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Idiot Control Now
bees on pie, burning rubber tires
the faith you once had
With everything going on last year, I just had no mental energy left over to write, so one of my goals for the new year is to get back to it in earnest. I have a couple of books of writing exercises, and I picked the first prompt and went with it. The result is terrible: it's more of an idea than a story (strike one), it features original characters (strike two) who don't have much personality yet (aaaand I'm out). But the point of an exercise is just to get going again, so there's that. And even though they don't exist, I do totally ship GuyNatSon with LukeTearDaughter, and this gives me a place to start with them, too.

Title: Stay
Series: Tales of the Abyss
Length: 1260 words
Prompt: Wedding pictures
Original Characters: Cecil (Guy and Natalia's son) and Giselle (Luke and Tear's daughter)
Notes: Set twenty years post-How Far.

Three things distinguished his parents’ wedding portrait from the others hanging in the royal gallery.

First, as the most recent, it was given a place of prominence in the center of the long wall.

Second, each of the other paintings featured at least one red-haired subject. Both of his parents were as blond as sun-kissed angels.

And third, those venerable red-haired ancestors and their spouses posed with great severity and sobriety, downturned mouths and unwavering eyes. A royal marriage was a grand occasion, but in the past, it was one of duty and arrangement rather than romance.

His parents had been given the unheard-of luxury of choosing each other, and it showed in the smiles they could not repress and the light of wonder in their eyes. His mother glowed in her lacy dress; his father was dashing in impeccable white, trimmed with regal red. As his great-grandmother had often said, they simply sparkled together. Now on the eve of their twentieth anniversary, they were still as joyful as they had been that day.

It was this that the seventeen-year-old crown prince, Cecil Alistair Gardios Kimlasca-Landvaldear, found most intimidating.

He came here often, and so did she, sidling up next to him and slipping her hand into his.

“Do you think we’ll be like them?” she asked, and he pulled his hand away. She asked this every time she found him staring at the portrait, and she had stopped expecting him to answer.

Gigi sighed her long-suffering sigh, the one that implied that she knew better than he did and that of course this was their fate, to stand together in immortal oils and trapped by the heavy wood of a gilded frame.

He would say that Gigi was the one who should know better. Giselle Ambra fon Fabre was his second cousin, a few months younger than he, and his best friend. They’d grown up together and heard countless times the stories of their parents’ bravery, adventures, tragedies and triumphs. It was the stuff of legend and yet not so long in the past that it couldn’t be touched, and the reverberations of their actions were still felt.

“We’ll never be like them.” That was the truth, and what scared him the most.

There was no destiny anymore. There was no Score, nothing to tell him what to do or what to expect. He had choices, his parents reminded him every day.

But did he? He was to be king. There was no escaping that. He could abdicate, he supposed, and let his little sister Annabelle inherit their mother’s throne, but he knew that wasn’t a real choice. He felt his responsibility too greatly. He’d learned history and economics and politics and protocol and everything else necessary to rule, he’d watched his mother exude the wisdom and mercy of a beloved monarch, he’d traveled and seen for himself how their kingdom thrived in this time of peace. She had sought to turn foes to allies, to choose diplomacy over destruction, to cooperate instead of annihilate, and the people celebrated her, prayed for her, named their children after her.

How could he live up to that?

And they told him he would be allowed to choose his partner when the time came. Even that felt like a false choice when he knew he should marry Gigi. It would restore the arbitrary royal blood line, which was so important to some people, and should be enough to appease the remaining few who felt his mother never should have been in power in the first place.

His mother didn’t need to say that she too wanted him to marry his cousin. He saw it in her wistful eyes whenever they were all together. She’d shake her head and explain any tears away as happiness for everything they’d been given, as overwhelming love for her family, and he would believe her if it weren’t for the childhood diary he’d found one day, full of dreams of marrying someone else. He kept the book hidden and didn’t dare mention it. It was the only bit of his parents’ history that felt too private and painful to ask about.

Gigi had had her own reasons for first proposing to him when they were five years old. All other boys were stupid, she’d said, but she liked him okay. Although when they were twelve, she’d decided all boys were stupid, including him. That suited him fine, because he thought girls were stupid, too, and she and Annabelle could go do stupid girl things together and leave him out of it for all he cared.

They’d missed each other too much for that to last long.

But, no, he couldn’t imagine marrying Gigi, the tomboy with her long red hair braided down her back, who preferred comfortably worn trousers to bejeweled ball gowns. They used to climb trees together—hell, they still did. They’d spar with swords, pretending to fight the battles of the ages. They’d dive off the pier at his family’s retreat and have swimming races until they were exhausted. They’d stay up late scaring the everliving crap out of each other telling the creepiest ghost stories they could invent. He’d curled up with her in her bed and hugged her close to him the night her grandfather died, and she did the same for him the following year.

They were best friends, nothing more.

No matter how much prettier she became as she grew older, how the green of her eyes deepened like an enchanted forest. No matter how her unbound red hair rippled like a mermaid’s, how her pale skin would pinken like a peach when she was flustered or angry, how her laughter could always make his heart lighter even when it was at his expense.

You weren’t supposed to notice these things about a friend, so he didn’t.

His parents would tell him that they had “only” been friends, too, until they weren’t.

It was too much to contemplate. He wanted to stay like this, just Ces and Gigi, two pampered kids for whom the days were sunny and carefree and eternal. Not Prince Cecil and Lady Giselle, whose futures were tied to the great hopes of the kingdom and carrying on their parents’ legacy.

Choices, right. What choices?

“We can’t be like them,” he said in the silence. She was the only one he could say this to, the only one who would understand. “Our parents were heroes when they were our age… and they didn’t just save the world—they changed it forever. How are we supposed to—”

“You think too much, Ces,” she replied. “I mean I want us to be happy like they are. But happy by being us.”


“Ces,” she said more firmly, and he stopped staring at the portrait to look at her instead. “My father always says to focus on doing the things we can do, right?”

His lips twisted in a wry smile. “Mine says the same thing.”

“So that’s what we’ll do, because that’s the point of what they did. We’ll do what we can and what we want and whatever makes us happy.” Then she shrugged and flashed him a wicked grin. “And if that’s not good enough for people, screw them. When you’re king, you can throw them all in the dungeon.”

This time when her hand took his, he squeezed it tightly. Maybe he didn’t know what he wanted or what he could do yet, but he knew she’d be on his side no matter what.

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Current Mood: apathetic apathetic
Current Music: save yourself--jonny lang

2 pathetic excuses or justify your existence
cal_reflector From: cal_reflector Date: January 1st, 2016 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great to see you writing again!

When you ship the children of two characters, it's sort of like shipping those two canon characters, right? Which makes this is kind of a Guy-Luke story! Nice, cast a bigger net.

Hmmmmm... I'm not feeling the love yet. As you said, there's more exposition than story here, though I get the need to warm up to canon after a long absence from the fandom. Like restarting an old tractor.

With a little rearrangement the two OC characters could have been more real and endearing right off the gun: Old Merton trying to chase down one or both of the kids for their lessons, which leads the kids to end up in the Royal Gallery, where they comment on their stuffy ancestors until they reach Guy and Natalia's portrait.
mellowcandle From: mellowcandle Date: January 2nd, 2016 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, and I don't generally do well with original characters, because I just don't have the interest in doing that much work, so maybe that's part of why it doesn't click either. Oh, well, on to the next thing.
2 pathetic excuses or justify your existence