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The Hawk Killer, Part 4



The court assembled in front of the Shishinden, taking up their positions around the Orange Tree of the Right and the Cherry Tree of the Left. Behind the curtain of state sat the Emperor, and beside him on either side knelt the Great Ministers. Senior nobles lined the lower steps and sat on rugs placed on the ground. Every member of the Bureau of Divination waited, solemn-faced and bristling with paper spells, along the gallery of the Chamberlain’s Office. Ranged around the courtyard were the palace guards, while the imperial falconers crouched on their knees in the white gravel.

Former Emperor Yozei sat hunched in a heap some distance from the Emperor’s curtain of state. His hair matted and his gaze vacant, Yozei looked lost, nothing more than the husk of a cicada shell. Hiromasa stared at Yozei, momentarily more concerned for the old man than he was about his own fate.

The Emperor’s surviving hawks sat on their perches, silent witnesses at the trial. Hiromasa studied their dull plumage and hoped that the birds would make a full recovery. With all the falconers under arrest, he wondered who had fed and cared for them overnight. Perhaps Kiyomi had been permitted to tend them. After all, the Emperor would not want to lose every bird in his mews, and the Senior Captain was the most experienced handler.

Hiromasa’s gaze moved on. He saw Seimei seated in the shadow of the Chamberlain’s Office, his back to one of the pillars supporting the gallery roof. Seimei’s expression was peaceful; he appeared unconcerned by the anxiety that gripped the rest of the court. Hiromasa wished Seimei were a little closer, so they could see one another properly. Slipping a hand inside his court cloak, Hiromasa brushed his fingers against the lock of hair. At least he had that small comfort.

The Minister of Justice walked out onto the gravel, bowed to the Emperor, and launched into a long, flowery speech that did nothing more than flatter the Minister of the Right for his actions in rounding up the imperial falconers. Hiromasa wondered if all legal matters began this way. A quick glance at his colleagues showed them to be in various stages of fright, resignation, or bewilderment. He tried to see what Seimei was doing on the other side of the courtyard, but one of the yin yang masters moved and blocked his view.

The speech droned on. The Minister of the Left looked politely bored. The Minister of the Right smiled and nodded. The Emperor remained still behind his curtain. Hiromasa fidgeted, the gravel shifting beneath his knees.

A screech rang out. Everyone turned to stare at the line of birds. The male goshawk, the Emperor’s favourite, had half lifted its wings. Its golden eyes glittered and its beak gaped. Its feathers rustled. It screeched again, louder this time, and hurled itself upwards. The bells jangled on the scarlet jesses, and the creance unravelled from its loop before reaching its full length with a snap. The goshawk screamed at having its flight checked, and it spun back to the perch, beating its wings at its jesses, trying to savage the creance. It fought and struggled, its cries rising higher, becoming piteous.

The Minister of Justice fell silent. Two guards ran forward and attempted to calm the hawk, but the bird slashed at them with its beak, struck at them with its talons, shrieking in fury. Several yin yang masters hurried across the courtyard, waving spells and chanting, but the goshawk continued to scream and fight.

The court muttered to one another. The Emperor moved behind his curtain, exchanging words with the Great Ministers. Hiromasa half rose to go to the bird, but sank back to his knees when a guard behind him shoved him down.

Senior Captain Kiyomi stood up. Pitching his words above the din of conversation and the goshawk’s cries, he said, “The only thing that will calm His Majesty’s birds is the sound of Lord Hiromasa’s flute. Please allow Lord Hiromasa to play.”

The Minister of the Right protested, but then the Emperor spoke up. “Hiromasa’s flute-playing has been most efficacious before. He may approach the bird. If, as His Excellency of the Right fears, the flute contains magic, then I trust the members of the Bureau of Divination will take the appropriate measures.”

Hiromasa was helped to his feet. He took a deep breath, his nerves tight, his heart racing. This was his chance to prove to the Emperor that he hadn’t harmed the imperial birds. He had enough presence of mind to remember to bow before he went towards the hawks. A few of the other birds were restless, disturbed by the goshawk’s distress. He murmured soothing words to them as he passed, then took out Ha Futatsu.

The goshawk was on the gravel, hunched down, its head low and its beak open. It weaved in a threatening motion. Hiromasa knelt a short distance away and played a gentle melody before starting on the tune the goshawk had always seemed to enjoy most. The bird made a short chuckling sound and folded its wings. It stood straight and wandered in a half circle around Hiromasa, its head cocked.

Hiromasa continued to play. The goshawk stared, then it took off from the ground and flew right at him. He didn’t flinch, didn’t falter in his tune. He felt the breeze of the bird’s flight against his forehead, felt the slight wobble of his court cap where the goshawk’s tail brushed it. Still on his knees, still playing, he turned and looked up at the perch. The goshawk sat proud and quiet, golden eyes shining.

Careful not to make any sudden movements, Hiromasa slowly got to his feet. He let the last note of the song linger, then curled his fingers around the flute. The goshawk watched him. Hiromasa tucked Ha Futatsu back inside his cloak. He touched the lock of hair—and he remembered.

His breath caught. The goshawk tilted its head and blinked. Hiromasa was filled with a wild hope as Seimei’s words to him all those weeks ago came back to echo in his mind: Hair has a powerful magic... It can bind someone to something, sharing the essence of that person...

Without further thought, Hiromasa pulled a strand of Seimei’s hair from the lock and wrapped it several times around the goshawk’s leg. The bird permitted it, even lowering its head to butt against Hiromasa’s hand in an affectionate gesture. He stroked the hawk, admiring its fierce golden eyes. A guard came over, gave the bird a cursory glance to be sure it was still tied to its creance, then escorted Hiromasa back to join the imperial falconers.

Fresh murmurs went around the courtyard. Hiromasa resumed kneeling in the gravel, his thoughts tumbling like pebbles in a mountain stream. He dared not look at Seimei. What if he’d misunderstood? What could happen even if Seimei’s magic did transfer to the bird? He couldn’t rely on anything. He had to defend himself first.

The Minister of Justice resumed, hurrying through the remainder of his speech and calling on the Major Controller of War to present the facts of the case.

Hiromasa looked up in confused dread as Lord Tonaga came forward, dressed in his most elegant robes beneath the plain black dress cloak. He looked every inch the perfect courtier, and Hiromasa miserably compared his own grimy and torn silks to his cousin’s exquisite outfit.

Tonaga paced along the line of kneeling falconers until he stood in front of Hiromasa. “Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, my fellow nobles,” Tonaga began, “this is a very simple case with inarguable facts. According to members of the Bureau of Divination, His Majesty’s hawks were killed by means of a poison spread inside their feed jars. These jars are very distinctive, made of red lacquer. All the other jars and buckets used in the imperial mews are plain wood. When questioned, all the falconers identified the owner of the red lacquered jars as Minamoto no Hiromasa.”

Hiromasa met his cousin’s stare. “You gave me the jars. You gave them to me as a gift.”

Tonaga laughed. He spread his arms and turned from side to side, still laughing, as if inviting the rest of the court to enjoy the joke. “I most certainly did not.”

“You did. You’re lying if you deny it. You gave me the jars not long after I was appointed to the imperial mews.” Hiromasa kept his voice steady. “You also advised me on the best places to buy livestock with which to feed His Majesty’s hawks.”

“I admit I have some influence with certain city merchants, and I thought it would be helpful for your career for me to share that information with you,” Tonaga said, looking magnanimous, “but—” and now his expression changed, became hard, “I did not give you the jars.”

Hiromasa spoke through gritted teeth. “You did.”

Tonaga sighed. “Well, then—if I did give you the jars, there must be someone who saw the exchange. One of your colleagues, perhaps, or an acquaintance, or maybe a member of my own family.”

“No.” Heart sinking, Hiromasa recalled the day Tonaga had given him the jars. They’d been in an ox-cart, sheltered from the rest of the world. The jars had been stacked inside a plain bag. No one had seen him and Tonaga together with the jars or the bag, and when he’d taken the jars into the mews, his colleagues had been busy with their tasks and hadn’t remarked on them until much later—and by that time Hiromasa simply said the jars had been a gift.

“What was that?” Tonaga cocked his head. “What did you say?”

“I said no.” Hiromasa tried to force the defeat from his tone. “There were no witnesses. But you did give me the jars, I swear it!”

Tonaga sniffed. “Your father was a traitor, easily swayed into acting on behalf of another, more dangerous man. It seems you’ve inherited this unfortunate tendency. My short acquaintance with you has proved that you lack more than rudimentary intelligence, therefore you must have been acting on orders from someone else. Someone powerful. Someone like... His Eminence the Former Emperor Yozei.”

This dramatic flourish earned gasps and muttered speculation from the assembled courtiers. Hiromasa gave a cracked laugh. “That’s ridiculous.”

“Why?” Tonaga spun back, glaring at him. “Everyone knows you had special instructions to care for His Eminence’s hawks.” He turned, singling out Kiyomi. “Senior Captain Kiyomi, isn’t this true?”

Kiyomi looked miserable, uncomfortable. He shot Hiromasa an apologetic look. “It’s true that His Eminence requested Lord Hiromasa as his personal falconer. He did so after he’d heard that Lord Hiromasa was caring for His Majesty’s favourite birds.”

Tonaga nodded. “And isn’t it also true that once His Eminence had appointed Hiromasa as his personal falconer, no one else was permitted into Yozei’s mews?”

“That’s true.”

“So,” said Tonaga, eyes gleaming, “Hiromasa could have stirred His Eminence’s hawks into a frenzy, driving them into that horrific bloodlust they exhibited yesterday?”

“I—I don’t think...” Kiyomi flicked another glance at Hiromasa.

“Answer the question, captain.” Tonaga’s voice was like steel.

Kiyomi lowered his head. “Yes. It’s possible.”

Hiromasa jerked up onto his feet, only to be shoved down again by his guard. “How could I have done that when I was with the Senior Captain the whole time?”

Tonaga waved away the protest. “It would be easy enough for you to have trained His Eminence’s hawks to work themselves into a frenzy with a simple command—a word or a particular type of whistle, for example, or a certain tune played on the flute.”

Hiromasa stared at Kiyomi. “This is impossible. You know I didn’t do it.”

Face red with shame, the Senior Captain refused to meet his gaze. The other falconers and even some of the guards looked embarrassed.

Angry and desperate, Hiromasa appealed to the crowd at large. “This is ridiculous. Why would I do any of this? What would I gain from it?”

Scorn oozing from every word, Tonaga snapped, “This is not about you, Hiromasa. It’s about your master, the one who ordered you to do his bidding. The man who arranged it all and tried to make you take the blame for his loathsome actions—Former Emperor Yozei!”

The courtiers rustled and bent towards one another like grass in a breeze. The Emperor made an agitated movement behind his curtain of state, and the Great Ministers leaned together and exchanged words. At the far end of the veranda, Yozei, looking small and frightened, did no more than twitch in response to the accusation, his expression still vacant and haunted.

“His Eminence is innocent,” Hiromasa cried. “No matter what his crimes before, he didn’t do this. He loves his hawks. Why would he risk their lives in such a venture? His birds could have ingested the poison from His Majesty’s birds. He wouldn’t put them in danger like that. Whoever did this doesn’t care about the hawks at all!”

Silence rang around the courtyard. Tonaga stared down at Hiromasa, expression unreadable. Hiromasa met his glare without fear, but trembled inwardly. After a long moment, Tonaga swung around, dismissing Hiromasa’s argument without addressing it. He faced the Emperor. “Your Majesty, it is my belief that His Eminence the Former Emperor Yozei implemented this evil plot to weaken the power of the throne. He used my poor, simple-minded cousin to strike a blow at you. He—”

A loud shriek interrupted Tonaga’s speech. The goshawk spread its wings and took off, throwing itself skywards. This time, the creance dropped to the ground with the jesses, the bells jingling as they rolled across the gravel. The hawk was free.

The court went into uproar. Hiromasa’s guard exclaimed over and over that the bird had been tied, that Hiromasa had not tampered with it. Kiyomi jumped up and whistled, calling the hawk, but it ignored him, climbing higher into the sky. It levelled out and circled, shrieking down at the crowded courtyard.

Then it dived, fast, heavy, dropping out of the heavens. At the last moment it caught itself, tail spreading, wings opening wide, and it swung up, talons outstretched, and slashed its claws across Tonaga’s face. It curved in on itself, bringing its beak down, shrieking in rage.

Tonaga uttered a high, thin scream and toppled backward. He tried to shield his face with his arms, but the goshawk wheeled about and came back, tearing at Tonaga’s cap, ripping out his hair. Guards sprang forward, waving their arms in an attempt to drive the bird away, but it was relentless, attacking again and again while Tonaga begged and wept beneath its vicious talons.

“Hawk!”

Yanking at his curtain of state, the Emperor stepped out onto the veranda. The Great Ministers exclaimed and tried to prevent him from going any further, but he pushed them aside and held out his arm in command.

The goshawk halted its swoops and used Tonaga to launch itself into the air. It glided across the courtyard and landed on the Emperor’s wrist, tame and docile. It sat quietly, accepting the Emperor’s caress to its head and wings. His Majesty looked into the bird’s golden eyes. “Hawk,” he said, “who killed your brothers and sisters?”

The bird uttered a shrill cry and reared back. It flapped its wings and flew straight at Tonaga.

This accusation seemed to be enough for the Emperor. He pointed at the nobleman cowering beneath the fresh onslaught of talons and beak and wings, and cried, “Arrest Fujiwara no Tonaga!”

Shock rippled around the courtyard. Two guards hurried forward, their movements cautious as they approached Tonaga and the goshawk, but as they drew close, the bird gave a cry and took off again, circling low until it flew towards Hiromasa.

Startled, he held out his arm in response. The goshawk back-winged onto his wrist then sidled further up his arm, making low clucking sounds. It hopped up onto his shoulder as if it was a much smaller bird, and then it hunched down, feathers brushing Hiromasa’s cheek. It balanced there, talons sharp through the layers of silk but not pressing into his skin. The scent of dust and straw reached him, along with the faint but unmistakeable fragrance of cinnamon, sweet pine, and cloves.

Hiromasa looked across at the ranks of yin yang masters. Seimei appeared to be asleep, leaning against the pillar of the Chamberlain’s Office. Was it possible...? Hiromasa glanced down at the strand of hair still wrapped around the goshawk’s foot. He tugged at the hair, loosening it as he stood. The bird rocked heavily but didn’t move from his shoulder, allowing Hiromasa to unravel the strand of hair from its leg before he transferred the hawk back onto its perch.

On the gallery, Seimei blinked awake and stretched, looking around with interest.

Hiromasa gazed at him in awe.

Tonaga struggled against the guards as he tried to rise to his feet, protesting his innocence in a loud and increasingly desperate voice. Blood dripped from his face and ran down his neck, spattering his expensive silks. His hair hung over his shoulders, and his robes stank of fear and urine. The Minister of the Left seemed unimpressed. The Minister of the Right looked embarrassed. Several of Tonaga’s cronies appealed to the Emperor, declaring their belief that Tonaga was the victim in this affair.

The Emperor made a gesture, silencing everyone. He returned to his chair and sat down, then cast an irritated look around the courtyard. “This business is clouded by pollution and obscured by lies. It seems I can only believe my beloved hawk. A pity he cannot speak, for then we would have the truth of this matter.”

“Lord Tonaga can give you the truth.” Seimei stood and made his way down from the gallery, the white of his under-robes flashing in the sunlight beneath the inky blue-black of his court dress. He looked down at Tonaga, studied the raking marks of the goshawk’s claws. “And if Lord Tonaga won’t speak, I will.”

“We will listen,” the Emperor said. “Continue.”

Seimei strolled in a half circle around Tonaga, the train of his robes dragging across the gravel. “What transpired yesterday had its roots in the events of fifty years ago. Events in which His Eminence the Former Emperor Yozei played a part—along with the Lady of Tables Fujiwara no Seishi... Lord Tonaga’s grandmother.”

Hiromasa stared at his cousin and saw grief twist his face, but Tonaga said nothing.

“His Eminence’s madness is known to all,” Seimei continued, “but few know the extent of his deeds. He doesn’t know it himself. But for those of us close to him and those of us who suffer from his past actions, we know some of it. We may even understand it a little. But not all of us forgive.”

“How could I?” Tonaga lifted his head, misery brimming in his eyes, his mouth working with rage. “How could anyone forgive what he did? How can it be ignored—forgotten?”

Seimei crouched beside him, features radiant with compassion. “Former Emperor Yozei killed your grandmother when he was twenty years old. He strangled her with a string from a biwa and threw her body into the lake.”

A murmur of comment hushed through the assembled courtiers. Hiromasa glanced at Yozei and saw nothing on his face; not a single flicker of recognition or remorse, just utter blankness.

“His Eminence had been deposed five years before,” Seimei said, his tone gentle though his voice carried to all corners of the courtyard. “His madness was deemed too dangerous, too polluting, for him to remain as Emperor. He lived quietly in seclusion, then returned to the palace. There his madness began again. Lady Seishi was but one of several men and women killed by His Eminence during his fits.”

Tonaga was weeping openly now, his shoulders shaking and his head bowed.

Seimei rose to his feet and stared around at the nobles. “One cannot kill an Emperor, no matter what his crime. The only revenge against such an exalted personage is to wish him ill, and yet His Eminence is with us here today at the age of seventy-four, having outlived three imperial successors.”

He paused, gestured at Tonaga. “For Lord Tonaga, perhaps for others, this is an insult. Lord Tonaga wanted His Eminence punished—but the only way this would ever happen would be if His Eminence attacked His Majesty. Former Emperor Yozei is not strong enough to do it physically or politically, but the attack can be made spiritually, by means of pollution, through the imperial hawks.”

Seimei turned back to Tonaga, addressing him directly. “Your father was too afraid of reprisals to even consider revenge, but you—you didn’t want to be that weak. Your father’s cowardice spurred you on, and yet you never had the courage to take action, and for years your anger has been festering... until now. Until you saw the chance to use your own cousin to be the unsuspecting agent of your revenge.”

Hiromasa drew in a breath, not knowing which was greater—pity or disgust.

Tonaga shook his head, dashing at his tears with his sleeves. He sat back on his heels and tried to deny everything.

Seimei stared down at him. “You scorned Lord Hiromasa when he first called on you. What possible use could he have, a provincial with breeding but no connections, the son of a disgraced former prince, a man so out of touch with the world of the good people that he didn’t even hold rank! You didn’t want anything to do with him—but then you changed your mind. You saw him at court dressed in rich clothes in the company of noblemen like the Secretary Controller, and you thought he could be useful after all.”

He took a step closer, his gaze burning and his voice tight. “You knew Lord Hiromasa’s bloodline and charm would be enough for him to make his name at court. Once he’d renewed his father’s old acquaintances, he would have no need to rely on you. So you made arrangements—the position as falconer, the poisoned jars—knowing that Hiromasa was more than capable of doing the rest quite unwittingly. All you had to do was wait. It was almost the perfect plan... except you underestimated something.”

Tonaga half laughed, half snarled. “You. I underestimated you.”

“Not me.” Seimei tilted his head and lifted a hand. Behind him, the goshawk flapped from its perch and came to him, landing on Seimei’s wrist. “You underestimated the hawks.” Their eyes shone gold, both bird and man. “They understand neither revenge nor forgiveness. They only understand threat and weakness—and they react accordingly.”

He let go of the bird and the goshawk dived at Tonaga, making him cringe to the ground in terror. The goshawk uttered a contemptuous cry and passed over him, angling its wings so it flew in a lazy turn back to its perch.

Hiromasa stared at Tonaga. “Is it true? All this time, you were just using me?”

Tonaga struggled to sit up, his face red with fury. “A country cousin, good for nothing—of course you were expendable!” He scrambled to his feet, pushing aside his guards, and pointed a shaking finger at Hiromasa. “No matter how high you climb at court, you’ll always be a provincial. You’ll always be a nobody!”

Hiromasa dropped his gaze, hot tears starting in his eyes. He didn’t think they were for himself. He wept from frustration, for the shattering of an illusion, and he wept for Tonaga’s grandmother Lady Seishi.

Seimei came close and put a hand on his shoulder. Hiromasa leaned against him, hiding his tears in the soft, silken blue-black cloak.

The Emperor stood, his expression implacable. “We have heard enough. In this matter, Former Emperor Yozei is innocent. However, we have concerns that he could be used as a pawn again. Therefore, for his own safety and for the safety of this throne, he will take up residence outside the capital in a place to be determined by the Bureau of Divination as most suitable for His Eminence’s condition.”

Yozei didn’t react.

“As for Fujiwara no Tonaga...” The Emperor considered for a moment, his features growing darker. “He has committed treason twice over—once against this throne and once against Former Emperor Yozei. His life is forfeit and his lands become ours. Tonaga’s immediate family shall be exiled. His estate in the capital we give to Lord Hiromasa in recompense for his troubles.”

Tonaga swayed on his feet, ashen-faced. “Your Majesty!”

“Tonaga will be executed tomorrow in West Market.” The Emperor stepped back behind his curtain of state and drew it across in a gesture of finality. “See it done.”

* * *


The sun had set and evening stole on, bringing with it a gentle breeze and the scent of wisteria. Hiromasa lay on a sleeping mat, the quilt of their robes crumpled around him and his hakama unfastened. The taste of wine and Seimei’s skin still lingered on his tongue, and from across the garden came the distant music of a koto. A sense of peace filled him, but it was tinged with sadness.

Seimei sat beside him, hair tumbling black and unbound down his back. He wore nothing more than a white glossed undershirt, his bare legs half covered by their discarded robes. He looked at Hiromasa with quiet sympathy.

Hiromasa struggled to give voice to his feelings. Nothing seemed adequate, and so he fastened on a foolish fear that was no less important. “Has the Bureau of Divination selected the place for His Eminence’s new residence?”

“It was decided to return him to the village where he was confined after he was removed from the throne. He will be safe enough there—the location is tranquil.”

“Will you have to—I mean, is it very far away?”

Seimei smiled a little. “Not far at all. Close enough for me to visit him as usual but far enough for the court to forget. I won’t be leaving the capital, if that’s what you were asking.”

“Good,” said Hiromasa. “Because I would have gone with you.”

“Would you? Could you have given up on your dream?”

“My mother’s dream,” Hiromasa corrected him. “Yes, I could. Maybe at heart I am nothing more than a provincial, after all. I don’t wish to sound ungrateful—I enjoy court life, I really do, but...” He trailed off into silence.

Seimei seemed to understand. “Justice was served.”

Hiromasa made a face, uncertain. “It was a harsh sentence.”

“Former Emperor Yozei is an emperor,” Seimei said, his tone mild. “Tonaga was merely a court noble. The punishment was appropriate.”

“Tonaga was only trying to find justice for his grandmother.”

“By implicating you, his cousin,” Seimei reminded him.

Hiromasa turned onto his side with a sigh. “I’m not going to blame him for his actions. I’m not condoning them, either. I just... I feel sorry for him. For what he felt he had to do for the sake of his family honour. For his grandmother’s memory. How can I blame him for that?”

Seimei gave him an affectionate smile. “Truly, you are a very good man.”

“Am I?” Hiromasa nudged closer and rested his head in Seimei’s lap. “You said the capital hadn’t contaminated me. You said I was free of all its greed and ambition. Is that still true?”

Seimei placed a hand over Hiromasa’s forehead and stroked back his hair. “Now more than ever.”

It wasn’t the answer he’d feared, and Hiromasa huffed a little with relief, wriggled around until he lay more comfortably draped over Seimei. He remained unmoving for a while, listening to the shikigami’s music, absorbing the warmth of Seimei’s body, just drowsing as he let his thoughts drift.

“Seimei.”

“Mm?”

Hiromasa rolled onto his back and looked up, frowning. “I don’t want Tonaga’s estate. It’s so big and empty and full of dark corners.”

Seimei arched his eyebrows. “Is that so? That’s easily remedied. Willow and her sisters would be happy to accompany you. I shall ask for the assistance of as many shikigami as you please to brighten the house.”

Hiromasa shook his head. “I don’t want your shikigami.”

Seimei stroked a finger over Hiromasa’s cheek. “Then what do you want?”

“I want to stay here with you.” A pause, and then Hiromasa looked up and met Seimei’s gaze, wondering, hoping. “If it’s permitted.”

“Permitted?” Seimei leaned over, his hair cascading around them. “Yes,” he said, and the word was soft with joy. “Yes.”






From: [identity profile] aitakute.livejournal.com
... YAAAAAY!!! \o/ *kidnaps fic and runs off with it*

I'm so glad you wrote this AU fic; it has ought to be one of the most sweepinglyemotionallywham-bamstraighttotheheart Onmyouji pieces you've ever written. I can't put it into exact words but there are a few moments that I tear up at.

Very classic Onmyouji fic from you - we get a gorgeous whodunit plot with Seimei playing the Holmes to Hiromasa's Watson in figuring out the poisoning of the Emperor's birds, set against a very beautifully elaborated backdrop of the emperor's court -- or moreso, the whole system there and its politicking that is the way of life there.

I love the flower shikigamis! They are such a playful, delightful part of the fic; they make me grin everytime any one of them appears -- such lighthearted teasing fun, watercolor-like strokes. I think they light up Seimei's 'household'; a happy, giggly contrast to the UST between Seimei and Hiromasa, Hiromasa's constant "OMG WHAT DOES HE WANT FROM MEEEEE" thoughts, and Seimei's emo moments.

And I love how Seimei sees such purity/goodness in Hiromasa and wants to help him achieve what he is destined (assuming he's seen Hiromasa's potential in the future) so willingly when no one else would help him; moreso, I love how Hiromasa is so true to himself and wants to be with Seimei still (screw rank!) regardless of whatever rank he's at, and that he recognises what's 'real' and what's temporal (rank, power, money, etc).

And HEH unlike your usual Onmyoji fics, we get some action here. <3 I think it's so much hotter when you said nothing at all -- this pairing is made for the sensual. (I don't doubt that if it's sexual, they'll still be written very well by you, but the nature of this pairing is just... I can't put my finger on it because I don't know them in canon, but they just feel more suited for the sensual, if you get what I mean?)

All-in-all, I love this piece a lot; it's beautiful, it's heartbreaking at the right places. Love it.
From: [identity profile] glitterburn.livejournal.com
THANK YOUUUU :D Obviously this is my year for writing AUs (I have another two Onmyouji AUs in varying stages of completion).

they just feel more suited for the sensual, if you get what I mean?

Absolutely. I've only written two NC17 Onmyouji fics and both of those were written when I first went into the fandom and was feeling my way around (no pun intended). I'm reticent to write smut for the sake of it with these two, mainly because in the Heian period it's considered sexier/more romantic to allude to sexyfuntiems than to actually show it. Definitely more about the pursuit than the capture, which is a motif I like a lot. So sensual is exactly what I want to get from them, so yay that you thought it worked :D

Also I seem to suffer from some weird thing that when I really really x10000 like someone, it becomes difficult for me to write about them having sexyfuntiems. The main reason why it took 2 years and 8 months to finish the Mansai/Shinobu fic was because I had to write a love scene HAHAHA *fails at pr0n* though I'm hoping to manage a bit o' Onmyouji smut at some point. But yeah, I agree with you, they're sensual through and through.

Thank you for reading!

*is rereading it again HEHEHEHE*

Date: 2011-05-17 01:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aitakute.livejournal.com
HEEEEE MY PLEASURE. I'm rereading it again at the moment. GUH-INDUCINGCOMBSCENE, YO! *dies at the sensuality of it*

I personally don't mind if you keep at a maximum of PG-13 scenes for these two -- I think the sensuality is way hotter than, say, if there's an outright sexyfuntiems scene with them. (I wouldn't mind if there's one, but without it, it just... works). Alluding to it, or keeping to sensual writing is kinda like Seimei covering his face with that damn fan of his HAHAHA <3

I do understand the bit on the weird thing about writing sexyfuntiems with a character that one feels a it too personally close to LOL. I don't think I can ever write a fic (yet alone sexyfuntiems) featuring Tony Stark. A bit too personal there. Or with a pairing like Q/Picard. I'll let others do the writing. Too close to... write about.

EEEE BYE BYE I GO BACK TO READING <333 *joins the shikigamis* <3

Date: 2011-05-17 10:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hideincarnate.livejournal.com
*A*....*flailing. so much flailing.*

I love this fic. So. So. SO MUCH.

Just...just all of it. All of it! If you wrote more stories in this AU I would die happy.

*rolls around in this fic, and wraps self in it like a blanket* Loveitsomuch!

Date: 2011-05-18 06:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glitterburn.livejournal.com
Yay thank you! \o/ Glad you enjoyed it :D

Date: 2011-05-28 02:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aoi-shu.livejournal.com
ah *head desk*...
so much pretty imagery, and I always wanted to draw a peregrine falcon, have a cute photo of it.. cause.. well "hayaki"' "haya" is a kanji for "hayabusa" the peregrine falcon" and yeh..

Now I have a reason to draw a pretty bird ^_^~

Ahh.. being in love with a fox, every bit the realistic depiction, trust me, though.. sometimes they take so much more time, I envy Hiromasa, he gotten his so fast.

Very reminiscent of an old legend, I love your story telling pace and fantastic skill too. Luxurious, really.. The definition of characters, the motivations are very sad, beautiful and moving.

Wonderful story, I guess this one could become an original too eventually? After all Abe no Seimei and Hiromasa's relationship even cannot be copyrighted, it's an ancient legend after all. or is you change Hiromasa;s name, it's even easier?

Date: 2011-05-28 07:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glitterburn.livejournal.com
Thanks ^^

No this won't ever be an original, it would require another 20k at least to give enough background to make it an original and I don't see the point tbh!

Date: 2011-05-28 12:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aoi-shu.livejournal.com
my foxy fox was very foxy today ^_^ <3 A fox that pretends to be a peregrine falcon *snicker*

Ahh, well you have so many wonderful stories to tell.

This one was lovely!

Date: 2011-05-28 11:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karadin.livejournal.com
I'm not sure how I missed this, but it gives me great joy, thank you!

Date: 2011-05-29 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glitterburn.livejournal.com
Thanks for commenting! :D

Date: 2013-01-05 11:54 pm (UTC)
ext_3245: (heart green)
From: [identity profile] rheasilvia.livejournal.com
I was just looking up the link for this fic (and discovering you have an AO3 account!) in order to rec it, and was shocked to discover that I haven't left a comment here yet. Surely I must have commented elsewhere...? *whimper*

Because, let me tell you, I love love love this story. I love the way you show the shift in their relationship through the different circumstances, and how they still see each other so clearly, and naturally gravitate to one another. I love Seimei's immediate realization that Hiromasa is someone very special, and his generosity, and his refusal to take advantage even in the face of Hiromasa's absolute willingness to be taken advantage of. :-) And I love Hiromasa's characteristically clear (if incredibly *nice*) view of the court and the people around him, and his earnestness, and essential goodness, and *Hiromasaness*.

I love the pining, and the mystery plot, and your descriptions, and the understated sweetness of the relationship, and the shikigami, and - everything, basically.

Date: 2013-01-06 11:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glitterburn.livejournal.com
You did comment! I remember we had a conversation in comments, so it must have been on the original link post rather than this one. But you definitely did comment! Funnily enough I was just thinking of this fic recently and thinking I should re-read it. And thanks for the rec, I'm off to read that Teen Wolf fic you listed there :D

Date: 2013-01-06 11:53 pm (UTC)
ext_3245: (Garfield headsmack)
From: [identity profile] rheasilvia.livejournal.com
Phew! That's a relief - I couldn't really believe it, anyway. ;-)

I hope you like the story! :-) It occurs to me that I have no idea what you think of TW, except that's it's watchable... mind you, often I have no idea what I myswelf think of it, either. (Except when the "wolves" run through the woods. Then, I laugh so hard because of the ridiculousness that I know TW is comedy gold. *g*)

Date: 2013-01-07 09:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glitterburn.livejournal.com
I was very dubious about TW but I watched it with my friend who is wildly enthusiastic about many TV shows and some of her squee rubbed off. It'll never be my favourite show or anything but I did get into it. I hate Stiles and I think Scott is a moron, and though I think Derek is... shall we be kind as say 'misguided', he is hot when he takes his shirt off. I think I like the female characters the best, they seem a lot less idiotic than the male characters.

Oh God, the wolf running. I wish they'd just shift properly and save us all the second-hand embarrassment! I will watch the 3rd season though, even though I can't actually picture Scott as any kind of Alpha...

Date: 2013-01-07 10:58 pm (UTC)
ext_3245: (TW Jackson seems legit)
From: [identity profile] rheasilvia.livejournal.com
I hate Stiles and I think Scott is a moron

Oh, THANK YOU. Seriously. I have come to find Scott's stupidness rather funny and endearing at times, because the show is so clearly aware of it. But my main opinion concerning Stiles is that I really want him to shut his mouth when he's not talking, and that his behavior towards Lydia is creepy, stalkerish, disgusting and really not okay at all. (I do quite like him other than that, although I don't think he's anything very special, so fandom's incredible adoration is making me contrary.)

The contact embarrassment is strong with this one! But even so, the wolf running is so funny. It must be far more expensive than just having a couple of trained wolfy-looking dogs running through a set. What is UP with that awful CGI?

I just ran into a casting spoiler for S3 that is making me wonder if I should bother watching it at all. Decisions, decisions...

Date: 2013-01-08 09:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glitterburn.livejournal.com
Totally in agreement about Stiles' behaviour towards Lydia. I'm guessing it's supposed to make him seem endearing but I find him quite the opposite. I honestly don't get fandom's obsession with him, either - and though I appreciate Derek's hot bod, I truly don't see what 98% of fandom sees in Sterek. They have, what, ten minutes of contact time across two seasons? That's too much of a stretch for me even in fandom terms.

What's the spoiler? I saw a couple late last year about the female Alphas but I don't recognise either of the actresses. I'll watch it because I've been watching a decent amount of telly atm and TVD is jumping the shark so I need some other 'mindless' show to occupy me. Have you seen Suits or Elementary?
ext_3245: (Poison)
From: [identity profile] rheasilvia.livejournal.com
I was so disgusted by the one scene where he inveigled his way into her room by pretending to be her friend (sure, in his mind he IS, but not in Lydia's as he well knows). When she got handsy because she was drugged, he actually went along with it until she murmured another guy's name - and *then* we were evidently meant to think he was being a really great guy by not going through with raping her. WTF?? And hello, lurking outside of the hospital room of someone who doesn't want anything from you is not a touching sign of devotion, it's a sign of being a total creeper.

If someone else displayed this kind of behavior towards a woman in the series (Alison maybe), he'd be an evil stalker. Oh, *wait*...

/rant

Yep, same here with Stiles and Derek. I just don't understand it. Derek is very pretty but, sadly, also pretty uninteresting (which I attribute to the fact the actor has only one facial expression and does his best acting with his abs).

The spoiler is that Jackson's actor quit the show. :-( Evidently they couldn't agree on money...? I don't have any idea what actors of tertiary (or at best secondary) parts are paid, and I have no actual opinion beyond "noooooooo! not my favorite character!!!"

It's like TVD and Alaric. Always with my favorite characters. :-(( (Didn't know you watched TVD, too!)

I watched at least one season of Suits, or a bit more, I think... I do quite like Mike and some characters (although I hate Rachel), but in the end the series just didn't grab me.

Elementary - I think I watched two or three eps before giving up. I quite like Joan Watson, but this portrayal of Holmes didn't work for me. Not only does he seem pretty un-brilliant (his deductions in the eps I saw were rather banal and nothing out of the ordinary for a TV detective), but he annoyed me by being a less likable version of Tony Stark in terms of nervous, hyperactive, self-aggrandizing blatheriness. And then there's the matter of his sexuality.

The immediate asertion of (hetero-)sexuality in the face of canonical Holmes' at most ambiguous asexuality (and the long tradition of homosexual interpretation) annoys me out of all proportion, simply because it is what US series and movies always seem to do - whenever there are hints of a non-standard sexuality attached to a character, this must be countered within 5 minutes of the character in question appearing. Even turning Watson female evidently wasn't enough. No, better to make sure right away that there is no doubt this Holmes does have sex like a proper man - and has it with women, of course.

It reminded me of nothing so much as the introduction of Achilles - as played by the blatantly un-androgynously manly Brad Pitt, who could and would of course never dress as a woman to hide out!! - in the midst of a pile of naked women in Hollywood's horrible travesty "Troy".

Errrm. Sorry. *g* /rant2
From: [identity profile] glitterburn.livejournal.com
Oh God I forgot that scene with Stiles. That's the thing, if I have no interest or dislike towards a character I blank them out when they appear on screen. But now you mention it, I recall it and yeah, ugh.

My friend told me that Jackson had quit. He was my favourite character too - though I spent a disproportionate amount of s2 wondering how anyone could have got the Latin for 'master' confused with the word for 'friend' in the whole plot with the Kamina. I heard that the actor who played Jackson is doing another show, but I forget what.

Alaric was also my favourite! LOL TVD is brain fluff. This current season is mostly bizarre though, with half the characters acting OOC. And the whole vampire sire bond with Elena and Damon squicked me out. I have a lot of issues with the show's ideas of consent but that pushed it too far for me.

Everyone seems to hate Rachel! I enjoyed the show but now Mike's main motivation has been taken away, I can't see where they'd take his character, so I'm a bit leery of how it'll develop when it comes back this week.

Elementary surprised me. I was expecting to dislike it but I do like it as a procedural. The first few eps were pretty ropey but the Case Of The Week got more interesting as the season progressed. LOL I agree with the Tony Stark comparison! I've never cared for Jonny Lee Miller before but I like him in this. And reading your rant I realised why - because after the first few eps I stopped thinking of it in terms of Sherlock Holmes! Which is perhaps not the point, but never mind.

But yes, I agree with you about the way they (mis)handled his sexuality. I heard that Moffat and Gatiss who write Sherlock were very irritated by the whole thing and apparently they keep making snide remarks about Elementary.

Let us never mention Troy again. I really wish I'd kept my 67-point list of everything that was wrong with that film. It might have been 78-point, I can't remember now, I try not to think of that tripe :/

Now I wonder if Hollywood is planning a film of The Song of Achilles. Have you read that book?
ext_3245: (Festive lanterns)
From: [identity profile] rheasilvia.livejournal.com
if I have no interest or dislike towards a character I blank them out when they appear on screen

I wish I could do that! It sounds like an excellent way to cut down on enraged frustration and swearing at the TV.

I spent a disproportionate amount of s2 wondering how anyone could have got the Latin for 'master' confused with the word for 'friend' in the whole plot with the Kamina.

Oh god, yes, that also annoyed me. Even though I often succeed in ignoring that kind of thing because no US TV show ever seems to bother with the most basic of linguistic research. (Though Grimm has gotten better, to its credit!)

I heard that the actor who played Jackson is doing another show, but I forget what.

Arrow, on the CW - I checked his wikipedia page. *g* It doesn't seem to be a larger role at all, so I remain puzzled.

Alaric was also my favourite!

We both have such excellent taste in characters. ;-)

So much YES to TVD's consent problems. And on TVD's handling of torture and murder, too, while we're at it. Basically, many of the characters seem to regard it as bad form to judge anyone just as long as they are snarky, entertaining and/or pretty, or more than two days have passed since the deed in question.

The moment that sticks in my mind here is when Damon paraded his new involuntary snack-and-bedwarmer (the TV journalist) around in front of Elena and Stefan, and their reaction was basically amused tolerance. To Damon having abducted and mind-whammied another woman to rape, torture, and murder. Oh, he has a new girlfriend! How sweet!

???

Everyone seems to hate Rachel!

I'm not in the fandom at all, but everyone on my friendslist who watches the show seems to adore Rachel! I just think she's an incredible hypocrite for judging Mike like mad because he used to take tests for other people for money, when she was going to engage his services. And I also disliked her intensely for the "chase me"-game she played with Mike, where she is always only interested when he threatens to lose interest, at which point she even tries to sabotage his relationships with other women by any means at hand, just so he will keep chasing exclusively after her.

I enjoyed the show but now Mike's main motivation has been taken away

Oh no - did his grandmother die? I loved her...

I do mean to give Elementary another try; I know that the first eps of a series are often not representative of its overall quality. And I was trying very very hard to ignore the sexuality thing.

after the first few eps I stopped thinking of it in terms of Sherlock Holmes! Which is perhaps not the point, but never mind.

LOL! Hey, as long as it means you canm enjoy the show, I'd say anything goes. ;-)

I heard that Moffat and Gatiss who write Sherlock were very irritated by the whole thing and apparently they keep making snide remarks about Elementary.

I understand that completely. Actually, when I first heard there was going to be a US remake of BBC's Sherlock set in New York, my first reaction was "but they will definitely do something radical to counter the horrible horrible threat of the main characters giving any impression of possibly being in a homosexual relationship; hey, I bet they turn Watson into a woman".

Let us never mention Troy again. I really wish I'd kept my 67-point list of everything that was wrong with that film.

It would probably be for the best! Though I would love to have seen that list. It might have relieved some of my angry frustration. (And nausea, in the case of the disgusting Briseis-Achilles relationship. Stockholm syndrome-type rape presented as romance. That was the first time I actually felt physically ill during a sex scene.)

Now I wonder if Hollywood is planning a film of The Song of Achilles. Have you read that book?

No, I haven't! I generally hope Hollywood never ever touches any of the stories I am invested in. It never works out well. (If they ever go through with the threat of making a film based on The Nibelungenlied, I don't know what I will do.)

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