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James Hiwatari

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About James Hiwatari

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    Bisexual, leaning male
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    Glasgow, UK
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    I write stories, draw my characters, and compose/perform music for them. I like languages. And messing with people's expectations makes my day, particularly when it comes to gender-related stuff.

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  1. James Hiwatari

    67 - Broken Heart

    Gummi held the last chord of Brahms’s second symphony much longer than usual. I was almost running out of bow when he finally closed his left hand and the orchestra stopped as one. “Thank you everyone for another great rehearsal!” he said. “Now go home and rest before tomorrow’s concert!” I rushed to Dmitri’s side as soon as could, dashing through the tiny space between the second violins and violas in much the same way he had become (in)famous for doing. I tried to apologise to my colleagues, but they only laughed and opened the way for me. At least I didn’t step on anyone’s toes. “Hi, Gunni!” Dmitri blew me kisses, but only because his music stand prevented him from being close enough for real ones. “What brings you to my humble seat? I thought I was the one who couldn’t wait to be by your side?” “I guess I wanted to change things around a little?” The other woodwind players made a point of showing they weren’t paying attention to us. Karen chatted to Vác and Emil with her back turned, and the other players struck conversations with their neighbours while they finished cleaning and putting away their instruments. “Is it because you and Siggi played so well together today that you can’t wait to celebrate the new beginning of your relationship?” “Not quite.” Dmitri realised something was wrong the moment I turned away from him. My eyes filled with water when he mentioned Siggi, but I didn’t want to cry in front of the other players, even if they weren’t looking directly at me. “Let’s go home, then, and you can tell me more about what it actually is.” He tapped Karen’s shoulder to get her attention and gave her a toothy grin when she turned. “Gunni and I really can’t keep the cuddles off each other any longer, so we’ll just go ahead and call a taxi home.” “Sure. I’ll take Siggi to Arnar’s, so we wouldn’t have had space for you anyway.” “Good. Enjoy your weekend of peace and quiet and, presumably, drunken slumber parties with Ugla and your other friends. Just don’t drink anything I wouldn’t, don’t touch my vodka, and I shall be glad to see you Monday!” “I’ll see you tomorrow for the concert. Now go before Gunni loses patience with you!” Karen turned to me. “Have a good evening, Gunni. We’ll see you tomorrow.” “Thanks. See you.” I could only hope Karen didn’t feel bad for my short goodbye, but I didn’t trust myself with a longer sentence. Dmitri hurried to put his oboe away and we left the concert hall holding hands. Dmitri took me straight to my bedroom when we got home. We saw Eiri and Jó in the living room, but they were busy cuddling and watching TV, so we didn’t bother them beyond the first greeting and brief reassurance the rehearsal had gone well. Dmitri closed the door behind us and made me sit on the bed next to him. “Do you want to tell me what is wrong? Or should we just cuddle until you feel better?” “Can we do both?” “Of course! Come here.” Dmitri helped me lie on his lap, caressing my hair in the way he knew I found most comforting. “I’m going to go out on a limb and guess whatever it is has to do with Siggi. Did he do something to you after our apology?” “Sort of, but not really.” The first tears fell. “He wasn’t trying to hurt me this time.” “But he still did.” “It’s not his fault!” I didn’t want Dmitri thinking Siggi had screwed up after he worked so hard to do better. “I was the one who thought his apology meant more than what it did. He wasn’t even rude, but it kind of made it hurt more than if he was.” “Do you want to tell me what happened?” As nice as Dmitri’s hand on my hair was, it wasn’t enough body contact to deal with the surge of pain and sadness that washed over me. I tackled Dmitri onto the bed for a full-body cuddle. He understood my need for his body warmth and let me bury my face on his chest. “I had given up on Siggi. After all he did yesterday, there was no way I could keep hurting myself with false hopes that he would get better. I cried myself to sleep and I was scared of seeing him again at rehearsal, but I had made up my mind. But then he apologised, and he spent the whole rehearsal treating me better than he ever did, and everything I thought about him last night wasn’t true anymore. Siggi was being so nice… maybe I shouldn’t lose hope just yet…” “You talked to him about it?” “Siggi spelled it out to me that I would never be his friend, let alone anything more. Why did I ever believe he would? I should’ve known better, I should’ve expected this! But I was hopeful when Siggi listened to me during the rehearsal and didn’t insult me, and all it did was hurt me even more! It was easier when he was rude. I could tell myself that I would have a chance once he got better. I could blame his rejection on him being bent on hating me no matter what. But now… Now he doesn’t hate me anymore, and yet nothing really changed.” “So now what hurts is that it wasn’t Siggi’s blind hatred for you that prevented the two of your becoming friends.” “Am I overthinking this whole thing? Is it my fault that I hoped Siggi not hating me meant he liked me?” Dmitri took a deep breath and hugged me even tighter, but he took some time to speak. “You’re asking the wrong person for advice, Gunni. I’m even worse than you. If I was in your situation, I would cling to the hope that his feelings would change and he would love me one day. All I can say is that, as much as it hurts now, you’re saving yourself a much worse heartache in the future.” “Is this how you feel about me?” Dmitri took another deep breath. “If I’m thinking only with my feelings, there’s nothing I want more than you loving me the same way I love you. But I’ve learned from my past mistakes. I’m never going to put that kind of pressure or expectation on you. I’ve been preparing for the day you’ll want a real relationship with someone you truly love, but while this day doesn’t come, I’m enjoying every moment we spend together and treasuring every memory I have of you.” “I’m sorry I make you feel that way.” “It’s nothing for you to feel sorry about. I’m here because I want to. It’s my choice. And, in a way, knowing that the good times are going to end one day helps me enjoy them more. I don’t want to take you for granted. I can’t allow myself to take you for granted, so I just take every moment as it comes, enjoy the present, and pretend the future doesn’t exist.” “So I guess you don’t feel good when I talk about my feelings for Siggi.” “Only because it usually means you’re upset.” “Really? You don’t think about how I could be loving you instead of crying over Siggi?” Dmitri made me face him. He was crying as much as I was. “I do. I dream about you loving me, of us growing old together, having a family, all the things I used to imagine doing with the other person I’ve felt this way for. But I also know that love isn’t necessarily a zero sum game. It’s not your love for Siggi that’s keeping you from loving me. You could love us both and I wouldn’t have a problem with that. But you don’t. You won’t love me that way. It hurts, but I made peace with it. I’ll just do my best to look after you, to make you happy. Being able to bring a smile to your face or to comfort you when you’re hurting is what makes me happy right now. So please, keep coming to me when you need that comfort, for whatever reason, and I’ll do my best to make you smile again.” And so I cried even more, this time for my boyfriend and how unfair his life was. I felt his love with every hug, every tender kiss, and every smile he gave me. It had been suffocating at times, but it left me with no doubt about the intensity of his feelings. He loved me more than I loved Siggi, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t love him back that way. “You know you deserve someone who loves you just as much, right?” “Of course I do.” Dmitri wiped away my tears. “And maybe someday I’ll find that person. But I live in the present, not in the future, and all I want now is to be here for you when you need me.” I let Dmitri hug me again. I shouldn’t feel guilty about taking all the comfort he had to offer. He said I was giving back just as much. I shouldn’t worry about it. All I had to do was relax into his body, fell the safety of his arms over my chest and his legs interlocked with mine. This was what he wanted. I was already making him as happy as I could. We didn’t speak much after that. The cuddles were, in a way, all the communication we needed, and that helped me relax after a while. Dmitri’s breath became slow and steady over my head, but his firm grip on my chest told me he wasn’t asleep. His body was just slightly heavy, pushing me against the mattress so that his body became half on top of mine. This position wasn’t new to me. Dmitri was taller and heavier, so he would often end up unintentionally squashing me into the mattress, and I usually didn’t notice unless I suddenly couldn’t breathe or my bladder felt prematurely pressured into acting. This time, though, something else happened. I imagined Dmitri kissing my neck, biting it with the savage desire that used to intimidate me so much. He climbed on top of me and pulled my trousers down. Instead of freezing and wanting to die of embarrassment at this idea, I felt the kind of pressure around my lower abdomen that meant my body liked it. My body liked it so much, in fact, that it kept sending me images of what Dmitri would do once my trousers had fallen by my ankles and he could touch me wherever he pleased. ‘Is something wrong, Gunni?’ Dmitri’s voice cut through my dangerous imagination. I shook my head, fearing that the sounds made by my imaginary self would find their way out if I opened my mouth. ‘Then is there a particular reason you’re grinding so much against my crotch? It’s not that I don’t like it, but I would rather not risk things escalating in a way we don’t want them to.” I had no idea I had been doing more than just imagining things. How much did Dmitri notice? His hands were nowhere near my lower body, so there was no way he could’ve known what was really happening to me. “I’m… I’m fine. Just… just thinking about Siggi.” “I see.” Dmitri didn’t sound too convinced. I shouldn’t have lied to him, but I couldn’t tell him the truth either. What if he thought I wanted to do more than just cuddles? What if this sudden re-imagining of our intimacy was my body’s way of telling me it was ready for this new step? It wasn’t the first time that being around Dmitri caused my body to react in ways that pushed the boundaries of my asexual self-awareness. “Speaking of Siggi…” Dmitri brushed a strand of hair away from my face. His body was no longer leaning on mine, so I was not pressed against the mattress anymore. The intrusive sexual images stopped, though I wasn’t as relieved by it as should’ve been. “I thought of a way of making sure I won’t ignore Siggi because of you again.” “What is it?” The distraction would be good. I needed to forget those thoughts. I didn’t want things escalating, no matter how much my body seemed to believe I did. “I’m reframing my relationship to Siggi as more than just friendship. He’s my best friend, the person who I trust the most and who I know understands the things I’ve gone through. What I feel for him isn’t romantic love like the feeling I have for you, but I think it’s a form of love too. Siggi, Karen and Gísli have become my new family since I left my blood relatives in Russia, so it’s about time I give them the love they deserve. Does it make as much sense to you as it does to me?” “Maybe?” “I guess not, then.” Dmitri chuckled. “Siggi was confused when I told him too. But it makes sense to me: I love you, I love Siggi, and so I have no reason to favour one of you over the other.” I almost said it was interesting how we both sort of loved Siggi, but then I remembered I wasn’t supposed to love him anymore. “At least this way Siggi still gets some love…” “I meant it when I said I’ll do everything I can to stop being an obsessive monster. I can’t revolve my life around you, no matter how much my instincts seem convinced that there’s no better way to show how much you matter to me. But I’m not lying to myself. I love Siggi. The fact that it isn’t romantic love is just a tiny detail.” “I hope this works out.” “I’ll make sure it will.” Dmitri’s distraction worked so well I suspected he knew exactly what I had been thinking about and had set out to help. I forgot about my strange urge to make out with my boyfriend when my mind shifted to picturing this strange new relationship in which Dmitri was the link between me and Siggi. He loved both of us, but I shouldn’t dare to think that I loved them both, or that Siggi did too. “Is that what being in a poly relationship is like, then?” “Maybe. It would be more so if my feelings for Siggi were properly romantic, but the practicalities are the same. If only more people realised it’s possible to love more than one person at a time, life would be much easier for everyone. And we wouldn’t have all those ridiculous dramas with people struggling to choose their one true love. Polyamory: the killer of all romantic movie plots!” I laughed, and that sent away the last of my unwelcomed body reactions. I twisted my body to peck Dmitri on the lips, and he squeezed my body in a mix of love and playfulness. I thought he was going to attack me with tickles, but he settled for spreading butterfly kisses all over my face instead. At some point the innocent kisses led to Dmitri lying on top of me, sandwiching me against the mattress as his lips touched every millimetre of my face in the most sonorous kisses he could muster. I laughed still. My body wiggled from the vague ticklishness. I was having fun. And then my imagination went to strange places again. We were naked this time. Dmitri was on top of me once more, his body weight making sure I couldn’t get away. Our genitals rubbed against each other, but the feeling was nothing compared to the excitement of his teeth biting my lips, my neck, pulling on my earlobe. His hands explored my chest, their warmth giving me goosebumps. I held on to his back. Dug my nails on his skin. My mouth made surreal sounds I would be embarrassed to let anyone hear. I begged him for more just as his teeth dug into my neck. “Do you want me to stop?” ‘No’, I wanted to say, but caught myself just in time. “Sorry.” “You don’t have to apologise. We got ourselves in a pretty compromising position, after all.” Dmitri smiled, but instead of reassuring me it made part of the blood accumulated in my lower body rush to my face. “Do you want me to go away so you can take care of it?” I wanted him to stay and help me take care of it. But how could I tell him that? I couldn’t let him know this wasn’t just an involuntary reaction to our bodies being really close together. He would freak out if I told him the details of my imagination, even more than I was freaking out. “I’m going to the bathroom, ok? You do whatever you need to do, and I’ll take care of my own stuff.” “Can you…” I grabbed Dmitri’s hand just as he started to get up from the bed. I hadn’t planned what to say once I had his attention, though. “Can you maybe… show me?” “You want to see me naked with a hard on?” Dmitri raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure?” My face became so hot I wondered how my body managed to keep things going down there. “Yes. I feel like I can… test my boundaries? I don’t want to be intimidated or afraid of you anymore. And this sounds like the right time for it.” “If that’s what you want, we can try. But I don’t want you to do anything other than look. I mean, I don’t know if you want to, but that’s not something I’m ready for.” “Ok. I understand. I’ll just look.” Dmitri tried to smile, but his lips shook. How was it possible that he was more nervous about this than me? He unzipped his fly and took his trousers and underwear down to his mid-thigh in one swift, well-practiced motion. It was bigger than I expected. My face went up in flames, and yet the tightness around my crotch only got worse. How could I want something that intimidated me so much? Dmitri’s cheek had a reddish hue too. “Should I take it as a good sign if you haven’t run away screaming yet?” Dmitri tried to sound like he was making a joke, but his voice squeaked. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” I couldn’t take my eyes away. “But I’m not scared.” “Good. That’s good.” “Thank you for letting me see it. I think I… I needed it.” “Glad to help.” “It’s kind of intimidating, but I feel much safer than I thought I would.” “Really?” Dmitri’s voice sounded an octave and a half higher. “That’s… that’s really good.” “Are you ok?” “I’m going to that bathroom now. You do what you need to do. And when I get back, we need to talk.” Dmitri didn’t give a chance to answer before running out of the door. ~*~ When Dmitri came back, he sat on my desk chair instead of on the bed next to me. I waited for him to explain what he wanted to talk about, but he wouldn’t even look at me. “You said we needed to talk?” I asked. He jumped in the chair, as if scared by the sudden noise, even though I had spoken just above a whisper. “Yeah. Yeah. We do.” I waited again, but he didn’t say anything else. “What do you want to talk about?” Dmitri finally looked at me, as if he had just realised I was in the room. “We need to have a proper conversation about our boundaries. Sexual boundaries, I mean.” He waited for my answer, but I just nodded for him to continue. “I already told you before that I’m not ready to have sex with someone I love, and you know how relieved I was when you said you were ace and so sex was going to be pretty much out of the equation anyway, but… but I think we need to check our ideas of what ‘having sex’ means before one of us does something we’ll regret.” “Did I do something you didn’t like?” “Almost. Maybe. I’m not sure.” Dmitri turned away from me again. “It’s not your fault, though. Until now I thought my definition of ‘sex’ involved people touching and playing with my dick, and me playing and touching other people’s genitals. But when you were looking at me… It didn’t feel nice. Even though you were just looking, even though I knew there would be no touching of any kind. I don’t know why. It never happened before.” “I’m sorry.” “It’s ok, it wasn’t your fault. I didn’t think I would feel that way either. Took me by surprise.” “No, I think it might have been my fault.” Dmitri narrowed his eyes, but I didn’t let him interrupt me. “I don’t know if it’s a thing that can happen, but maybe you picked up on my thoughts and that’s what made you uncomfortable?” I made an effort to keep looking at him, though Dmitri dropped his gaze and played with a hole on the cuff of his jumper. “I didn’t tell you before because I didn’t want to worry you, and because I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I still don’t know what to make of it. But when we were cuddling and kissing, I got those thoughts about the two of us…” I told him all the details of my imagination. I owed him as much, if I wanted to honour his trust in me. By the time I was done, his eyes were wide open, his eyebrows had disappeared under his fringe and his cheeks had a faint blush. “So you’ve had all those vivid fantasies, and you’re still not sure what it means?” “I don’t want to have sex with you. I think I still don’t, most of the time. But at that one time, when you stopped everything and said you were going away, I really wanted you to stay and do something with me. I never felt that way before. And now that I’m back to normal I’m kind of put off by the idea again.” “There are some words fighting their way out of me, but I don’t want to say them. I know I shouldn’t say them, but it’s so hard…” “We’re not doing it. I won’t let you. You already said that’s not something you’re comfortable with.” Dmitri gave a weak smile. “You know what I want to say.” “You were about to tell me you’ll do anything I want. But no. It can’t be that way. You’ve always been so careful to respect my boundaries and never hurt me, how can you expect me to not do the same? I’m not telling you about those things as a way to get you to do them. I’m telling you so that you can be sure I won’t overstep whatever boundaries you set.” “Every time I think I can’t love you more you prove me wrong. That’s so messed up… But thanks for looking out for me. I’m sure otherwise I would be about to do a really bad thing.” “We’re not going to have sex for the foreseeable future, no matter how much I think about it. And that includes looking at each other naked and, well…” “Aroused.” Dmitri grinned. That made him look more like his normal self. “It’s kind of cute how we’re having this big, important conversation, and you still can’t say a lot of the sex-related stuff.” I smiled too. “But I agree with what you’re saying,” Dmitri continued. “I don’t mind looking at each other naked when we’re just cuddling and sleeping and no erections are involved. That said, even if I eventually get to a point when I’m ready to get more intimate with you, I’m still very aware that you’re seventeen and I’m twenty-four. Whatever our relationship dynamics is, it doesn’t feel right for me to fuck someone so much younger than me. So how about we say we won’t do any sexual stuff whatsoever until you’re at least twenty? Hopefully by then I’ll be over my issues with sex and love, and if by some miracle we’re still together by then…” “Sounds good to me.” Dmitri grinned and put his hand forward for a handshake. “Deal?” I took his hand, but instead of shaking it, I pulled him towards me and gave him a peck on the lips. “Deal.”
  2. James Hiwatari

    Scene 28

    You're free to comment on them if you want! I'll probably find it amusing or learn something new. Looking up references to understand things has always been a part of living in another culture and another language, so welcome to the club, I guess?
  3. Thanks! According to Lóránt's trial at the end of the previous story, they don't quite escape this time, do they? I mean, they eventually escape from somewhere, or Nessa wouldn't be writing this thing, but that's not where this little bit is heading, unfortunately... On the plus side, you'll get to see what a demon-controlled island is like! It's the ideal holiday place, if you like having your mind controlled and your idea of entertainment is random cruel executions of rebels at lunch time!
  4. James Hiwatari

    Genius Plan

    Hope you like it. There are *just* another 50 chapters available for your entertainment...
  5. James Hiwatari

    Scene 28

    Thanks, but I'm going to stick to the British way of doing English. Which is already a bit of a compromise on the Glaswegian way of where I live... I don't have anything against individual US people, but growing up in Brazil as a sort of "unofficial cultural colony" of the US, I usually make a point of distancing myself from that country as much as I can. It's quite tiring to be expected to get references and know useless information/trivia about a country that is not mine and not somewhere I'm particularly interested in. It's overwhelming, actually. To the point that British/Scottish/European things have a much more "refreshing" or even "comforting" appeal to me, even though technically Europeans have played their part in cultural imperialism too (and other forms of imperialism). Not to mention that learning English as a second language in Brazil you will learn US English, not British. So I actually had to put some effort to get to the level of Britishness I am in now. So don't take this personally. My anti-US feelings don't extend to individual people unless they're proven arseholes, which you don't seem to be.
  6. James Hiwatari

    Genius Plan

    Don't worry, Gunni is almost 17! (Joking aside, I do acknowledge now that Dmitri & Co. might have come out slightly creepier than I intended. Hopefully the new book version will make it clearer they aren't that bad. Though even as this version of the story goes on, it won't take much longer for readers to get a more "balanced" peek at Dmitri other than Siggi's point of view.)
  7. My hands are shaking as I type now. I don’t like to remember what came next. One moment, Unn is sick, and the next thing I know I’m being mind-controlled and made to walk straight into a trap. If it wasn’t for your mother I would’ve lost my mind long before Hereweald got to me. The actual event that led to our kidnapping was caused by Unn, but it’s wrong to blame her for it. Nobody realised what the demons were planning, so there is no point in blaming anyone but Zhofie and Hereweald for being selfish people with violent ambitions. It all started when Unn ate a whole tub of ice cream. She got so sick from it that her endless vomiting also flushed out the spell that kept her from being sea-sick. Lóránt tried everything they could to put back the spell, but angelic power is not meant to work on demonic magic. Unn kept getting worse, and Lóránt ran out of options. Out of desperation, they called on the help of Zhofie, a demon who had been given power-limiters for breaking Daisenian law. I’m sure you can guess why this went wrong. Lóránt didn’t trust Zhofie. We didn’t trust Zhofie. But I didn’t know what to expect beyond dealing with a demon who cannot be trusted. I hadn’t been told to expect a mind-controlling spell, or warned about what it felt like to fall under one. Unn asked for me to be in the room when Zhofie cast that spell. She was scared things would go wrong or that the demon would do something bad, and she wanted a friendly presence next to her for reassurance. Of course, me being there didn’t prevent any of those things from happening, but the fact that Unn asked for me to be there, that she let me in on her fears and vulnerability, showed that she did consider me a friend. It was the first time I got this feeling from her, and I think that was what convinced me to face my own fears and watch the spell-casting session. Lóránt and Unn were already in the living room when I arrived. The fluffy rug between the TV and the couch was rolled up in the corner, and the exposed floorboards were covered in unfamiliar glowing purple letters. ‘Nessa, this is Zhofie. She will bee helping Unn today.’ I was so drawn to the strange markings on the floor that I didn’t notice Zhofie was there too. She came forward when Lóránt introduced her and took my hands. Her wrists had matching bronze-coloured bracelets with the Daisenian letter for “control” in it. I couldn’t read Daisenian at the time, so I didn’t realise those bracelets were the power-limiters she had been forced to wear. ‘It is a pleasure to meet you, Nessa.’ She smiled at me, showing all her pointy teeth. I understood her words as if they were Fadalesh, but her voice sounded like she was just saying a bunch of consonants mashed together. She looked at me straight in the eyes, her pupils dilated, and her bracelets glowed. It was that easy to fall under her spell. So easy and so quick not even Lóránt noticed. ‘We are ready to start.’ Lóránt’s voice made me look away from Zhofie. I’m not sure how long I would’ve kept staring otherwise. (And she wasn’t even pretty to look at. You mother is gorgeous and I would stare at him for hours on end if it didn’t make him self-conscious. But Zhofie was just ugly. Her horns were huge, golden with a red tinge. Her skin was completely white, like all colour had deserted her, and her eyes had the same red glow as her horns. Her nose was pointy, her lips were marked by tiny scars, like they had been sown shut at some point. And her breath smelled like a compost pile.) ‘Of course. Please get in position.’ Under Zhofie’s orders, Unn moved her tank to the middle of the strange markings on the floor. Zhofie lifted her arms up and recited another long stream of consonants that in Fadalesh translated as “I call forth the powers of the universe and bind them to my command. Do as I wish, and you will be free again”. Now I know this is just the generic introduction to any demonic spell of that kind, but back then I thought Zhofie was about to bring the end of the world. She hadn’t willed me to understand her words, so all I saw was her pleading in a foreign tongue, her bracelets glowing even more, and the strange letters detaching themselves from the floor and fixating on Unn’s skin instead. Unn’s body glowed the same purple as the letters. I couldn’t see her face, but she didn’t scream, so it hopefully wasn’t as horrible a feeling as it looked. Zhofie shouted at her magic again, this time something along the lines of “restore the balance that has been lost in this being” and Unn’s body (still glowing) floated out of her tank, upwards until she was about to bang her head on the ceiling. The whole room turned purple. All the light concentrated around Unn’s body, then exploded in millions of pretty particles. Lóránt caught Unn before her fall could damage her tank or cause her injury. I knew Unn was ok when she protested at Lóránt’s attempt to put her back on the tank. ‘I’m fine! I’m fine! I can do that on my own!’ I thought it was the end. I was relieved, relaxed, ready to ran towards Unn and celebrate the success of this scary ordeal when Kris opened the door. He wasn’t meant to be there. Kris’s eyes went immediately to Zhofie, and she smiled with all her pointy teeth and sounded like the New Year’s festivities had come early. ‘Hello, Kris, long time no seen. I’m sure your parents would’ve sent their greetings if they knew where you are.‘ Your mother froze on the spot. Fear took over his entire body. He looked at Lóránt with Unn still in their arms (Unn’s voice died when Kris came in), at me in my mid-celebration dance, and somehow that made him able to move again. Kris ran out of the room as quickly as he came in. And I made the mistake of asking the obvious. Not to Lóránt, the adult I trusted, but to Zhofie, the stranger with the glowing powers. ‘Do you know Kris?' ‘Since he was a little adorable horned baby. He looks awful now without his horns.' That was when I found out your mother was a demon. I had until then been under the (self-imposed) illusion that Kris was a shape-shifter because of his lack of horns. This revelations planted all sorts of question in my mind: how was this possible? Why didn’t Kris have horns? What was he doing being protected by an angel? Was he evil like most other demons in the world? ‘Go to your room, Nessa. Stay there until I let you out.’ Lóránt tried to protect me, but it was too late. My curiosity had already been picked, and because I was under Zhofie’s spell I became convinced she was the only one able to answer all my questions and tell me the truth about Kris. So I did as Lóránt told me, but only because I was planning something else. I wrote about it in my diary. I had to see Zhofie again no matter what. My last memory is that of sneaking out of Lóránt’s safe house and being glad I wasn’t caught. Zhofie awaited me at the next corner. I rushed to meet her. To see that pointy smile again. To get the answers I knew she had. ‘Are you really going to tell me everything?’ I asked her. ‘I’ll do much more than that.’ She smiled, running her tongue over her pointy teeth, and my mind went blank.
  8. James Hiwatari

    02 - Strange Land, Strange People

    Wee! Thanks! See you next week!
  9. James Hiwatari

    02 - Strange Land, Strange People

    Thanks! I'm glad you liked the chapter! We're getting close to some properly new information being revealed, so hold your horses!
  10. Running away from Floresfada wasn’t easy. I had obviously committed the most heinous of crimes, so any fairy who saw me had the right to punish me the way they saw fit. And I too despaired because I thought I was a murderer and deserved all that punishment. By the time I crossed into the desert, I wasn’t so sure I should keep going. I arrived in Macchikai by a miracle (or rather, by a stranger on a car who refused to believe I didn’t deserve help and took me to the nearest hospital). I don’t remember much of my early days in Daisen, only that I wrote everything in the diary withouth suspecting anything of its true nature. I also remember nurses giving me meat to eat (as punishment? Because they didn’t care? I still don’t know), and the police showing up. I wanted them to make me pay for my crime, but as they coerced my story out of me (I wasn’t ready. I cried my eyes out. It was just as painful as if it was all happening again), they decided I was innocent and earned the right to settle in Daisen as a refugee. I disagreed, but they wouldn’t let me disagree with them. And so I was formally welcomed in Daisen, a strange country of shape-shifters who spoke an even stranger language. And I had to make it my home. Somehow. As if it wasn’t hard enough as it was, I was attacked by demons (not Hereweald in person, but he was certainly behind it) while in hospital. I was given body-guards. We travelled from Macchikai to Enkyo, where I would be put in the care of a guardian angel, but we were attacked again on our way there and one of my bodyguards died to protect me. He was the second person I saw dying in front of me in a week. The only reason I didn’t end up with Hereweald then was because Lóránt saved the day. My guardian angel appeared in front of me with their majestic wings, the first time I had seen an angel in the flesh. It was the closest I had been to a miracle since I was cast off by our Mother Deity. Lóránt stopped the attack like a superhero, arriving too late to avoid loss of life, but just in time to mess up the villain’s plan. The next thing I know, I’m in a new house that is supposed to become my home. I had a bedroom of my own, but the rest of the house was shared between me, Lóránt, and three other teenagers who needed similar protection from demons (actually, just the one and only demon we know so well). Those teenagers were your mother, Lydia, and your aunt Unn. We’re all family now, but back then… Before anything else, there was the issue that I didn’t speak a single word of Daisenian. All I knew was Fadalesh. Nobody in Floresfada ever cared about learning other languages, getting to know other cultures. We thought fairies were wiser than anybody else, so why bother? This is why we made sure you and your siblings can speak your mother’s language as well as Daisenian and Fadalesh. You don’t have any contact with whatever is left of Kris’s family, and as far as I know you have no wish to foray into demon lands. But you should still learn about the culture Kris came from, the language he learned his first words in, and understand how this shaped the person he is today. I was so happy when you asked Aunt Unn to teach you her language out of your own initiative, and I was secretly delighted when your siblings went to Lydia and to my step-mother to learn the language of dwarves and giants as part of their teenage rebellion (as if Lydia hadn’t already taught me all those insults ages ago…)! My point is: being isolated because of my inability to communicate wasn’t nice. I never want you to go through that. I was lucky that Lydia, Lóránt and Unn knew Fadalesh, so they could help me adapt to my new world, but it wasn’t enough to shake off the feeling I didn’t belong. Enkyo was a desert with ugly buildings where nobody stayed outdoors because of air pollution. Could you imagine a place further from Pindaiba? I starved for nature of any kind. I harboured thoughts that I deserved this suffering because of my crime. I thought I had to accept my new situation and make the best of it, but at the same time I wanted a punishment worthy of the horrible person I had become. I wrote all of this into the diary. It got to know the first impressions of my housemates too: Unn was annoying and unfriendly, Kris was intimidating (not being able to speak to him didn’t help), and Lydia was a sexy goddess. Lydia and I started dating in a matter of days, though a cultural misunderstanding involving digestive bodily functions almost put a premature end to our relationship. We got back together thanks to Unn, and finally befriended her because of that. I want to take some time to talk about your mother, though. My first impression of him was the wrongest of all, and I’m sure that’s the story you’re most interested in hearing. It’s embarrassing to say it now, but I didn’t think Kris could be a demon at first. He didn’t have horns, and my own bias against demons prevented me from considering the possibility that demons would be allowed to live under the same roof as their victims. It didn’t occur to me that demons could be victims too! Kris didn’t talk much. He knew some basic Fadalesh, but even before I discovered his true origin I was too intimidated by his rebel, dark, violent vibe to get too close. He didn’t seem to want to be my friend. I didn’t think I wanted to be his friend. But then he offered me a dress to go in a date with Lydia, and the image I had of him started to change. How could someone like black jackets covered in piercings and metal spikes, but also have a wardrobe full of pretty, delicate dresses? Kris was nice to me for the first time then, using a computer to translate a whole text into Fadalesh to reassure me I could take any dress I wanted for my date, and inviting me to go clothes shopping with him. He seemed to want to reach out and make friends, though he had trouble figuring out how to do it. It was pretty adorable, to be honest. And his dresses were gorgeous! (They still are...) After that, my interest in Kris peaked. Who was he, really? How could he be such a contradiction? I wrote all of this into the diary. You know, the diary owned by his father, the man who wanted to kill him for treason. I brought Kris to Hereweald.
  11. James Hiwatari

    66 - Just Friends

    Arnar was waiting by the door when Karen parked her car. “How was your rehearsal?” He helped me take the cello out of the passenger’s seat and turned to her. “Would you and Gísli like to stay for dinner?” “Thanks, but we have other plans.” Karen grinned. “Dmitri is sleeping at Gunni’s, so we’re going to enjoy having the house to ourselves.” “Karen may or may not have invited a few friends to ‘drink responsibly’ the night before a concert,” Gísli did the literal air quotes as he spoke. Karen made that face that would have led to a kick to the balls if Gísli was not safely out of reach on the backseat. “Have fun, then.” Arnar rested my cello on the ground and hugged me with his good arm. “I understand the plan is for me to return Siggi on Saturday morning?” “Yeah, that’s when Dmitri will be coming back too. We’ll keep your son for the weekend, and I’ll bring him back on Monday after the rehearsal.” “And would you and Gísli like to stay for dinner then?” “What’s with the sudden obsession with feeding everyone?” Arnar looked at me like he did not expect such a question. “I’m just trying to spend time with my friends. We can’t see each other every rehearsal now, so I have to find other ways to socialise. I think I’m doing well enough nowadays that I can handle social interactions without letting bad feelings about the end of my career take over.” He smiled despite his words. “Besides, Karen and Gísli are your housemates. It’s the least I can do when they’re helping to take care of my son.” “I want to say I’m old enough to take care of myself, but we all know what a load of bullshit that is.” “I don’t think it’s about being old enough.” Arnar shrugged. “I think everybody could do with having someone to take care of them. I don’t necessarily mean it in a literal sense like helping to shower or spoon-feeding lunch, but rather that it’s nice to have someone we can run to when something goes wrong or even when we just want company. It’s not that I don’t ever want to see you living on your own or that I don’t think you would manage living alone, but I do feel better knowing you’re among friends at home.” Karen and Gísli drove off to the sound of more niceties from Arnar. He led me inside and followed me to my room, though he waited until I had put my cello down to distract me with conversation. “How did the apology go?” “I couldn’t finish it, but I had enough people tell me they knew what I meant and appreciated the effort that I’m inclined to believe it worked.” “Good.” His arm wrapped around my waist. “Did you apologise to Gunni too?” “He came to talk to me afterwards. We’ll try to start again with the whole ‘professional relationship’ thing, and I made it clear to him there’s no chance I’ll ever have the sort of feelings he seems to have for me. I was even trying to say it without sounding like I was enjoying the put down, but he cried anyway, so I don’t think that worked.” “If you’re rejecting his feelings, he would’ve cried even if you coated it with a mountain of sugar. You don’t have to feel bad about it.” “I don’t. I don’t care about that kid outside of the rehearsal room and for as long as he’s not hurting Dmitri.” “You should hear yourself saying that next time you feel like you don’t deserve your friends. You want to do whatever it takes to make Dmitri happy, right?” “I’ve been trying to protect his arse since Gunnar came along. A lot of the mess happened because I tried to look out for him. So I don’t think I’ve been doing a good job of it.” “I’m sure it’ll get better once you and Gunni start to work together.” Arnar moved towards the door, but I didn’t follow. “Is there anything else you want to say before we go for dinner?” “Maybe? You talked about Dmitri, and… there are some things… I don’t know what to make of them.” “Like what?” Arnar guided us to the bed and sat next to me with his usual ‘let’s-encourage-Siggi-to-talk-about-difficult-things’ smile. “Dmitri said he loves me, though not in the way he loves Gunnar. He has this plan to see our relationship like it’s based on actual love so he’ll convince his instincts that Gunnar and I are equally important to him. I don’t understand this, but I don’t think that’s how feelings work.” “So are you just confused, or you think he’s lying to you, or lying to himself?” “I don’t think Dmitri would lie to me. He’s one of the few people I trust not to, and he’s a terrible liar anyway.” “Then what is troubling you?” Arnar put his hand on my shoulder. My body leaned against him before I could stop myself. “I don’t think I understand my feelings for Dmitri anymore.” “You think you might be in love with Dmitri?” “I think I don’t know what love is. You suddenly realised you were in love with your long-dead best friend, then Dmitri decided on a whim that he’s going to love me, going as far as to say he loves me while we were fucking, and Gunnar cried because I broke his heart even though he knew it was coming. How am I supposed to know how this shit works?” Arnar smiled and pulled me for an even stronger hug. “I think part of your confusion might because there are different kinds of love. For example, I love you and I’ll do anything I can to make you happy. But this is a father’s love. It’s not about romance and it’s definitely not anything sexual.” He made a ridiculous face that made me chuckle. “The love I have for Ágústa, on the other hand, is all about romance, about how I want her to be my partner for however long we’re alive, or how it makes me happy to wake up and see her lying next to me in bed every morning. And then there’s my love for the ISO, for my job, and how playing with them gave my life a kind of meaning I couldn’t find anywhere else.” “I can relate to that last one.” “And how do you feel about me?” “Like I can’t imagine existing if it wasn’t for you. Like I owe you everything I have now. Like you’re the one fucking person I can’t bear to be away from. Is this one of those forms of love?” “I would hope it is.” Arnar kept pulling me closer, until I gave up lying against his shoulder and settled for resting my head on his lap. My legs were too long and awkward to fit on the rest of the bed so their search for a comfortable position continued through the conversation. “And how do you feel about Dmitri?” “He understands me in a way nobody else does. I trust him. I get angry when I see he’s destroying his life and not realising it. I don’t want him to get hurt. What is the difference between love and friendship? Or what that kind of love Dmitri said he has for me that’s not really love? Or is it the same thing?” “I think the answer is not as objective as you think it is. Look at me, I took twenty years to realise my deepest friendship was actually romantic love!” “But how did you do it? How could you separate the two?” “The way it happened for me was that once the possibility occurred to me, and I re-examined our time together, framing everything as romantic love felt like the missing piece of the puzzle that made everything feel right. It made sense, it explained why I got so reluctant to spend time with him and why I felt so weird when he called to say he was getting married. Everything just… fit.” “But it doesn’t help me when I don’t know how it’s supposed to feel like when it fits!” “I’m sorry, but that’s all I can say. The way we make sense of our feelings is different from person to person. Maybe you and Dmitri actually feel the same way, but he’s expressing his feelings in a different way because that’s how it works for him. If he’s sure it’s not romantic love he feels for you, then he should know what he’s talking about.” “Why are things so complicated?” Arnar made a futile attempt at tidying up my hair. “Have your feelings for Dmitri actually changed after he told you those things?” “I don’t think so. I guess I’m happy he’s sort of back to his old self and we’re fucking again. I missed having him around like that. So I guess I’m… relieved? But I don’t know if it changes anything.” “And what does it feel like to think you love Dmitri?” I had to think about that more than I would have liked. “Weird. We’re not romantic. Romance is… disgusting? I don’t want Dmitri to be my boyfriend, and not just because of the way he treats Gunnar. I don’t think I want to be anyone’s boyfriend. Ever.” “I see.” Arnar kept playing with my hair. “I suppose it does mean you don’t love Dmitri romantically either, which is probably for the best. I don’t want to make you more confused, but the way you talk about not wanting to be anyone’s boyfriend… it makes me wonder whether it’s because you think of yourself as a horrible person not worthy of being in a romantic relationship or if you’re just aromantic.” “Aromantic as in ‘asexual, but about feelings’?” “Sort of.” Thinking about it again took too long. “You’re right about me not being boyfriend material. Nobody deserves the kind of crap I come with. You and Dmitri deal with enough as it is, without the extra romantic bullshit. But as far as being actually aromantic… I don’t think I can think of myself that way yet. How can I decide whether I’m actually capable of having romantic feelings when I don’t understand most feelings in general? Maybe it’s all part of being aromantic and that’s why I struggle with this whole shit, but it’s still much more likely to be because I didn’t get to learn about this crap as a kid. I think I should figure out which one it is before I go about slapping some labels on myself.” “That’s very mature and thoughtful of you.” “Would I be too much of a failure if I was aromantic?” “Of course not!” Arnar smiled. “You won’t be a failure whether you have fifty boyfriends or no boyfriends. You won’t be a failure if you never settle with family of your own, or if you want to live alone or with me instead. And, for that matter, you won’t be a failure if you never learn to figure out your feelings. Do you understand that?” “Yes. Thanks.” “That’s another feeling to add to your pile: unconditional love. That’s loving you for who you are, good bits and bad bits and everything else that comes with you.” “You mean the feeling of achieving the impossible?” Arnar frowned, but his face relaxed once he realised I was grinning. “I guess I’ll just have to live with the knowledge that I’ve achieved the impossible, then.” He smiled. “How about we put our complicated feelings aside for a while and concentrate on the feeling of emptiness in our stomachs instead? Dinner is probably ready by now, and I would hate to leave Ágústa waiting…” “Fine. And… thanks again, I guess? I love you, for all it’s worth…” “It’s worth the world to me.”
  12. James Hiwatari

    01 - The Beginning is the Best Place to Start

    Thanks! I certainly hope the slight repetition in the beginning won't be too boring. It's all for the benefit of Nessa's kid, who's almost 20 years old and still knows very little... And Nessa's husband is Kris, though he gets to be the "mother" because that's the way the language works and has nothing to do with gender.
  13. James Hiwatari

    01 - The Beginning is the Best Place to Start

    Most definitely. Though now you made me think of that joke about a guy about to be eaten by cannibals and have his skin turned into a canoe. His last wish is to have a fork, and when he gets it he proceeds to stab himself with the fork yelling "you won't make a canoe with this skin!" Or some such. It's an old joke. But I'm sure Kris would be delighted with the mental image of his father being pierced by forks. Particularly those of the giant, sharp variety.
  14. The Beginning is the Best Place to Start, but we don’t need to go that far in the beginning. I’m skipping most of my first sixteen years of life because your grandma has already told you almost everything there is to know about my cute toddlerhood and my amazing childhood (her words, not mine). You and your siblings know that your grandfather Jurandir was captured by demons when I was a toddler. You’ve heard my mother’s second-by-second retelling of her marriage to Morumpi, the man who brought me up as his daughter. And you know that my step-father’s death caused me to lose my powers and my ability to guide you through your fairyhood. But I could never bring myself to tell you how or why it happened. It's not that I don't want you to know, but... This isn't a story suitable for a child. When we get down to it, the fact is that I killed him. Not because I wanted to (that was the last thing I ever wanted!), but because if I hadn't done that, he would've taken me to the demons who captured your grandfather (and who later became your other set of grandparents, though that is in no way due to their charm or social skills). Never think for a second that Morumpi Jacaranda was evil or acting of his own free will when he tried to kidnap me. My step-father loved me and my mother more than anything in the world, and I loved him just as much. But Hereweald used Morumpi’s love for his family to force him into a contract. Morumpi didn’t have a choice from that point on. So the beginning of my story... is actually the end of Morumpi’s. And it goes like this: Once upon a time lived a fairy with a heart made of gold. He wanted to get to know the world and was even studying abroad (in Daisen!) to make his dream come true. He came across an empty book, a diary, and started writing on it. Morumpi poured all his secrets into the diary, all his thoughts... all his admiration for his cousin Jurandir their other childhood friend Nelma. The three of them had a long history of friendship and pranks, which had only become stronger once Jurandir and Nelma married. Morumpi found the diary on the day I was born. But the diary wasn’t just any diary. It belonged to Hereweald, the evilest demon to ever walk on this world, and was his instrument for locating his next targets to be bound in eternal servitude. Hereweald became interested in Jurandir because of what Morumpi wrote in the diary, and captured him. Then he convinced Morumpi that he would be able to help Jurandir if he gave his life to the demon in exchange. Of course, this was a lie. Hereweald didn’t help at all, and Morumpi was bound to do anything the diary told him to. But Morumpi didn’t give up. He resisted the diary as much as he could. He got Nelma to help him seal it away, and that led to them falling in love and getting married (just as your grandma loves to tell you). I got a second father while I was still young enough to not remember the first. And the diary should have been gone forever... But unfortunately, my mother's seal wasn't strong enough to make it completely gone. Fifteen years passed, with the diary out of everyone’s minds, until it magically appeared among my things. Morumpi saw it before I did, and understood Hereweald was using me to get to him. The last thing Morumpi wanted was for me to fall in the same trap as he did, so he took the diary away before I knew it was there. unfortunately, Morumpi’s touch broke your grandmother’s seal, and put Morumpi under its spell once more. This time, the demon made sure he couldn’t escape. Morumpi came for me after the New Year festivities. I didn't understand what was happening then, but now I know that Hereweald took control of his body. Morumpi was still conscious of everything that was happening, everything Hereweald was making him do, but he couldn’t use his mouth to shout for help or clue me in to what was going on. Hereweald wanted him to watch his family being taken away as punishment for having defied him for so long. Hereweald was angry and wanted to make Morumpi suffer as much as possible (a lovely guy, your other grandfather. I’m so glad you’re nothing like him). And how do I know this now? Your evil-lord grandfather told me himself. He relished in recounting how much Morumpi begged him to stop, to take him instead, to do anything but touch me. And then he relished in watching me suffer a mental breakdown upon realising everything I had believed about that New Year’s day was a lie. Morumpi never gave up resisting the demon's control either. Even as Hereweald made him attack me, even as I fought back with all I had so that I wouldn’t disappear like my father, Morumpi kept trying to take over his body again. Until he realised that Hereweald would torment him for as long as he lived. Even if he stopped the demon this time, he would come back and threaten me and mum and my brother again. The only way to be truly free and to keep us safe was to give up his own life. That realisation, that hope that his loved ones would be able to find peace, gave him the strength he needed to overpower the demon's control. He managed it for just a second, but it was enough. Morumpi saw I was going to attack, and took control of his body so that he wouldn't try to dodge. He let me kill him to save me and my family. Even now, 25 years later, it hurts to think about his sacrifice. Until I learned of this truth, I suffered believing my loving step-father had betrayed me and that I had become a cold-hearted killer. I'm sorry I ever doubted his love and dedication. And I'm sorry you'll never get the chance to meet your other amazing grandfather. My mother arrived a second too late. When she saw her husband dead and her daughter without her wings, she had no questions about what happened. I lost my powers the moment Morumpi gave his last breathe (it's a horrible feeling, though I have since felt worse, mostly while dealing with Hereweald). And so she did the only thing she could do in her grief and anger: she banished me from Floresfada. It was only the next day, after my step-father was buried and the funeral rites were over, that she remembered the diary that had haunted her husband. She went looking for it, but couldn’t find it anywhere. She understood what had happened then: Hereweald’s plan had succeeded. My mother forgave me, but her position as the High Priestess and the loss of my wings meant she couldn't go back on my banishment. It was only a small consolation to know that her daughter wasn't an evil assassin in the face of so much loss, but it paved the way for our reconciliation years later. It would be a long time before we saw each other again. And until it was really happening, until mum and I were face to face and touching each other and crying of relief and laughing and thanking our Mother Deity, I never believed it would ever happen. After the banishment, I had no other choice but to run to the Daisenian border. While I was gathering my things, I found the diary that had ruined Morumpi's life. I took it, because I didn't know any better, and committed the same mistake he did: I confided my life and soul into its pages.
  15. I'm going to have to post this week's FOHT's chapter tomorrow. Between being out all day for my birthday yesterday and spending the whole at work today, I don't have the energy to do it properly today. But Nessa will be back tomorrow! ;) 



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