lady_flamewing: (fanfic)
[personal profile] lady_flamewing
This is another one of those things that's going to need explaining.

As some of you might have noticed, I've stopped writing. This is partially to do with life getting kind of hectic while I moved and tried to deal with all kinds of family drama and attempted to sort out my life, but also partially to do with the fact that I just...have no ideas. It's kind of like I've run dry, or something.

So I put out a request for some ideas of things to write, and got one in particular that struck home.

I don't know if any of you remember that bit of fic I wrote last fall, about Kurama and Shoshanna from Inglorious Basterds, and their children? Well, Shoshanna's player and I once developed an odd sort-of fantasy AU around the pairing, where Kurama is a thief and Shoshanna is a princess, and strange circumstances lead to Kurama sort-of kidnapping her, except that she really actually kind of wanted it.

Shoshanna's player asked for some more development in that universe, and I was more than happy to oblige. All you really need to know is that Shoshanna was a princess and hated it, Kurama was a thief who ended up coerced into loving her, and her hair was a sort of golden blonde that was really distinctive, so they had to dye it brown.


They move across the sea, the way he promised - across the sea and farther, to places Shoshanna never dreamed she would go, places she only knows of as names on a map, places where her kingdom is only a vague thought in the minds of the people. No one will know them, Kurama assures her, so she carefully lets her hair grow back out into shining gold, fearing the whole time that she will be in the marketplace and hear someone shout about a kidnapped princess - but it never happens. No one cares, here, about the trivial concerns of some kingdom leagues away, and if anyone ever mentions her hair, it is only to ask her how she keeps it quite that color.

She wonders how long her family will wait before declaring her dead. She wonders if they'll ever give up.

They use up what has to be a great portion of the funds Kurama has accrued during his years of thievery, but he assures her that it's all right - he'll make it back in no time. She assumes he means taking up the mantle of master thief again wherever they end up (which, personally, she thinks sort of negates half the reason they left in the first place), but he surprises her. He buys them a good-sized cottage a good distance from the city, and settles in to tend the land. They discover that he has an uncanny touch - almost unnatural - and that anything he plants springs up hale, healthy, and abundant, which makes it quite easy for them to keep themselves fed, to raise their own animals, and to sell their excess in the market at the highest prices.

She fumbles through tending the house for a while, and if Kurama laughs at her first sad attempts at cooking, she can't quite hold it against him - they really are terrible. But she learns to ask at the stalls in the marketplace what the best way is to use whatever she's buying at the time, and she learns from her mistakes, and Kurama helps out whenever he can, and soon enough you'd never know she was once a noblewoman, incapable of performing even the slightest menial task.

Kurama kisses her hands, sometimes, and she wonders if he minds the way they've gone all rough and callused. He never says anything, though, just looks at her with those deep green eyes, and eventually, she stops caring.

They have children, two, a boy and a girl, and Shoshanna insists that they pay for several tutors to make the trip out to their cottage a few times a week. It is, by far, the most extravagant thing in their budget, and she knows Kurama doesn't really understand. He doesn't argue, though, and for that she is grateful - he grew up without a formal education, so he can't know, but Shoshanna can see how the world is changing. She thinks that soon - maybe not in her lifetime, maybe not even in her children's lifetimes, but soon enough - the balance of power will shift. It will become less about money and more about knowledge - which, she supposes, still has to do with money and who can afford the best teachers, but better that her children be prepared.

Besides, even if Kurama has never been formally educated, she knows that he is frightfully smart, and she thinks - humbly - that she's no dunce, either, so their children must have been blessed with an abundance of wit. The tutors confirm her suspicions, although they lament that this wit has been rather tempered by mischievous streaks several leagues wide in both of her children - which, she supposes, she probably should have suspected. Their parents were both thieves, after all.

She apologizes, of course, whenever her children play tricks on their tutors (fairly often, at least once a week), and if her platitudes ring slightly false, well - she's paying them well enough that they can't complain.

Her skin, pale white from years of strict confinement, goes first a painful red (Kurama foresees this happening and plants something with leaves that soothes her burning skin) and then a rich, buttery brown - like milk poured into tea. Combined with her golden hair, it makes her look surprisingly exotic, and for a while, she fears the townspeople will talk. It's the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else, though, and by the time her skin darkens, she and Kurama are familiar faces in the marketplace. Her fears are unfounded, and if anyone ever does talk about her, it is only to describe her as the unparalleled beauty of their town.

She finds she doesn't mind that so much.

She tends house and watches the children and helps out with the animals sometimes, so she almost can't believe it when she finds herself bored one evening, sitting idly by the fire. Her hands itch for something to do, something to occupy themselves with, but she has no particular skill or talent to turn herself towards. Her life before Kurama was etiquette lessons and…needlepoint.

The first time he walks into the room and finds her desperately trying to stuff her embroidery behind her seat cushion before he can see it, Kurama laughs hard enough that if she weren't so upset, she'd be afraid he might rupture something. She throws the scrap of fabric at him, and he ducks gracefully out of the way, still laughing - but then his laughter dies out as he bends to retrieve it for her. He studies it with an odd look on his face and says that she should bring it to the market on their next trip. She shrugs and agrees, thinking that he's gone mad - no one will want her fripperies.

She has no idea how wrong she is.

Her style is foreign and noticeably upper-class, which makes it extremely rare and highly sought after. She can scarcely believe the speed at which her little embroidered squares are snatched up at market, and when they're all gone, people still crowd their stall, asking if she'll take orders, if she'll have more next month, if they can bring her blankets and tablecloths and handkerchiefs to work on. Dazed, she agrees, and the orders come pouring in.

She takes them, not because they have a particular need for the money, but because it will give her idle hands something to do, and she finds herself stunned after her first few nights of work at how much she doesn't hate it. Maybe it's the ability to work on her own terms, at her own pace, and with her own unique flair; maybe it's the fact that she knows her work will not simply be tucked away in some trunk, but happily put to use by whomever she makes it for. But she thinks the greater part of it is that she can work in the quiet evenings beside the fire, with Kurama dozing off in the chair across from her, while she pretends not to hear her children making whispered plans in the bedroom while they're supposed to be asleep.

Kurama still laughs at her, on occasion, saying that you 'can't fight breeding' - but he also spends a great deal of time and money adding some exotic dye plants to their side garden, and with his nearly-magical touch, they come up so well, you'd never know they weren't native. With his help, her threads and fabrics are always the most vibrant in the market, and they never seem to fade the way others do.

For several years, they pay a man to come in and shear their small flock of sheep for them, and then take the wool back to his wife, who spins it into thread for Shoshanna to use. But one year, Shoshanna - tired of the extra effort and expense - informs him that his services will no longer be necessary. The next year, she tries it herself, thinking that she's watched him so many times, surely she must have learned something by now.

It takes her several days, she nearly cuts her own fingers off several times, she ends up covered in scrapes and bruises from where the sheep have struggled to get away, and Kurama nearly kills himself laughing again - she makes a snide comment at one point about how he could maybe make himself useful and help her, but she's not even sure he hears her over the sound of his own mirth - but the sheep end up shorn, and she ends up with wool piled up all over the house.

Her first few attempts at spinning thread out of it are nearly as disastrous (if slightly less injury-inducing), but eventually she figures it out, and it's with a noticeable sense of triumph that she turns out spool after spool of her very own thread. Each year is easier than the last, and soon the whole process feels as natural as breathing.

They aren't rich, even though - she realizes with a start one evening, as they make their way home from market - they could be. They certainly make enough money to live in a bigger house, to move into the city, to have servants and maids and cooks, but by some unspoken agreement, the money always gets spent or tucked away into some hiding spot, stockpiled to be passed onto their children someday. Shoshanna is glad for it - she thinks that maybe Kurama might like to live the noble life for a while, just to see what it's like, but every part of her rebels at the thought of returning (even marginally) to the life she used to have.

She likes working with her hands in the garden, getting dirt under her nails and smeared across her cheeks. She likes the feeling of sore muscles in her back from bending over to weed, the feeling of the sun on her face and arms. She likes going out in the mornings to milk their cows (and isn't that a funny thought - the princess, milking?), resting her forehead on their warm flanks. If they were rich, she thinks, she would lose all of that - be kept inside all day, never be allowed to run around the yard with her children or even plunge her hands into a bucket full of warm, sudsy water.

Still, even for all that, she knows that Kurama continues to steal - hell, sometimes she still does, when the jingle of a particularly fat purse in the marketplace is too much to resist. But it's always money they steal now, easy to use or hide away, and never so much that anyone spends a great deal of time looking for it. And Kurama continues to buy up little parcels of land, to add more crops, to build additions to the stable so they can house more animals.

And even before it's really strictly necessary, before their land holdings get so big that he could really use the extra help, Kurama hires extra hands at harvest. And if Shoshanna happens to notice that he always chooses men who have just had another baby, or whose crops have been damaged by blight or insects, or who might be having some trouble gathering the money to meet a newly-raised land tax - well, it never seems worth mentioning. She always invites them to stay for dinner, and somehow, always manages to make just a little bit too much food, which she might as well send home with them for their families - otherwise, it just goes to waste.

Sometimes, she thinks about the life she could have, if none of this had happened. Married to some rich and (hopefully) handsome prince, ruling together over the land. Servants at her beck and call, anything she could ever want just a request away. There would be no work to do, no sore feet from standing all day behind a stall at the market or over the stove in the kitchen. She'd have only the finest in clothes and jewels, and none of it would ever need mending - especially not by her own hand. Her skin would still be pale, her hands unblemished, her figure tiny and without the slightest hint of imperfection.

She thinks about it - and about all those princesses and noblewomen who are undoubtedly living those very lives right now - and she feels sorry for anyone who doesn't have a common thief to come and rescue them.

I am open to other requests! I'm really just trying to get back into writing, to try and get some ideas going again.
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June 2012

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