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It just so happens that when softlyforgotten and I ramble and glee at each other, it tends to spawn ficlets. And it was getting unwieldy going back through our epic conversations to find the bits I wanted to reread, so I thought, okay, fine. I'll just steal them all and put them in one convenient location. THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING SNIPPETS, SO DON'T CONTINUE READING UNLESS YOU HAVE AT LEAST FINISHED BLACK POWDER WAR. OKAY? OKAY.

softlyforgotten got us started by quoting a passage from BPW:

For a moment Laurence wavered on the verge; then his first lieutenant, Granby, was pulling him away. They staggered back together, Laurence half-blind and nearly falling into Granby's arms; his breath would not quite come, rapid and shallow, and his eyes were burning. Granby dragged him partway down the steps, and then another torrent of water carried them in a rush the rest of the way, to fetch up against one of the forty-two-pounder carronades on the forecastle.

Followed by her saying "I am CONVINCED that what actually should have come after that was some desperate kissing." At which I leapt in shamelessly and said OMG YES DO IT OMG. And then she did.

For a moment Laurence wavered on the verge; then his first lieutenant, Granby, was pulling him away. They staggered back together, Laurence half-blind and nearly falling into Granby's arms; his breath would not quite come, rapid and shallow, and his eyes were burning. Granby dragged him partway down the steps, and then another torrent of water carried them in a rush the rest of the way, to fetch up against one of the forty-two-pounder carronades on the forecastle.

Laurence landed heavily, with Granby sprawled over the top of him, knocking all of the breath out of his lungs, and for a second everything was confused and blurry, vivid colours leaping just out of sight, red and blue and men leaping and shouting in a mess of activity.

"Oh," Granby gasped, pushing himself up slightly on one elbow, "Damn it, Laurence, but I honestly cannot begin to understand how you've kept yourself alive until now--"

"What?" Laurence interrupted, a little offended, and Granby looked down at him and made a strange noise, almost a snarl, similar enough to Temeraire when confronted with an enemy to make Laurence blink, and then Granby pushed himself forward and pressed his mouth hot and hard against Laurence's, a fierce bite of a kiss, over before Laurence had time to react.

Granby scrambled upward, cheeks red with more than sunburn, for once, and Laurence stared at him, touched his mouth uncertainly, as if unsure whether it had happened. Granby turned away and Laurence felt unaccountably shy and a little guilty, as though he had done something wrong, but there was nothing to be done; the fire was still burning and there was work to be done.

He put out a hand to heave himself up and almost slipped, still a little shaky from the narrow miss he had had and -- well, just the fall, then, and the seawater slick across the boards didn't help. For a moment he was stumbling, tripping back to his knees, and then a firm hand had closed around his elbow and was yanking him upright.

"Truly," Granby said, "Damned if I can begin to understand," and then he turned and ran, back to the blaze.

Then, after some more truly embarrassing begging, she followed up with a similarly awesome reworking of what happened post-avalanche:

Laurence made the tea himself, because otherwise it would be too weak, and doubtless someone would have the fine idea of adding the last of their milk to it in a magnanimous gesture, when it should be hot enough to warm Granby's frozen hands. It also gave Laurence something to do with his own trembling hands, which he appreciated.

Once he was done, he took it and sat next to Granby, their shoulders pressed together. He handed the tea over and Granby took it with a somewhat shaky smile, and then cursed quietly when his fingers betrayed him; the cup lurched, Granby unable to hold it, and Laurence grabbed it just in time to be burned by the tea that slopped over the side.

He bit the inside of his cheek but said nothing. "I'm sorry," Granby said regretfully, as though he were giving bad news. "I seem to be a bit useless right now. You'd better have the tea yourself."

"You need something to warm you up," Laurence told him firmly, and did not allow himself to hesitate when he curved his hands around Granby's. He could, he supposed, just lift the cup to Granby's mouth when he required it, but Granby's hands were cold, and the cup warm with the boiling water. It was probably a good thing.

He swallowed hard, and tried not to think about the careful distance Granby had kept between them since the day of the fire, the way this was the closest they have been in weeks. He ducked his head instead, and moved his hands automatically when Granby did. Granby said nothing.

Tharkay appeared in front of them, sudden-like, as was his habit. Laurence was a little embarrassed at their hands wound round the cup together, but not enough to let go, and Tharkay did not seem to notice or care, in any case. "It's getting dark," he said. "We should think about setting up camp."

"But the mountain," Granby said, his first words in a long time, glancing up the slope in a nervous kind of manner. Tharkay shook his head.

"It will not fall again tonight," he said. "And I don't think anyone is any kind of state to go trekking for a sheltered place to sleep. The tents won't take much doing."

Laurence went to stand and help, but Tharkay shook his head. "I'll handle it," he said, a certain abruptness in his tone, "You keep the Lieutenant warm," and with that strange closing remark, he turned and strode away. Granby blinked. His eyelashes were long and dark against his pale skin; it was strange, Laurence thought, to see him without sunburn, for the first time since the ship had passed into warmer waters. He was very fair.

The tents were put up just in time, as the sun fell behind the mountains and very quickly it got dark. Tharkay, Laurence realised, had been right about the men's exhaustion; soon after they had broken into their supplies, they approached him one by one with their goodnights, and even Temeraire was snoring softly on the ground, surrounded by a small pile of ferals, who had apparently overcome any awe associated with him, or enough to sleep curled by his warm sides, anyway.

It did not take long before it was Laurence, Granby, and an empty cup. Tharkay had disappeared into his own tent, and the two men on watch were murmuring quietly to one another a little way away. Laurence's cheeks felt very warmed by the fire.

"Well," he said, after a few minutes of awkward silence. "You should go to bed; get some rest."

"Yes," Granby agreed, slowly, and they stood up. Laurence was still holding the tea cup; he didn't quite know what to do with it.

"Goodnight, then," Laurence said, decisively, and turned away. He was almost at his tent before he gave in and looked over his shoulder, and Granby was standing by the fire, looking younger than usual, watching him. Laurence's mouth was suddenly dry. "Are you well, Lieutenant?"

"I'm cold," Granby said, wry enough that it wasn't a complaint. He walked forwardly slowly, hesitantly, like his legs were frozen and stiff. When he reached Laurence he swallowed hard; Laurence could see the drag of his Adam's apple along his throat. "I - I suppose one of the privileges of rank is having one's own tent."

"Um," was all that Laurence could come up with, much to his horror.

"Only," Granby said, and he wasn't meeting Laurence's gaze, eyes downcast, and really, Laurence thought a little crankily, it was ridiculous, those eyelashes, dark and longer than any man's Laurence had ever seen. "Only," Granby continued, quietly, "It's so cold."

Laurence closed his eyes very briefly. He thought about Granby's mouth knocking into his, and the way it had tasted like ash, but not unpleasantly so. He said, gathering up all his courage, "If you would like, I think mine might be warmer."

Granby didn't say anything, but his look was too grateful for Laurence to feel entirely comfortable about, so he turned around and opened the tent for them both, trying not to jolt when Granby brushed past him. Instead he zipped it up and busied himself with removing his outermost layers before crawling onto his pallet, pulling the blankets tight around him. It was a large one, and there was a fair gap of space between him and Granby. Nothing to be worried about.

"Goodnight, then," he said, stiffly, and Granby said nothing. For a while, everything was silent, but the atmosphere was thicker than Laurence felt he could bear, and despite the freezing conditions Laurence's skin felt oddly hot, prickling all over.

"I - it was so sudden," Granby said, unexpectedly. "I'm not used to suddenness like that. Getting up in the middle of the night to ride a dragon, fine, or, or a Fleur-De-Nuit coming out of nowhere, but - it is something entirely different to have one's surroundings conspire against one."

Laurence rolled over. He could not see Granby's features properly in the dark, but he fixed his eyes on Granby's face all the same. "Yes," he said. "I know."

"I thought I wouldn't breathe ever again," Granby said, and laughed a little shakily. "I thought - it was all falling on me, and then everything was dark, and I thought that I would never, that I had never -- Will."

"I know," Laurence said again, fierce, and this time he moved, pulled Granby close to him, rolling half on top of him. He said, "I would have found you, no matter how deep under, I would have found you," and Granby choked out something that might have been yes, and Laurence held on tight, Granby's mouth open and messy against his throat. All the avalanches in the world, Laurence thought, might come, and still he would not let go.

I'll give you a moment to marvel at how hot and amazing that was. Then, because I am nothing if not a raging OT3 girl, I naturally had to write the scene from Tharkay's POV:

The fire was more banked ember now than flame, and Tharkay had stopped pretending he was not staring. He fancied he could hear the whisper of cloth as Laurence raised the cup to Granby's lips, even above the high moan of the wind and the rustle of the sleeping camp. Granby, still pale and dazed, swallowed automatically when the cup reached his mouth, and Laurence had a new look upon his face, of both wonderment and terror. His cheeks were very red. When Tharkay stood, neither looked up from their joined hands.

"Good night," he said lowly, and turned before he could receive an answer, letting himself hear only the crunching of his boots in the snow.

He stopped outside his tent and struggled a long moment with himself in the cold dark before looking back. They were standing close together, now, close enough to cast a single blue shadow on the pale snow. Laurence held his tent flap open, and Granby stumbled inside; Tharkay watched with a dry mouth and reminded himself that he had seen this coming.

His own tent seemed very dark and empty. He could not bring himself to stretch out on his pallet, but instead sat kneeling, hands pressed down on his thighs until both went numb, and tried to breathe carefully. He had, these past few weeks, wondered at his own preoccupation with baiting the man, at how watching Laurence flush with outrage only made him want to drawl longer and smirk more often. Wondered, too, why it had hit him so sharply when Laurence wheeled on him at the Khotan oasis, insinuating that Tharkay had sold them all to die for the price of a camel, that he had read Mr. Maden's missive, that he had no honor or shame or human decency--when that was the impression Tharkay had been fostering all along.

He rubbed a hand over his face and forced himself to move, to strip off his coat and boots, to lay aside the few unbroken feathers he had rescued. Sleep would not come--if he was not remembering the tangle of Laurence and Granby's fingers, and wondering how their bodies might be tangled together now, this very moment, his mind wheeled back to that afternoon and the moment he saw Temeraire draw breath to roar.

He had not thought to warn Temeraire against roaring--they had not yet reached the most treacherous areas of the mountains, where the snow hung heavy on the peaks and travelers did not speak above a whisper. He had not warned them, and Lieutenant Baylesworth had died because of it. All men could know avalanches existed without knowing their reality, and it had been his responsibility to remind Laurence, to prepare them all on how to react, how to survive. He was meant to lead these men through to safety, these blustering proud men, and he had failed. There was nothing to do now but go forward, and but he still felt hollow and as tightly stretched as a skin drum, and he did not sleep well.

He left his tent early, in the piercing, rarefied light of the morning. No one else was yet awake, and he took Jigme's jesses and feathers to sit by the fire, working the knife with cold, stiff fingers. It was still and quiet, and small eddies of snow swirled past his feet. When there was a rustle of canvas, he did not look up.

"Oh, you are already awake," a voice said cheerfully. "How on earth are you managing without coffee?"

And without waiting for an answer Granby was putting a kettle of snow on to melt and boil, and sifting through a handful of aromatic beans. He looked better this morning, Tharkay noted without much bitterness. He was ruddy-cheeked and smiling, moving perhaps a little stiffly--Tharkay refused to let himself muse on that.

"Laurence will be asleep a while yet," Granby said at last, settling gingerly beside Tharkay on the stone outcrop.

"I imagine," Tharkay said and watched Granby flush hotly and look faintly alarmed. He flexed his stiff fingers and bent back to his task. It was going abominably, perhaps even more so now that there was someone watching in a pointed silence. He sighed, glancing up. "Could I trouble you to hold this for me?"

Granby took the thinly braided leather dubiously between his thumb and forefinger, and Tharkay let that act as the center around which he wound the rest of the strands. The kettle was beginning to boil, but Granby waited patiently until Tharkay had knotted the last feather before going to fetch it, and afterward he brought Tharkay a steaming cup.

"Thank you," he said quietly. Granby nodded and they sat companionably a while longer in the quiet morning.

"So, what is it?" Granby asked finally, obviously having held himself back as long as he could manage. "That--knot you have made."

"It is meant to be a namkha," Tharkay said, looking at it. It was crudely made, but it did not look so badly as he had first thought. He had done the best he could with what he had. "For the lieutenant."

“Oh,” Granby said, and somewhat surprisingly did not ask what a namkha was, or why Tharkay had made one for Baylesworth, who was doubtless a good Christian boy who would not have appreciated a dwelling of earth and sky or an endless knot anyways. Instead Granby said, in what was obviously a bold-faced lie, “It looks quite well."

Tharkay snorted, and Granby bit his lip, and somehow they were smiling at each other and Tharkay found the ache in his chest inexplicably lessened. The rest of the camp staggered to the fire in stages, and the ferals began squabbling with Temeraire almost immediately over the supply of pigs, and everything was moving and loud and alive. Laurence for most of the morning was red and awkward, prone to ducking behind Temeraire or getting furiously involved in packing whenever Granby drew near, which was enormously amusing and anyway, Tharkay was used to wanting impossible things.

The camp was cleared before mid-morning, and when they took off, leaping up into the aching blue of the sky, they left behind a small dark knot of leather on the mounded snow, feathers twisting madly in the wind of their journey.

So that's the alt!BPW commentverse, for which I have written a filthy sequel that will be posted shortly. But in the meantime, allow me to collate the rest of our cracky, cracky fic encounters.

Next, there was a discussion about how Laurence would probably be fairly shameless and up for anything once you got him through that "OMG GAY SEX THE HORROR" stage, and we somehow would up talking about how Laurence would be the smugest, most possessive boyfriend ever. Which of course I could not leave alone:

"No, stay there," Tharkay said, exasperated, as Laurence made to start in their direction again. The woman had just squeezed Granby's bicep and leaned in to purr something in his ear, and Granby only blushed harder and stammered, as though that were going to do any good, and looked longingly again in their direction. He wasn't the only one looking in their direction, either; half the party had swung around in alarm when Laurence had started growling.

Clearly Tharkay was going to have to do something before his idiots got them all lynched.

"Stay," he told Laurence, exasperated, and moved quickly towards Granby, who looked relieved right up to the moment Tharkay stumbled on a non-existent crease in the carpet and sloshed the sum total of both their glasses onto Granby's chest.

"Oh dear," Tharkay said flatly, regarding the newly-red cravat and the rivulets of wine still trickling downwards. "How awful. I suppose we'd better--"

"Oh, my," said the duchess, running a jeweled finger down Granby's wescot. "Someone needs to get you out of these wet things. You look so... uncomfortable."

"Madam," Laurence said, appearing out of nowhere, with his eyes glinting ominously. "You--"

"Good Lord, did you hear that?" Granby interrupted desperately, voice cracking. "It sounded like--like Iskierka! She must have gotten to the powder stores! We must, um, leave. Leave immediately. Terribly sorry! Fate of the nation!" And then grabbed Laurence's hand and bolted.

"Aviators can be so flighty," Tharkay told the shell-shocked woman with, he felt, a pardonable degree of dark amusement, and followed in his captains' wake.



He was still furious when Tharkay caught up with them, striding across the ground, now dragging Granby behind him. He could feel the two of them exchanging looks behind his back, too, but tonight he could not bring himself to be particularly picky about the manners of such a thing. Instead, he tightened his grip on Granby's hand and, craning his head round to look at them both (Tharkay looked suspiciously close to laughter, damn him), snapped, "Hurry up!"

"Where are we going?" Granby asked, wide-eyed, and Laurence slowed despite himself. He had had some vague notion of going to visit Temeraire when he'd stormed out, as that always managed to calm him down, but he realised now how improbable that was; Temeraire was probably long since asleep. Laurence didn't know the exact time, but he would guess that it was past midnight.

He stopped completely, and turned around to face both of them. The movement forced him to let go of Granby's hand, which he did only a little reluctantly, and at least it allowed him to fold his arms and look stony in the face of their amusement.

Tharkay's mouth twitched. "Come on," he said, "this way," and Laurence fell into step beside him. The fierce, cold anger inside him had begun to die down, leaving something a little warmer, a more acute feeling of being done wrong but moving on nevertheless. He was also, he admitted, feeling a little sheepish.

Tharkay led them to a small stone building, probably once a blacksmith's but since abandoned. He said, calmly, "Well, that was a dramatic exit."

Laurence scowled. "She was a - God forbid I should speak ill of those who do not deserve it, but that - that harlot--"

"Good God," Granby said, half-smiling, and if Laurence wasn't so particularly fond of that smile he would resent it a great deal more. "That's a hasty condemnation--"

"Hasty!" Laurence interrupted, outraged. "She was, was pawing at you all evening!"

"--from you," Granby finished a little dryly, and he and Tharkay exchanged that look again. Laurence closed his eyes briefly, and tried to find some of Temeraire's serene good humour.

"As to that," he said, not having any real idea what the rest of his sentence would be, "I can hardly be expected to - to stand by while both of you laugh at me and a shameless--"

He was cut off, abruptly, when Tharkay stepped close and, curving his hand around Laurence's neck, dragged him down into a kiss. "We weren't laughing," he said, quiet against Laurence's mouth. "We weren't, William."

Granby squirmed up beside them, leaning in close. It shouldn't work, the three of them, Laurence thought a little dizzily, that all of them could fit, but it did, and for a moment everything was still. "You know," Granby said, low and confiding, and his voice was full of laughter, yes, but maybe, maybe Tharkay was right, or maybe Laurence didn't mind so much, anyway, "You're quite charming, sometimes."

Laurence reached out and pulled them both in properly, then, and with a wall so conveniently there, well, Laurence was never one to turn down a good opportunity. And if Granby did not find him quite so charming when Laurence was weighing him down to the ground, snarling, "Mine," well, then, Tharkay was probably suave enough for the three of them.

So that is what I have decided to informally call the CAPTAIN LAURENCE MCRANTY PANTS AND HIS LONG-SUFFERING LOVERS!verse.

Then there is a random pining!Laurence snippet I wrote which could be slotted in wherever, I suppose. It's very random. And full of pining.

"You weren't strapped in," Laurence said in horror, and refused to let go. "You cannot just--you are not trained to it! You cannot move about as the others do!"

"Yes, I see that," Tharkay bit off. "I am perfectly well, now. You needn't treat me as a child."

"You are perfectly well because I caught you," Laurence said, and forced himself to hold his tongue. He had hauled Tharkay to him as Temeraire took a spiraling turn, for a moment hearing only the great beat of Temeraire's wings and seeing only Tharkay's wide, surprised eyes and the perfect blue of the sky before the rest of the world came rushing in and he leapt forward. He found with some embarrassment that he was still clutching Tharkay to him, one arm snaked tight around his side and, oh Lord, his fingers actually brushing skin. He reddened, but remained firm. "I will let you go once you have attached your carabiners, Mr. Tharkay. We cannot risk losing you."

There was a dizzying moment as Tharkay abruptly lifted his chin and Laurence realized how close they were, their breaths mingling and the faint shadows of eyelashes against Tharkay's cheek visible in the morning light. He smelled faintly of leather, of spiced tea and sweat, and Laurence felt a horrifying flush of heat at the close press of the man against him.

"Very well," Tharkay said mildly, smiling, and the moment was broken--and Laurence was glad, he told himself savagely, as their guide carefully adjusted his harness and moved away. A few minutes later, when they were out of the canyons and Tharkay was once again a watchful, silent presence at his shoulder, there was a faint step behind him. Granby settled in a controlled sprawl at Laurence's side and kicked companionably at his leg.

"Everything alright, Laurence?" he asked, glancing back at Tharkay's composed face. He leaned in, smiling faintly and mouth brushing Laurence's ear. Laurence closed his eyes. He was sure it would become easier with time, whatever Temeraire said. He would stop wanting eventually.

"Reminds me a bit of you, those first weeks," Granby said cheerfully, and Laurence shivered to feel his lips move. "Not a pleasant feeling, to see a man under your care plummeting to his death."

"I was not under your care," Laurence said, conscious that he was being sulky but unable to prevent it.

"Oh, of course not," Granby said. "And anyway, you are much surer on your feet, now. That was quick of you, catching him like that."

He clapped Laurence on the shoulder and turned to Tharkay. Laurence could faintly hear them speaking, the wind whipping away their conversation to an indistinct rise and fall of voices despite their both being close enough to touch, should he choose. He might turn around at any time and be kissing-close, certainly close enough to join their speech, but instead he faced forwards and laid a hand on the warm skin of Temeraire's neck, wishing it was time to land.

BUT IT DOESN'T STOP THERE, LADIES AND GENTS. No, that was all from only ONE BOOK REVIEW POST. We are prolific in our commenting, and in the next post, we sucked t_lyrical down with us. MUAHAHAHA. I mean. It was totally unintentional. ...yes. You can see her AWESOME CROSS-DRESSING GRANBY here.

Also within this post, we began discussing the always-a-girl!trope, with me expressing doubt and softlyforgotten urgently and convincingly campaigning for its awesomeness with snippets such as this:

The stranger pushed their way firmly into the room, sidling through the taller gentlemen, and for a moment all Laurence could pay attention to was the eagle perched on their shoulder, the cruel hook of his beak, his eyes dark and glittering. Then he looked at the stranger in question; the lean, angular face, not entirely Chinese, with eyes of a Western shape. Laurence blinked and the stranger said, in the purest and most polished English accent, "I beg your pardon, gentlemen, I have a message that cannot wait. Is Captain Laurence here?"

His voice was rough and low, and Laurence stood up and moved around the table to take the sealed missive. "I thank you," he said, surprised, and then, upon straightening from a half bow, he stopped and jolted, surprised, because up close it was unmistakeably a woman's face nodding back at him, hard, straight features, but feminine, and hair curling slightly at the nape of her neck.

"My God," he said, still muddled with wine, and the woman's mouth twitched up in a wry smile.

"At your service, Captain," she said, and swept him a perfect bow of her own. "They call me Tharkay."

And then I realized, HOLY SHIT I AM TOTALLY ON BOARD THAT SHIP. Because in the midst of all my other WiPs I found myself very earnestly pondering what noblewoman!Will would have been like without a naval upbringing. Probably her father doted upon her and let her get away with learning fencing and horseback riding with her brothers, and she'd have been a little rebellious and over-interested in news of the War, with her chaperones forever having to drag her away before she makes a cake of herself asking officers earnest questions about ships of the line and how many were lost at the Battle of the Nile at the most inappropriate times, like during a ball, or an opera. And then THIS HAPPENED, IDEK:

"Miss, you shouldn't be on deck," one of the sailors said, wringing his hands--Laurence rather thought it the better part of virtue to not have heard him. The wind was quite high, anyhow, and she just widened her eyes at him until he sighed and hurried off to join the others. Anyway, she could not see the dragon egg for all the men crowded around it, and it was not as though she hadn't climbed trees as a child--she was sure the rigging would prove no great difficulty. She would have asked to be let through--she was certain Captain Riley would immediately indulge her, but then there would be stammering and bowing and the pleasure of the moment would be quite spoiled.

Her brother was still ensconced below deck, Laurence thought with some fond disbelief, immersed in his books and muttering about the great nuisance and noise a dragonet was sure to cause. Just as well; she was sure he would have a number of loud things to say about her blasted skirts and the rigging, but she had them arranged nicely now. She was sure she was quite decent, and anyway, it wasn't as though anyone was looking her way.

The men were all arraigned about the shining egg in a great circle, some faces pale and some bright with excitement--the dragonet would have to be harnessed, of course. She had heard from the midshipman that it was likely quite a rare breed, and of course the Royal Corps needed all the beasts they could get against the Corsican brute. There had been a great deal of muttering about deck over the ignomity of joining the Corps--she had never quite understood why the Corps were so much worse looked upon than the Navy or Army. She had never been presented to an aviator, had only ever seen their bright green coats at a distance before her mother fluttered worriedly and did her best to hustle her away.

"Oh," she said quietly, delighted to see the egg rock, perfect and pale in the sunlight, and then split down the center with startling suddenness, the wet black scales beneath gleaming. She had not expected a dragon to look so elegant. It had only just hatched, but it had none of the wobbliness of new lambs or foals. It moved quite deliberately and intently, peering at the buttons on a man's uniform and tapping at the compass with a talon. She could not help beaming merrily as it unraveled a pair of bootlaces with an undeniably quizzical expression as the man within said boots quaked palely.

She had forgotten that she was not technically allowed to be on this portion of the deck when the dragonet began meandering in her direction. There was a boy following it with a clinking harness, pale as milk and hands shaking furiously, and the dragonet was politely ignoring him when suddenly it looked up and sat back on its haunches in surprise. It had blue eyes, she was startled to notice, far bluer than the sapphires her brother's whey-faced friend had stammeringly offered her.

"Why are you smiling?" the dragonet asked her, and every eye on deck swiveled towards her.

"Oh," she said, and slithered down from the ropes, blushing furiously.

"Oh, you are not smiling now, what is wrong?" the dragonet said, coming forward and raising up on its hindlegs to peer anxiously at her face, its small talons rending her skirts.

"I--" she said, and every man on deck had frozen, but she had to do something. She seemed to recall that a dragonet, once it chose its captain, would not choose another without great difficulty. She could not let it fly away now, not when it was so young, and they so far from shore, and anyway, England had a great need of dragons. "Nothing is wrong, only you startled me," she said, and knelt to stroke a tenative hand along the dragonet's hide, still faintly slick from hatching. Lord, George was going to have kittens.

The midshipman she had befriended was staring at her in horror, but he glanced at the dragonet and back at her, and then reminded her out of the corner of his mouth, "The name!" She nodded and bent back to her dragon.

"I did not mean to startle you," the dragonet was saying in consternation, and she found herself grinning.

"No, I do not expect you did," she said, and wondered what on earth would happen now. Would she be expected to hand the beast over to an admiral upon landing? Already something within her rebelled strongly at the very thought, but she could not quite bring herself to worry about it now, with the dragonet looking up at her worriedly. "My name is Will--Wilhelmina Laurence," she said, at which the dragonet looked heartily embarrassed and brightened entirely when she offered to give him a name of his own. Of course, then she had to flounder for a moment--her horse had been named Hephaestion, but it did not seem quite suitable to name a dragon after a horse. Then she flashed on seeing a captured French ship brought into port that spring, the quick, graceful lines of it, and blurted it out.

"Temeraire," she said, and the dragonet looked quite pleased, repeating it to himself softly. She was dimly aware of a great hubbub of noise around her, and Captain Riley talking quite loudly, but she was busy frowning at the makeshift harness she had taken from the pale-looking lad, which was crudely made and did not fit in the slightest, and then looking around for the bucket of freshly slaughtered calf's meat she had seen earlier. She was sure it had been on deck a moment before--ah, there it was, behind the bo'sun.

"Could you hand me that bucket, Captain?" she said, looking up at him through her hair, which had somehow in the wind and excitement fallen out of its plait, blowing irritatingly about her face.

"Could I--your ladyship, this is most irregular, and your brother--"

"Hmm, yes," she said. "Only Temeraire is quite hungry. Wait here a moment," she told the dragonet, and went to fetch the bucket herself and the sight of her feeding Temeraire scraps from her hands appeared to quite overset the Captain, and he disappeared below deck. She was bloody to the wrist by the time Temeraire had finished his meal, laying his head contentedly in her ruined skirts and settling to sleep. She was just asking someone to bring her some fresh water and rags to clean him when her brother finally appeared on deck, apparently unable to ignore the racket above any longer.

"Good god, Will, what have you done?" he said in stark horror, clutching at the doorframe. Laurence frowned at him.

"I hope you do not think because I am female I cannot do my duty to my country," she said severely, and went about cleansing the gore from Temeraire's mouth as he sputtered.

And softlyforgotten took up the gauntlet MUAHAHAA, because she is fantastic, and wrote girl!Laurence and Granby, and DOESN'T THE WIN HURT YOU? ISN'T IT PAINFUL?

It had been a long afternoon, Temeraire still exceedingly unhappy and wont to complaining about the endless flight pattern drills, and the weather uncharacteristically warm on top of that, burning down on her until in exasperation she had unlaced her corset and kept it hanging loose around her, ignoring the glances – ranging from wary to horrified to appreciative – from her crew and focusing on coaxing Temeraire onward. On top of that, she was still in bad spirits about the letter from Lord Allendale this morning, and she hadn’t managed a proper lunch, with the result that she was bad-tempered, dispirited, and famished when Granby started to go through his usual mockingly insubordinate routine of answering her questions and commands in the most roundabout way possible.

At this moment, he was taking the longest time possible to finish clipping up the minute bits of Temeraire’s harness, and Laurence cursed her own inexperience as the inevitable result at not being able to tell whether he was actually doing what had to be done correctly or deliberately dragging out the time before they could finally go to dinner.

When it was done, the rest of the crew were looking a little exasperated themselves and they were the last ones in the yard. Laurence nodded curtly and dismissed the crew, then said, “A word, Mr Granby, if you would.”

Granby turned warily and folded his arms; Laurence set her jaw and tried not to seethe too obviously. “Sir,” she said, “I had hoped it would not come to this, as I am aware of your own experience and skill in the air, but I should not like to have any unwilling man on my crew, training crew or not.”

Granby stiffened, eyes dark and narrowed. He was too tall, was the problem, Laurence thought grudgingly; he was a full head taller than her, and thus could manage cold disdain with as much skill as he could scramble around Temeraire when they were up in the air. “Thank you for you consideration, ma’am,” he said, drawling the words out. “But it is, of course, an honour to serve.”

“Very well,” Laurence said, biting the inside of her cheek, and then turned and started out for the mess, aware of Granby barely a step behind her. It was strange, she thought; she had never been around as many men before this, and yet there was still no small amount of decency in the aviators’ attitude towards women. Laurence supposed she had Harcourt, and the other female Captains who had habituated the other officers to the sight of women soldiers since a young age to thank for that. Still, though, it would not be a matter of great surprise if there were still one or two among the many who harboured less respectful attitudes, and the cold anger that had been welling in the pit of her stomach all day suddenly leapt alive, burning, and she spun on her heel, forcing Granby to stumble short.

“I am sorry, sir,” she said in a low, fast voice. “I have not been amongst aviators for very long and am as of yet unaware of many of your customs, and therefore I must ask brazenly if it is some matter of my attitude that has brought out such constant incivility in you or my sex. I cannot help that and the idea of someone on my crew who hates me for simply what I am is something that does not seem a very pleasant turn of events—”

“I – no!” Granby interrupted, eyes huge and shocked for the first time since she had known him. “No, I would never – Captain, I would never—”

“Perhaps you begrudge me for having being raised as a noble woman,” she said, folding her arms and glaring at him. “That a female officer is only worthy if she has been trained in that task all her life—”

No!” Granby said, almost shouting. “Truly, La – Captain, I would not, not on such a – an ignoble basis, I -- no!”

“Fine, then,” she said, coldly, turning on her heel. “I am glad we have the matter sorted.”

She left him standing behind her, and she held her back straight and hastened her walk, moving as fast as she could. After a moment, though, Granby ran after her and grabbed her elbow, and she stopped short, more than a little surprised at such sudden informality.

“I – Harcourt has a different sort of corset,” he said, turning red but determinedly looking at her face. “That’s more comfortable when flying, I believe. And I – I know you’re accustomed to dresses and I wouldn’t wish to force you to do anything that would make you uncomfortable, but when you’re flying, trousers will allow you to move around, more. There’s a – a tailor, at the Corps. He’ll be there tonight after dinner to take measurements.”

Laurence narrowed her eyes. It was the sort of thing that he should have told her on that first tour, but she wasn’t going to turn away from any small gesture of goodwill now. “Thank you,” she said. Then she turned and kept walking, and this time, Granby did not follow her.

After a while he called out, though, and when she turned she could just see a puzzled expression on his face, as the sun sank behind him. “You’re good on Temeraire,” he said, abruptly. “Better than I expected. Than anyone expected. I – I think you’ll be an asset to the Corps.”

Laurence stood still, not sure how to respond, and after a moment Granby shrugged his shoulders and turned away, walking in the opposite direction to the mess, hands in his pockets and – if Laurence was not mistaken – whistling.

So, unless I have missed something, those are the Epic Fic Conversations of softlyforgotten and novembersmith , immortalized in all their glory and typos as one massive post. All shall marvel at our crack and despair. :)

ETA: I FUCKING HATE HTML AND THE RICH TEXT EDITOR AUGH OMG. If you guys see any egregious errors, let me know. I'll be over here gibbering quietly.


( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 1st, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
AHAHAHHAHAAH. I love each and every one of these, but girl!Laurence just makes my face hurt with how much I am grinning.

"Truly," Granby said, "Damned if I can begin to understand," and then he turned and ran, back to the blaze.


And, TYVM, I've always just shrugged at crossdressing, but now I WANT IT SO BAD and cursed!corsets too!!

Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:28 am (UTC)

Also, for some reason from the VERY BEGINNING, I have wanted to get Granby in a corset. I think it's all the pale skin and blushing. I mean, normally I am not opposed to cross-dressing, but I usually don't actively seek it out. And now I'm like, GRANBY WOULD BE SO PRETTY AND ANGRY IN LACE. *hearteyes*
Apr. 2nd, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
*flaps hands helplessly*

DUDE. I cannot believe the level of awesome here. Oh my God. Jealous!Laurence and girl!Laurence and too much EPIC WIN to even talk about rationally.
Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
Laurence would be SUCH an over-protective, jealous boyfriend! There would be lots of growling and pointed hand-holding and fondling of pistols and swords. And possessive sex. CAN'T FORGET THAT. And mannnn, I am sort of ridiculously attached to girl!Laurence now. SHE IS SO UNIMPRESSED WITH EVERYONE'S BULLSHIT.

(no subject) - mardia - Apr. 2nd, 2009 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - novembersmith - Apr. 2nd, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mardia - Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - novembersmith - Apr. 3rd, 2009 03:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 2nd, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)
...THERE IS NOT ENOUGH SQUEE IN THE WORLD FOR GIRL!LAURENCE. CLIMBING TREES! And making everyone splutter! Brilliance. *glee*

And also, oh, the first few just made me flail so much. I love it all, but it just fits so beautifully. Especially this:
Laurence went to stand and help, but Tharkay shook his head. "I'll handle it," he said, a certain abruptness in his tone, "You keep the Lieutenant warm," and with that strange closing remark, he turned and strode away. Granby blinked. His eyelashes were long and dark against his pale skin; it was strange, Laurence thought, to see him without sunburn, for the first time since the ship had passed into warmer waters. He was very fair.

And Granby passes from so frustrated and angry at Laurence for being Laurenceish (which in my mind he does a lot anyway, bless him) to so lost, and Laurence! "I would have found you, no matter how deep under, I would have found you," *flaily* And HUGGING. Um - manly embracing, yes. They need to do this more.

And then THARKAY.
Laurence for most of the morning was red and awkward, prone to ducking behind Temeraire or getting furiously involved in packing whenever Granby drew near, which was enormously amusing and anyway, Tharkay was used to wanting impossible things.
Just - so bittersweet despite the complete wonderfulness of Laurence hiding, and then the end of that snippet somehow got me too, the imagery of the snow, and the feathers and the wind...

Sorry - I shall stop before I ramble any more incoherently, for it is late and I am half-asleep, but eeeeeee. Ficcets. You guys clearly win. :D
Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:23 am (UTC)
You made me beam a lot! ISN'T GIRL!LAURENCE SURPRISINGLY AWESOME? She would give her family so much more trouble than boy!Laurence. They only think they have it bad now. Plus, in my head there is femmeslash with her and Jane Roland where she helps Jane with her skirts, and mmmm. Mmmmm. Although I can't lie, I still totally OT3 Laurence and Granby and Tharkay.

I'm glad you liked the avalanche snippets! I was so flipping devastated with Tharkay's eagle died, man, I had to write something. THE BROKEN BODY OF THE EAGLE. UGH. THARKAY, LET ME HUG YOU.

Your comment is clearly win! <3
(no subject) - anazri - Apr. 2nd, 2009 11:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - novembersmith - Apr. 2nd, 2009 06:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anazri - Apr. 2nd, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
I SEE THAT YOU ARE UP TO NO GOOD AGAIN. - t_lyrical - Apr. 3rd, 2009 02:25 am (UTC) - Expand
GLEEEE. - anazri - Apr. 3rd, 2009 08:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: GLEEEE. - novembersmith - Apr. 3rd, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: GLEEEE. - anazri - Apr. 3rd, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 2nd, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)

Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:17 am (UTC)

(no subject) - meretricula - Apr. 2nd, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:22 am (UTC)
Apr. 2nd, 2009 09:59 am (UTC)

Also <3.
Apr. 2nd, 2009 05:47 am (UTC)
omg, Girl!Laurence is AMAZINGGGGGG. I want to go to there.
Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:15 am (UTC)
Man, me too! I didn't expect to like girl!Laurence so much, and then I fell in love forever. I blame softlyforgotten.

Glad you liked it! :)
Apr. 2nd, 2009 06:34 am (UTC)
Ooh, I love these! I'm particularly fond of the ones from BPW, especially the one after the avalanche. I love me some good h/c.

(Just one teeny tiny thing. I'm not sure it'd be possibly in that day and age for Laurence to zip his tent shut. 'Twas a wee bit jarring for me.)

Thanks so much for sharing!
Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:13 am (UTC)
There are so many opportunities for H/C in the books, too! Boys get whumped left and right. Glad you liked them! And yeah, there are some errors here and there--I pretty much snagged them directly from the comments without changing them. :/
Apr. 2nd, 2009 07:18 am (UTC)
It is so much win it is painful.

It's interesting to see how boy!Laurence's air of quiet authority translates into girl!Laurence reading a bit like a sensible Elizabeth Swann. I'm getting a serious Will Turner vibe from Granby there, is that wrong? Don't answer that, that is wrong.

But omg I can't get over the kisslets. Guh. Guh. YES PLEASE.
Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:10 am (UTC)
Heh, I realized after writing that snippet that I viewed girl!Laurence as a mix of Harry from Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword and pre-crazy Lady Pole from JS&MN. But Elizabeth Swann, that works too. And clearly that would make Tharkay Captain Jack Sparrow, so we get to put him in eyeliner. EVERYBODY WINS.

Apr. 2nd, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
OH MY GOD I had missed one of the snippet!! Girl!Laurence FTW!! She is completely wonderful and just YES, that's IT. You completely nailed her way of being. And the other snippets are just as wonderful to read as the first time I saw them, and this post is made of win with them all collected together!

and THIS bit is even better:

So that's the alt!BPW commentverse, for which I have written a filthy sequel that will be posted shortly.

Yay! Filthy sequel on its way!! =)

I adore you both for writing this. And yes, Tharkay does need to wear eyeliner some day, maybe same day as Granby puts on his corset and skirt again?

Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
GOD, ISN'T GIRL!LAURENCE THE BEST? I have totally fallen in love with her forever and forever. I'm glad you liked the collected post, because it is UTTERLY SHAMEFUL how long it took me to fix the fucking tangled web of HTML that ensued from all those indents and cut-tags. *shakes fist at livejournal*

Heee, Tharkay totally will be wearing eyeliner at some point in my terribly self-indulgent, ridiculous high school AU, never fear.

Also, filthy sequel: posted. *hides face*
Apr. 2nd, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
Linked here by t_lyrical, and I have fallen completely for Girlaurence. *________* She's just so no-nonsense and clever and curious and still so hilariously Laurence. The scene with her confronting Granby over his standoffishness was especially wonderful. is she easier swayed to the whole rights-for-dragons! movement when she knows from personal experience that women can be capable of things and yet so stifled, and would she have a Navy man as a suitor with whom she ends up breaking off a 'half-formed attachment' not because he's always off on a ship, but because she ends up being the one who has to go live in a covert, and would she be half so fascinated by this potential suitor if he didn't send her letters full of the sailing life and oh gosh is this man RILEY, because then there's the whole slavery issue between their families, and would she have to make up an excuse as to why she's breaking it off or would she tell him about Temeraire--

I also love what you two've done with Granby and Tharkay, but I've spent quite enough time going on about Laurence to properly say how much I enjoy your takes on them. Um. I want to hug Tharkay until he pops. ):
Apr. 3rd, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Hee, I sort of had it in my head for that first ficlet that her brother had gotten a place on the boat to TRY and convince her to take on a suitor (*cough*ITWASTOTALLYRILEY*cough*)--he figured if she would go on and on and on about news of the war and the military and insist on being dragged to port to see all the new ships coming in, their best chance of her not dying an old maid (she totally spurns all the fashionable society men "who have not the least idea what's going on outside whist and billiards") is to set her up with a naval captain. THEY DID NOT COUNT ON HER BECOMING A CAPTAIN HERSELF. Lord Allendale nearly has a stroke. HIS BABY GIRL OMG.

And ohhh, you are totally right, I bet she would be very passionate about abolition and dragon's AND women's rights. Granby only very narrowly convinces her and Temeraire that their landing on Parliament is not the sort of dramatic political statement they want to make, as it would likely end in tears and being arrested.

Man, I spent all of BPW cooing and stroking the page over poor Tharkay and his dead eagle and his broken engagement and no one trusting him. THARKAY ILU. But then, you know, I did the same thing whenever Granby got in YET ANOTHER scrape and don't even get me started on VoE-Laurence, because I could go on for days.

Also, since I have just rambled at you like a madwoman, mind if I friend you? Heh.
(no subject) - pellucere - Apr. 3rd, 2009 03:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - novembersmith - Apr. 3rd, 2009 11:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2009 06:34 am (UTC)
I love Girl!Laurence. And you have no idea who I am, (I found you via t_lyrical,) but I was inspired to write Girl!Laurence, please may I comment with it?
Apr. 3rd, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)
OH MY GOD, YES. Girl!Laurence is welcome in any incarnation, here! :)

*waits impatiently*
(no subject) - aella_irene - Apr. 3rd, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anazri - Apr. 3rd, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aella_irene - Apr. 4th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - novembersmith - Apr. 4th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aella_irene - Apr. 4th, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - novembersmith - Apr. 4th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aella_irene - Apr. 4th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 4th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
All right, I think it's unanimous, Girl!Laurence is full of AWESOME and WIN and AMAZING. I NEED CAPSLOCKS TO EXPRESS HOW GREAT THIS IS. For serious. <3 You guys all made my night.

Also, more should be written. Not that what you have isn't already an impressive amount, but, um... yes. It demands more. :3
Apr. 4th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
Heh, if you check around the comments, you'll find bits and pieces of more! Ugh, I'll probably have to go around and gather them into one location again soon. Worse than herding cats, commentfic is. And Girl!Laurence is insidious. She keeps sneaking into my other fics and messing up the pronouns. ALSO YAY CAPLOCKS! I'm glad you liked it!
(no subject) - beboots - Apr. 4th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 28th, 2009 08:37 am (UTC)
I'm relatively new to Temeraire fandom, and I've been madly scouring the 'Net trying to find all of the Temeraire fic out there - and here's a treasure trove in and of itself!

I absolutely OT3 L/G/T, and I adore Laurence/Granby slash. Love it to bits and pieces. But!


girl!Laurence! There needs to be much, much more girl!Laurence/Granby and girl!Laurence/Granby/Tharkay. Much, much more, indeed.

I must friend you so I won't miss it if you post more of this delicious stuff. =)
Apr. 8th, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
So. Um.

A world of Oh Hell Yes; and I think I have to friend you, if that's alright.
Apr. 8th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
Hee! Thanks! And totally, I love friends, especially ones that understand the appeal of Complete Dragony Crack. :D
Sep. 24th, 2011 04:09 am (UTC)
In the past there is that but in the future there will be notihing
how many time i do not do what i want to do but do what i dont want to do
( 55 comments — Leave a comment )


it me
pale but interesting

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