Portrait of Margaretha van Raephorst (1625-1690), Detail.
by Johannes Mijtens (circa 1614–1670)
The Secret History AU | Magical Realism
It was only in late January - after Henry’s account of the bacchanal - that I understood what I was seeing. Ghosts in the library, flowers sprouting in Camilla’s footsteps, the insubstantial wings that flickered behind Bunny’s back in certain lights. There was some debate between Francis and Henry, I believe, over whether the wings were meant to represent martyrdom or, Dantesque, a manifestation of some demonic energy.
"Meant by whom?" Camilla asked one afternoon when their argument had become too heated for us to drown out with our Parcheesi game.
Neither of them had an answer for her; Francis only waved a hand and said something lofty about omens and Greek sensibility. I remember thinking, at the time, that there was nothing out of the ordinary about their response, but now - after all that happened subsequently - I wonder whether the corner of Henry’s mouth didn’t quirk up a fraction, knowingly, almost imperceptibly.
For me, at least, the most worrisome thing was that we could never tell how much anyone else saw. The world had changed irrevocably in the months since the bacchanal, but it seemed that we six were the only people who could see it. Other students’ eyes slid past the wonders we were becoming - Camilla’s flowers, Bunny’s wings, the way dust particles sparked and threw off their own light whenever Francis was near, and the look - could I have been imagining it? - that passed between Charles and Francis whenever Charles caught the dust in his hands and blew it back at him. Even Julian, for all his talk of the sublime, only laughed when Camilla tried, slyly, to bring up the topic.
Of all of us, only Henry remained unchanged. (I should add, I suppose, though I’m not proud of it, that even I had changed, though exactly how I was never sure. With me, it was less visible - a sort of sixth sense, a spatial awareness of shadows and something always moving in the corner of my eye when I looked in mirrors. The closest I came to understanding what exactly was happening to me was on a snowed-in day in March, when Camilla came into my room at Francis’ house looking for her Greek dictionary and screamed, one hand over her mouth, staring at me like she’d seen a Gorgon. “What?” I asked her. “Camilla, what on earth?” But instead of answering, she fled back down the stairs and wouldn’t speak to me for three days.)
But I digress. It was Henry I was speaking of, Henry with his grey suits and his somber expression, pushing his glasses up on his nose and leaning in to examine whatever new wonder cropped up in the vicinity with the cold, dispassionate air of a weary primary school teacher inspecting the lizard tank to discern whether it was feeding time. “A collective hallucination,” I overheard Charles telling him once, in confidence. “How the hell else do you explain this?”
Henry had chuckled. “‘I seem to see two suns,’” he said, quoting from the Bacchae, “‘and two cities, two wholly different worlds…’ Have you ever entertained the possibility that there might be another world inaccessible to mortals? But after an encounter with the divine, perhaps we might gain the tiniest sliver of window, might be able to see the barest shadow of the Other.”
There was a pause, a swallow, and then Charles said, “That’s seriously fucked, Henry.”
It did sound, to borrow Charles’ words, seriously fucked. But years later, lying in the dark of my bedroom in Plano and drowsing in and out of sleep with a girl lying beside me, her name long forgotten, I dreamed again of Henry at the ravine, of Bunny’s surprised eyes and the pomegranate juice dribbling down his chin. In my dream, Henry was dusting off his hands, and he looked at me suddenly and with such force that I could half-feel my sleeping body jolting in shock.
"Are you happy here?" I asked him. I don’t know what I was trying to say - probably something along the lines of Are you satisfied now, after what you did to us?
But Henry seemed to understand. “Not particularly,” he said, “but you’re not very happy where you are, either.”
I want you to watch me tremble.
Accept nostalgic dissonance
upon the realization that I am.
I am more than anything you
could have reduced me to.
I am so much greater than
what you have become.
Take these words I offer in peace,
And celebrate the fight as you struggle
against this momentous impetus
in which I crown your demise.
~ She Collared You With Grit Filled Promises
Queen You Shall Be
Mr. Moustafa // Alexandre Desplat
farewell-fair-cruelty asked: I am /this/ close to writing a modern au of the life of Muhammad (pbuh). Thanks to Millennial Gospel, yourself and Alice for the crazy amount of inspiration and renewed strength in my faith. I've been hearing a lot of who anti-feminist Islamic culture is (which is such an oxymoron) and how the Quran is patriarchal and how un-loving this religion is and man, so wrong. That's not the point, thank you guys so much for the inspiration! <3
EXCUSE ME PLEASE DO THE THING. But really, if you ever end up doing anything with that, I want to be the first to know. I fully support you in that endeavor. We’re happy we could inspire you!