flicks cigarette ash over the balcony railing with pale, languid fingers.

The girl looks up, startled, her jet fringes clicking in the moonlight. Then with a frown she turns back to surveying the booming City in the warm dark before her. Her knuckles are white on white against the smooth stone of the balustrade.

"Put that out. You may be Endless, but you're in my Realm. It's no less disgusting when you do it."

Desire laughs then, a silken sound like cord being drawn across the backs of one's knees. The cigarette disappears obligingly.

"Dietrich you ain't" the girl mutters with ill-grace, prompting another laugh from her slender companion. The Endless's garments shudder for a moment, then resolve into a graceful approximation of Chanel's Le Garçon. The girl looks the new ensemble up and down with a jaundiced eye, and sniffs.

"You're about a century and a half too late to fit in with the decor here. But thank you for the consideration." She turns back to watching the circle of her driveway; the traffic of the City blurrs to an impression of great speed and giant carriage wheels beyond her elaborate wrought iron gates. But slightly inside them is a tiny roil of shadows, the impression of scurrying feet and bright eyes, and conversations whispered guiltily but perhaps just a little too loud for the purposes of actual secrecy, or even tact. She snorts derisively and turns.

Desire's hair has changed color thrice in the intervening moment, first calling to mind the straw colored braid of The First, then the strawberry-blonde of the Flame and the Gypsy, then a liquid black like ink spilled over glass. She sighs.

"You miss your mark by that last one. He was never mine." Desire's hair changes suddenly black to it's accustomed vertical red shock, a petulant expression appearing beneath it. At this, she loses her patience entirely.

"Obviously, you are baiting me. Why." It is not a question, but a demand on her lips. "Have you something to tell me, or have you simply run out of Vestal virgins to torment?"

Desire smiles slyly, and bows acknowledgement. "La, but you do take all the fun out of it. Not a care in the world for my sport!" An immaculately pressed handkerchief appears from a breast pocket, and Desire toys with it maddenningly, shooting her a sidelong glance. "You want him. Do not deny it. I can feel the fire of it burning in your bones."

The girl rolls her eyes imperceptibly. "The irony of you of all creatures misinterpreting the seat of my heart's true wishes... is... incomprehensibly great. No, I do want him, you are correct thus far. But you mistake the who for the what."

Desire looks at her thoughtfully a moment. "But he burns bright on your stage anyway."
She grimaces. "Despite my best efforts to remain detached, yes."
"Then it is not he specifically, but what he could be..."
"You mistake me for a lesser example of my sex."
"Forgive me. But then it is still a role he could fill-"
"-but declines to-"
"-that you desire so much. I see." There is a pregnant pause. "And what title do you give this rôle in your particular dramatis personae?"
The girl turns back to the rail, her eyes on a clock tower that rises now in the distance, a yellow face above the City's jagged skyline. The hands twirl and blur, like everything else outside her gates.
"Come now," Desire chides, "Such a strong example of your sex should be able to say it and know what it is she truly desires."
She clenches her jaw, but answers in short, clipped words. "Companion. Beloved companion."
"And?"
She exhales, closing her eyes tiredly. "And I think I must re-cast."

In Prayer

Sep. 18th, 2006 10:27 pm
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It is cold in the Temple. Leaves skitter around her ankles in a dance of reds and yellows, burnished coppers and rich browns. The doric columns of the outdoor structure rise up in their circle, like the staves of an unfinished basket reaching towards the dark sky and twinkling stars. The burble of water can be heard softly from within the innermost circle of the Temple's railings, though she knows that soon, as winter settles its blanket over the City, that subtle sound will cease.

The gusting wind pushes against her, throwing her skirts into the bars of the balustrade as if hoping to push her over it and into the chilly springwater flowing below. Her hair, uncoiled for the first time in many months, flies loose about her face. There is a far off look in her eyes, and her fingers are clenched on the railing so that her knuckles are white with the strain.

A short, lumpy figure appears behind her, dark tattered hair and pale tattered skin and a glint of cruel silver at her finger belying the power held in that unpleasant shape. Naturally, her taller, svelte sibling stands nearby, in attendance.

"He does not love you." It is Despair who speaks first.
"I know." Her gaze is calm, somewhere between resigned and uncaring.
"And he never will, not the way he loves her still."
The girl simply gazes on at Despair, silent.

Desire chimes in, a rich velvet to the Despair's scratching burlap.
"You could take her place, you know. Give him something to think about besides her. Fill his head and his heart and make him forget."
"I don't think so."
"But it's what you want. It's what you've wanted since you met him, all those years ago."
She ponders this for a second, head cocked to one side.
"Yes." She pauses again, gathering her words. "Yes, but I have always known that he is a creature of another realm entirely. I have never even aspired to have him as anything more than a simple visitor, a guest in my realm."
Desire is, for once, silent. Despair looks up into her sibling's eyes and they exchange shrugs. The odd pair turn away from the Temple, and fade back into the night.

"That was well done."
The voice at her elbow makes her turn away from the spring again. Moonlight glints on the silver ankh and sends strands of more silver to play in the tousled dark curls that frolic in the wind. Death leans across the railing beside her, hands clasped.
"I have rarely seen someone shrug off Desire before, much less Desire and Despair."

The girl frowns, eyes closed, and pinches the bridge of her nose as if fighting a headache.
"For there to be Despair, there must first be hope. I have no hope of the Sunbeam ever being more than a casual visitor. And as for Desire, well, though he may but visit, and I would wish him back more frequently, our... meetings... are sufficiently torrid to quench any urgency Desire might foist upon us."

"You are concerned about something else."
"Yes."

There is a long pause, in which the girl sighs, and swallows hard.
"I have... I have become the Scared Whore that I once disdained. I feel no different, but I cannot but imagine how those who are now, how I once was must mock at me and scorn me behind my back."

Death raises one eyebrow. "Surely it's not so bad as all that. I know the one you speak of, and you are not alone in your... lack of regard for her." She takes her ankh in hand, musing "The Moving Phoenix has taken her life in her own hands more times than anyone deems sane, and indeed her exploits may well lead her into my realm someday."

"But you are not like her. Remember that. That is not to say that you aren't allowed to enjoy your... ah... worship." Death grins impishly.

The girl sighs again, fiddling with the braid on the edge of her bodice. "I do enjoy it. Very much. But I want a piece of each of them, some small piece to keep. Even the Temple whores are given their tribute - I simply feel used and cast aside. In... many things. Not just this. I am still without a Companion."
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"It was an apt name you gave her, you know."

The girl shuts the tiny wooden box with a loud snap and a gasp, whirling to see Desire's idle form draped over a nearby setee. If it unnerves her at all that the Endless can come and go so easily in her kingdom, she does a good job of hiding it, instead frowning softly to herself and turning back to the box. It is a small thing, lined in stormy blue velvet, a complicated celtic knot burnt into the lid. Inside sits a single, elf-made laurel leaf, so real in its seeming that one might never know it for an artisans work, except that it is made completely of silver.

Unimpeded by her silence, Desire continues. "You know what the myths said about elves, don't you? That mortals who dared taste the Summerlands could never return, else they'd pine forevermore."

"I am... quite... aware of that, thank you" she grits out through clenched teeth. "I am also aware that that one taste was all I'm ever likely to get." She shuts the box again, softly this time, and turns to the door. Desire does not follow, but merely calls after her.

"You're not likely to shake me so easily. What, did your struggles with the Wolf's memory teach you nothing?"

Stung, she turns, eyes flashing. "He was not a wolf. And I can certainly try."

Purposeful steps take her to the Gallery, but her certainty wanes as she approaches a few lines sketched on the wall in place of the frames they represent. Touching their sigils, the ankh, the mask, she murmurs a Calling and stands back.

Death appears first; unsurprising given her ability to be anywhere and everywhere all at once. Dream's arrival is more leisurely, his image appearing as if a fog had seeped into the frame and then reluctantly taken the form of a tall man with wild hair and galaxies for eyes. She turns to Dream first.

"Lord Shaper, to you I give this dream. I fear I have ill-used it, but it has in return given me nothing but heartache. I understand that this is my sole responsibility, and my fault, and I beg your forgiveness for ever harboring it." She hands him the box, which he takes with a grave look. She turns to Death, looking solemnly out at her from her pane of the Gallery.

"Lady Ender, to you I give this struggle. I do not give it lightly, but I beg you take it, as your sister has taken my hope in the matter." The girl shoots a look to the next frame over, where the hooked ring glistens dully in the diffuse light of the long hallway. Death nods, but touches the shape of the box uneasily.

"You know that you've had terrible luck flouting Desire in the past. I hope you know what you're doing this time."

The girl ducks her head in acknowledgment. "Telute, it is the only thing I can do. I cannot stand any more of her half-rejections, no more of Despair's visits to my Realm."

Death nods, slowly. "I wish you peace, then."

As the Endless fade from view within their frames, she whispers her thanks.

Changeling

Nov. 17th, 2005 12:03 am
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"Please, I've tried so hard to avoid this..."

Her words are lost in her folded arms on the linen of the dining table, and Desire stands over her in a spotless white tuxedo, proffering a handkerchief. There are black streaks under the girl's eyes, bisecting the purple that tells of sleepless nights and long days. Her gown's pink satin has faded and the silk crackles like the leaves of a neglected tropical plant, flaking away with every breath and every movement. Underneath the silk that scatters like the dust of moths' wings, a layer of black is barely visible, shining and glimmering vaguely as if it contained stars. In the adjacent Ballroom the skeletal dancers twirl and there is a faint discordant accompaniment from the dusty pipes of the calliope. Desire says nothing. She looks up, and the gown begins to shatter and peel away from her.

"I tried so hard to resist this. I don't want to fuck this up, and it's not what he wants. He doesn't feel that way. Hell, I don't think I feel that way. We're equally unfit for this... Please." She gestures in the direction of the balcony, to the breeze that carries the whiff of still-raw pine stumps. "Was that not enough?" She points at the calliope. "And that? I don't need, I don't want, I can't survive any more of this!"

She stands suddenly and the dusty remains of the gown peel and fall away like a chrysalis, but the rustling of all-black taffeta petticoats fill what little silence remains. The gown is black, but not without color, much the same way the carapace of an exotic beetle might contain flashes of the rainbow. The skirts rustle restively, and a froth of black lace encircles her shoulders as she paces. "She said you didn't want me injured, wanted me alive..." she mutters to herself "how is this supposed to help?"

Desire remains impassive, tucking the refused hanky away. "You know, I am as much a product of your vitality as a reason for it. As long as you are alive, you cannot escape Me. I would take that as a comfort, if I were you."

The girl shoots a look that could freeze gin in Desire's direction. A pair of black gloves have begun at her fingertips, and begin to spread up her fingers and over the back of her hands, the satin spilling up her pale flesh like ink spilling through water. She stares at the ballroom unhappily. "But no good could ever come of this! This is madness! I want to keep him as a friend, at least a friend!" The girl tugs at the edge of the satin as it spills over her elbow, then in frustration rips the damp fabric from her arms and throws it in a slightly twitching pile on the table. It gives a startled lurch, then lies still and begins to fade into nothingness. She turns her back on Desire, and strides to the balcony window, resting her head on the doorsill and folding her arms as the tears begin afresh. In front of her eyes the remains of the forest are like an open wound on her Domain. She shudders as Desire comes up behind her, a breath of a kiss laid against the back of her neck.

She puts fingers to her chest, and the tips come away stained with blood, old and black. She closes her eyes. "Yes. The three of swords. I always thought that the third blade in the heart was for me, but the Prophetess said that it was an old would, one that could now heal. Perhaps this is it." The girl turns to face Desire again. "But not all Healings come without their fair share of pain."

There is something amused and ironic written across Desire's face. "Embracing me does not mean accepting the path that you fear. There is choice in all things. Acknowledging your desire for him might even provide a bit of relief. To admit it is not to act upon it." Desire takes the girl's hands, ignoring the faint tracery of long netted-lace mitts that have appeared, and kissing one, pulls her to the ballroom.

"Come my pet. You have little choice in this one matter."

Black skirts and white tailcoat blur together in the twirl of the Dance.

The Offer

Feb. 25th, 2005 11:33 pm
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The girl paces listlessly in front of the Grand Window at the far end of the ballroom, distractedly watching the skeletal dancers in their whirling finery. She carries a long-stemmed glass in one hand, spinning it restlessly with the other so that the dark green-blue liquid inside it sloshes. Her petticoats rustle beneath her, and her feet move unconsciously in time with the waltz, but it is obvious that she is miles and miles from here.

Desire lounges on an overstuffed fainting couch nearby, watching her with disinterest. As the girl passes by the great swathes of velvet curtain, a long, dark-furred arm reaches out, claws extended towards her. They edge ever closer, closer to her shoulder and finally touch...

She whirls, her eyes somewhat unfocused, then frowns.
"Oh, it's only you Eddie. Couldn't you see I was a little... distracted?"

A voice comes from the shadows inside the folds of curtain, a voice like dry fall leaves skittering over cobbled streets on a blustery night.
"Yesss, mistresss. But we were afraid that mistress would spill on herself and that would not be well." The clawed arm reaches out, with a supplicating gesture.

The girl sighs resignedly, and hands over her glass.
"That was only my third, Eddie, and you all know it."
"Yesss, but not all intoxication comes from food or drink."
"Or smoke." Desire adds helpfully from the corner.

As the dark servant spirits himself away, the girl turns on Desire, her now empty hands clenched beside her.

"Why are you still here? We've had our dance, you delivered the Lord Shaper's gift, and yet you're somehow not content to leave. Why?"
Desire laughs: a beautiful, heartbreaking sound. "Then I am not to linger? Surely you don't prefer the company of your silent friends? The skinless ones, I mean, but the green eyed one was..."
The girl turns, huddling in on herself. "Not real. I know. I know."
"I never said that."
"You said they were dreams."
"Yes, but that doesn't make them not real. Especially not in this between-kingdom in which you reside."
"But he is gone."
"Well yes. He has other obligations in the Lord Shaper's realm. Did you expect to get him for keeps?"
"Yes. No. I..."
"He likes you very much you know. He'd like it if you could keep him."
"I didn't know... that that was an option. Would the Lord Shaper be so willing to part with one of his creatures?"
Desire guffaws. "He is hardly the Lord Shaper's sole possession, my dear. Think of him as a contract employee."
The girl is downcast, pondering. "I would like... I would like very much to have him back, if that's possible."
"Permanently?" There is an uncomfortable ring of importance to the word which makes the girl flinch.
"I don't know about permanently. I don't even know about long-term. I don't know if I'm even fit to have him back!"
"But you'd like to. Don't bother lying to me, I can feel it burning inside you like a furnace. What are you afraid of?"
"I'm afraid of losing this!" she flings her arms wide, encompassing the ballroom. "I'm afraid of sharing the realm I've built, that I've sweated, bled and struggled for! I'm afraid to lose myself in another man, afraid that next time, I might not find my way back again!" Her hands clasp and unclasp involuntarily, and she stares out the window. "It was so very comfortable in his oblivion. I'm afraid of how easily I might slip away into one that's similar. It's taken so long to remember who I am."
Desire looks at her over steepled fingers. "A trial period then? Some saftey built in, in case you feel yourself falling again?"
She takes a shuddering breath, eyes downcast.

"Sure. Why not."

The Gift

Feb. 13th, 2005 11:28 pm
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There is a bright corner of the City too, one populated with creatures of such blazing beauty and perfection that they sear the eyes of our young lady. It is in this corner of the City that we find her, crouching in stained skirts in a hedge. She is peering into a blazing window at couples inside who dance on, oblivious. Desire stands over her left shoulder, idly amused, if somewhat annoyed.

Inside, the dancers twirl in perfectly matched couples, bodies moving as one inside richly gliterring gowns and expensive tailcoats. These are creatures who have never known hunger, have never known poverty, never known what it was to want something unattainable. They are so young and strange to her, so used to the stiff creaking of the skinless dancers of her own ballroom. She watches them, fascinated, wincing all the while from the light and dazzle that stabs at her dark-accustomed eyes.

It is Desire who speaks first, impatient at the girl who crouches still in the bushes, content to watch the dancers through slitted eyes.

"You know you can't have him, my pet. You do know that."

It is not jealousy that motivates Desire's words of course, but contempt for time so wasted. Desire is never jealous, no, but often sadistic.

"You know he is not for you. He has an entire world inside that ballroom, built and sculpted just for him. And you aren't in it."

Stung, or possibly annoyed, the girl finally turns, the crinoline under her dishevelled skirts rustling restlessly.

"I know that. Will you be quiet? They might hear you."

Desire laughs, a loud, racous sound that fills the night and wraps around the girl like a seducer's arm.

"They can't hear me. You know that, my pet."

The girl turns back to the window, silent.

"And yet you still watch him. You gaze at him like he was a raft and you were drowning in a sea of blood. You watch every finger her puts on her and imagine it was you he was dancing with. You imagine that it was you he gazes at in the turns, you that brings that smile to his lips and that light to his eyes." Desire leans closer, crouching over the girl's shoulder so that the hair by her ear flutters with the next words. "You love him, don't you."

The girl jumps back, swatting at her ear as if stung. Desire takes on a smug aspect, arms folded. The girl's face holds first horror, then shame, guilt, and finally sadness. She looks back at the ballroom, and then down at her hands, eyes welling up with tears unshed. She stands, and pushes her way through the hedge. Desire follows.

Back at the Bal des Morts she sits on a sidechair, sighing. Her skirts are once more pristine, her arms unscathed by the hedge's thorns. A tear trails down her cheek as Desire sits beside her.

"I do not love him. I do not know how to love anymore."

From somewhere, Desire pulls a handkerchief and offers it for the girl's overflowing eyes.

"He is so perfect. He stands for everything I wanted in life, everything unattained. But I am not... I would be lost in his dazzle like stars are hidden by the moon. I mean... nothing to him, and I know it."

She looks up, angry now, and returns the handkerchief to Desire, who placidly folds it and tucks it away in some hidden pocket.

"That's why you're here, right? To break me of it? Well congratulations, you've done it. I know I never will be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, rich enough, alive enough..." her voice catches "to ever..."

Desire shushes her with a single finger held close to her trembling lips. "But that doesn't change how you feel about him. You'll continue to beat your heart against the windowpane like a canary against the bars, until it drops dead from the effort. That's why he sent me. You're no good to him if you become a permanent resident of our somber sister's realm."

Desire gestures, and suddenly a line of handsomely tuxedoed gentlemen appear, standing at attention with hands clasped behind their backs. They are all different of hair, eye and skin color, of varying heights and builds, but somehow alike, as handpainted porcelain miniatures are all strikingly different but still alike.

"I was sent, my pet, to try and bring you comfort. The Lord Shaper sends you a present in your time of confusion."

Desire stands, walks to the nearest man and passes a hand through his shoulder and torso. The girl starts as the man walks forward, picks up her hand in his all-too-real one, and kisses it.

"They are but dreams, but even dreams have substance. You have but to say which..." Desire waggles both eyebrows lasciviously "...or how many of them you wish, and they are yours. No strings attached."

The girl gulps, eyes fastened to the smiling man still bent over her hand.

"I think... Yes, I think... Thank you. This should help."

Homecoming

Jan. 20th, 2005 07:39 pm
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In a dim alcove to one side of the ballroom stands a lone, androgynous figure in a handsomely tailored tuxedo. The heavy Rococo mirror over the side table reflects the achingly perfect features in cracked silvered glass and gilt swirls. Desire plays idly, caressingly, with the long white tail of an arctic fox.

"I am standing in your damned ballroom, and I am holding your sigil, my pet. Show yourself before I lose my patience."

The mirror ripples, slightly, fogs, slightly, and reveals a pair of glaring brown eyes half hidden behind a dark curtain of soaking wet hair. The girl crouches, naked and shaking in an underground nook or den somewhere, fists balled defiantly despite their coating of mud and mold. She says nothing, only glares at the beautiful form gazing placidly at her from the other side of the mirror.

"You thought you could hide from me. How... quaint a notion."

The girl says nothing, but sniffs, tossing strands of wet hair back to frame her face.

"You know, it really was quite an invigorating chase. Your kind would be proud of you. It was quite the hunt. You know the fox never wins though, don't you?"

A low growl emanates from the mirror, but the girl remains speechless.

"I knew where you were hiding all along, you know. Every time he saw you in his dreams, every time he thought of you while he was supposed to be doing something else, I was there. Well he's gone now. And still you thought you could hide in him, you thought you could keep me out!"

Long white fingers tighten convulsively on the fox tail, and throw it to the yellow waxed floor. The mirror ripples as Desire thrusts both arms into it, reaching wildly for the girl who now writhes in her corner as if in agony. With the Endless strength, Desire grasps her, pulling her slowly, painfully, through the mirror. In seconds, there is a panting heap of petticoats and pink and cream colored skirts on the ballroom floor, a stunned, and now perfectly primped and coifed girl looking out dazedly from the center of them.

A small, sardonic smile quirks at the corner of Desire's mouth as the girl struggles awkwardly to her feet. Desire bows, extending a gloved hand in invitation. The girl blushes shamefacedly, but accepts.

"You and I, my pet, have been apart too long. We need to make up for lost time."

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arsenicwaltz

May 2009

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