That Red Dress

This story was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.  The dress reminded me of the sort of pencil skirts they wore in the 1950s… so my mind went to this universe.  Felicja and Ilya are such a fun couple…

**

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Ilya looked up as his wife stepped into the room.  Her sandals clicked on the tiles as she moved across the room.  He whistled at her between his teeth and grinned when she stopped to frown at him.

“That’s a look I could never pull off,” he said, shaking his head.

Felicja smirked and crossed her arms over her chest.  “I might let you try… later,” she said, arching her brows.

Henryk looked between his parents and then shook his head.  “There is just no safe place to go with that,” he said, glancing over at his sister.

Zofia chuckled.  “No,” she agreed, “there really isn’t.”

Ilya rolled his eyes and reached out to ruffle his hand through Henryk’s hair.  “Can’t I compliment your mother on her dress?”

“Sure, you can,” Henryk said, shaking his locks back into their proper position.  “Just… you know, we don’t need to know about what happens behind the closed bedroom door.”

“We know enough, actually.  We can do without the details,” Zofia clarified.  She bounced to her feet and beckoned to her brother.  “On that note… we’re off to school.”

“You kids behave,” Henryk told them, as they grabbed their jackets and schoolbags and hurried out the door.

Felicja leaned back on the kitchen counter and smiled.  “The kids are off to school,” she said, arching her brows.

Laughing, Ilya leaned up to kiss her lightly on the mouth.  Rubbing a finger against her cheek, he said, “Tempting though that sounds… we need to be off to work.”

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Traditions

This little scene between Ilya and Felicja was base on a word prompt from WriYe’s DreamWidth.  The story Felicja mentions is actually linked with St. Nicholas.  As today is St. Nicholas’s Day, I felt it was appropriate.

**

For Ilya, the season of year turning always reminded him of oranges.  As soon as the weather began to get cold and people began hauling out the greenery to hang all over the buildings and wrap around the lampposts, he craved the round fruits that were the color of their name.  For a long time, he wondered about that.  The connection bothered him because he didn’t know where it came from.

That changed the first Year Turning that he spent with his wife and children.  Felicja was sitting by the fire with her knitting.  He was trying to make a list of things they would pick up at the store when they went shopping the next day.  “Remember to get some oranges,” Felicja said, without looking up.

“Oranges?” he repeated, blinking.  He didn’t even think that Felicja liked them very well.  She never seemed to eat them.  “For the kids?”

Felicja paused and looked up at him.  “It’s a tradition,” she said, shrugging.  “They represent the gold balls that were gifted to the poor man’s daughters.  Eating them is supposed to bring good luck in the coming year.”

Ilya chuckled softly and nodded.  “My parents always gave us oranges at Year Turning,” he said, as he wrote the word on the shopping list.  “I always feel like I want them this time of year, but… I never made the connection.”

“It’s like hanging greenery,” Felicja said, shrugging.  “We do things without knowing why we do them.  Only that we always have.  You’ve always eaten oranges this time of year, so you feel like you should eat oranges.”

Librarians…

Here is the next little section of my NaNo.  It was based partly on a photo prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

52dc911c3a142665da760c757c690431By the time that the snow had abated, Felicja was acting more like her usual self. She’d dried her tears and, currently, she was directing everyone to set about cleaning the house. Once they had things tidied to her specifications, they could began gathering the candles and greenery that would go around the house to celebrate the upcoming holiday.

Ilya made his way up to the second level of the home and peered into the room that functioned as the family’s library. The books were most second-hand, many older than either Felicja or Ilya. He stepped over to a shelf and began dusting as he straightened the books.

They seldom used the library. There seemed to be a perpetual draft coming from somewhere. Ilya had checked the windows and doors, but he hadn’t found the source of the cold.

He suppressed a shiver and then blinked when he noticed that he could see stonework through the back of the shelf. It was an outer wall. With no interior corridor to insulate it, the cold seeped right through the wall and into the room. “No wonder it’s so cold in here,” he breathed.

He shook his head slightly. What could they do to keep out some of the cold? He chewed his lip. He could put tapestries up. Wasn’t that how they’d kept out the cold in old castles? The question was: how would he put a tapestry behind the bookshelf?

He rubbed at his nose and turned away from the wall, just as Felicja stepped into the room. “I figured out where our draft comes from,” he said, pointing at the brick wall behind the shelf.

“If you put the shelf at the center of the room,” Felicja said, waving at the empty space between them. “Then, we could hang some kind of wall covering.”

Ilya blinked and then nodded. “I’ll get Mikas to help me, once he get off of work,” he said. Then, he glanced at the books. “Meanwhile, maybe Henryk could come up and help me clear off this shelf?”

Felicja nodded. “I’ll get him and Zofia. We can all work on it,” she said. She turned away, calling for both children.

Ilya turned back to the bookshelves. Then, he began taking the books off of them and piling them on a table near the window. Hopefully, once the shelves were empty, they’d be light enough for he and Mikas to move them.

Wild Weather…. Whirlwind Emotions…

Here is a scene that I wrote for my NaNo that was partly inspired by a word prompt (wild) from the WriYe DreamWidth.  Please don’t think that this is the way Felicja usually acts.  She’s just a bit emotional right now.  (However, it was such a departure from her normal character that it was fun to write.)

**

Ilya moaned softly as he woke. He rolled over in bed and frowned to see that he was alone. “Felicja?” he called, sitting up. “Where are you?”

She stepped back in from the next room and then pointed outside. “Would you look at that?” she said, her voice taking on a hard edge. She sat down heavily and then snuggled back under the covers. “Look at that snow, Husband!”

Frowning, Ilya grabbed his glasses off the nightstand and settled them in place in front of his eyes. He blinked at the window. In the early morning light, he could see the fields beyond their home blanketed in white. That wasn’t too surprising. He slipped out of bed and padded over to the window. Behind him, Felicja grumbled about how she didn’t want to have to deal with the mess alone.

He looked down towards the walk. The night before, it had been clear. Now, it was covered. He blinked and looked at one of the nearby walls. “We must have gotten a foot of snow overnight,” he breathed. Then, he realized that it was still coming down. No wonder Felicja was in a tizzy. Such wild weather was uncommon in Sarmaci.

He shook his head and then returned to her side. “Would you like for me to stay home with you today?” he asked, his voice soft. “I just have to write my report from our last case. I can do that here and send it by courier.”

Tears welled in her eyes and she nodded. “Two weeks until year turning,” she said. Then she waved out at the snow. “How are we going to get the greens hung with this going on? I don’t want it, Husband!”

Then, quite unexpectedly, she was sobbing and burying her face against his bare chest. He flushed when he heard the door opening. He had just enough time to cover both of them before Henryk peered inside, blinking sleepily.

“Why’s Mama crying?” he asked around a yawn.

“Because women sometimes become emotional when they’re getting ready to have babies,” Ilya said, as he hugged Felicja gently. “She’s not happy because the snow ruined her plans for the day.”

Henryk nodded and then rubbed at his eyes. “It’ll be all right, Mama,” he said. He yawned again and added, “We’ll help decorate when the snow stops.”

“A-all right,” Felicja said, as she tried to quiet her sobs. When Henryk left, she gave Ilya a watery smile. “We have such good kids,” she said. Then she was sobbing again.

Ilya heaved a sigh and continued to hold her until she finally quieted. Then, he kissed her brow and grabbed his robe off the foot of the bed. He pushed his feet into slippers as he drew the robe closed around his body and tied it in place. “I’m going to call Cedar and tell him that I’ll work from home,” he said.

Coming Home

Two little scenes that fit the word prompt: Snuggle from WriYe DreamWidth.  My agents have returned home from a case that took them to Veligrad.  For Mikas and Ilya it was difficult because they’d once lived in Veligrad, so that was “home” – not it isn’t, which they realize as they’re leaving and Mikas says that he can’t wait to get home.

**

Ilya had never felt better about walking through the door of the little cottage he shared with Felicja than he did that day.  It hadn’t even been a difficult case.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  He’d barely been gone for a day.  However, somehow having been in Veligrad again had been more draining than the visit to Frankonia had been.

He set his bag down just inside the entryway and glanced around.  “I’m home,” he called, his voice soft.  He smiled when he heard Felicja call to him from somewhere else in the house.  The children, of course, would be at school during the day.

Leaving his bag, he headed through to the sitting room and then into the kitchen.  Felicja was standing at the stove, stirring a pot.  Sighing, Ilya stepped up to wrap his arms around her.  He smiled when he felt their child stir inside her under his hand.  “I missed you,” he breathed.

“You weren’t gone for very long,” Felicja said.  She chuckled as he nuzzled against her cheek.  In a softer voice, she added, “I missed you too, though.  Maybe it’s because you’d gone to Veligrad.”

“Maybe,” Ilya said.  He looked over her shoulder into the pot and smiled.  He could tell immediately what she was cooking, by the aroma and the sight of the cabbage and other vegetables in the broth.  “Cabbage soup?”

Felicja nodded.  “There’s a chill in the air,” she said.  She glanced outside through the window and shrugged.  “I think we might get snow tonight.  Anyway, it seemed to be a good night for soup and this is what the kids wanted.”

Ilya kissed her cheek once before stepping back to give her space.  It was nice to be home.

**

Mikas felt a little odd as he returned to his apartment in Andrien’s home.  Somehow, it felt wrong to be going home to an empty apartment when what he really wanted to do was to go home to Vin.  He hesitated as he reached his door.  Then, he looked at his watch.  It wasn’t so late yet.  Would he be intruding if he went to see Vin right then?

He shook his head and then headed into his apartment.  He paused long enough to drop off his bag.  Then, he was heading out once again.  In less than half an hour, he was making his way down the corridor of the agency dormitory where Vin lived.  When he reached the door, he closed his eyes and rapped on the smooth wood with his knuckles.

“Hey, Darling,” Vin said, as soon as he opened the door.

Mikas opened his eyes and gave Vin a weak smile.  “Hey,” he said, his voice soft.  He followed Vin into the room and then turned to face him as Vin closed the door.  He shrugged.  “I didn’t want to be alone.”

“Was it tough… being back in Veligrad again?” Vin asked, catching his hand.  He drew Mikas over to the couch and settled down.

Mikas sat down close beside him and then leaned his head on Vin’s shoulder.  “It was… strange,” he said, his voice soft.  “That’s not home anymore.  Obria is… with you.”  He sighed as Vin pressed a kiss to his forehead.

Dreams of Light and Shadow

This story was inspired by a picture prompt at the WriYe DreamWidth page.  The picture inspired the setting, specifically.

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Taurys moaned softly as he woke. Sitting, he ruffled a hand through his hair. The sun was fully up. The day had dawned clear and bright. He shook his head in frustration. Why hadn’t anyone woken him?

He dressed quickly and headed out of his room. It took him a while before he found Gilbert and Felicja. They were at the top of the tower. Gilbert had his head bent over a notebook. He was writing diligently. Felicja was staring off at the sea. It seem usually calm.

“Good morning,” he said, waving at each of them. He sighed as Felicja glanced over at him and nodded in greeting. Gilbert didn’t even react to his voice. He was completely focused on his work. He shook his head. “Why’d you let me sleep so late?”

Felicja shrugged. “The doc said that it was better to let you wake on your own,” she said. She looked thoughtful for a moment. “You looked like you were dreaming when I checked in on you. I didn’t know you could dream.”

“Just like you, it’s every night,” Taurys said. He closed his eyes. Usually, he dreamed of swirling, formless colors. Last night had been different. He’d dreamed about being in a glass room. A light was at the center of the room and it pulled steadily – going dim and then brightening.

As he remembered the dream, he realized that he’d been dreaming about being in a lighthouse. That wasn’t surprising, since they’d arrived at one the day before. Taurys leaned back against the window behind him. He frowned. Something had been bothering him for a while and this seemed like a good time to ask about it. “What’s the Agency’s obsession with lighthouses, anyway?”

“What?” Felicja said, turning to face him. She was smiling faintly and Taurys got the impression that she was amused. “What obsession?”

“Two different bases – this one and the Egg – have lighthouses on them,” Taurys said. He frowned and added, “Three, if you count the Watchtower.” He shrugged. “It’s also on our badges.”

When Felicja shrugged and turned away, Taurys heaved another sigh. “With this place and the Watchtower it at least makes sense. The Egg is a floating island. What’s the lighthouse meant to be warning people away from.”

That got Gilbert’s attention. He looked over at Taurys and shook his head. “Lighthouses don’t warn ships away from the shore,” he said, his voice soft. “They’re a beacon, to show the safe passage through the rocks.”

Felicja nodded. “The lighthouse on the Egg is meant to help Agents find it,” she said, shrugging. Her brows furrowed. “The League of Nations and the International Intelligence Agency, as part of it, is meant to be a light in the darkness, guiding people who are lost safely home.”

“That’s why it’s on our badges,” Gilbert said, nodding.

For a moment, Taurys stared at them. Then, he smiled and looked out at the water. It was deceptively calm, but there were rocks out there, he knew. The lighthouse guided ships through the treacherous waters. As agents, the were meant to do that for those who were navigating the dangerous waters of life. “I never thought of it that way,” he murmured.

Sweet Dreams?

I found a prompt online, “Children are in bed, you’re reading a book in the living room.  You suddenly feel a prickle of skin – someone is watching you. What happens next?”  That, along with the word prompt “moon” from the WriYe DreamWidth inspired this scene…

**

Felicja settled the children down to sleep.  Henryk had been especially difficult.  He was convinced that there was some sort of monster in the root cellar.  Felicja shook her head slightly.  She wished he hadn’t found the trapdoor at all.  No matter what she did, he couldn’t be convinced that the only thing down there was dust and old bottles.

She settled down in front of the fire with her knitting.  It was the first they’d ever actually lived in a house.  Maybe that was why Henryk was so nervous.  Their apartment hadn’t had a basement or root cellar with access to the living area.  The basement was down a flight of stairs – out of sight, out of mind.

Felicja began working on the half-finished sweater.  Soon enough, it would be ready to be packed away for their birthday.  Then, she could get started on Zofia’s present.  She’d knit a dress for her daughter.  It would be something pretty and suitable to wear for special occasions.  Zofia needed something like that.

She frowned as the hairs on the back of her neck prickled.  Without pausing in her knitting, she lifted her eyes and glanced around.  She expected to see one of the children peering into the room.  She saw nothing.

“Just my imagination,” she breathed.  Shaking her head, Felicja set her knitting aside.  Henryk’s crazy talk about the root cellar was rubbing off on her.  She stood and headed into the kitchen.  The rug was undisturbed.  She knew, beneath it, the trapdoor was firmly closed.

Heaving a sigh, she set one of the kitchen chairs on top of it.  Then, she headed to her bedroom.  She would read until she fell asleep.  She couldn’t focus on her knitting if she was going to jump at every noise.

Felicja settled on the bed and turned on the radio, keeping the volume low.  Then, she lifted the romance book off the nightstand and began to read by the light of the full moon.  By the time her eyes grew heavy, all thought of monsters in the root cellar were gone.

Of Visions Unknown

This is a little story that was inspired by a word prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth: Sixth Sense.  I wonder what would have changed if Ilya had gone with Felicja to that appointment.  (Felicja’s the one with the sixth sense, although… maybe Ilya has a bit of it too.)

**

Ilya knew that the war would be over soon. He wondered what would happen when the day came. His superiors had never imagined that he would be successful. They’d thought he’d be discovered – that he’d be killed. He was expendable to them. A part of him hoped that meant they’d leave him alone when the war ended. Would it really be so bad to live out his days as Eliasz Braginski?

Behind him, Felicja cried out in her sleep. He frowned slightly and moved over to the bed. “You’re just dreaming,” he said, his voice soft. He kissed her brow gently.

“Ilya, no,” Felicja breathed, tossing her head fitfully.

His brows furrowed and he drew back from his young wife. He bit his lip. He had to have misheard her words. She didn’t know his true identity. There was no reason for him to call him that name then. Shaking the thought away, he shook her gently.

In an instant, her vibrant green eyes were locked on his face. “Eliasz,” she breathed. She kissed him warmly. Then, she threw back the blankets and slipped off the bed. “I had this terrible nightmare, but… I can’t remember it now.”

“It’s fine,” Ilya said, as he followed her into the kitchen of the little apartment they shared. He poured himself a cup of coffee, but she shook her head when he silently offered to do the same for her. “What’s wrong, Felicja?”

She shrugged. “I’ve been feeling out of sorts for a couple days now,” she said, shaking her head. “Maybe I caught a stomach bug. I don’t know. Anyway, I’m going to the doctor today.”

Ilya nodded. “Would you like for me to go with you?” he asked.

Felicja hesitated, a strange look on her face. Then, she shook herself and gave a nervous sort of laugh. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious,” she said. She shrugged. “You’ve got work, right? I’ll call you later and tell you how I make out.”

“All right,” Ilya said, his voice soft. He wondered, though, if he shouldn’t go with her. Didn’t husbands go with their wives to doctor appointments? His father had usually gone with his mother, he remembered. In a softer voice, he added, “If you’re sure.”

Felicja had already moved on to the next topic, though. She was planning their weekend. It was, she said, past time that he met her parents. They were married now – had been for over a month – and he still hadn’t met them. Ilya sighed and sipped at his coffee as he listened to Felicja chatter. It didn’t matter what she said. He’d agree to anything she wanted. He loved her too much to deny her requests.

Crushing Joy to Dust

This is part of my current Camp July NaNo story.  It was inspired by a picture prompt WriYe DreamWidth.

wordsStonesTaurys frowned as Gilbert set a small pot in front of him. “Rocks?” he said, arching an eyebrow at Gilbert. “What am I supposed to do with rocks?”


“Read them,” Gilbert said. When Taurys frowned at him, he shrugged. “I’m checking your systems, Taurys. We have to make sure that everything is working as it should.”


Sighing, he looked at the stones. “Joy,” he read, his voice soft. “Peace, hope, love, wisdom, strength.” He looked over at Gilbert and shrugged. “So, we know that I can read.”


“What does hope mean?” Gilbert said.


For a moment, Taurys didn’t know what to say. “Hope is… wanting something to happen and… having the certainty that it will at the same time.”


Gilbert nodded slightly, and looking down at the device he used to monitor Taurys’s systems, said, “Please pick up the stone that says joy on it.”


Sighing, Taurys reached for the stone. He couldn’t understand the point of the exercise. The first two parts made sense, even if he thought they were pointless. This one… he frowned as he grasped the stone in his hand. He could see the cracks forming in the stone. They spread outward and, to Taurys’s shock, the stone crumbled in his hand.


“What just happened?” Taurys said, shaking his head.


Gilbert grimaced. “You’re stronger now than before, Taurys,” he said. He looked up as Felicja bounced into the room. “Hey,” he said.


“What are you doing?” she asked.


“Crushing my joy,” Gilbert said, shrugging.



 

Sleep for the Winter

The photo prompt I used for this story (from NaNoWriMo’s DreamWidth) was a bit of a challenge.  However, I like the interplay between Zofia and Henryk.

The Dogs Are Ready for Winter

Henryk frowned at the pink and purple hat.  Then, he looked over at the gray and blue hat that his sister was just finishing.  “Why do they have holes in them?” he said, putting his fingers into the hole that was just above one earflap.  “Did you mess it up?”

“No,” she said, frowning.  She tied off the braid that came down from the earflap of the hat she’d just finished and took the other hat from her brother.  “The holes are for their ears, silly!”

For a moment, Henryk was just staring.  “Whose ears?” he said.  As she flounced – that was the only way to describe the movement – out of the room, he fell into step behind her.  “Zosia, who are the hats for?”

She smiled and then set the hats on the side table, while she pulled on her coat and mittens.  Then, she hurried outside.  Henryk rolled his eyes and shrugged into his own coat.  He was just stepping out onto the porch when his sister reached the neighbor’s yard.

“Zofia,” he said, his voice strained.  “That’s not… what are you doing?”

Ignoring him, Zofia stepped up to the smaller of the neighbor’s golden retriever dogs.  She settled the pink and purple hat on the dog’s head, carefully pulling the dog’s ears through the holes above the earflaps.  She gave the larger dog the blue and gray hat.

“There,” she said, as she stepped back to admire her handiwork.  “Now, these dogs are ready for winter!”

Henryk sighed.  The larger dog looked confused.  His smaller companion seemed to be glaring.  As Zofia turned around and headed inside, he shook his head.  Looking at the dogs, he said, “Should I tell her that the earflaps are rather pointless, seeing as they’re meant to keep your ears warm and… that’s not going to work if your ears come out above them?”

The smaller dog barked and shook his head, knocking the hat askew.  His larger companion snatched the hat off his head and ran.  Barking again, the smaller dog took off after her, as if he actually wanted to wear a pink and purple hat.

Sighing, Henryk headed back into the house.  “It’s probably a really good thing that the ground squirrels hibernate,” he murmured.  “She’d be making sweaters for them otherwise.”

“Is Zofia having fun with her crochet?” Mama asked, not looking up from her knitting.

Henryk grimaced.  “You’ve created a monster,” he said, nodding.

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