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If you're wondering why I am doing "ritual sacrifice" twice, it's because I am working on two bingo lines at once, and they intersect at the "ritual sacrifice" square.

Title: Another Word for Love
Universe: Wind & Foxes
Characters, pairings: Kivran/Reian
Rating: PG13
Warnings: mention of suicide
Word count: 666 (I did it on purpose this time)
Summary: Reian's lover is a passionate man. Sometimes a little--too passionate.
Notes: Written for [community profile] origfic_bingo, for the prompt "ritual sacrifice". It probably helps to know that at the time they are involved, Reian is 15-16 and Kivran is 17-18. This is the counterpart of the story "Another Word for Madness", using all the same dialogue (though with a little expansion at the beginning and end), retelling the same events from Reian's PoV. Both PoVs are equally valid, I just thought it would be fun to explore both!


Cultural note:

When Reian and Kivran say "love is another word for madness" or "madness is another word for love", they are referring to one of a few words the Kelisavian language has for love. I don't make up fake languages, because I have a general dislike of including invented words in my stories (not that I think it can't be done quite well; it's simply something I don't like to include), but I do like to imagine how the Kelisavian language functions in a broader sense, because language shapes thought, and so affects how the characters would think.

The kind of love they are talking about actually is a synonym of madness. This type of love is the kind most strongly associated with the Sun, because its most notorious display in Kelisavian history is the time when the Emperor Amer fell in love, made a series of terrible mistakes, and ended up calling down the Sun and destroying the empire.

From tribe to tribe, the way that this kind of love is viewed varies, just as the way Amer's story is told varies from tribe to tribe. In some versions, it is the love that saves those people who do survive, and in some versions, the love causes all the problems. Most versions lie somewhere in between. Reian's tribe (Lijen) has a more negative view of this kind of love, because of the role one of their ancestors played in the story. So while Reian claims to hate tradition, it does have some bearing on his perception. Kivran's Tribe (Saraak) probably tells a much more romantic version of the Amer story.

Reian isn't down on love in general, but on this particular kind of love. In the story, I mention the English concept of "in love" vs. "love", but it's not the same. It's not a big deal, but I hope this cultural note made sense! Writing these stories causes me to ponder cultural details.




Another Word for Love.


Reian had heard too many love stories in his life. His storyteller father was full of them. As a child, Reian had loved them, had loved all the stories in the world. As he'd grown older, he'd become more skeptical. Love stories could make one either a romantic or a cynic. Why should lives, families, cities be destroyed because one person loved another? The entire empire had fallen because of one foolish heart. It was a waste, a tragedy. That was why madness was another word for love.

The world loved love stories. Kivran, too, must have heard too many of them. Kivran wanted to kiss his hand and pledge his undying devotion. Reian liked Kivran a great deal, but he could be overwhelming. They hadn't known each other long enough for Reian to pledge devotion of any kind. Reian questioned his own wisdom in becoming involved with the first young man he'd met.

"I can't join your tribe, Kivran," said Reian. "I want to travel. There's so much I want to see."

"Are you going to leave me?"

Reian wouldn't lie to him. "I will. I have to go."

"Take my life, then." Kivran was smiling when he said it, unsheathing and presenting his knife as if he were holding out a flower.

Reian blinked, because for the first instant, he thought it was a poor joke on Kivran's part. Then Reian looked into Kivran's eyes and realized he was serious. He recoiled. "No, Kivran, I won't."

Kivran's smile didn't falter as he spoke. "It's my right to ask it of you. The gods touched my eyes."

His tribe still practiced that outdated tradition? Reian didn't believe it. It had to be something Kivran had heard in a story once and liked the idea of. At least, he hoped that was the case. Some called it the gods touching your eyes, but wouldn't the gods make a person see more clearly, not less? The gods saw all things. The gods touched the eyes of prophets, of visionaries. Not lovesick fools. Kivran, don't be such a fool. "It's my right to refuse you."

"Do this for me. Please. It's kind."

"I don't think love is worth dying for."

"Because you've never been in love."

He loved Kivran, but it was true that he hadn't been in love, not like Kivran was. No matter how true that was, it wasn't fair for Kivran to say he couldn't understand it. Reian was part of this, too. "That doesn't matter. Kivran, I would never kill someone, least of all you."

"It's tradition."

"I don't care about tradition," said Reian. His words had the force of absolute earnestness. Why would he be here, why would he have done anything he'd done, if not for the fact that he despised every ridiculous belief someone held because someone else before them had held it, too?

"I'll do it myself," said Kivran, repositioning the knife.

Again, Reian could see he meant it. That passionate man. Kivran was all but shaking with sincerity, in love with the idea of dying for love. He would plunge the knife right into his body with nothing but youthful foolishness guiding his hands. Sometimes it was hard for Reian to believe Kivran was two years his senior. What should he do? If he did or said the wrong thing, Kivran might die in a rush of passion. He had to say the right thing, but he couldn't say anything. He held Kivran's gaze and hoped Kivran would see something in his eyes that would stay his hand. He was powerless. Love had made him powerless, because love had all the power. He prayed: Don't let him die. Please, don't let him die for me.

"I knew you wouldn't," he reassured himself later, when it was behind them and he lay by Kivran's side.

"How could I leave my country boy?" Kivran joked. Reian knew that in this, as in everything else, he was sincere.
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