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jsmn_kink ([personal profile] jsmn_kink) wrote in [community profile] jsmn_kinkmeme2015-06-06 08:02 pm
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☆ Round One!

Welcome to the first round of the Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Kink Meme at [community profile] jsmn_kinkmeme!

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FILL: La belle au bois dormant - Arabella/Emma 2/2

(Anonymous) 2015-07-14 03:58 am (UTC)(link)

After being accosted by the insufferable Mr. Drawlight three times in as many weeks on her way to the Poles’ Harley Street residence, Arabella decided she needed to find a different route. All she had succeeded in doing was getting herself quite lost in a confusing tangle of unfamiliar side streets and alleyways.

As she tried and failed to find her way to the house, she passed a tiny, yet charming book store. She went inside, not only with the intention to ask directions but with the faint hope that she might have found the one bookstore in all of England that Mr. Norrell had not purged of its magical texts.

Unfourtunately, she had not and the kind store-owner told her that he had no such books. Disheartened, she turned to leave, only to have a pretty little book on one of the top shelves catch her eye. She asked the owner to get it down for her and discovered it was an ornately illustrated collection of fairytales. Remembering Emma’s remarks about escapism, she thought it might be just the thing to lift her spirits. After all, thought Arabella, what could be a better escape than stories of faraway lands and mythical creatures?

“That’s a very fine book you have there, madam,” a familiar voice said from over Arabella’s shoulder. She turned with a start to find the silver haired gentleman from Sir Walter’s house standing behind her. “I have always been quite fond of fairytales myself.”

“I thought I might buy it for dear Lady Pole,” said Arabella.

“A very fine idea!” said the gentleman with rather toothy smile. “I can personally assure you that her ladyship loves fairytales.” He gave a small laugh as though he had told a very funny joke. Arabella did not understand, but she valued his opinion and he seemed to know Emma very well, so she purchased the book.

“I wonder sir,” Arabella said as they left the store, “If you might accompany me to the house? I’m afraid I’ve gotten myself quite lost trying to avoid a rather persistent acquaintance.”

“Why of course, my dear lady,” replied the gentleman. He took her by the arm without hesitation and guided her back to Harley Street, chattering all the way.

When they reached the door, Stephen opened the door and looked somewhat startled to see them before composing himself. If Arabella had been playing closer attention, she would have found this quite odd. Stephen invited them both inside, but the gentleman politely declined, stating he had so urgent business to attend to and would return that evening. He bid farewell to Arabella, and she went inside.

“Mrs. Strange, may I ask a favour of you?” Stephen asked as he guided her through the house.

“Of course you may Stephen,” said Arabella.

With all seriousness he said to her, “I would ask you not to mention your meeting with the gentleman to Lady Pole.”

“Why ever not?”

“She…She finds his presence upsetting. Much the same as her reaction to bells and the like. I would ask him to leave, but he is here on important business and it is not in my power to do so.” Stephen said with a heavy sadness in his voice.

“What business could be so important that Sir Walter risks his wife’s fragile health?” asked Arabella, for she assumed his business must be with Emma’s husband, if it was not with Emma herself.

“I could not say, madam.” Stephen looked most apologetic, so Arabella agreed not to mention the man.

Emma was delighted to see her, but it was clear that she was exhausted. She swayed slightly when she stood, so Arabella quickly put her arm around her and guided her to the sopha. Stephen excused himself to go and prepare their tea. When Arabella asked her how she was, she replied quite cheerfully that she had not slept at all the previous two nights. Arabella was momentarily taken aback by her declaration before remembering that Emma’s aversion to sleep was a symptom of her illness. They talked happily for a few moments, until Arabella mentioned the book.

“I passed a book store on my way here and I thought we might read this together, since we finished with d’Graffigny,” she said unwrapping the book. Emma took one look at the book and her face fell; Arabella’s heart fell with it.

Arabella hurried to apologize, “I’m very sorry Emma, I do not mean to upset you. I was told that you enjoyed fairytales-“

“Who told you such a thing?” said Emma cutting her off.

Remembering Stephen’s warning, she silently cursed herself for being so careless. She considered coming up with a lie, but when she met Emma’s gaze, the truth tumbled out before she could stop it.

“Why Mr – Well I don’t actually know his name, but the gentleman who lives here.”

“The gentleman?” A flicker of fear appeared in Emma’s eyes, that Arabella couldn’t begin to understand.

“Yes, the one with hair like thistledown.”

Emma leapt to her feet, still swaying dangerously, her eyes alight with a maddening flame, alarming Arabella.

“He’s here? He’s in this house? Stephen! Stephen!” she shouted. “He cannot be here, I’m supposed to be safe, he cannot- not now not- not-“she began to sputter as if she were choking on the words. Arabella immediately rushed to her side and tried to steady her. Emma clutched at her arms and stared at her in growing terror. She found her voice again:

“There once was a Christian woman, with two daughters, one as white as snow and the other with hair as red as a rose and so she named them Snow-White and Rose-Red – No, no, no! That is not what I mean to say! Arabella! You must listen to me, you must please! It is of the upmost importance, I beg you!” Arabella nodded, completely unsure of what else to do, she had never seen Emma is such a state of distress, even on her worst days.

Emma began again “One winter’s night the woman and her daughters were visited by a great brown bear-No!” She collapsed, her eyes full of frustrated tears. She began to search the room desperately, until her eyes fell on the book of fairytales. She stumbled towards it and began flipping through the pages at an alarming speed. She stopped suddenly and thrust the book at Arabella.

The book was opened to a beautifully illustrated page of a story entitled “The Beauty Sleeping in the Woods”. The illustration shewed a beautiful mediaeval castle where a king and a queen were weeping by a magnificent cradle. They were surrounded by thirteen figures that could only be fairies. Twelve of the fairies were beautiful and were cowering in fear of the thirteenth, who was dressed in dark robes and appeared to be casting a power spell. Arabella did not understand what this had to do with the gentleman who upset Emma so.

When she voiced this thought, Emma pointed desperately at the picture. She pointed first at the child in the crib and said “This is me.” She then pointed at the wicked fairy and said “And this is he.” Seeing that Arabella still failed to understand, she turned the page to another illustration. This one shewed two panels, the first shewed a young woman picking her finger on a spinning wheel; the second shewed the same young woman now fast asleep her finger still bleeding.

Arabella thought perhaps she was beginning to understand. “Is this about your fear to sleep?”

“Yes!” cried Emma, but she was still unable to elaborate.

“You fear some nightmare? You fear that you shall never wake?” She still had no idea how any of this could relate to the gentleman who had seem so kind, if a bit eccentric. Nonetheless she could see Emma beginning to calm at her words.

“That is - a part of it,” she managed to choke out.

“But Emma you must sleep!” You will die without it. This part Arabella did not say aloud, but the words hung heavily in the air between them.

“I cannot. I die as I sleep.” Emma looked so dejected that Arabella felt her heart breaking within her chest. She took one of Emma’s pale delicate hands in her own. It was at this moment that Stephen rushed into the room.

“I apologies miss. I heard shouting is everything alright?” he asked looking startled to find the two women siting on the floor, rather than the sopha where he had left them.

“It’s alright, Stephen. There’s nothing you can do, or I know you would,” said Emma. Stephen seemed to understand this and nodded politely.

“Could you please help me carry her ladyship over to the sopha? I fear she has overexerted herself,” Arabella said to him

“Of course madam.”

When Emma was lying comfortably on the sopha, she dismissed Stephen. Arabella went to sit in one of the chairs opposite her, but Emma shook her head and held out her hand, beckoning Arabella towards her. Dutiful as always, Arabella went over and sat on the edge of the sopha, careful not to disturb Emma.

“You must not let me fall asleep,” implored Emma. “You must promise me you will keep me awake.”

“Emma, I can promise no such a thing,” said Arabella softly, “You are unwell, you need to sleep. I could not bear to do anything that would bring you further harm.”

“To let me sleep would bring me further harm,” Emma insisted. “Like the princess in your book.”

Arabella had no doubt that Emma believed this completely, and she felt a pang of sympathy for Emma’s plight. Whatever night terrors plagued her, it was clear to Arabella that they must be truly horrible for her to endanger herself rather than revisit them.

“But the princess is awoken, is she not?” asked Arabella, “I will watch over you as you sleep. If I see that you are too distressed, I will simply wake you, like the prince in the story.”

Emma smiled weakly at her. “The princess was awoken with a kiss,” she said.

Arabella’s face turned an alarming shade of pink. “I- Well- That is to say-“she stammered.

“Arabella.” Emma sat up, took one of Arabella’s hand into her own, and placed her other hand on Arabella’s cheek. “My dearest Arabella, nothing would please me more.”

In that moment, staring into Emma’s sincere and tired eyes, Arabella completely forgot any and all reasons why she should not kiss her. She leaned forward closing the distance between them. Emma’s lips were soft and though the kiss was gentle and chaste, it made Arabella’s head spin. She felt as though she was floating away, and was glad that Emma was still holding on to her; her hands were the only thing grounding her in the Poles’ drawing-room. As the kiss deepened, she could not help but let out the smallest gasp. She felt Emma smile into the kiss at the sound, making her heart leap again. She had not felt so free and light hearted since before Jonathan had left for war…Jonathan…

At the thought of her husband, reality abruptly returned to Arabella and she broke the kiss. She immediately regretted this action, when she met Emma’s eyes.

“It has nothing to do with you, Emma,” said Arabella, still clutching Emma’s hand. “Please believe me when I say I want this very much. It’s just…Jonathan…I do not wish to be unfaithful to him.”

“I would not have you do anything that made you uncomfortable,” Emma assured her.

“Do you suppose it’s possible for a person to be in love with two different people?” Arabella asked.

“I would not know,” said Emma, not unkindly. “I don’t see why not,” she added as an afterthought.

Arabella stayed silent for a moment, deep in thought. When she spoke, it was with a hesitant sureness, as though she was still trying to convince herself of the truth of her words. “I cannot promise much of anything. I cannot promise tomorrow or what will happen when Jonathan returns. There cannot be a future for us. But I can promise that I will be here when you wake.”

Emma squeezed her hand slightly. “I know. I do not need tomorrow. You have given me so much, Arabella Strange. You have given me companionship and compassion when no others would. You are a light in the dark labyrinth that I am forced to wander.”

They kissed one final time. Knowing it may well be their last, Arabella savoured every second. This kiss was different from the others. They had been sweet and innocent; this one was slow, but passionate. Emma’s kisses were tinged with desperation, as though she was worried Arabella might disappear from underneath her fingertips. She buried her hands in Arabella’s carefully styled hair and Arabella couldn’t even bring herself to care that it would be ruined. She held Emma as tightly as she dared, scared to her hurt her or overexcite her in her delicate condition.

When they parted, they did not speak to one another. Emma rearranged herself on the sopha that she was lying with her head in Arabella’s lap. She looked at Arabella with eyes full of nervous trust. Arabella took her hand gently and Emma clutched it like a lifeline. Arabella slowly began to read from the book, falling silent only when she felt Emma’s grip loosen and saw that she had fallen into an uneasy sleep.

Re: FILL: La belle au bois dormant - Arabella/Emma 2/2

(Anonymous) 2015-07-14 04:45 am (UTC)(link)
Not OP but [joyous screams] MY SHIP MY LOVE THIS IS BEAUTIFUL. It's so sad and sweet. The scene where they're reading the novel, oh my gosh, so domestic and lovely and adorable.

“I cannot promise much of anything. I cannot promise tomorrow or what will happen when Jonathan returns. There cannot be a future for us. But I can promise that I will be here when you wake.”

AAAAAHHHH so beautiful. I love this so much.

Re: FILL: La belle au bois dormant - Arabella/Emma 2/2

(Anonymous) 2015-07-14 08:30 am (UTC)(link)
I love it! I lovehow you write the characters, including Stephen who is very himself with only a few lines.

I can understand Arabella's angst about polyamory. She's too honest with herself to justify herself with "only a close friendship and also we kiss".

The book was a puunch in the gut, and I love how it was not only to make Lady Pole angst, but also to have her trying once more to explain without words. Too bad Arabella can't understand. I loved also a lot how you describe the kiss, and how you justify it with La belle au bois dormant.

About Lettres d'une péruvienne, they have good reading taste! But it's by de Graffigny, not d'Graffigny, if one day you want to change it if you put it on AO3 - which would be awesome. Also, it's about Inca genocide and eternally unrequited love, so it's not a happy book. ^^

I was very happy to read this!

Re: FILL: La belle au bois dormant - Arabella/Emma 2/2

(Anonymous) 2015-07-14 11:45 pm (UTC)(link)
A!A here, thanks for catching that mistake! I am planning to post it to ao3 so I'll make sure I fix that

Re: FILL: La belle au bois dormant - Arabella/Emma 2/2

(Anonymous) 2015-07-14 08:49 am (UTC)(link)
I loved every line of this. Arabella's conflicting emotions were beautifully rendered, and I love how you brought in the Gentleman, a hint of what is to come. Simply lovely fic <3

Re: FILL: La belle au bois dormant - Arabella/Emma 2/2

(Anonymous) 2015-07-14 09:23 am (UTC)(link)
This fill is wonderfully bittersweet, thanks so much A!A

Re: FILL: La belle au bois dormant - Arabella/Emma 2/2

(Anonymous) 2015-07-16 03:52 am (UTC)(link)
aaaaah this is so great!!