badass_tiger: Charles Dance as Lord Vetinari (Default)
rufus ([personal profile] badass_tiger) wrote2016-08-29 11:13 am
Entry tags:

Half Hope: My Rarepair Fest Treat

Link!

I have to talk about this. I simply must, it's so. good. Everything about this is just - oh my God. *flails*

Start with the summary. Naturally, it's the first thing I see when it pops up in my inbox. And I see this line:

When he's brought to a strange country to be married to the king's uncle ...


A wealth of promise! I shouldn't have hoped, of course, but I was most ready to embrace whatever came ahead.

Here I must first pause and say that uh, in a couple of previous challenges I participated in, I was rather ... disappointed. I was really frustrated during one of these exchanges because I had written my assignment, picked up a pinch-hit, and written a treat, but I only received one, um, rather lousy assigned fic. I mean, it happens to everyone! But after receiving so many excellent gifts in the past, it really brought me back to earth with a thump. Statistically speaking, I am much more likely to receive bad gifts than good gifts. This thought was further cemented in my mind the next exchange I partook in.

And it's fine! But having settled down to expect the worse, this fic completely took my breath away. It's, you know, like when you accept you'll never get a UR and then one comes flying out of the scouting box. You fly for hours, if not days.

This close, in an attitude of near-relaxation, the crow’s feet bracketing his eyes were visible, and the grey lightening the dark hair at his temples.


Oh my God, we're only three lines in and I'm already flailing on the floor, send help. Whyyy do I have a stupid fetish for descriptors of the signs of ageing?? I mean, on the bright side, if I ever marry, the man may be assured that I will pretty much definitely find him attractive far, far into the marriage, but ... what a dumb kink ... ugh ...

Pim could see the annoyance forming behind Gaspard’s polite mask: a quick look into Pim’s eyes, a tightening of the lips quickly smoothed away, and finally the charming smile that made Pim want to scream in frustration.


This is when it hit me between the eyes: Merrion and Eliana!

...Yes, I know. I got a fic about two royal betrothed, at least one of them clearly an older man, and never thought about their similarities to my two pets at all. Shame on me. As a matter of fact, that's another thing that blew me away: I never even considered prompting the scenario I love so much, of a young wo/man being compelled to marry an older man but finding it distasteful. I actually don't know why I didn't think of it - maybe it's because I think of it as a kink so specific to myself that I couldn't really explain it to anyone else. And yet, that a stranger to me could hit upon an idea in writing for me that hits so close to home! I mean, seriously, have I posted about Eliana and Merrion somewhere and forgotten about it? ...I don't think I have. So this is just some crazy coincidence? Yes. Apparently. Just ... wow ...

Uh, anyways. Yes. Indeed. Merrion and Eliana. Merrion is always saying kind and friendly things to Eliana, but the feelings he expresses seldom reach his eyes. This is the other way around, of course: Gaspard saying cold things with a warm expression, yet it is much of the same feeling, of frustration, and the sense that behind it is some repressed emotion.

[Pim] stepped closer, reaching out to touch the wrinkles at the corner of one of Gaspard’s eyes. “You work yourself exhausted; a rest—”

Gaspard’s hand caught Pim’s abruptly, pulling it away from his face. “I need no rest,” he said, looking at his papers. He released Pim’s hand.


Nnggghhh. Compare this:

"That's good." Candlelight picked out the lines around Havelock's eyes more deeply than sunlight ever did. Drumknott wanted to kiss him there. Or start there, anyway. "You should rest too."


Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

Just ... just give a minute ... I'll be okay ... in a couple secs ...

The latter quote is so engraved upon my brain, it might well be tattooed on my eyes. Reading the first from Half Hope, I was reminded of that feeling of falling in love with Vetinari and Drumknott's relationship.

“Good night, my lord,” [Pim] said, the address itself an intimacy he had not dared before. Gaspard didn’t respond immediately, and Pim was at the door when he finally heard an answering, “Good night.”


Yeah, okay, I did not realise that using 'my lord' as a term of intimacy was a thing I liked, but apparently, it is. You know, with Vetinari and Drumknott, it's so much about not saying 'my lord' that I'd just ... it simply never occurred to me. But, by God, it is lovely here.

Pim, for his part, had been startled to be chosen. The fourth of seven sons, he had done little to distinguish himself.


Yes, I like this! It's just the same with Eliana. Merrion said he wanted someone agreeable, but what's so agreeable about Eliana? She's nice, but if he wanted someone agreeable he could have gotten any third or fourth or fifth daughter of a king or a duke or an earl.

Heh ... spoilers. But you get the idea.

Gaspard did not look at him, his eyes on the road, but Pim thought he saw the corner of his mouth curve up, just for a moment.

Say something, Pim thought, but he didn’t say it.


...Oh.

Emotion compressed into few words - like pressure brought down into the fine point of a needle, one feels it all the more for how small and subtle it is.

“Let me,” Gaspard said suddenly, putting his hands on the fabric. Pim met his eyes, then acquiesced, letting Gaspard slide the sleeves over his arms. Gaspard’s hands, big as they were, worked with precision.


This is a lesson indeed! I have been thinking of all the ways to advance Eliana and Merrion's relationship. There is, of course, the traditional linking of arms that becomes natural, the practiced public greetings that almost mock the principle of affection in their artificiality, and this too! Habits of acting or innocent gestures that could be interpreted in a million ways that become more and more real with time.

Gaspard chuckled. “I did ride more when I was younger,” he said. “I was a regular hellion in my youth.”


Merrion: 'Same.'

“Now, that, I don’t believe,” Pim said.


Eliana: 'Same.'

Gaspard stood there, hand outstretched, and Pim thought what a difference there was already between this man and the man he’d been acquainted with at court. He looked lighter here, as if the responsibilities that weighed him down at court had lifted a little. Aurelie was right: it was good for him, spending time away. Pim slipped his hand into Gaspard’s without a word, not wanting to send this new, more open Gaspard back into hiding.


Oh, how lovely! Yes, I do adore it when passion in a common interest brings out the man realer than his public image. The frailty of that, wanting to push and continue but scared of too much lest the other withdraw again ... It must be so ... nice.

You know that essay about how girls don't want nice guys because it doesn't make them feel special? I've forgotten the entirety of that essay except the gist of it, as mentioned. Whether or not it is true (or if the author was being sarcastic - I really don't remember), certainly a lover wants to feel apart from all the other people in the world their beloved knows. That's why something like this gives off that warm, fuzzy feeling.

Gaspard laughed softly, nearly in Pim’s ear, and Pim found himself leaning into the other man.

Gaspard tensed against him, and Pim remembered himself and pulled away. “My apologies,” he said stiffly.

“No,” Gaspard said. His eyes stared off over Pim’s shoulder. He jerked them back to Pim, obviously uncomfortable. “It’s good of you.” Annoyance flared in Pim again at that: how did Gaspard always manage to make Pim feel like this – as if he were too eager? He started to feel behind him for a safe place to step, but Gaspard said, “No, wait.”

“I am always waiting for you,” Pim said, and this time, he didn’t stop his voice from rising. “Waiting for the wedding – waiting for a moment you’re not busy. Was I brought here for nothing?”


Ohhhh, how wonderfully done! A moment balanced on the edge, when a relationship can become entirely familiar, or remain as awkward - such is the purpose of conflict, of course. Gaspard trying to be nice, and then asking him to wait, it's like -

"Rufus, will you come to bed?"

Drumknott had nearly said yes out of sheer astonishment--he had the shape of the word on his tongue--when the obscure map of his discontent came clear at last. The problem was
here, and the solution was there, and a single way led from one to the other. One route, and not a safe or certain one.

...

"I had thought it was a simple question," His Lordship said.


When one wants to reach out because the other has, without quite knowing, or understanding, that he has already given a gesture of rejection - one who has always hidden his emotions wanting, and yet suddenly finds it difficult ... When Vetinari is so close, but there is still yet that last hurdle ...

... well, that some other time. This isn't about you, my lord. Hahaha who am I kidding everything I do is about Vetinari but I can act like it's not.

When Pim glanced up again at Gaspard and Martin, he thought he caught Gaspard just looking away. Just talk to me, he thought, hating himself for the pain of that desire.


I, too, am feeling the pain.

But Pim is luckier than Eliana. He is entirely at liberty to fall in love, whereas Eliana would not even consider the possibility. She can hardly really think of it, and perhaps could not choose to do it, since she is so prejudiced against Merrion at first. Still, much as she tries to make Merrion feel comfortable, and force herself to find things tolerable, she can't throw herself into it as Pim can. She must deceive all, yet practice restraint - what balance she must find!

Gaspard reached out, and Pim held his breath as broad, callused palms cupped his hands, then lifted them.


Dear rarepair author, Who gave you permission to dig into my brain for every single one of my favourite romance tropes? Calloused hands ... and hand-holding ... I may need an emergency transmission of oxygen ...

Men were rarely compelled to marry men for politics; most often the choice came down to a mixture of preference and practical considerations, if blood heirs were not a priority.


This is such a nice insight! I always totally ignore the howdunnit of princes getting married to each other, but this is a great excuse! Uh, I mean, insight into world-building, yep ...

“Rumor travels, you know, even across the Rillan Sea. I had heard certain things about you.”

“Oh, wonderful,” Pim said, jaw tensing.

Gaspard’s fingers, though, remained gentle, spreading along his jawline. “Nothing bad,” he said. “Reports of flirtations, nothing more. It was enough to give me hope that you could be…” His lips twisted, and Pim waited a moment, wondering if he would think of a word.

“Happy?” Pim finally ventured, feeling like he’d just stepped off the cliff and was hoping, hoping that Gaspard would catch him.


Ah, that repetition in the last sentence! Classical, and ever so effective!

This scene, too, so gentle and slow, like the falling of snow: so soft one hardly feels it until it is heavy on one's shoulders.

“Is it possible?” Gaspard asked.

There was something forlorn in the question, and Pim almost hated him for it in that moment. He groaned and reached out, catching the lapels of Gaspard’s jacket. “Is it possible?” he repeated. “Only if you will stop rebuffing me at every step along the way! I have tried again and again to make it possible, only for you to…”

“I’m sorry,” Gaspard said, and for a moment, it was enough to silence Pim. He sounded like he meant it, his face creased with an unhappiness that Pim wanted to smooth away.


Yeah, I'm gonna need that canister of oxygen after all ... Such intense feeling! One can imagine watching the scene like a film, the final lovers' reconciliation, wrapped up in a world that to disturb, would be like intruding upon one in prayer.

Before he had time to regret it, Gaspard closed the distance. For a breath or five, they molded into each other, lips teasing and testing. Pim reveled in how pliant Gaspard’s lips were, how warm his body, when so often he could look like a statue more than a man.


Wow, Pim - I mean, Eliana - no, I mean, Pim -

I revel in how familiar this all feels, all the tropes I love rolled into something new enough to be refreshing, old enough to be comforting. I love the description of Gaspard appearing more statue than man - I must remember that. Hm ... yes, something similar here:

[Vetinari's] voice and face were the very image of sternness. Even . . . even the very iconograph, formed of light and shadow, paper and ink, without solidity. There was a faint quality of pose.


Just before Drumknott breaks through and Vetinari opens his door to him (the literal one, Drumknott having slipped behind the metaphorical one before Vetinari ever even realised it, naturally). Lovely! Incredibly lovely!

I'm so happy about this - not just because it is for me, but because it exists at all. How I love soft, quiet romances, but they are impossible to find. Fanfiction is about my best bet, but - hah! I wish I could read more like this. I think I would really lose myself in romance novels like these. Jane Austen is almost like it, but her characters are very starkly painted. They're beautiful, of course, but not quite, quite the way I like them.

Ahhh, I feel like a large, hot bath has been drawn for me and I am floating in it now, thinking of warm, soapy thoughts. How blessed I am today! I'm so happy!

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