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Hornblower – C.S. Forester
The Secret of Kells
Song of the Sea
I don’t know who you are or what we matched on yet, but I’m looking forward to reading whatever you come up with all the same. What I love most about all three canons I’ve nominated are their realistic-yet-original characters, the way those characters relate to each other, and the crafting of the world in which those interactions take place. I assume that since we’ve matched on one of those canons you feel the same way about it, which is awesome.
At least for the fandoms I’m requesting this year, my interests are all over the place – there’s no one specific fic that I’m after. Ensemble fic and character studies and atmospheric gen and porny shipfic are equally fulfilling. Pointless sweet fluff is just as excellent as fucked-up soul-crushing darkfic. I’ve provided a couple of fic ideas for each fandom, but if you want to go a different direction (or take a prompt and run with it), don’t limit yourself! In that vein, too, please go ahead and treat any requested characters as “or” requests. This gets a little more specific depending on the fandom/characters, but if you decide on an idea that only involves one of the characters I requested or that would involve several characters I didn’t specifically request, you don’t have to try to limit the non-requested characters’ screen time or shoehorn in the other requested character(s). These are all fandoms of my heart and there’s nothing I wouldn’t enjoy receiving for them!
…that being said, I do have a few general likes/dislikes that apply across all fandoms, so here they are.
significant physical contact and characters breaking the touch barrier (+ cuddling)
strong platonic friendships, especially between women or men and women
complicated but ultimately positive family relationships, including found or adopted families
slightly offbeat domestic fic (for any value of “offbeat”)
reconciliation of different worldviews
AUs of all kinds (canon-divergence, groundhog day loops, modern, rule 63, soulmate tattoos, space, everyone-is-a-bird...I love seeing different interpretations of how characters’ dynamics might be influenced by changes in the world around them)
complicated slow-burn relationships
normal people trying to go about everyday life in the face of some huge conflict or problem
two people physically isolated from everyone else and having to deal with things together – on a similar note, stuck-in-a-blizzard-huddling-for-warmth and all its variants are very welcome
non-canonical character death (anything dealing with canonical character death is awesome, though)
infidelity as a kink or as the primary focus of a story – cheating in a relationship is okay, but I’d rather it not become a fixation
character or ship bashing
…and in case you go the porny route, please no A/B/O or extreme kinks (bestiality, vore, scat, etc.)
Strongly reiterating my encouragement to treat this as an “or” request if we matched here – if you just want to write about one of them, that’s more than fine by me. I originally considered requesting Bush and Maria too, but decided to pare the actual request down to my two absolute favorite characters, Hornblower and Barbara. Still, feel free to feature anyone I didn’t request as heavily as you like…I love everyone in these books, down to the most minor of supporting characters.
Hornblower has been my favorite character ever since the rice incident in Midshipman. He’s funny and sympathetic and a total asshole by turns, and sometimes all at the same time. His tendencies toward misanthropy and self-hatred are part of what makes him so interesting to me; I also love how stupidly brave he can be, and how, deep down, he cares so much about the people he gets attached to. My OTP is Hornblower/Bush, with Hornblower/Barbara following close behind, and I OT3 them together like burning too. What I like about Hornblower/Bush is, of course, the ridiculously romantic way their friendship develops from the very beginning, and the pineapple of love, and the weird domesticity and deep devotion and “better than a wife”, but also the D/s subtext and Hornblower’s creepy tendency to project his issues onto Bush and the trainwreck-y way everything ends up. A lot of what I like about Hornblower/Barbara is, interestingly, sort of the opposite: I like how they initially dislike each other and need to build up some platonic respect (especially on Hornblower’s part) before anything happens between them, and the way they slowly grow closer to each other over the course of the series – I like how eventually Barbara seems to be able to see through Hornblower’s nastiness and carefully smooth it over without totally invalidating his feelings, and how much he relies upon her and really just wants her to cuddle him and tell him everything will be okay.
Barbara is fantastic, and she’s been my other favorite since very soon after she showed up in the books for the first time. I love the way she combines social and political tact and a carefully maintained outward appearance of conformity with drive and ambition and cleverness, and how, underneath all that, she takes such a strong and genuine interest in other people and treats them well. The defiance and willingness to go against the norm that she shows in Beat to Quarters are absolutely wonderful, but I love how nice she can be too. It’s a small thing, but I’ve also always appreciated that she wasn’t described as conventionally attractive (well, Hornblower’s inner narrative might be biased because he’s negative about everything, but still) and how that caused the emotional-cheating arc to read more sympathetically than “dumped my wife for a hot younger woman lol”. Speaking of that, while I adore Hornblower/Barbara for how complicated their relationship is and how they slowly grow to respect each other and build a functional, unique partnership, my other OTP for Barbara is actually Barbara/Maria. It would’ve been so easy for Forester to write Barbara behaving like a snide dick to Maria, or vice versa, but instead we got exactly the opposite, and their friendship – what little we saw of it, and what’s implied – is so precious to me. She formed a bond with her and adopted her baby even when they both thought Hornblower was dead! Hearts in my eyes.
no Hornblower/Maria shipfic; their romantic relationship is intriguing but ultimately just makes me sad for both of them (that being said, I’d love some kind of probably-AU fic about them being close platonic friends because d’awww)…and obviously they’re married in canon and of course there’s no problem with them being married in fic, I’d just prefer their relationship not be the main focus
no reference to or crossover with the miniseries universe/characterization at all, please – bookverse is the only thing I’m interested in
Richard! Richard is precious, and he’s an important aspect of the relationships between Barbara and Hornblower as well as Barbara and Maria. Fluffy kid!fic about him would be adorable. Imagine Barbara, young single (well, recently widowed) woman and the youngest child in her family, so no experience with baby siblings, declaring YES I WILL TAKE THE BABY and then realizing what exactly she’s signed up for. She’d have servants to help her but it would still be kind of a shock. Up at all hours of the night, and probably having everyone in polite society wondering what’s wrong with Lady Barbara that caused her to just up and adopt this random middle-class baby. Also, fic about Hornblower being an awkward cute dad is always, always good. He loves his children so much.
Flying Colours is my favorite book in the series. Any fic taking place at any point in that book, about any characters (Marie and the Comte included, I love them) would fulfill my heart. I just love the place each character arrives at as a person during that book, and the way relationships develop, and further exploration of that is something I love to see.
Lieutenant Hornblower is another of my favorites in the series, largely because it’s so full of sexual tension it’s ridiculous, but also because we get to see Hornblower and his sexy hands from somebody else’s POV for once. If you want to just write Hornblower and Bush banging at any point in that story, please do. Friendshippy gen would be fun as well.
Some kind of post- or pre-series character study type fic about Barbara or Hornblower might be nice. I’d love to see how you imagine they were as children, since I don’t have any sharply defined ideas about that – Hornblower the socially inept nerdy genius playing chess with people? What was his relationship with his father like? Barbara interacting with her more famous, historically canonical brothers – what’s the age difference between them, and how does that affect their relationship? Was she initially more openly defiant, and learned to hide it, or did she always have that outward appearance of poised conformity? I like the idea of post-series fic about them being a grumpy old married couple or dealing with their (great-)grandkids, with equal measures of humor and sweetness and sadness.
Gen crossover with the Aubreyad? A Temeraire AU? Either of those things would be excellent. I also love rule 63/always-a-[other gender] AUs for Hornblower especially, because regardless of whether anybody else gets swapped around, the idea of how a woman with Hornblower’s personality and interests and issues would cope (or not) with life in the late 18th/early 19th century fascinates me.
I might sound like a broken record by the time this letter’s done, but please feel free to treat this as an “or” request! If you just want to write about Aisling or Pangur, rather than the both of them, that is completely okay and you don’t have to try and shoehorn the other one in. And the characters in this movie are all so charming and original…I love all of the monks, and Cellach, and Aidan, and the kids in the background, and of course Brendan, who’s such a great protagonist. If any of them feature heavily in your fic that would be wonderful too.
Aisling is one of my favorite magical beings ever. I love her powers and her personality and her character design. I love the way she’ll just walk around on all fours sometimes. She’s so proud and powerful, but so vulnerable and skeptical at the same time. I’d love to hear about her past, and her parents, and the coming of Crom Cruach. How has her perception of humans changed over the years? It’s implied, after all, that it was the Crom worshippers’ actions and establishment of the standing stones and place of worship that led to his rise in power, I can’t imagine Aisling feeling very forgiving about that. I would love to learn more about how the worldbuilding works, with regards to religion and mythology and nonhuman beings, and how the human and the fairy world (or whatever you’d like to call it) influence each other. What is Aisling’s relationship to her forest, exactly? Why does she have such an affinity with the wolves? What’s her original shape? There are so many questions about the way the world works in this movie, I love it! I’d like to hear her thoughts about Brendan and the wall and the abbey, and how their relationship developed from her point of view – we get a pretty good idea of Brendan’s thoughts about it from the movie, but a little less from Aisling. What exactly happened when they confronted Crom? Does she keep an eye on Brendan after his eventual return? Does he try to get back in touch with her somehow, and how does she respond?
Pangur Ban is just so much fun. Even though she doesn’t talk at all, she’s got such an attitude – she’s her own
person cat. She does what she wants. Given that air of independence, I’m terribly curious about how she and Aidan met each other and decided to stick together. Why did he choose that name for her? What does she think of everything Aidan gets up to? There are so many possibilities there! I also love, love, love Pangur and Aisling’s relationship, and how it develops quietly alongside Brendan’s friendship with Aisling. That scene near the end of the movie where Pangur sneaks off into the forest alone, walks past all the wolves (even though she’s afraid) and just looks up at wolf!Aisling…it’s gorgeous, it gives me chills every time. What’s going on there? What kind of connection do Aisling and Pangur have? I’m also interested in how that might overlap with Aidan’s worldview, or at least what we can infer of it from the things he tells Brendan – Pangur’s his cat, after all, she’s probably picked up a lot of his philosophy and that might have something to do with how she relates to Aisling. Something else that intrigues me is the color of Pangur’s eyes. First there’s the green one, the same color as Aisling’s– it could be meant to imply magical heritage, so maybe there’s something special about Pangur we don’t know? Besides her blue eye, she actually looks very similar to Aisling’s various forms. And speaking of her other eye, pale blue is visually associated with Crom Cruach, which I also thought was interesting. Not sure whether you want to run with any of that or not, but if so, go crazy. I’m very curious about how at times Pangur acts as a go-between for the human world and Aisling’s world, and whether all cats are like that (which would be awesome to see explored) or whether there’s something special about Pangur individually.
no shipfic, please, and by extension no porn – I’m mostly interested in gen for Kells
no AUs that totally remove Aisling’s powers; for me they’re a significant part of her as a character
I already mentioned wanting to learn more about how Aidan and Pangur met and decided to stay together, and wanted to elaborate on that. There’s a lot of potential for cuteness with Aidan being nice and Pangur slowly coming around…but also, possibly, to flip the expectation of Aidan having to be the one to win Pangur’s trust on its head and having Pangur trying to get Aidan’s attention! Cats are funny pets – silly fic exploring Pangur’s loud escapades at three in the morning would be awesome. Does she ever bring Aidan little dead animal presents? She grew up on Iona (I assume), so does she know how to fish/swim, or does she absolutely despise water?
I’d love a calm quiet atmospheric fic about Aisling, Brendan, and Pangur just spending time in the forest, taking place during that little montage around the middle of the movie. Brendan and Aisling being friends, and teaching each other about the things they don’t know, and Pangur observing and maybe doing a little solo exploration of her own, and Pangur and Aisling just being kind of aware of each other in the way that they are. The forest is almost its own character in this movie, so anything dealing with time spent there would be excellent.
Aisling’s mother looks really interesting, going off how she appears in Origins, but we don’t know much about her besides that she was the last one standing against Crom. An exploration of Aisling’s mother as a character, and her relationship with Aisling and how that ultimately ended would be amazing. A portrayal of the fight against Crom would be even more amazing: did it go on for centuries, or did the defeat happen relatively quickly? How did the final battle go? Why was Aisling the only one left, and where was she during her mother’s fight against Crom – was she hidden away or trying to help or something else, and how does she feel about that now?
How does Aisling perceive time? Does she even pay attention to it, beyond the changing seasons? She obviously doesn’t age visibly, so what does she think about humans aging? What about technological advancements? Annoyance at people encroaching upon and destroying her forest, probably, and about the wolves leaving (or worse, being hunted until none remain), but how seriously does she take it? Is the blasé attitude she displays towards anything human that can’t harm her put-upon, or mostly genuine?
Some kind of really improbable, cracky AU would be absolutely hilarious if you think you could pull it off – I mentioned in my DNWs that I don’t want an Aisling whose powers are completely removed, but I wouldn’t mind if they were slightly adapted. What would a Kells coffee shop AU look like? How about that tumblr post that periodically makes the rounds about imagining your OTP as a tattoo artist and someone who works in a flower shop (I imagine Brendan would be the tattoo artist, apprenticed to Aidan (hahahahaha), and Aisling would be the shapeshifting flower shop owner who inherited the business from her parents, who were locked in mortal combat against whatever evil corporation represents Crom Cruach in this AU world)? Or maybe Aisling’s a superhero…or, wow, I don’t know, maybe Pangur is a human and everyone else is a cat that she owns…
Crossover between Kells and Song of the Sea, if you think you can merge the two mythos? It would be fun if Aisling and Bronagh met each other – they’re very different people, and have very different powers. I think Aisling might be a little scornful towards Bronagh, even, since Bronagh can only take one other form and is limited by her skin. But what if Aisling and Saoirse met up? They’d have a very intriguing discussion, I bet, since Saoirse actually gave up her powers to remain human, but Saoirse has way more of an attitude than Bronagh which would change up the dynamic with Aisling. I wonder what Aisling would have to say about that (assuming Aisling didn’t go with all the other fairies at the end of Song of the Sea, which very well might be the case, and I’d be interested in seeing that too).
Dark canon divergence AUs would be cool if you want to go for darkfic. Anything from Crom Cruach winning at any point in time (as early as the fight against Aisling’s people or later when Brendan goes to confront him), to the Vikings somehow wreaking worse havoc than they did, to some kind of dark or evil Aisling AU (I’m not sure how that would play out but the idea’s so interesting I wanted to throw it out there). It’s very easy for me to envision a darker take on the worldbuilding in Kells, much more so than in Song of the Sea, for example, because of Aisling’s ambiguity and all the horrific things that happen in the climax. If you want to write something less cute-beautiful-happy-feelings, more creepy-scary-horror, I’m completely up for that.
Although I love Bronagh and Saoirse individually and as family members, in canon they didn’t spend much time together at all, so again: treat this as an “or” request if you’d like! And please, please throw in as many other characters as you want, if you want to. I love everybody in this movie.
Bronagh didn’t have as much screen time as everyone else did, but that only contributed to my interest in her as a character. I’m so curious about how selkies “work” in Song of the Sea mythos – we didn’t get much in the movie besides the seven years rule. Where did Bronagh originally come from? How old is she? I’m not sure whether I imagine her as having a normal lifespan, or as an immortal/ageless being. Was she familiar with any of the Daoine Sidhe? With Macha? The stories she told Ben could’ve been from personal experience, or maybe they were passed down through her lineage. If that was the case, I wonder who Bronagh’s mother and father were, if she had any, and what their story was and how she grew up. I’m very, very interested in knowing what her perspective was on her relationship with Conor – not only how they fell in love, and what she thought about Ben when he was born, but how she felt knowing that she’d have to leave in seven years. Or did she not know that? Did she know it, but wanted to remain in denial? Obviously she knew what was going on, and felt terribly guilty…and she decided to leave Saoirse, after all. I wonder, too, what she was doing during the seven years that Saoirse was growing up. Any kind of introspective exploration of her relationship with her children, with the other Fair Folk, with the seals, or with Conor would be lovely to read. I’d just like to spend more time inside Bronagh’s head.
Saoirse is adorable, and she’s such a character even without verbalizing her thoughts! I love the strength of her attitude, and the decisiveness of her reactions to everything. She has an Opinion on everything that happens to her. She’s also so curious and attentive and open to all kinds of new experiences (more so than Ben, usually). At the same time, she’s kind of a cloudcuckoolander and seems to be deeply guided by her emotions, walking into the ocean without a care for her clothes, staring out the window and drawing seals, jumping into the holy well because it feels like the right thing to do. Oh, Saoirse. I love how attached she is to Conor, and all the little moments where she just cuddles up to him are so sweet. Her realistic sibling dynamic with Ben is also cute in a different way – it’s funnier, but sadder because of the pent-up resentment behind Ben’s feelings towards her. I feel like there’s some negativity being contributed to that relationship by Saoirse, too, mostly because she’s confused about the broader family dynamic. She didn’t know she was a selkie until she figured it out for herself, Conor has never talked to her about what really happened to her mom, and Ben blames her for it, and I imagine Saoirse sometimes wonders if she did have something to do with Bronagh’s absence. It seems to me like Saoirse has a closer relationship to Conor, while Ben was closer to Bronagh, and I’d like to learn what Saoirse thinks about that. Really, she never even knew Bronagh, and only saw and spoke to her once at the very end of the movie. A look at the effect that might have had on Saoirse would be interesting, if sad.
the only pairing I’m really interested in is Conor/Bronagh, no other ships, please
We know Ben loves to draw, and at one point Saoirse doodles those seals on the window. Bronagh was a very accomplished painter, too. A fluffy fic about Ben and Saoirse drawing together or Ben helping Saoirse learn to draw, with mentions of how Ben’s love of art and illustration was inspired by Bronagh’s passion for it, would be so lovely.
So…Cu is a puppy at the beginning of the movie, when Ben’s a little kid and Saoirse is about to be born. This means that Conor, Bronagh, and Ben must have all gone to adopt him together. Whose idea was it to get a dog? Was he a present for Ben, or more of a family dog? The first foray into pet ownership from Bronagh’s point of view would be especially engaging. Does Cu remind her of the seals at all, or does she think the human idea of having pets is kind of strange? Around the time they got him, she must have been becoming more and more aware of how time was running out, and she’d have to leave soon, so Ben’s joy over getting a puppy and talking about how he’d grow up together with the dog and all that would’ve been very bittersweet for her.
The lighthouse and the island are beautiful and have a really distinct presence about them. Bronagh probably grew up and spent most of her life around that area, regardless of who her parents were or how old she is, but we know Conor was born and raised in the city. So how’d Conor come to live in the lighthouse, and how did he meet Bronagh? I assume one of those things happened first, and the other was a direct consequence (he met Bronagh and decided to move, or he began working at the lighthouse and then met Bronagh). I’d love to read a story about how they met and fell in love in that little town on the shore by the two islands and the lighthouse. Bonus points for Bronagh’s opinion of Granny.
The seals are probably the most silently expressive characters in the movie, after Saoirse, and they are so cute. Fic about them would be great to read! Whether it’s some kind of seal POV fic, talking about the selkies, or it’s fic about Bronagh or Saoirse befriending the seals, I don’t really mind, but…something about the seals. They’re familiar with the concept of a selkie, actively encouraging Saoirse to come hang out with them, then welcoming her when she figures it all out. How intelligent are they? To me, they seem on a level with Aisling’s wolves in Kells, only a lot less scary. Anything exploring what’s the deal with the seals would be welcome.
Any fic about Ben and Saoirse just having time to be siblings together, whether that means a couple of years after the movie takes place or looking further into the future to see who they grow up to be, how much they both remember about what happened, and how that affects them. Ben might remember everything more vividly than Saoirse. In fact, given how young Saoirse is and the fact that she’s feverish for most of the movie, it’s entirely possible that she might not believe that any of what she remembers actually happened. I’m not sure how likely that is, since Ben and Conor would remember and talk to her about it, but it’s an interesting possibility. A sad one, though.
So this one’s kind of a weird idea, and doesn’t really fit with any of my other prompts, but if you like it... I’ve seen one interpretation of Song of the Sea claiming that the entire story could be read as a metaphor, especially thanks to the parallelism of the voice actors’ characters, so if you want to take a look at the story’s events through that lens I’d find that incredibly interesting. Basically this would mean that there aren’t any fairies, Bronagh is either dead or left the family, the story of Macha is how Ben deals with his emotions and what Granny’s kindly but misguidedly urging the family to do, and then they run away from her house and Saoirse gets sick and almost dies but, as Ben perceives it, she “decides to stay” instead of “joining her mother”, and the near-tragedy heals the last rifts in the family. If you want to come at the movie from that perspective, and think you could do a good job with it, I’d love to read your take on that interpretation. The story becomes much more mundane and depressing, but the ending’s equally hopeful.