I just finished a couple of assignments, so it’s finally drawing time! I’ve been trying to get this idea on paper for months, so it’s good to have managed it! Her face is… interesting. She looks sort of odd, but I think I like her. Those snakes were at once fun and horrible to draw. I’m thinking of colouring the snakes with a gold pen but haven’t decided yet.
It happened one summer that a curse fell on my family. The details aren’t important. We could be here all night with who married whom and who cursed what. There was a curse, that’s all you need to know.
All seven of my brothers were turned into swans. From loud, hard-handed boys, they became mute birds, with wings as white as cloud and eyes as dark as heaven.
There was a great deal of chaos. There usually is, when someone turns into a bird. They went mad indoors and had to be ushered out into the gardens, to flap and sulk and arch their necks in beautiful reproach.
The wise woman of the woods came to me, with her hair wrapped up in leaf and copper wire. She told me that I was given the task of weaving seven shirts in silence, and only then would they be restored to human form.
A single word spoken, a single stitch unsewn, and they would be swans forever.
As soon as the wisewoman left the room, I pitched my spindle into the fire and sang aloud the raunchiest song I knew.
I never liked my brothers. They made much better swans.
A Maldives beach awash in bioluminescent Phytoplankton looks like an ocean of stars
bioluminescence is the shit.
What You Don’t Know About Beauty and the Beast:
Some backstory: due to this little discussion, I was considering writing a continuation/expansion of Beauty and the Beast. I read up on it and found out everything I thought I knew about it was wrong.
-It was created by one, singular, female author in 1740: Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
-It is not a retelling of a pervasive folklore like Perrault’s Cinderella, for example. It was influenced by folklore but is an original story and is very “post” the fairy tales you might be familiar with. The story is also influenced by women who gathered together and told each other revisions of fairy tales in Parisian salons.
-It’s over 100 pages long
-Though written simply and in a straightforward manner, the characters have personalities and are much more complex in their emotions than a normal folkloric tale. They behave in a diverse and fairly realistic manner to their situations. The Beast’s mother in particular is a complex woman, protective of her son and a capable military leader but not progressive in her attitude towards marrying below your station.
-Women are overwhelmingly the masters of the plot and outnumber the men in number and priority.
Female players include:
A nice Fairy
A jerk Fairy (called Mother of the Seasons)
The Queen of the Fairies
A Fairy-who-is-a-Queen (these are different)
A Queen/the Beast’s mother
Belle’s shallow (though fairly realistically so) sisters who are treated as a collective
-It contains considerable world-building. Fairy language, Fairy law, Fairy influence over monarchies, Fairy hierarchy, Fairy magic are all things she depicts. (eat your heart out, Tolkien fans).
-The curse is broken halfway through the book. The rest is devoted to comments on class, monarchy, marrying for love vs. status, appropriate conditions for love, and marrying below your station among other things.
-The Beast is cursed to punish his mother.
-The book’s plot turns out to be entirely due to the machinations of The Mother of the Seasons and the long-game trap/revenge story orchestrated by the Nice Fairy to defeat The Mother of the Seasons Fairy.
-The book takes place in a specific time period rather than in a nebulous “before-time”, somewhere, as I figure, between 1669 to the early 1700s. It might even be contemporaneous to when it was published. It references the age piracy, revolutions, the merchant class, the presence of slavery, Belle watching comedies, operas, and plays the Fair of St. Germain, and a Janissary battle.
-The Beast’s Queen mother led troops into battle for several years, put down a revolt and defeated an encroaching enemy monarch.
And this is only a partial list.
If you’d like to read the original version by Madame de Villeneuve, it’s collected in a book by J. R. Blanche.
It’s available for free:
Archive.org (they don’t mention her name in the author list but it’s there)
I never understood why a good fairy would punish an 11 year old. This makes more sense! (also I am totally reading this)
loisfreakinglane for you!
I feel like this would be of great interest to anybody interested in faeries
If you ever want to see silly witches giddy about jars you should check out this tag because it always makes me happy.
~Sensuelle’s Picture Book~
Wendy Darling believed in fairies all her life.
This was based in kindness, not faith. It was a fearful thing. Sometimes she woke in the middle of the night panicked at the thought she might stop one day. What a world, to place the life of even as flawed a person as a Tinkerbell in the hands of child’s ability to believe.
Coming back, Wendy expected to miss the magic, the beauty, the feel of the wind in her unpinned hair. She expected to miss Peter, and she did. But she didn’t expect to miss the exhausting task of being the Lost Boy’s young mother.
And she didn’t miss it, not exactly. Wendy missed being useful, and she missed being listened to.
But she told her brothers stories, at night, still. She watched the light grow in their eyes and felt powerful for the first time since Neverland.
Michael came home from school crying one day. A boy on the playground had said fairies were stupid and fake. The teachers thought it was exhaustion or the disappointed hopes of a child who still believed his big sister’s bedtime stories. When father laughed at him at table, John hesitated for a moment and then joined in. Wendy pled an upset stomach and fled to her room.
Michael had nightmares for a week of a shining tiny person breathing their last on a Neverland forest floor.
Shaken awake in her own room, Wendy padded down the hall and creaked open his door. She gathered her smallest brother in her arms and said, “We’ll believe enough for all of them, every one. You and me, Michael, we’ll save them all.”
In the other bed John, pretending to sleep, squeezed his eyes shut. He wanted so badly to be grown.
His father had always told them true men protected people who needed it. John sat up. “I do believe in fairies,” he said, and his siblings chorused, “I do, I do.” Michael stopped crying. John started.
Wendy often asked herself why they had come back. The question surfaced over particularly tedious chores, or when her father came home drawn after a long day and picked apart her every flaw over the blandest supper Wendy’d ever tasted. But it surfaced also when she was happy, fetching sweets from the dime store, when Michael raced through the halls, hollering, an old shirt hoisted on a broom as a conquering flag.
Once, she had known how to fly. She remembered and it ached.
They tried to settle back in, all three of them, to shake lost boys and pirates from their heads. A year after leaving Neverland, Wendy’s mother asked why Wendy never brought nice girls home to play with. It took effort not to laugh.
Wendy didn’t say, “Nice girls? Tink tried to get the Lost Boys to shoot me out of the sky, tried to blow up her own home on the off chance she might get me, too.”
She didn’t tell her, “The mermaids would have liked to drown me, too, babbling away in those dolphin sounds that Peter could understand but that just gave me shivers.”
“All I want to be is a mother,” Wendy said instead, and meant, all I want is to be of use, to have people need me as much as they did. I want someone to believe my stories as much as Peter did.
She didn’t say, “And what could those girls offer me? I fought pirates. I touched the very stars.”
“I have all the friends I need in John and Michael,” Wendy offered. At mother’s frown, she added, “I’ll try harder.”
She joined a club against her own wishes. The club girls talked about dresses and Wendy thought about swords and crocodiles.
Wendy thought, these silly young things never heard that tick tock and shaken in their boots. They’ve never seen the stars up close.
They talked longingly of their mothers’ lipstick, of debutantes and growing up, and Wendy thought, How many fairies have you killed?
The years rolled on. Wendy fell in love with boys who needed her, who fascinated her, a long line of sharp-boned muses who forgot to eat their vegetables for weeks.
These boys only knew one kind of woman. They expected mothers, all of them, women childless or not, beautiful women with strength and graces pressed into their souls. If they had ever found Wendy crying over a thimble, they would not have known what to do with this alien fragile thing.
So they did not find her so. Wendy Darling was well versed in being the thing people needed her to be. Even to the most magical place she knew, Wendy had been brought for one reason. Peter’s boys had needed a mother.
That thought sat rancid in her stomach for days, but then she remembered: Peter had lingered at her window all those nights not because he needed soup or love or tucking in. He had loved her stories.
She had taken the wild boy, the lost bird, the starcatcher, and had stolen his breath away with words of her own making. On the other side of years and years, Wendy caught her own breath.
She started carrying a thimble in her pocket. When Wendy felt powerless, like a thing and not a person, she slipped a finger against the chill shape. It was a slip of puckered metal, an odd knick knack of women’s work. But once, Wendy had named it something else, given it power.
Boys boasted around her, of jumping fences and wrestling, of stealing kisses. Wendy thought, you think you know the power of a kiss? I once defeated death with a thimble, because I gave it a name. I believed. Words are power, and the words are mine.
One day, someone did find her crying. Wendy was in the girl’s lavatory. It had been a little thing, John snapping at her over breakfast, and then some boy in the yard saying something careless. Wendy had thought, I once knew how to fly, and suddenly everything seemed too dirty and too confining to stand. She hid in the furthest stall from the door, and cried angrily about every speck of magic she had lost in her life.
There was a light knock on the door and some wispy little thing from the club Wendy’d been calling her penance peeked in.
“My grandma died last year,” the girl said. “I was crying in the next stall over.” The girl sat up on the edge of the sink and said, “Do you want to hear a story about her?”
At the next club meeting, Wendy listened. A grinning redhead always used the past tense when she spoke of her father. Another girl, wan, flinched at loud sounds. They knew the sound of the ticking clock, these young women, some of them better than she ever had. Wendy had walked away from one beautiful world and into another. They had lost one, or many; or wished they could fly away the way she had gotten to, once.
Wendy stopped crying in bathrooms, mostly. She started checking them, quietly, and offering shoulders and stories of a magical land to the people she found there.
Wendy listened. One of the club girls was obsessed with trains, the way they take you away, the way they come back on schedule, the sound of them. Wendy asked, and she listened. A young woman whose hands folded in her lap like a wayward haystack stared out the window, entranced by a world only she could see.
Wendy thought, you’ve never seen the stars up close. She thought, maybe I can show you.
She dragged them all out one night, late, when they were out in the country for a school trip. They snuck out of their lodgings and got in terrible trouble for it, but that night the moon was missing and the sky was dusted with more blazing stars than they had ever seen, except for Wendy.
None of them but one odd duck knew the boys’ parts, but they did their best to dance there beneath them, to pretend they could catch starlight on their outstretched tongues.
Wendy wondered what the mermaids would have said, if she had ever learned their tongue. She wondered what stories Tinkerbell could have told her. She wondered if Tiger Lily would have taught her how to dance.
She wondered why none of the women in Neverland had been able to speak to her. She wondered why she hadn’t tried.
Michael sprouted inches and inches, his voice dropping to an alien depth. He stopped planting broomsticks tied with old red shirts on the dining room table and declaring the room claimed for Neverland.
Michael buried himself in books instead, as though that might be a way out. He started scribbling in journals, for all John teased him about it. Wendy was sure that those messy lines were not all poetry about the chin of the girl down the street, sure some of them were the adventures Michael was having still, somewhere inside. She was sure. She hoped with every ounce of herself, hoped like it was the kind of faith that makes children fly.
John buried himself in books, too, but all his joy in it was wrapped up in how they helped him win: win grades, and commendations, pats on the shoulders from their learned teachers, their father’s nod at supper. Wendy’s father had always terrified her, his hooked rage, the way he ran from meeting to appointment, pursued by the tick of the clock on his heels.
John joined debate, cricket, an honors society or two, a young businessmen’s club for boys. Wendy told him once, in a quiet moment alone, that she could hear the tick tock at his heels, too, these days.
John squeezed her hand. “Me, too, but it’s okay Wendy. C’mon, I always wanted to be a pirate.” He squeezed her hand again. “I’ll be better than he ever was, Wendy. I’ll be good.”
In their nursery room games, years ago now, John had always played Hook. Michael had played Peter.
Wendy had always been the narrator, the storyteller, the minstrel. She thought she rather liked it that way.
Wendy grew into a young woman. She went out dancing with her friends, whispered a pretend background for every eligible young bachelor who watched them, and listened to her friends’ laughter make those stories true.
They talked about dresses over light lunches, about boys and babies, about industrialism and pollution, about Plato and Darwin, the epiphanies and practicalities of falling in love. They talked Eleanor, the wispy girl from the bathroom, through her parents’ disappointment as she pursued a life as a legal secretary. Wendy dictated stories to give Ellie something interesting to practice on.
Another friend taught Wendy how to crochet. They made piles of socks for a charity drive, meeting up in the afternoons to sit in a sunlit window and crochet and talk the light away.
Wendy ran her hands over the heaps of warm socks when they were done. She was a girl who believed in magic, and this took her breath away, how patterns and patience could lead to this, could build something so good and solid.
Wendy woke and slept, told stories, kept a thimble in her pocket, breathed.
She wondered what she was building.
No child ever grows up. They grow out. They grow down and deep, textured and heavy. They grow.
One day, decades later, Peter lighted on her old windowsill, chasing down a runaway shadow.
He thought she was her daughter. Wendy watched Jane stare up at this fey creature. Wendy could feel the weight of all the years between her daughter’s anxious gawky adolescent age and her own taller years, the backaches and the tragedy, the things her hands had built. Peter would never know them. Wendy wanted to weep as hard as she once had, at fifteen, over a thimble.
Wendy went downstairs, made a bag of sandwiches that she put in a backpack with some sturdy clothes and a pair of good shoes. Her daughter would not be going on any adventures clad only in a nightgown.
When she got back, Jane was flying. Wendy’s heart was breaking, was singing, was soaring. Peter was laughing. His shadow was watching her. It knew more than it told and always had.
Wendy pulled her daughter back to earth. She gave Jane the backpack and said, “You be brave. You be good. Remember to talk to the mermaids. Ask them to sing to you. Tell them your stories.”
"She wondered why none of the women in Neverland had been able to speak to her."
You know how sometimes you hear a thing and it shakes you?
Oh. Oh, yes. This is gorgeous.
Oh, this has hit right in the core of me.
This is devastating and beautiful and…oh. Thank you. Thank you so much.
dragons don’t ever really leave their princesses
(and their princesses never really want them to go)
The first thing she remembers is the warmth of scales beneath her hand, a voice crooning a lullaby that she feels in her bones as much as she hears. The first thing her watery, stinging eyes behold are a loose circle of shining claws and the translucent dome of blue wings blocking out the rest of the overwhelming world. A shining blue nose, deep as sapphires, leans down and nudges her gently.
:Wake, little hatchling.: Warm, feminine, loving; it rings with will-not-be-harmed and safe-under-wings. She can’t make herself be afraid. A forked tongue gently touches her cheek and she smiles, giggles, puts a hand out to gently push it away.
There is something she ought to be worried about, but it runs from her thoughts when she tries to remember. The world has narrowed to the warm safety of the circle, the fires burning in bright yellow eyes. The dragon nudges her again before ever-so-delicately picking up a loaf of bread in her long white teeth and depositing it in her lap.
:Hatchling must eat. Lady-who-burns left food.: She obediently begins to eat, leaning back against blue scales and smiling brightly up at her guardian. There is only one word her limited memory can assign to this giant being, and as she finishes her bread and snuggles up to a warm claw before falling asleep again she whispers it-
When she wakes again, it’s to a much smaller version of the blue snout- this time in red- peering into her face. She jumps back; he jumps back. She tilts her head; he tilts his head and snorts, confused.
A laughing rumble comes from the mother dragon curled around them both.
:Red-hatchling, meet Human-hatchling. She is one-of-us. Play nice, do not bite-claw-harm. She has no scale-coat.: Images as much as words, like before. The red hatchling snorts again and shakes himself, small wings thumping on the ground, before squawking in a rather undignified way and jumping up.
:Come play pounce-and-pin!: He dashes away, looking over his shoulder, and Mother nudges her towards him with another amused chuckle.
Tentatively at first but then with more confidence, she chases after the red hatchling to play a rough game of tackling and wrestling. The red plays fair and does not use his talons or teeth, as Mother warned, but he is larger and stronger than her and she ends up on the ground much more often than she manages to pin him. Nevertheless, the old castle hall is filled with the sounds of human and draconic laughter as the blue watches on with happiness shining in her eyes.
Time passes. Her memories slowly come back, of a place where “mother” means a tall blonde woman, her smiles always forced and distant and her voice always ready to scold. Where “brother” means cruel laughter and taunts made by a man who looms tall over her, solid boots ready to crush unwary little fingers.
She stops missing them after a few days.
Her time is filled with laughter as she and the red hatchling invent games for themselves through the castle’s abandoned halls and gone-to-seed courtyards. They gorge themselves on sweet berries from bushes long gone wild, they hunt for rabbits that Mother will cook for them, they mock-duel with her holding a stick and he pretending to flame her.
She teaches him to read, from what she remembers, curled side-by-side in the dusty library. He tells her the stories Mother has told him, how when he breathes his first fire he will earn his name and become a true dragon. And at night they sit by Mother’s side and listen to her sing as they fall asleep, safe under her wings and warmed by the fire inside her.
Sometimes other humans come to search the castle. She and Brother hide while Mother scornfully tosses them aside. One day Mother gently herds a terrified horse into one of the large inner courtyards, and once he has adjusted to his new neighbors she teaches herself to ride the rather placid gelding.
She teaches herself to sew, eventually, and makes herself clothes from the cloth brought each month by the strange woman who is the only other human Mother will tolerate. One day she begins to gather the scales Brother and Mother shed and sews them into tough cloth for armor; the interlocking patterns of blue and red entertain her for hours, and the extra protection gives Brother more leeway with his growing claws when they wrestle.
The first time she uses the scales to deflect her brother’s full-force blows successfully, Mother’s pride can be felt from across the room.
Brother earns the name :Heart-of-Burning-Star: when he breathes his first flame; she sings along with Mother to honor him, her heart bursting with pride.
Mother takes her flying, perched securely on her shoulders and Brother frolicking alongside, to see the mountains and the marshlands and the ocean and the forests. She teaches them how to tell hungry predators from those who are well-fed, how to sneak up on unsuspecting prey, how best to avoid the sword striking for their hearts. At night she tells them of magic, of the world’s mysteries, of how a dragon can change their shape if their need is great.
When at last she bids them farewell they let her go with sorrow but not despair; she has taught them well how to fend for themselves, and the girl will not be alone. Brother will never leave her while she has no wings of her own.
Before she leaves, she touches her nose to the girl’s forehead. :Adopted-child. You will not breathe flame, but you are grown, with a dragon’s heart; I name you Lover-of-Life. Honor and love and wind for your wings, my hatchling-now-grown.:
Their lives continue as they always have among the ruins of the castle; supplying for themselves, and needing no luxuries but the warmth of their sibling by their sides.
Though Brother fights valiantly when the men come again, he is smaller than Mother and not quite as wise; he is young, and proud, and easily drawn out of his defenses by their taunts. She screams as fireproofed ropes encircle his proud limbs and he is dragged to earth, easy prey for their blades.
One of the men catches hold of her as she tries to run to his side.
“Easy, easy fair maid!” She flinches from the sound of words spoken to ears, not to heart. How can they speak truly to one another when their words are so flat and depthless?
“We shall rescue you from this beast which holds you captive here. Only look away a moment and it shall trouble you no more.”
Rescue? Rescue? From what?!
She cannot form the words on her lips to make them understand, and none of them hear when she reaches for their hearts. She screams and cries, fighting with all the muscle she gained wrestling a young dragon, as they drag her away from her brother. It is still not enough to stop them. Her brother lies still on the ground with dirty men laughing over his helpless body. She cannot take the indignity to the noblest, best friend she has ever known, and fights all the fiercer.
Eventually they force some bitter drink down her resisting throat, and it makes her sight grow dark. She screams for Brother one last time as she drops down into unconsciousness, and she hears him call back with desperation,
:Will come find you! Sister-of-my-heart…:
He keens as the men drag her away, before the sound abruptly chokes to nothing. Her tears burn as they fall.
The world has changed to something she doesn’t understand.
She is surrounded by humans, women clucking at her in concerned tones, men speaking over her head as if she doesn’t exist, little children stopping to point and stare and whisper. The world is a mass of noises she only barely comprehends, missing the touch of heart on heart that made all emotions seem real.
They take away her scale armor; she later finds and rescues it from the dung of the stable midden, crying as she cleans each scale and remembers what she has lost. The too-soft fabrics tie her up and trip her. Her bed seems cold, no matter how many hot bricks they add, with no warm heartbeat beside her. They make her sit all day, surrounded by chattering women, and she fidgets with the need to roam, to stalk, to ride, to fly. She thinks with longing of her quiet castle and Brother’s uncomplicated love.
At night she creeps out the window- the chiseled stone is hatchling’s play to climb- to run through the gardens and smell air that isn’t perfumed to cover the human stink. Even that brings her little joy; the gardens are all carefully cultivated patches of life with sterility in between, and there are no rabbits to chase or berries to pick. All too soon, though, her guards come grumbling to seize her arms and drag her in, back to where even the cleanest dirt is not tolerated against her skin and her own scent is washed away under the gagging stink of dying flowers.
She wilts, day by day, her eyes losing their sparkle and her bright gold hair losing its shine. Food tastes like ash in her mouth, her sleep is fitful. Her not-mother pretends to fret over her when people are looking, her not-brother makes snide comments about her appearance. She barely hears them anymore. Mother would not recognize her now; there is no love of life in her heart.
She paces her chambers like a beast in a too-small cage, claws removed and fangs filed to nubs, and stares out the window with dull, lifeless eyes.
She is wakened from fitful sleep by a calloused hand pressing over her mouth. Only a moment’s panic crosses her mind before her heart begins to sing; she’d know that amber-eyed gaze anywhere!
:Sister-mine!: She throws her arms around her brother and weeps, silently, reaching out for the only being who feels real in this land of perfumed, empty words.
:Thought you were dead, saw you fall! Saw so much blood…: He shudders, and she feels scars across his back, only recently healed.
:Wing-torn, lost much blood, but not yet dead. Men grew bored, left. Was able to stop bleeding, heal. Searched for heart-sister, found you, could not reach you. Reached for magic to be human. Climbed wall.: He huffed and stroked her hair. :Humans not guard well from other humans.:
She lets out a broken, teary laugh and wipes her face with her sleeve. :Looking for me-escaping, not you-entering. Won’t be easy to leave.:
He grins, all teeth and dragon’s fire.
:Easy not fun.:
They sneak their way upwards, towards the castle walls. He can only hold this form until daylight, as young as he is, and it’s fast approaching dawn; the plan is for her to ride on his shoulders away from the castle as dawn takes back his human form.
They’re caught halfway up, by a knight sneaking back from a maid’s room; she takes him down with a swift slash of a stolen knife, but not before his yell alerts the castle.
The warriors bring them to bay on the parapets just as light crests the horizon; her brother is forced to leap from the walls as he loses human form and hovers just out of bow-shot, desperately calling her.
She cannot reach him…. But she refuses to be taken again.
Her eyes locked on her brother and her scale armor turning gold in the morning light, she leaps from the wall. She ignores the screams of the humans, listening instead to the despairing heart-call of her brother who cannot reach her in time.
Her mind flashes back to a lesson of Mother’s; “a dragon may change shape if their need is great.”
Mother had named her a dragon at heart.
Her roar splits the air as her armor grows, turning into golden scales the color of morning sun, and her wings cut the air like butter.
The golden dragon joins her brother in the sky, crying out her joy as they circle one another, and as the humans gape they turn to the mountains with their wings nearly touching as they fly.
From that day forth, the armor coat became her dragon-skin; when she wore it, she would be the golden dragon her heart knew her to be, and when she removed it (as she did only rarely) she would be the human woman she was born.
The armor’s scales all stayed golden, even after she removed it; all except two, that is. They rested directly over her heart, one a gorgeous sapphire-blue and the other a deep, fierce red; for no matter how much you change your shape, you keep your true family close to your heart.
Katharina Jung; Beautiful Conceptual Photography
Katharina Jung from Germany is into photography for only about a year but she’s produces amazingly beautiful and thought-provoking images in a short span of time. Her imagination is extraordinary and she has been improving herself a lot with each her upload. Katharina is revealing the inner voices of her heart through her photos set in places and ambiance you never dreamed of going and things who have not imagined those ways.