imaginary_golux: adult red riding hood and her wolf (Default)
There was a woman, once, who loved a man; but that is an old story. There was a man, once, who loved a woman; but this, too, is common. But there was a woman, and there was a man, and they were in love.

Perhaps their families disliked each other; or perhaps one lived in the sea and one on land; or perhaps again one was betrothed, bound by such vows as cannot be broken. But howsoe’er it happened, they were kept apart, and all their efforts and desires could not join them.

Now, it is common at this point in the story for the lovers to die in some ecstatic agony. But it is not so.

For they parted, with many vows of love eternal and bittersweet remembrance, and went their separate ways, and wept hot tears of love requited and yet unfulfilled – and over time (Time, the great healer) grew older, calmer, easier in joy.

There was a woman, once, who loved a man; and though he may not have been her first, fierce, soul-consuming love, still they loved, and wed, and marrying rejoiced. And there was a man, once, who loved a woman, and adored her with all of his heart (save only a little corner which still remembered, faintly, his first beloved), and married her, and had children by her, and they were happy.

And while that may not be the expected ending, still that is how this story ends; and perhaps it is a better ending than the common one.
imaginary_golux: adult red riding hood and her wolf (Default)
He showed up out of nowhere, scrawny little kid in too-big armor on a too-big horse, pretty as a girl. Shy, weak, never even held a sword before, he looked like he’d break if you breathed on him. I was sure he’d get taken up by one of the boy-lovers in the officers’ ranks and we’d never see him again, but he stuck around. He wasn’t good at the exercises, but he kept trying, stubborn as a mule and twice as touchy if you tried to help him out.

Then he started getting better at everything, like he’d only needed a chance to learn – slowly, yeah, but he was trying and it was working, by the gods. When he beat the lieutenant in a sparring competition, all of us started cheering. Who doesn’t like an underdog? And he kept getting better, and somehow he dragged the rest of us along with him, because no-one wants to be shown up by a scrawny little beardless kid. (Seriously, his cheeks were so smooth – never seen a razor in his life, I’d have bet.) But we liked him anyway. He was sweet under all that prickliness, not a bone of malice in him. You wouldn’t think that’d be a good thing for a soldier, but it made the troop a lot more cohesive; we were his troop, sort of: the underdog group, the weaklings who made good.

When we headed out for war, his armor fit, and he sat that huge horse like he was meant to be there. We were all proud of him, our shy little boy who couldn’t even hold a sword when we started training, and of ourselves too. And when we met the barbarians, he fought like a crazy thing, no fear in him at all, and he dragged us all along with him, charging at these maddened hordes like we thought we were invincible. And we won. And we kept winning. This little beardless boy led us to victory after victory, and we loved him for it. He was clever and brave and a little cunning, and sometimes his ideas were utterly insane, and we won. All of us were sure that he’d get promoted to captain, maybe even to general, by the time the war was over.

Then he was wounded, and the lieutenant dragged him back to camp; he was half-dead, and we all thought he wouldn’t make it. All that night we worried while the doctor worked; the boy screamed once or twice, and we bit our nails to the quick and burned incense to Kuan Yin.

In the morning, the doctor came out of the tent. “He’ll live,” he said, and we all cheered. Then the doctor held up a hand. “He’s a woman,” he said. Someone fainted. The lieutenant swore until he ran out of breath. I just stared at the doctor; how could he be a girl? Sure, he was small and beardless and shy and…ancestors, I thought, he’s a girl!

We almost left him there. We almost left him to die on that mountain. But – he was our boy, our little underdog, our brave, crazy little warrior, and we still loved him. So we took him with us, convinced the doctor not to tell anyone, told the kid we still thought of him as a good lad and a good soldier. He cried. And he – well, she, but we still called him ‘he’ – he replied with an outpouring of trust, with even crazier brave stunts, with working his little ass off to prove he was just as good as the rest of us. So we marched on together, and fought together, and the lieutenant stopped looking at him sideways; he was just one of us again. It was good.

When the war was over, we all went home, split up and went our separate ways. A few years later we all got invitations to the lieutenant’s wedding. We went, of course. There was the lieutenant, all handsome in his uniform, and there was the bride, in the strangest getup I’ve ever seen on a woman: a dress with a split skirt and a swordbelt around the waist, and her hair up in a soldier’s topknot. We stared at her for a long time before it sank in: that was our little beardless boy, our crazy little warrior who happened to be a girl. She still probably could’ve beat any of us in a fight, fancy dress and all. We cheered when they made their vows.

If there’s ever another war and my son goes off to fight, I hope one of that little warrior’s children – male or female – is there to fight beside him. And hey, if my daughter wants to go off to war, well, that’s alright too. She’d be a brave little beardless boy.
imaginary_golux: adult red riding hood and her wolf (Default)
There was a pebble, once, which fell in love with a flower; but the flower was young and beautiful and would not hear of love from a plain little brown pebble, for it dreamed always of the great yellow sun, which it thought was a giant flower in the sky.

The pebble had been around for a while and knew that the sun was not a flower, but a huge hot thing that baked the soft mud to clay and the frail flowers to little shriveled brown nothings; and though that could not harm the pebble, because it was only a pebble, it was terrified that the beautiful little flower would grow into the sunlight and be burnt to nothingness. But the flower wanted nothing more than to be always in the sunlight, and was constantly striving to grow out of the little patch of shade that covered it and bask in the sight of the great yellow flower above.

The pebble begged every day that the flower not grow into the sunlight, because it was scared that the poor flower would die; but the flower only laughed and replied that the pebble was jealous of the beautiful sun, and wanted to keep the flower from its happiness. So the pebble was very miserable as the flower grew ever taller and more enamored of the sun.

There came a day that summer when the sun was particularly hot, and on that very day the flower finally grew fully into the sunlight. The poor pebble watched in horror as the flower gleefully raised its pale petals to the sun; and as the long day went on the flower browned and drooped in the heat. As the sun set, the dying flower wept, and the pebble at its foot wept too.

At length the flower said, “O Pebble that loves me, if only I had listened to you! For the great yellow flower is cruelly hot and has burned me away to a husk of my old self; if only I had remained safely in the shade with you!”

The pebble replied, “O Flower that I love, if you had listened to me you would have always dreamed of the sun, and moreover surely you would have died anyway at the end of the summer when the world becomes cold and white.”

“Yes,” said the flower, “but sometimes dreams are better than reality; and had I but lived a little longer I might have been content to die. Nevertheless, O Pebble, I am dying; all of my sap has been leeched away by the cruel heat. I wish I had let myself fall in love with you, who always tried to protect me.” And saying this, the flower crumpled to the ground and curled its dry stem about the pebble.

All the rest of the summer the pebble lay in the embrace of its beloved flower, and all through the fall and the winter, when they rested beneath a cold white blanket, until in the spring a nearby stream overflowed and swept both pebble and flower away, and no one knows where they landed.
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