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into the utter east, sea of lilies

August 2014



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into the utter east, sea of lilies


l_a_r_m showed me this blog that was all in raptures over the following short story, which was written by Eileen Chang:


This is real.

There was once a daughter of a tolerably well-off family in the country who was very lovely and sought out by many matchmakers, although nothing had come of their efforts. That year, she was only fifteen or sixteen years old. One spring evening, she stood by the back door, hands resting on a peach tree. She remembered that she was wearing a moon-white tunic. She had seen the young man who lived across the way, but they had never spoken. He walked toward her, came to a halt close by, and said softly: “So you’re here, too?” She did not say anything, and he did not say more. They stood for a moment and then went their separate ways.

That was all.

Later, the girl was abducted by a swindler in the family and sold as a concubine in some far-off town, then sold several times more, passing through any number of trials and ordeals. When she was old, she still remembered that incident and often spoke of that evening in spring, the peach tree by the back door, that young man.

When you meet the one among the millions, when amid millions of years, across the borderless wastes of time, you happen to catch him or her, neither a step too early nor a step too late, what else is there to do except to ask softly: “So you’re here, too?”


It's pretty writing, to be sure, but I don't really like it at all - we spent quite some time discussing how it make such a fantasy out of love, and in such a way that to me seems so negative.  The girl gets one glimpse at love and then it makes it alright that she gets kidnapped and sold as a sex slave, because she has that one memory of that one moment with the guy who happened to be her true love.  I want more from it - I want to know something about the boy, I want to know just why it remains so firmly in her memory, I want more focus on how awful it is that she gets enslaved...the love becomes a fantasy - for all we know she imagined the encounter! - and the story is way too apathetic to match the sense of wonder and peace that I think it's trying to evoke.
And so, as one does, LaRM and I decided it needed to be fixed through fan fic, so we wrote Lucy/Caspian drabbles using the story's formula, ish.  I don't actually really love mine - I think it might possibly be just as apathetic as the original, but hey, it was an excuse to write Lucy/Caspian, so I'm all over it.

There was a girl – a queen, though sometimes she was just a girl – and she loved a boy.

Once upon a time, she and her brothers and sister helped him win his kingdom. She remembered the first time they’d spoken, outside, at night, with the moon overhead and the stars singing to welcome her return, the blood done spilling and the healing beginning. “So you’re here, too?” he’d asked as he came upon her in the tall grass, a question but one without any surprise.

“I couldn’t sleep,” she’d replied. “The castle smells like winter, and blood.”

Neither spoke any more that night, but they sat together watching the sun rise, and then they stood up and walked back together.

That was all the time they got together, before she was sent back into the world where she was a little girl without a kingdom or a king. But she remembered, and often dreamed of that night, quiet and calm beneath the sky, that boy whom she loved in that world that she loved.
And when they finally met again, years and a year later, finding each other across oceans and worlds, she could think of nothing to say except, “So you’re here, too.”

“I am here,” he said, “and so are you,” and the reality was sweeter and more beautiful than any remembrance of a dream.


I completely agree with you, that whilst it has a fairy tale quality, it loses something by not going into greater depth,or giving a sense of resolution.

On the other hand, I love yours! It really has a nice sense of poetry to it, and that image at the end was beautiful.

It's inspired me to try my hand at it.You're slowly converting me to Lucian (pouts).

Once a woman in a childs body lived. She was admired by many because she was good and valiant and kind, and whilst she loved them all back, she couldn't love them in the way she wanted to.

She fought many battles and healed many more, and once after saving a people and raising a king, she sat underneath a peach dryad, softly singing a tune as she washed away a blood soaked cloth in a running stream.

It was night and the dryad was asleep, swaying in the wind, its branches drooping and lifting. She heard a rustling sound and looked up.

It was him. Golden-haired and standing awkwardly.

"So, you're here to," he said.

"I am," she said and went back to washing blood.

He stood in silence for a moment, wanting to say much because so much needed to be said. And she wanted to say much as well, because in that moment, in the clear air, under the moon and next to a sleeping dryad, she thought he looked like the most handsome man in the world.

Their eyes met, their mouths opened and it was a moment of such tranquility and wonder. In that moment, they realised that they didn't need to say anything at all.

So he took her hand in his and loved her with a touch, but no more, knowing that there would be time for that later.

But then she was thrust away, back into the world of her birth, and he was left with a memory of a girl washing blood, and she with the thoughts of a boy under a moon and next to a peach dryad.

And they let the memory of what almost was fade, not letting themselves dwell on a love that never bore fruit. Yet somehow the taste of peaches was always bitter sweet on their tongues.

And when a year later she fell into his world again. He simply said, 'Your here.'

And for a time, it was enough.
the peaches! Oh my heart! Lovely, lovely. I just said of Meto's, and it's so right here too, the bitter and the sweet without being cloying. This is not a debilitating love as described in these pieces, but a moment that never quite makes it to fulfillment, regretful and a little sad but with the more mature reflection of might have beens and not ZOMG I cannot go on EVER and shall die of broken heart.
Oh, I like this a lot! It has the very fairy-tale-ish quality to it but also is more bittersweet, loving her with a touch, the taste of peaches always bitter on their tongues, remembering her as a girl washing blood...very nice!

As for the conversion to Lucian...muahahahaa! Come to our side, we have...the Dawn Treader! It's a glorious ship, truly. :P
I shall never surrender!
Woot woot! Score another for Team Lucian!

This is delightful! That ending line is quite hard-hitting; it says a great deal in a very little. The overall tone is very sweet, I think because they're both younger here (I like this! I feel a plot bunny brewing). My favorite line was "So he took her hand in his and loved her with a touch, but no more." Fabulous!
This is fabulous! I love love love it. The ending line got me right in the fangirl heart. I found it reminiscent of the ending of one of my favorite Lucians, Just the Same by leggomystego. It has the same wild joy/beautiful abandon/pure, simple love.

I love Lucy's line about the way the castle smells, and I love the image of them in the sunrise. I adore the narrative symmetry! It's got the same ring as "I feel that I can't stand much more of this, yet I don't want it to stop." Brilliant! You do me proud, my Lucian convert. This is absolutely gorgeous stuff. Yours came out much more Narnian than mine did! My story is kind of depressing.

I have decided that you are the Renoir and I'm the Monet, roughly, since you're all about the deep characterization and I seem to fixate on worldbuilding. Which is ironic since I absolutely prefer Renoir to Monet -- but then, that rather makes sense. Love this! You're fab!

Thank you thank you! I think this might technically be the my first ever Lucian story, if we're going in terms of posting. Huh. And I wouldn't be here with it without your recs and in-depth comments, oh mighty Lucian evangelist!

So sweet, so lovely. And so much better than the inspiration that spawned it. I really liked the beginning especially with the castle smelling of winter and blood and the boy she loved in the world she loved. It's bittersweet, not cloying, and just lovely.
Thanks! I almost got horrifically carried away in Lucy's thoughts about the Telmarine castle, but then I reminded myself that it was a Lucy/Caspian piece, not a Meto/descriptive rambling one.

I'm so glad it came across well!
Oh, yours is so pretty! Lucy/Caspian was my first Narnia pairing, waaaay back when.

I guess I read the original story differently. I sort of looked at it as--this is such a meaningless encounter for her, but on the other hand, her life gets totally derailed very soon afterward, so maybe it was this wrapped up potential instead of love--you know, the last night she was a person to a man, the last night she was loved (not in the romantic sense, but with her parents there) and had the world spread out in front of her, and that's why she remembers it. In my experience anyway, it's the ones that got away that I think about nostalgically, even though at the time they weren't so important. But you miss--not so much them, but who you were back then, what you might have been if you'd taken a different road.

This is so pretty--you've kept to the structure most of the way but there's less of the disconnect, and I *love* your opening line.